Wednesday, February 14, 2018

If You're Spending 5 Minutes Laughing At The Trumpanzee Budget, That's 5 Minutes You're Not Spending On His Collusion With Putin


I was surprised on Monday when Trump's Director of the Office of Management and Budget said that the budget the Trumpanzee Regime presented to Congress is not serious. Putin put a post-literate monstrosity in the White House. Jonathan Bernstein pointed out that Trump didn't read-- let alone write-- the budget; Mulvaney and his staff did. "It includes proposals that Trump has little interest in supporting or fighting for." It's more like a Freedom Caucus budget than anything Trump's going to back. Normally White House budgets are regarded as a statement of the president's preferences and priorities.
Congressional leaders and appropriators won't treat this budget that way. They've learned that Trump is indifferent to most policy questions, inconsistent on others, and easily rolled on almost anything. They know he doesn't even bother reading his presidential daily brief-- so there's no reason to think "his" budget is anything different. It doesn't help that Trump, unlike normal presidents, didn't coordinate initiatives detailed in the budget with his State of the Union speech. The effect is to further distance the president from the budget.
But even Mulvaney, a Freedom Caucus extremist, admits that if he were still in Congress he wouldn't vote for the budget he created. It would increase military spending, build the Great Wall of Trumpanzee and slash spending for America's working families. Had Trump run on the budget Hillary wouldn't have beaten him by three million votes; she would have been him by 10 million votes.

Infact, Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing pointed out that the Trumpanzee infrastructure plan ignores the Trumpanzee Buy America jobs promise he made over and over again during the campaign, when he was vowing to invest in American jobs. Buy America preference--  which ensure domestic manufacturers and workers get the first shot at government procurement contracts- have covered federal highway and transit spending since the 1980s. But growing loopholes allow projects like the Chinese-made San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to support foreign jobs with our tax dollars.
"The president promised on Inauguration Day that his infrastructure plan would 'follow two simple rules: Buy American and Hire American.'

"Today, that promise seems to have disappeared. We hope the White House will swiftly clarify its position on Buy America for infrastructure.

"American workers are eager to supply the steel and other materials that form the spine of our nation's infrastructure. They deserve a policy that explicitly supports and expands Buy America.

"Infrastructure investment is vital to our economy. We look forward to working with Congress and the White House to advance a real plan for robust infrastructure investment into law."
Pramila Jayapal represents Seattle in Congress and is the vice ranking member of the House Budget Committee. She didn't seem any more pleased with Trump's budget than Paul Scott was, asserting that the "budget proposal makes it clear, all over again, that his administration does not care about working people. His budget takes from middle class families and the most vulnerable and gives to the rich. It guts anti-poverty and health care programs, and slashes investments in economic growth. All of this in order to pay for the GOP’s tax scam that handed trillions of dollars to the wealthy and large corporations. This is the last step in the GOP’s three-step dance to rig the economy in favor of the top 1 percent. The adverse impacts of Trump’s budget on working people will be extreme. It guts $263 billion from programs designed to lift people out of poverty. It cuts $214 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that protected 44 million people from food insecurity and hunger in 2016. Trump is attempting to destroy Medicaid by gutting $1.4 trillion from the program, jeopardizing the lives of seniors and children. The budget also cuts $266 billion from Medicare, hurting seniors across our country. Budgets should reflect our moral priorities. This budget demonstrates that Trump’s only commitment is to lining the pockets of his wealthy friends. We need a budget based on equity and compassion that puts working families first-- that’s the kind of budget I will continue to fight for."

Raúl Grijalva represents the Tucson area and he's been in Congress for a lot long than Pramila but sees Trump's budget similarly emphasizing that it "merely shows what we already know: the White House lacks any interest in seriously investing in the well-being of American families and workers. Trump’s hollow promise of 'making America great again' seems not to apply to anyone other than his wealthy friends. Trump’s disastrous budget cuts would decimate programs that benefit American families. The proposed cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, nutrition, and anti-poverty programs alone would devastate millions who rely on them to meet their daily needs. Education cuts would eliminate important teacher training programs and after-school program funding for needy children. In addition to requesting non-military funding that would be $57 billion less than the budget deal that just passed, Trump is also leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for his divisive border wall that Mexico would 'supposedly' pay for. Trump touts his plan as a $1.5 trillion investment in America, yet the only ones who benefit are Trump’s wealthy friends. Environmental and labor protections are waived, jobs for America’s workers are an afterthought, and there is no committed revenue stream to fund the proposal. Instead of investing public money into dynamic infrastructure projects that benefit the public good across the United States, Trump’s plan will incentivize projects in populated, wealthy areas while neglecting much-needed improvements in rural America. Trump’s infrastructure plan and budget are all smoke and mirrors and emblematic of what he does best: conning the American people. The American people need an infrastructure plan and a budget that will revitalize America’s cities and towns, expand employment opportunities, grow wages, and invest in important programs that help families succeed. These latest White House proposals accomplish the opposite, and are a slap in the face to Americans across the country."

