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Donald Trump: A Fate Worse Than Climate Change

In announcing that he was withdrawing US support for the Paris climate agreement, President Donald Trump was simply being consistent with all the other environmental decisions he has made since being sworn in ( even before then, if you include nominating Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency). While giving lip service to ensuring that measures will be taken to safeguard our environment, he has shown more interest in allowing corporations to maximize profits by lifting what he and many others refer to as “unwarranted regulations” which hinder their businesses by imposing costly fines, etc., when they pollute the land, water and air in the course of their endeavors.

While the action Trump set in motion will not actually reach fruition until the day AFTER the 2020 Presidential election, and changes may still be taken at the state and local level (as well as by environmentally conscious business leaders and their corporations) to help achieve the goals set forth in the Paris agreement, our President has chosen to side with Nicaragua and Syria as the only other nations to publicly reject the agreement. Taken in combination with his recent trip abroad and his missteps in dealing with NATO allies, it appears as though he is squandering any pretense of taking a leadership role on the world stage to a degree unprecedented (unpresidented?) since the Second World War.

While Trump has promised to work together with the rest of the world to renegotiate a pact that places less of an economic burden on this country, it is seen as a mere continuation of the foot-dragging delays which had been placed on these negotiations for years – often with US corporate business interests in mind. He has failed to adequately explain his lack of concern over the urgency of the situation as articulated by an overwhelming majority of the scientists who have studied the situation. While he is not alone in his scepticism (assuming that it is, in fact, genuine), the truth is that he is not merely resolving to do nothing, he is actively taking steps to make the situation worse.

Since its creation in 1970, during the Nixon Administration, the EPA has been charged with protecting human safety and the environment by writing and enforcing regulations based on laws passed by Congress.  Scott Pruitt gained recognition as Oklahoma’s Attorney General by filing lawsuits against the EPA on behalf of the fossil fuel industry, which donated heavily to his campaigns. Since his appointment and confirmation, he appears to see himself as overseeing the agency’s demise. A major step in this direction has been a budget proposal for enormous cuts which would reduce the number of employees  significantly starting with the new budget cycle on October 1st.

For his part, the President has promised to back fossil fuel producers, including a promise to revive the flagging coal industry. Promising to increase the number of jobs in coal mining would be a mixed blessing at best. The jobs traditionally paid fairly decent wages. However, the work tended to be dangerous and highly damaging to the health of many long-term miners. Returning jobs to the coal mines is probably not the best way in which to give these people living wage employment. Nor is it in the best interest of people in general to be subjected to increased pollution from burning coal for energy. Likewise, reversing decisions halting the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) aim to increase the amount of Canadian Tar Sands oil and fracked oil and natural gas primarily in the Dakotas, increases the potential for damaging spills and pollution caused by burning those fossil fuels.

Clearly, a need was perceived in this country for an agency to oversee regulation of chemical pollution of the air, water and land in this country long before Climate Change became a public issue. Toxic waste sites were identified decades ago as causes of illnesses and deaths of many of those exposed to these poisons. Acid rain was found to be created by the burning of fossil fuels and caused harm to the forests of the Eastern US. Phosphate runoff was causing serious problems for water systems. Lead in paint and automobile fuel, as well as water pipelines, remains another health risk for millions to this day (Anyone planning to move to Flint anytime soon?). Mercury and pesticides have long-term effects on fish, other wildlife and, ultimately the entire food chain – including humans.

The decision of our President to ignore warnings of impending problems to our way of life if we refuse to alter the direction of our exploitation and abuse of our natural environment for the further enrichment of the minority of oligarchs, hereditary wealthy, corporate executive class is indeed shortsighted. While the wealth and political power of people like Trump can somewhat leave then immune to the ill-effects of their policies and shift the burden more to those who cannot afford to move away from the areas they have befouled with their poisons or the areas which begin to suffer from the devastation of climate change. Toxic waste dumps don’t exist on their resort properties, golf courses or estates. They can afford to have them cleaned up or moved elsewhere – at least for awhile.

