What is so striking about the roll out of Trump budget is not that it is designed to provide massive tax cuts for the wealthy and a big boost in military spending. Or that this is to be paid for by substantial cuts in services that are vital to the well-being of the less privileged and by the gutting of programs that are essential to such things as keeping our water clean and our air less polluted. None of this should be surprising. It has been the Republican game plan since at least the Reagan Era.
What is striking is how, together with the Trump(Don't)Care health plan, it doesn't pretend to be anything but a giveaway to the rich and a devastating blow to low-income Americans, especially the working poor in rural and rust belt America that Trump championed before he was elected. In addition to the 24 million who may lose their health insurance, Trump envisions cutting or eliminating programs that help heat homes, feed the poor, sick and elderly, assist with job training, education and legal services, and provide affordable housing.
Some of the cuts seem to be the product of nothing but gratuitous cruelty. Who can object to Meals on Wheels, for fuck sake. Or the Low Income Heating Assistance Program, which helps pay for energy costs and to repair broken heaters? How about the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children? Or the Senior Community Service Employment Program, which helps find work for low-income folks that are 55 and older?
Apparently, Trump and his Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney object because as Mulvaney told reporters today, "we can't spend money on programs just because they sound good." He actually said that Meals on Wheels is "not showing any results" and that there is "no evidence" that a program to help kids who don't get fed at home so they do better in school does that.
Trump conceded, in a shockingly honest colloquy with the vile Tucker Carlson, that one of the "centerpieces" of the health care plan is a tax cut that would "primarily benefit people making over $250,000 a year" while those that voted for him in "middle class and working class counties, would do far less well under this bill than the counties that voted for Hillary, the more affluent counties."
During the campaign, Trump said that he wouldn't lose voters if he stood in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shot somebody. Tragically, he was probably right. But that was a campaign where, with his snake oil salesman persona, he could effectively promise anything. Now that he is president and is supposed to at least pretend to deliver the snake oil, it is remarkable how little he cares about doing so -- or about even appearing to do so.
Trump must still believe that his supporters -- roughly 40% of Americans -- will remain loyal as long as he blames Obama for their hardships and promises to keep them safe from Muslim terrorists and Mexican job seekers. The big question is whether he is still right.