Randy Bryce has to beat Paul Ryan in southeast Wisconsin before can take his seat and start legislating but in case anyone was wondering where he would be coming from when he has to deal with Trump's crap between 2019 and January of 2021 when we'll see the last of Trump-- unless he goes back on that rancid reality show of his-- Bryce issued this statement to voters in Racine, Kenosha, Janesville Elkhorn and Burlington:<
This infrastructure plan is all smoke and mirrors. It pushes the funding burden almost entirely onto local communities who truly can't afford it, depriving them of much needed infrastructure improvements and the good-paying jobs that come with them.

But what's even more upsetting is the larger budget proposal this fake-infrastructure plan is wrapped in. Republicans are trying to avoid looking hypocritical for raising the deficit, after decades of promising to lower it, by slashing Medicare. You cannot tell me that we can afford to give away billions in tax cuts to the wealthiest, but we can't afford to take care of our disabled and our seniors. It doesn't make any sense.

Speaker Ryan has described this package as "thoughtful." Two decades in Washington has clearly distorted who Paul Ryan's thinking of because all this package does is deprive the First District of good-paying jobs, stronger infrastructure, and threaten our healthcare.
I think what most people know about the Trump budget so far is that it will make us all have to pay tolls on the freeways for the first time, freeways that our tax dollars paid for. But there's a lot more to it-- and progressives need to think clearly about how to talk about it beyond just saying Trump's an asshole. Lucky for us, Kate Aronoff has a firm grasp of how to effectively resist Trumpism. The $7 trillion deficit doesn't need to be criticized by preaching austerity. Leave that for Republicans and other conservatives. We shouldn't be doing Paul Ryan's job for him.
Deficit spending isn’t a sign of moral or economic failure. But looking at the headlines about the Trump administration’s last few weeks of economic policymaking, you might think otherwise.

Referring to Democrats and Republicans both, the Washington Post’s Robert Samuelson bemoans that, “Ever-larger budget deficits have become their means of making policy and practicing politics.” He points to the $1.7 trillion spending agreement reached last week, the $1.4 trillion tax plan passed recently and the White House’s 2019 budget proposal, which-- if passed in full (something that basically never happens)-- would add $7 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade.

As John Cassidy at the New Yorker puts it, “the country’s finances will be in a wretched state once the GOP’s recent tax-cut bill is fully enacted.” He laments the “sea of red ink that now stretches into the indefinite future.” We have to “keep the deficit numbers in check,” he says. But Republicans-- committed to small government and even smaller budgets-- simply aren’t up to the task. The irony!

Top Democrats adopted a similar line. “If you’re a deficit hawk you’ve got to be a deficit hawk all the way through,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told a crowd on in response to Rand Paul’s rejection of the budget deal, noting the Republican’s hypocrisy in voting for the GOP tax cuts. “For both sides to get the deficit down, each side can’t say, ‘Well I’m a deficit hawk on this issue but not on that issue.’ If we’re going to get the deficit down.”

In the push to condemn Trump, it seems that everyone’s become a deficit hawk, blurring the line between calling out Republican hypocrisy and Democrats’ proclamations that America needs to get its fiscal house in order before slipping irreparably into the red. Yet, the problem with the budget the White House proposed yesterday lies not in the amount of money it proposes to spend-- but the programs it aims to cut. The plan would take a sledgehammer to America’s social safety net and public sphere, cutting deeply into Medicare and food stamps while selling off vital national infrastructure. So why are Democrats still fixating on the debt as Republicans abandon the pretense that it ever mattered?

The GOP has been lying about the impacts of the federal deficit for well over 30 years. Despite campaigning against so-called wasteful spending, Republican administrations have reliably driven up huge deficits: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford are responsible for the third, fourth and fifth largest debt hikes over the course of an administration, respectively. Today’s breed of deficit hawkishness might most accurately be traced back to budget talks in the mid-1990s, when Republican strategists ingeniously compared the finances of the world’s largest economy with the everyday economic trade-offs of hardworking Americans.