In the nonsensical speech announcing his decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement, President Trump said he was elected to represent Pittsburgh, not Paris. He is doing neither, but rather continuing to support the interests of his fellow wealthy elites and contributing to the growing economic and social inequality fostered by the system which made him what he is today. Climate change, like the exposure to pollution that he and Scott Pruitt seem hell-bent on foisting on people in Paris, Pittsburgh and everywhere else on earth for the purpose of increasing profits for the already wealthy on a temporary basis, needs to be dealt with to ensure future livability on this planet. Donald Trump does not see his job as being to “Make America Great Again”, but rather to line the pockets of himself, his family and their cronies.

Listening to Donald Trump blatantly disregard the importance of addressing environmental deterioration at the hands of humans by not only openly breaking with an almost-global climate accord but also rolling back environmental safeguards developed over decades of scientific research overseen by politicians of both major political parties is enough to make one nauseous. Pretending that he is taking these actions to improve our lives is just one more example of Donald Trump doublespeak. While he continues to pull his shenanigans, the media is enabling him to distract us from what is – or is not – being done in Congress. None of his proposals so far, in terms of what he has presented in the form of Executive Orders or proposals concerning health care, taxes or budgets, does anything to improve the lives of more people than it makes worse off. Turning the clock back to the days before the creation of the EPA certainly does not do that. It’s merely another example of a President ruling over us instead of a leader trying to help us move in a direction that improves the lives of all within this society and, by extension, the world at large.

Expect more of this in the days ahead. I’ve seen nothing to encourage optimism that Congress will improve its performance anytime soon. While the cameras are turned onto the current round of hearings, they still need to pass a budget and do the rest of the stuff we pay them to do. McConnell and Ryan will no doubt continue to conspire to get as much of their rightwing agenda passed as possible, rewriting legislative rules to suit their need as they go along. We need the EPA now more than ever. We also need an Executive Branch, Congress and Court system that seeks to alleviate inequalities that exist, not exacerbate them as has been going on more openly than ever before since the GOP took control of Congress and Trump became our Emperor, oops, I mean President. We need a government for us, not the Trumps, the Waltons, the Kochs and their peers.

Suggested Further Readings:

Picking apart Trump’s climate lies is unsurprisingly easy. Here are 9 examples.

Cutting Superfund’s budget will slow toxic waste cleanups, threatening public health and property values

‘Destructive Fossil Fuel Puppet’ Trump Ditches Climate Deal with Fact-Free Speech

If Trump Dumps Paris, Says Naomi Klein: "Time for Some People’s Sanctions"

How an Energized People’s Movement Can Counter Trump and Save the Planet

EPA head Scott Pruitt didn’t show up for a speech in Kentucky, but 175 protesters did

Trump’s Superfund Cuts: Doing Less With Less

Demoralized EPA employees brace for “wholesale war on the environment”

Pruitt Offers ‘Incoherent Distortions of Reality’ in Defense of Paris Exit

The 5 Biggest Deceptions in Trump’s Paris Climate Speech

As far as these states are concerned, the Paris climate agreement is still on

Geraldo To Fox And Friends: ‘You Want Your Kid To Live In A Gas Mask?’

Replacing Trump With Pence Would Be Pointless

Once last November’s American Presidential election results became official, many people began searching for ways to remove Donald Trump from office (some started doing so before he was even sworn in). The most commonly mentioned method for accomplishing this is via impeachment by the House of Representatives and subsequent conviction in the Senate. The House has twice impeached Presidents – Andrew Johnson in the wake of the Civil War and Bill Clinton as a result of the Monica Lewinski scandal. Neither was convicted by the Senate and served out their terms. The House was actively pursuing Articles of Impeachment concerning Richard Nixon as a result of the Watergate scandal in 1974 when he chose to resign rather than face a public trial in the Senate which was likely to remove him from office in any event.

