Inside the Budget: More Law Enforcement Spending


Friday July 21st, 2017   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 7:19am PDT   •  

11542653 - riot police preparing for trouble at an edl demonstration While running for office, Donald Trump pledged to reduce the regulatory burden for Americans while also increasing the amount of spending to support federal law enforcement agencies in their work, much of which involves enforcing federal laws and regulations.

Budgets are about priorities, so perhaps it isn’t much of a surprise that President Trump’s first budget proposal appears set to achieve both seemingly contradictory tasks.

That’s the finding of analysis by Susan E. Dudley & Melinda Warren of the Regulatory Studies Center at George Washington University. Here’s a short summary of what they found:

Although President Trump has made reducing regulatory burdens a priority, he proposes to increase the regulators’ budget in FY 2018.

• The proposed 2018 regulators’ budget reflects a 3.4% real increase in expenditures.
• The proposed increase is twice the 1.7% increase estimated in 2017.
• Proposed outlays are $69.4B for 2018 compared to $65.9B in 2017 and $63.7B in 2016.
• Proposed staffing levels would decline by 0.5%—from 281,300 full-time personnel in 2017 to 279,992 in 2018. In 2017, regulatory agency staffing increased 1.5%.

Some agencies are budgeted for significant increases in both expenditures and staff, while others face dramatic cuts.

• Agencies within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) focused on immigration are the big budgetary winners including:

   • Coast Guard,
   • Immigration and Customs Enforcement,
   • Customs and Border Control, and
   • Transportation Security Administration.

• Overall, DHS regulatory agencies would increase expenditures by 13.7% (an additional $4.1B) in 2018, after a 5.9% increase ($1.7B) in 2017.
• DHS staffing is also budgeted to grow by 2.3% (3,294 additional people) in 2018 following a 1.3% increase (1,896 people) in 2017.
• The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is targeted for sharp reductions in both expenditures and staffing. The Budget proposes a 26.2% reduction in EPA’s outlays, to $4.1B in 2018, down from $5.5B in FY 2017.
• If implemented, this would be EPA’s smallest budget since 1987.
• EPA’s staff under the proposed 2018 budget would decline by 3,811 employees—from 15,500 to 11,689—a reduction of 24.6%.
• The last time EPA employed fewer than 12,000 employees was 1984.

Writing about the study at Reason, Eric Boehm reveals that because of its emphasis on increasing funding and staff for federal law enforcement agencies, President Trump’s budget is actually increasing the U.S. government’s total spending on regulation.

Despite promising to roll back the federal regulatory state, President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal would increase regulatory spending by more than 3 percent—double the increase approved by Congress during Barack Obama’s final year as president.

If Congress were to enact Trump’s budget as written, the federal government’s regulatory staff would fall by half of 1 percent, but the total amount of taxpayer money spent by regulatory agencies would climb to $69.4 billion. That’s up from $65.9 billion in 2017 and $63.7 billion in 2016...

Rather than cutting the regulatory state, then, Trump’s first budget plan is better understood as a shifting of regulatory priorities—a shift in which the increases overwhelm the cuts.

Overall, the changes that President Trump has proposed in the regulatory portions of the U.S. government’s budget are in keeping with their long term growth trend. We will need to wait until next year to find out if President Trump is serious about restraining that growth in the future after his initial shifting the government’s priorities this year.




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