President Trump and Republicans in Congress have a once in a generation opportunity to dramatically roll back the frontiers of government but will likely fall short because of their lack of candor and finesse. Steven Bannon’s “deconstructing the administrative state” is great for rallying troops in an electoral campaign but terrible politics when translated into a ham-handed budget that slashes too much that is worth preserving and avoids tough choices about entitlements. Mr. Trump’s repeated promise to replace the Affordable Care Act with something better, less expensive and terrific becomes empty when juxtaposed against Speaker Ryan’s proposed American Health Care Act, which would raise insurance costs for many low income, rural and older citizens. And it does so by creating significant new subsidies for families earning more than $98,400 a year and offers little encouragement to control the cost for drugs and basic health services, which are much higher here than abroad. CNN profiling little old ladies who would lose their meals on wheels, and the CBO finding that millions of Americans will go without health care coverage – not necessarily by choice but because the AHCA would push premiums out of reach – are not the product of the media’s left leaning biases. Since at least President Johnson’s Great Society, Democrats have been getting elected by delivering new and bigger entitlement programs from Medicaid to the ACA. And by sending to the states federal largesse, through entities like the Appalachian Regional Commission and Community Development Block Grants, that permit governors and mayors to dole out patronage without having to tax to pay for them. Entitlement programs often reward undeserving beneficiaries. For example, the millions of men ages 25 to 54 who neither work nor seek employment but can qualify for food stamps and free health care; or many of the 1-in-20 adults who now qualify for social security disability. Republicans campaign to generally scale back government but rarely take aim at federal largesse that benefits their particular constituents. When elected, they may hold the line on new government spending and snip a bit here and there, but they do too little to roll back the federal state. And when the Democrats return to power, they extend and expand its frontiers further. Most recently, President Obama gutted the military – for example, the Navy has grounded about two-thirds of F/A-18 fighter jets for lack of maintenance – to help pay for those benefits to able-bodied men and others. Without any changes in existing programs, entitlement spending and interest on the national debt will consume virtually all federal tax revenue by 2027. Then Washington will have to raise taxes to levels that absolutely cripple business and growth, let wither the military and vital civilian services or impose draconian cuts on social security and assistance to the truly needy. Entitlements and interest on the debt already consume about two thirds of the $4 trillion in federal spending, with defense and discretionary spending approximately splitting the balance. Instead of taking aim at entitlements to rebuild the military, Mr. Trump’s budget chooses to gut the latter – slashing the good as well as the bad. For example, most elements of the 19 regional commissions, agencies and partnerships, and other programs slated for elimination have outlived their purpose or lie outside the legitimate scope of the national government, but some of their work still has merit. Much of what the EPA, Department of Education and other agencies spend represents federal regulatory overreach – and cutting appropriations would translate into fewer bureaucrats in the faces of ordinary Americans and pulling on the shirt tails of job-creating businesses. However, lashing the State Department, medical and other R&D support and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is senseless when the nation faces challenges from ISIS and China’s growing soft power, escalating international economic competition and a warming climate – whatever its causes. Entitlements are where the money is and the president’s budget should have plainly stated the nation can no longer afford to subsidize the indolent along with the truly needy while neglecting defense and handicapping the legitimate civilian functions of a global power. All presidential budgets are political statements that contain elements that everyone knows will never be enacted, but the Trump document fails to address the tough choice before the nation – expect less of government or the country will simply go bust.