President Trump has been besieged since the early days of his administration by allegations of collaborating (either personally or through his campaign staff) with Russian efforts to ensure his victory in the November, 2016 Presidential contest, or at least the political weakening of his main opponent, former Secretary of State, NY Senator and First Lady Hillary Clinton. In addition, some highly controversial Executive Orders he signed, along with controversial cabinet appointments, ill-advised tweets and an all-out blitz to get the House to pass a bill aimed at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act did nothing to improve his popularity, which was setting record lows for so early in an administration.

The circumstances surrounding the firing of Michael Flynn, his National Security Advisor, as well as his subsequent firing of FBI Director James Comey, have led to investigations in both houses of Congress and an independent counsel. The President’s performance during a recent international tour, topped off by his announcement that he was withdrawing US participation in the Paris Climate change initiatives have not helped his stature among many either here or abroad. Coming weeks promise to bring increased scrutiny to key White House advisors and cabinet members – including his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Attorney General Sessions. The fits and starts that have plagued the investigations and machinations leading to this point have resulted in broadening suspicions of a cover-up similar to the Watergate affair which brought down Nixon.

It’s still too early to speculate on the outcome of any of the ongoing investigations. Whether impeachment will take place or the 25th Amendment clause pertaining to the determination of whether the President can continue to perform his duties or needs to be forced out on those grounds begs the question – what will be left if and when the President is forced from office or resigns on his own accord? How will all this affect the American people and the nation itself on the world stage?

I was convinced prior to his nomination at the GOP National Convention last year that, if elected, Donald Trump would be the worst President of the United States of America in my lifetime, if not ever. He has done nothing since then to disabuse me of this opinion. The key promises he made to convince millions of Americans to vote for him appear to be empty ones. “Make America Great Again” seems to mean, for him, reversing any gains made in areas like health care, workers’ rights, education and the eradication of poverty. The list goes on and on. The health care plan makes life better for the 1% of Americans who receive a huge tax cut as a result. His budget bulks up an already outrageously large defense establishment at the expense of virtually every social program designed to help out ordinary Americans and alleviate the inequalities of an already unjust economic system.

The campaign rhetoric that gained him significant support at the polls in November has thus far seen Executive Orders banning travel to this country by people  from targeted predominantly Muslim countries in order to fight terrorism. The courts have so far stopped orders on the basis of Constitutionality, but the issue remains pending for the foreseeable future. The AHCA, the bill designed to fulfill his campaign promise to repeal and replace the ACA, promises to leave somewhere in the neighborhood of 23 million people without health coverage who are receiving it now, while leaving others among the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions facing enormous premium increases. That’s if the Senate has enough members willing to commit career suicide to pass it there.

Tax and budget proposals, where they have been fleshed out all, appear to basically follow the age-old GOP budget principles backed for years by the tax-cuts-for-the-rich-budget-cuts-for-all-but-defense crowd, led by such people as Speaker Ryan, Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Former Congressman, ex-Governor of Indiana, Vice President Mike Pence. Pence, you may recall, just ended a fairly lackluster tenure as Governor of Indiana, a right-to-work state that did nothing to improve the rights of its workers. He was also at the forefront of a movement to pass laws at the state level known as “Religious Freedom Restoration Acts” designed to again legalize discrimination against LGBT individuals for whom the courts had granted rights in the form of marriage equality, the end of “Don’t ask, don’t tell” in the military, etc.

Pence has been regarded as a strong fiscal and social conservative throughout his career in public office. His years of political activity and elective office experience would undoubtedly make it easier for him to expedite a legislative agenda through the GOP dominated Congress than it has so far proven to be for President Trump. That would not be a good thing for most Americans – especially those in the states that elected Trump last November who are not members of the top 1% of Americans financially speaking.