“You simply can’t draw enough parallels to the family budgeting process,” pollster Frank Luntz has advised GOP lawmakers. “It forces voters to evaluate the U.S. budget for what it is, rather than as some abstract governing concept … Keep it simple and force Americans to apply some common-sense kitchen-table economics to the budget process.”

NPR White House correspondent Scott Horsley echoed that refrain on Sunday, arguing that “if you outspend your paychecks a month, you might put the difference on your credit card. The government does the same.”

Americans poring over their monthly bills, of course, don’t enjoy either the power of taxation or access to a sovereign currency. The issue when the federal government deficit-spends money isn’t the amount they spend, but what they spend it on: There’s no finite amount of cash the Treasury is pulling out of a vault. There are also no ominous bill collectors-- vigilante Chinese bondholders, for instance-- who are going to cross the Pacific Ocean to shake us down for what they’re owed and threaten our sovereignty, no matter which party drives up the bill. Simply put, there’s no inherent reason to worry about the size of the deficit itself.

As former Senate Budget Committee chief economist Stephanie Kelton said recently, Republicans’ outright embrace of deficit spending in this context should be treated as a gift to Democrats. “Take that gift,” she said, “and say, ‘Look, you’re willing to do $1.5 trillion. We’re willing to do $1.5 trillion. But you’re making your check paid to the order of big wealthy corporations and the richest people in this country. Let me show you how we’re going to write our checks for $1.5 trillion.’”

...A growing deficit has little effect on the macroeconomy, and can be spent on important goods like infrastructure and job creation that would be a sum positive for the public. Markets balked recently over fears of inflation-- something which could theoretically rise if the economy truly does become overheated-- but there’s little reason to expect it will anytime soon. Common wisdom has held that a so-called “natural rate” of unemployment around 5.5 percent is ideal for warding off inflation, yet the unemployment rate has fallen steadily below that since 2015, with few signs of inflation on the horizon.

Economist Dean Baker, of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, suggests seeing how low unemployment can drop before inflation kicks in, in the process improving the lot of people still struggling to recover from the last recession. While the economy is relatively close to what we call full employment, nearly all the jobs the United States has created since 2005 have been temporary. Wages are only just now starting to rise for the first time in years. If the economy really is moving in the right direction, why stop stimulus spending now?

“The unemployment rate has now been well below [5.5 percent] for more than two-and-a-half years,” Baker writes, “and there is still no evidence of an inflationary spiral. In fact, the inflation rate remains well below the Federal Reserve's 2-percent target.”

Deficit hawkishness has been a Republican con for decades. That a few people were dumb enough to drink the Kool Aid in that time isn’t all that surprising. Take Mick Mulvaney, who is now inexplicably both the head of the Office of Management and Budget and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As a Tea Party Congressman from South Carolina, he pushed to cap spending and balance the federal budget, and arrived to the Trump Administration promising to “restore fiscal sanity.”

Introducing the 2019 budget proposal yesterday, Mulvaney admitted that it wouldn’t amount to a balanced budget, going on to say, “I will always be a deficit hawk … I am today, I was yesterday, I am tomorrow.” But whether Mulvaney, Paul Ryan or other alleged deficit hawks actually believe what they say can be left up to their therapists: What’s relevant is how they actually vote.

For years, cable news channels gave equal time to earth scientists and climate deniers, poisoning the national debate on global warming to disastrous effect. The conversation around the deficit might be even more dire still: Deficit hawkishness—based on a series of fantasies about how modern economies work-- has by now become common wisdom, including among otherwise shrewd pundits and politicians. Fearmongering about the debt is its own kind of trap. Doing so in the name of partisan politics is another. With any hope, Democrats will avoid both in crafting their own policies moving forward.

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At 5:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If You're Spending 5 Minutes Laughing At The Trumpanzee Budget, That's 5 Minutes You're Not Spending On His Collusion With Putin

And, that's five minutes that DWT does not focus on the establishment Democratic party and its ways.....

At 7:05 AM, Blogger Chris Roberts said...

i can't laugh at trump's budget i too furious at it with all the cuts it makes including wanting to replace food stamps.

At 11:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bulk of what the Drumph Regime wants to hand out (instead of SNAP cards) to the poor to eat consists of canned rice and canned beans. Isn't that what most wealthy Anglos believe the citizens of the nation immediately to the south of the US of A survive upon? And, if you are what you eat, does this open the door for the Drumph Regime to declare all of the poor to be illegal aliens and claim the right to deport them all?

I wish I was only being satirical, but considering some of the other crap emanating from the Drumph Regime, it's hard to believe they don't think things like this.

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