- Trump administration is seriously thinking about not submitting a budget to Congress next year
- Trump so far has been more than willing to bastardize the budget process in other ways – like reconciliation twice in the same year – to get what he wants adopted and avoid criticism.
Although the Congressional Budget Act requires the president to submit the fiscal 2018 budget to Congress between January 2 and February 6, Trump could easily say that it was the responsibility of the outgoing Obama administration to comply with the law before the new president was sworn in on January 20.
But while the new president not sending a budget to Congress might not be illegal, it would clearly be unprecedented.
Every in-coming president since the Congressional Budget Act went into effect in the mid-1970s has submitted a budget. In many years, those budgets (or amendments to the outgoing president’s final budget) were submitted months after the first-Monday-in-February deadline and were truncated versions of the usual multi-volume presentation. But, a fiscal plan with the new president’s priorities was consistently released for over 4 decades.
Long time federal budget watchers will find Trump’s unwillingness to submit a budget strange because up to now every new administration typically has been eager to submit one in its first year. The reason? It’s the biggest opportunity that will exist to present the president’s plan for all to see and for the White House to dominate the news for a week or more as the details are released, discussed, analyzed and promoted at congressional hearings and other forums.
So why might the Trump administration want to punt on this major opportunity by not submitting a budget?
First, it would allow Trump to avoid the complaints that always come from those the budget proposals would harm by denying them a platform to criticize the White House. No proposals on paper would mean nothing to disparage.