When Nixon went through Watergate, which took over two years to conclude, he was preceded in resigning from office by his Vice President, Spiro Agnew. Mike Pence is surely no Gerald Ford. As Trump’s handpicked VP and the person he placed in charge of the transition after the election, it stretches credulity to imagine that he was totally clueless as to the vetting which did or did not take place with regard to the appointments of Mike Flynn, Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner or others who may end up embroiled in the controversy that has resulted in our current predicament.

Congress has proven itself capable of accomplishing as little as possible without  bringing the government to a total standstill for more than a week or two. This media circus has given them a vacation of sorts from the kind of scrutiny they should be facing for the crap the House pulled passing the AHCA or the total lack of any other sort of serious legislating since they allegedly started this session back in January. The Senate has done little better, managing to confirm the motley cabinet of department destroyers that Trump nominated for Attorney General and most of the other cabinet positions. That’s not to mention nuking the filibuster rule to get Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court – and the ever-present threat to use it again if needed to force through something else in the future.

The major problem I have with the leading Republicans in charge of our government in Washington these days is not that they are not Democrats, but that they are not democrats. We need to stop this creeping regression from democracy into oligarchy and authoritarianism. Simply removing Trump from office is not enough to accomplish that. The increase in activism that has been spawned by some of what has been transpiring since the election may, over time, but it must be sustained. We must not forget to pay less attention to what is being said and more attention what is actually being done. The media seems to focus on shiny things and ignore some of the more subtle backroom goings on that come back to haunt us later. Is Congress going to do anything except hold hearings this year?

Further Suggested Readings:

Notre Dame Graduates Walk Out On Vice President Mike Pence At Commencement Address

The Donald Trump Impeachment Clock Is Ticking

Democrats Come After Mike Pence As Mike Flynn Is Accused Of Lying To The FBI

In Russiagate, Keep Your Eye on Pence

Heilemann: Pence Is Either Lying Or ‘Wildly’ Incompetent

The Post-Trump Era?

Conning the Con Man

Joe Scarborough: Mike Pence Is A Dupe Or A Liar

The Impeachment Trap: Be Careful What You Wish For

Notre Dame Grads Walk Out On VP Pence

Defending students’ Mike Pence walkout using the words of … Mike Pence.

The Case for President Pence

Mike Pence Is Toast: Anonymous Letter To WaPo Shows The Role Of Eric Prince In Trump-Russia

Does It Matter How Trump Goes Or Even That He Does?

War Is A Racket By Major General Smedley Butler

Great speech on war from a general who got it. – RJC

Source: War Is A Racket By Major General Smedley Butler

Doing What We Must: Surviving If You Can’t Pay For Drugs

An area where our health care system falls far short of ideal. The Affordable Care Act hasn’t solved it. The GOP’s American Health Care Act, as passed in the House of Representatives, would only exacerbate it further. Single-payer, anyone? – RJC

SERENDIPITY

Case Management

When you are diagnosed with an illness for which there is no cure, but long time survival is possible, you quickly learn that the most important case manager you will ever have is yourself.  You need to learn everything you can to survive — legally and, if necessary, illegally.  You tend to drop your concern for law when your life is at stake, especially when you will “First, do no harm” (Primum non nocere), the oath of doctors and others helping people survive.

Support group members will urge you to not merely educate yourself about the disease, but to get a good case manager. After you understand all your treatment options and the decisions you will have to make, your case manager can help you navigate the maze of health care bureaucracy. This is important for everyone, whether or not they have a job or insurance. Anyone can be…

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Mission Accomplished?

Remember when, shortly after the American military invasion of Iraq had succeeded in using “Shock and Awe” to depose Saddam Hussein and his government, then-President George W. Bush had made a dramatic landing in a combat aircraft on an aircraft carrier which had participated in the operation? He spoke eloquently of the heroic exploits of the American forces which had freed the Iraqi people from the clutches of the evil tyrant beneath a huge banner which proclaimed “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED”. That was over a decade ago and battles are still raging in that nation, leading many both here and there wondering what that mission was, exactly, and how such a premature victory celebration ever came about at that time.

