Monday, May 15, 2017

The Republican Party Is About To Amp Up Its War Against The Poor In A Really Big Way


As NY Times columnist Frank Bruni noted yesterday, there isn't a core of shrewdness beneath Señor Trumpanzee's antics nor a method to his madness. "Mostly, there’s a raging, pouting child... The House passed health care legislation that blatantly contradicted his incessant promises of terrific, inexpensive coverage and betrayed the hard-luck Americans whose champion he purported to be. The Senate made clear that it was going nowhere anyway. He’s not coming to anyone’s rescue, just giving the Trump-Kushner clan a loftier status and more leverage for enriching themselves. He’s not draining the swamp. He’s globalizing it... He’s 70, but if we’re talking about deeds and not digits, psychological maturity instead of epidermal sag, he’s our youngest president ever, with the frailest ego. Aides feed him his information in easily digested bites: pictures, charts. They whisper sweet grandiosities in his ear. They devise strategies to shield him from upset and work around his ever-shifting moods. They cross their fingers and they tremble. So do I. And when I picture him at that Time magazine dinner, with a portion bigger than anybody else’s, I don’t see him on a throne. I see him in a highchair, keeping his audience guessing about just how much ice cream he’ll fling against the wall."

And Paul Ryan and Miss McConnell put up with it because he'll blithely sign all their devastating toxic agenda items without even reading them or understanding them-- or caring one way or another about what kind of misery and destruction they're likely to bring in their wake. And they have some plans to bring quite a bit.

Rachel Bade made that point Sunday in a Politico posting, Republicans plan massive cuts to programs for the poor. Keep in mind that that new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released yesterday indicates that only 23% of Americans approve of TrumpCare and that the Democrats hope to use TrumpCare as the premier issue in the 2018 midterms. Bade made the point that Ryan and his crew of slash-and-burn sociopaths "just voted to slash hundreds of billions of dollars in health care for the poor as part of their Obamacare replacement. Now, they’re weighing a plan to take the scalpel to programs that provide meals to needy kids and housing and education assistance for low-income families." Scalpel? More like an ax... or chain saw.
Trump’s refusal to overhaul Social Security and Medicare-- and his pricey wish-list for infrastructure, a border wall and tax cuts-- is sending House budget writers scouring for pennies in politically-sensitive places: safety-net programs for the most vulnerable.

Under enormous internal pressure to quickly balance the budget, Republicans are considering slashing more than $400 billion in spending through a process to evade Democratic filibusters in the Senate, multiple sources told Politico.

The proposal, which would be part of the House Budget Committee's fiscal 2018 budget, won't specify which programs will get the ax; instead it will instruct committees to figure out what to cut to reach the savings. But among the programs most likely on the chopping block, the sources say, are food stamps, welfare, income assistance for the disabled and perhaps even veterans’ benefits.

If enacted, such a plan to curb safety-net programs-- all while juicing the Pentagon’s budget and slicing corporate tax rates-- would amount to the biggest shift in federal spending priorities in decades.

Atop that, GOP budget writers will also likely include Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) proposal to essentially privatize Medicare in their fiscal 2018 budget, despite Trump’s unwavering rejection of the idea. While that proposal is more symbolic and won’t become law under this budget, it’s just another thorny issue that will have Democrats again accusing Republicans of “pushing Granny off the cliff.”

...Enraged by Democrats claiming victory after last month’s government funding agreement, White House officials in recent weeks have pressed Hill Republicans to include more Trump priorities in the fiscal 2018 blueprint.

House Budget Republicans hope to incorporate those wishes and are expected, for example, to budget for Trump’s infrastructure plan. Tax reform instructions will also be included in the budget, paving the way for both chambers to use the powerful budget reconciliation process to push a partisan tax bill through Congress on simple majority votes, as well as the $400 billion in mandatory cuts.

“The critique last time was that we didn’t embed enough Trump agenda items into our budget,” said Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), a Budget panel member. “[Trump has] made it clear it will be embedded in this budget. … And so people will see a process much more aligned with President Trump’s agenda in this forthcoming budget.”

