So Trump’s new budget proposal is out, and as expected, it’s severely damaging to the sciences, healthcare, biomedical research, and the environment.
It probably won’t pass Congress in 2018 if 2017’s verdict is anything to go by, but this won’t just be because it’s so draconian. It’s also because it literally doesn't add up. As pointed out by NYMag, there is a $2 trillion mathematical error in the document.
The Trump administration plans to “balance the budget” over the next decade by cutting the national deficit. Mysteriously, the President has also promised the biggest tax cut “in history” – at least for the wealthiest of Americans.
Tax reform hasn’t made it through the House yet, so it’s not clear what the cuts will be, but if the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is anything to go by, it won’t be for the poor, but the rich.
Either way, the budget as it stands expects these mythical tax cuts to increase economic growth to the tune of $2 trillion. Less tax will lead to less revenue, but will apparently lead to more investment into business, which will generate more growth – that’s the theory.
However, when you think about it, this means that they think that the tax cuts pay for themselves. This is purely hypothetical, self-evidently nonsensical, and in any case is not something you can just add to a concrete budget as if it’s factual. It’s an assumption based on pixie dust, not actual testable information or modeling.
There’s been no evidence at all in recent American history to suggest that these massive upper-class tax cuts will pay for themselves, regardless of which American political party was in power at the time. So, in effect, this is a “double-counting” error, a basic accounting mistake that, presumably, the government hoped no one would notice.
So we wouldn’t worry so much about this 2018 budget. Sure, it says a lot about the callousness of those that authored it, but it amounts to nothing less than witchcraft. Science will survive another day.