Now, early in the administration of another Republican President, signs are emerging that newer “victories” are being celebrated by many of our elected officials – accomplishments of dubious distinction and certainly unworthy of the praises put forth by the President and House leaders who worked so hard to achieve them.  Acts which will undoubtedly, if allowed to come to fruition in future months, cost many millions of the American people dearly when it comes to their access to the affordable health care they deserve as their right as human beings.

Immediately upon passage of the highly-touted bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in the US House of Representatives, a celebratory press conference was held at the White House Rose Garden, including the participation of high ranking House Republicans and President Trump. After weeks of haggling among themselves on the wording of a bill deciding how to take health care away from millions of Americans in order to cut taxes on the wealthiest among us (including an abortive attempt at passage mere weeks before), a bill finally passed by two votes. All their hard work (which miraculously managed not to interfere with two previously scheduled recesses) came to fruition just in time to wrap up a short session during which they also managed to pass a spending package averting a potential government shutdown for the remainder of this fiscal year.

President Trump, Speaker Ryan and most of the rest of the House Republicans considered this a major accomplishment, fulfilling a campaign promise the President had used to help him gain his new office and his Congressional counterparts had used to either gain or retain theirs ever since passage of the ACA in the early years of the Obama Administration. At what cost – in terms of people losing the health care coverage gained for the first time under the law they were so eager to repeal and long-term budgetary considerations – they had no clue. Heck, they had just voted to pass a bill that few if any of them even knew the contents of, let alone seen a Congressional Budget Office score for. The previous bill, which had insufficient support to pass due to House Freedom Caucus opposition, was predicted to cause a future coverage shortage of up to 24 million people who currently have insurance under the ACA. Since this bill had to be made worse to suit enough people to pass the House, speculation is that even fewer people would have coverage under this revised version, were it to somehow escape the Senate unscathed. That’s unlikely, as the Senate surely won’t pass it without getting a score from the CBO.

As for the President, while the bill would achieve the stated goal promised by his campaign rhetoric by repealing and replacing the ACA, it will actually accomplish the exact opposite of his promise to make health care more accessible and affordable for all Americans. The extremely transparent underlying goal of the whole process is to cut the taxes used to pay the subsidies and Medicaid expansion included in the ACA that make coverage affordable for millions more of us and returning the money to the wealthiest among us, to use as they see fit. The ultimate outcome will be none other than accelerating the growth of economic inequality by shifting more and more resources from the bottom of the economic ladder to the top – Reverse Robin Hood.

So far, Donald Trump’s promises to poor working people of better economic times, the return of good paying jobs from abroad, curtailing illegal immigration to raise wages, spending on infrastructure to boost jobs and the economy as a whole and Making America Great again has seemed to dissolve into a mad rush to enact ill-conceived executive orders that have often been found unconstitutional and rarely beneficial in any substantive manner to any of not included in the top 1%. His insistence on passing the AHCA despite the fact that a vast majority of the American people oppose its provisions is a big mistake which will ultimately backfire – especially if it succeeds in being enacted. Those who voted for him as a voice for the downtrodden against the establishment politicians running Washington of late will not be hoodwinked when they see the direction unfolding in coming legislation represents the longtime GOP agenda which has sought to roll back any gains made by the working classes of this country in the 20th Century to make life easier still for the oligarchs and plutocrats which have dominated GOP legislation of late.

Repealing and replacing the ACA will not accomplish the benefits for the American people that GOP rhetoric has honed into working campaign slogans for most of the past decade. The people get it – as can be seen by activism at town hall meetings held during the many Congressional recesses which are supposed to allow elected representatives to stay in touch with their constituents (voters, not donors). Of course, we’ve been seeing increasing reluctance among supporters of bills such as the AHCA to even answer mail or phone calls from constituents, let alone face them in person at town hall meetings. It’s amazing the amount of interaction I’m seeing from my Democratic House Rep and Senator, while Pat Toomey seems to have disappeared entirely- both in DC and at home here in PA (though he is part of McConnell’s group of white men formed to decide the fate of health care legislation in the Senate).