New spending, however, makes already tough math even trickier for a party whose mantra is “balance the budget in 10 years.” Lawmakers need to cut roughly $8 trillion to meet that goal, budget experts say. And while a quarter of their savings in previous budgets came from repealing Obamacare and slicing $1 trillion from Medicaid, Republicans cannot count on those savings anymore because their health care bill sucked up all but $150 billion of that stash, mere pocket change to play with.

Republicans’ first reflex would be to turn to entitlement reform to find savings. Medicare and Social Security, after all, comprise the lion’s share of government spending and more than 70 percent of all mandatory spending.

But while former Freedom Caucus conservative-turned-White House budget director Mick Mulvaney has tried to convince the president of the merits of such reforms, Trump has refused to back down on his campaign pledge to leave Medicare and Social Security alone. (He’s reversed himself on a vow not to touch Medicaid, which would see $880 billion in cuts under the Obamacare repeal bill passed by the House.)

Mulvaney, sources say, has been huddling on a weekly basis with House Budget Chairwoman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wy.) to plot a path forward. There appears to be some common ground to consider cuts to other smaller entitlement programs: While the Office of Management and Budget would not respond to request for comment, CQ reported Tuesday that the White House was also considering hundreds of billions in cuts to the same programs being eyed by House budget writers.
The other day, we met Randy Bryce, the Democratic and union activist likely to take on Ryan in 2018. Yesterday he told me that "Aside from having complete control over every arm of the United States government, Republicans in D.C. can’t get a single thing accomplished. We are now seeing very clearly who holds the real power. It’s not the majority of voters-- it’s all special interests. We are seeing that although cats do nothing but fight, they still produce a lot of kittens. Problem is-- the 'have nots' get to take care of them while those who 'have' only seek to fill the litter box." Bryce is going to a formidable opponent for Ryan, even if the DCCC continues to pretend Ryan is invincible and not worth targeting.
In a way we are lucky. If Donald Trump had the experience or intelligence to actually sit behind the desk in the Oval Office, maybe one of his campaign promises would have been kept.

It would appear that frustration may be taking control of the legislative process. Seeing as the courts have determined that not only are corporations people, but that corporations are the only people that matter, be prepared to enjoy an abundance of less.

We saw the same thing happen in Wisconsin under Scott Walker. Just when we thought things could not get worse-- they did.

If the Republicans get their act together, we will truly be in a world of hurt. Hopefully with the legal proceedings, it will keep them weighed down and acting like a bucket of crabs-- pulling anyone back down who gets too close to the top.

2018 will be here before we know it. We need to save our Democracy. That happens by taking back Congress.

As this is being written on Mother’s Day, I just left my mother (diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis since early 80s) and my father (Alzheimer's) who probably will make it to 2018. I’d like to see them around for as long as possible. I’d also like for everyone reading this to be able to see their loved ones for as long as possible as well.

That’s going to require a government that actually looks out to “promote the general welfare.”

Neither Donald Trump nor Paul Ryan are concerned with people like you or me. They have proven that they can’t be trusted.

We need people like you or me to fill as many spots as we can.

Please join me-- save our Democracy. Let’s get momentum rolling sooner rather than later. 2018-- the year we save our Democracy. It’s not a spectator sport. If you’re reading this-- you are needed.

Please frequent this blog to find out how you can be involved no matter where you live.

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At 10:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bruni is peddling complete and total baloney to imply that the "global economy" is only now, because of Herr Hair, becoming a swamp. ("He’s not draining the swamp. He’s globalizing it ... ")

John Puma

At 7:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The war against the poor, after something of a cease-fire during the '70s, heated up again during the odious Clinton administration (remember the welfare destruction?) The passage of the foundation and fertilizer for 2008 also passed/signed by Ds and Clinton.

The Rs passed lege making bankruptcy unavailable as a tool of recovery.

And, of course, obamanation saved the banks and bankers but did dick for defrauded homeowners. Obamanation watched idly as 12 million more poor were created. His war was largely against the middle class... but as I said, he did dick for the poor, new and old.

So the vector wrt the poor hasn't changed in almost 40 years. Just noticing now, are we???


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