We need to continue making our voices heard regarding exactly what is being done by Congress and the White House, rather than what is being said. Distractions abound. That is one area at which Donald Trump is a consummate professional. His autocratic tendencies (regarding  issues dealing with Russia, firing FBI Director Comey, military attacks abroad and the like) keep him the center of attention and allow many of us to totally forget about the rest of the government. What passes for action in DC now is not what was intended in the Constitution. Congress spends most of its time conducting high-profile hearings and investigations. Oversight is important, but there is little evidence that any of it is actually being done, rather than just interminably being discussed. The budget, domestic and foreign policy objectives need to become more open and focused on benefitting the country as a whole, rather than just big business and private wealth.

Tell Trump and his GOP Congress to scrap their abomination of a health care bill and instead pass single-payer Medicare for All. Then they can figure out how many of his shenanigans like firing someone for investigating possible wrong-doing by his associates (i.e.- doing his job), sending missiles into a country which has never attacked us or perpetuating foreign wars which Congress has long since abandoned any desire to limit or end. Trump will not do his job unless Congress and the Courts force him to. It seems obvious that Congress won’t do its job unless we force it to. Enough is enough. We need to accomplish real missions, not proclaim victory when reality says the opposite is true.

Further Suggested Readings:

No, I didn’t choose to have a pre-existing condition.

Another GOP Tax Plan for Captains

Trump says he’s stopping jobs from going abroad. Here’s the truth

USW’s Chuck Jones on Donald Trump’s Jobs Record

Cost of National Security: Counting How Much the U.S. Spends Per Hour

Morning Joe On Obamacare Repeal Party: ‘A Sea Of Political Stupidity’

Look at These Republicans Celebrating a Bill That Will Gut Health Care for Millions

How Many People Will Die For Each Rich American’s Trumpcare Tax Cut?

The #IAmAPreexistingCondition hashtag will make you rage cry.

The “pro-life” party has become the party of death: New research on why Republicans hate poor and sick people

A Shameless GOP and the Moral Travesty of Trumpcare

How Trump Became a Buffoon

Well said, Hal. The second hundred days are not starting out any better than the first hundred ended. Trump and the GOP Congressional leadership are doing their best to change our society to benefit the few at the expense of the many to a degree their reactionary predecessors could only dream about. The health care fight is not yet over. Those who voted to pass this most recent bill in the House must pay for their lack of human compassion as quickly as possible. – rjc

haldonahue

Definition of buffoon from Merriam-Webster Dictionary

“1: a ludicrous figure: clown

2: a gross and usually ill-educated or stupid person acting like a ridiculous buffoon”

The ultimate dividing line of our generation was the Vietnam War. We grew up inspired by the greatest generation. John F. Kennedy’s famous statement, “Ask not what your country can do for you…ask what you can do for your country.”, rang loud in our ears. The war forced a decision upon our youth and their families. The choice was to serve, to oppose or to evade wartime service.

Many, originally myself included, saw our duty as answering the nation’s call to arms. Others, immediately seeing that war as an act of murky imperialism and stumbling politics, opposed the war. Many were afraid to take a stand. Interestingly, today those who are the loudest proponents of violence and war, conservative leaders like Ted Nugent, Rush…

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Women Aren’t People, They’re “Hosts”

Excellent essay reblogged from  BroadBlogs  concerning how women’s human rights are stripped in many societies even now. The religious and political right in this country bring this to the legislative arena on an increasing basis. Many of us refer to this as a War on Women, which right wing ideology claims is a myth, but what better name exists for it – especially when it is primarily men doing the legislating with little or no input from women? -rjc

BroadBlogs

Handmaids Tale. Women are just hosts, not people.

Fertile women of Gilead’s Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu, airing today) were not seen as people. They were mere vessels carrying the babies of men.

Too many theocratic Republican legislators see women the same way today.

Like Oklahoma Rep. Justin Henry who asserted:

I understand that they (women) feel like that is their body (but) what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.

Women don’t have bodies. They are incubators for other people’s bodies.

Do baby girls have bodies until they become fertile and then lose them?

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May Day General Strike by James E. Rabbit III

Some valuable history and a call to action by workers worldwide for May Day.

Source: May Day General Strike by James E. Rabbit III

Budget? What Budget?

President Trump has spent much of this Congressional Spring Break ( euphemistically referred to in the Congressese language as a recess) ignoring domestic matters in favor of flip-flopping on foreign affairs issues and displaying his version of militaristic decisiveness by blowing up stuff in Syria and Afghanistan while threatening to do likewise in North Korea. When Congress returns to duty once more, it will resume its seeming never-ending quest to bring the federal government to the brink of a shutdown without actually doing so. This year, they could achieve a rarity – shutting down the government despite having GOP majorities in both Houses of Congress while also having a GOP President in the White House (when he’s not hobnobbing with other rich folks and golfing at his Florida resort).

Don’t even try the old “The GOP doesn’t have a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate” argument. Not after the stunt they pulled getting Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court. They follow the rules when it suits them and change them when that allows them to get their way. There should not have been an open seat available for Gorsuch yet. Period. At any rate, there have been ways around the 60-vote cloture in dealing with budget matters for years before this incident. The recent failure of the GOP House majority to pass a horrid repeal and replace bill for the Affordable Care Act may indicate that other legislation may also face rough sledding in that body.

The initial budget outline sent by the White House to Congress (prior to all the non-investigative investigations dealing with potential Russian tampering with the election last November) has been termed a non-starter by most of the Congressional leadership. Trump calls for a huge increase in military spending to coincide with massive spending cuts in virtually every other area of discretionary spending in the budget. Foregoing butter in favor of bullets has a long tradition in GOP Administrations at least as far back as the Ronald Reagan era. The President should not need Democratic support for this budget, and surely should not expect any. There is absolutely nothing in this budget for most Americans to be enthusiastic about. In fact, many of the GOP opponents who scuttled the health care bill will also oppose this blueprint on similar grounds – the numbers don’t add up to anything close to a balanced budget.

One major problem with the Trump/Ryan health care attempt was the blatant move to drastically reduce taxes for the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the people who were being helped the most by the Affordable Care Act – exposing millions of Americans who received affordable health insurance for the first time to the prospect of losing it once again. Unfortunately, that wasn’t what ultimately defeated the bill, as members of the House Freedom Caucus (Tea Party by another name) were set to vote it down because it wasn’t draconian enough to poor or sick people.

The overall budget is far more complex than the health care package (which our President thought was difficult enough, to his surprise, thank you very much). Taxing spending and setting priorities are intertwined in a morass so complex it has in recent years only jelled enough to limp through year after year a few months at a time without being revisited for a new infusion of spending and taxing authorizations. Usually, agreements can be passed without interruption in government services, but not always. As is often the case, a debt ceiling is also being reached which also needs to be dealt with. Budget hawks love to use situations like this to impose harsh austerity measures which inordinately negatively affect those groups they care least about – those who do not contribute to their campaigns and/or vote for them.

Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric and Paul Ryan’s consistent budget vision from the time he was chair of the House Budget Committee are utterly incompatible. Ryan has wanted for years to gut Medicare and Medicaid. Trump promised not to do so. Why Trump ever decided to back that piece of crap health care legislation is beyond me. Apparently Trump saw an easy way to get votes and took it, never really intending to implement policies which would help his core supporters in any tangible way. Even now, he is threatening make health care subsidies weaken to the point of making what he calls Obamacare collapse, along with most of the coverage gains and affordability that came with it, unless he can get Democratic support for “his” plan.

As for this coming budget season, the fact that Congress chose to return from another unnecessarily long recess in time to face a self-imposed four day deadline to avert yet another government shutdown is an act of utter legislative malpractice. Not only are most GOP legislators doing their utmost to avoid facing their own constituents in the wake of their health care fiasco, they are just letting the clock tick away on any chance of getting real work done on the budget – or anything else for that matter. They also seem content to let President Trump go his merry way with his potentially dangerous and extravagantly costly military adventurism abroad with absolutely no Congressional oversight. It almost seems as if our legislative bodies are content to let Trump rule by Executive Order as much as is Constitutionally possible.

Donald Trump came to power on pledges to make America Great Again. He promised to bring back good paying jobs that had been sent abroad due to faulty trade deals and poor tax and regulatory practices here at home. Every action that has occurred so far has been in the direction of reducing regulations in a manner detrimental to the health and welfare of the very workers whose support he sought and received. His budget proposals, such as they are, do nothing to improve the economy or living conditions for the vast majority of the American people – they will depress wages, worsen working conditions and lessen future prospects for all a few of those not already belonging to the most privileged among us. Continuing trickle-down economic policies and deflecting criticism of domestic failures by pouring huge amounts of money into endless foreign conflicts allows for the continuation of economic policies which have created reverse Robin Hood conditions in this country for decades.

The only serious budget proposals I have seen in recent years that attempt to serve the needs of the people in this country rather than the plutocrats and oligarchs who have come to dominate both our governmental institutions and the airwaves have been presented by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. These People’s Budgets usually fail to get support from more than even a minority of Democratic House members or Senators. President Obama came up with proposals which would have been far better than those presented by Trump and Ryan, but these were mostly ignored by Congress as well. Stop serving Wall Street and start serving Main Street. That’s the only way to serve democracy, turn your empty rhetoric into real progress and get your approval ratings out of the dumpster. Trump, Ryan and McConnell claim they are trying to do one thing – improve our lives and make the world safe from evil – while acting in the same manner as they always have, which continues to accomplish exactly the opposite.

We, The People,  currently have little real support in Washington, DC and most state capitals. We need to use our voices and demonstrate that our so-called leaders must recognize our dissatisfaction and act to alleviate the causes of our discontent – not just glad-hand us during election campaigns and ignore us all the rest of the time. Executive Orders banning people from coming here will not replace passage of comprehensive immigration laws. Lowering taxes on the wealthy and letting them underpay, mistreat or otherwise exploit their employees will not make this country great, nor will curtailing our rights and liberties in order to limit legitimate dissent and diversity of views and lifestyles. The current administration is not draining the swamp, it is wallowing in it. Urge them to stop and turn things around before they do even more damage than they have already.

 

Further Suggested Readings:

Federal Budget: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Calvin, Hobbes & Budgetary Bait-and-Switch

President Trump’s Budget Breaks His Promises to Workers—Again

Trump Budget Horrifies Majority of Voters, Poll Finds

Former Marine Corps captain says Trump defense budget is ‘less bang for more bucks’

SIGN AND SHARE: Reject Trump’s plan to eliminate the Meals on Wheels program

Let Trump Golf, Let the Public Draft the Budget by David Swanson

Trump Will Donate Salary to National Parks Service While Slashing Its Budget

‘No Walls, No War, No Warming’: Progressives Call for Priorities Shift

Trump’s Budget Director Declares Class War On The American People

A Wall To Keep Them Out? Or Hold Us In?

Despite the appearance that Bannon may be losing clout in the White House and the fact that Trump seems to be flip-flopping on a number of issues, this article does an excellent job of framing many of the issues of concern for many in dealing with this administration.

BroadBlogs

Trump and Bannon. Populists? Or dictator wannabes?

I voted for Clinton but when Trump won I thought, “At least he’s a populist” and hoped he would at least help working people.

But over time I’ve worried more and more since he is looking pretty UNpopulist:

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