I keep asking myself, what’s the agenda – Ryan’s, Bannon’s, Graham’s, US Intelligence agencies’, everyone’s. Trump has put out this absurd budget that we all know is not his work. Donald J. Trump could no more put together even a “skinny” set of ideas about how to finance the Federal Government then I could dance the lead in Swan Lake. He has consistently proven through months of campaigning and almost two months of being president, that he knows nothing and cares nothing about policy. NBC even put out “The 141 Stances Donald Trump Took during his White House Bid,” a seemingly endless sampling of his policy contradictions.
So, whose budget is this? Most money seems to be on Steve Bannon, with some help from Rence Priebus, who at least has read a Federal budget. The budget does cut almost every Federal department by massive percentages, which would certainly go a long way to getting rid of Bannon’s nemesis, the imagined “Deep State.” However, if Bannon wants there to be a President Trump for more than four years, this budget doesn’t do it, not that it will pass out of the Congress. There are not many Senators and Congressmen standing in line to zero out “Meals on Wheels,” among other untouchable, small money programs. Mick Mulvany, the hapless director of the Office of Management and budget, didn’t help things when he suggested that he indeed had compassion – not for hungry old people or children – he had compassion for taxpayers. He talked about single mothers and coal miners, but this budget decimates programs they need to survive The Kochs and the bankers riddling this administration are the taxpayers he is talking to and about. Even one of Trump’s earliest, strongest supporters, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) told CNN, “Meals on Wheels is wonderful program. It is one I would not vote to cut even one dollar” He also indicated that he wasn’t sure “where the details came from.” Neither are the rest of us.
The President and Paul Ryan seem to be new best healthcare bros when it comes to repealing and replacing Obamacare. It is not the bill Ryan wanted He would prefer to totally repeal Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion immediately. However, good political sense won out. He realized that was political suicide among Republican voters. So, it phases out by 2020. One can only suppose Republicans are thinking of their voters like frogs in a pot, slowly turning up the heat so that by the time it boils its too late for the frog to jump out – too late for the voters to act. The infrastructure of Obamacare would already be dead and too difficult to resurrect.
Still, eliminating Medicaid is only one third of Ryan’s plan. He wants to also privatize Medicare and Social Security, and our new Secretary of Health and Human Services agrees with him. Unfortunately for Mr. Ryan, the President promised his voters to keep Medicare and Social Security, along with Medicaid, just as they are. I am certain Ryan didn’t explain to the President that he sees AHCA as the start of the dismantling of Medicaid and it is unlikely the President can figure it out for himself, although it does appear that Bannon understands Ryan’s plan. That would explain Bannon’s opposition to AHCA.
The President’s “skinny” budget follows his promises regarding Medicare and Social Security. They are untouched. That is a big part of why this budget is “dead on arrival” at the Republican Congress. Ryan, McConnell and most of the rest of the Republican caucuses intend to begin the privatization of both those programs as soon as possible. Ryan is in a hurry because he wants to get the phase out of Medicare and Social Security done in the first year, before the Republican base can fully realize the ways in which they are being betrayed, and before any real trouble begins for the Trump Presidency.
Regarding this presidency, trouble is spelled Russia, Turkey, tweeting and reckless unsubstantiated conspiracy theories coming out of the mouth, and the mouse of the President and backed up, usually farcically, by his senior White House staff. Under Republican control, there was every reason to believe investigations would go nowhere. However, recent activities and statements of Republicans should be causing this White House great concern. It may lead to nothing, but when they came out of a meeting with FBI Director James Comey, it was not business as usual when Judiciary Chair Charles Grassley (R-IA) stood silently by, looking a combination of frightened and bewildered, while his Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Diane Feinstein (D-CA) handled the press. That cannot be comforting for Trump or Bannon. Something is not quire right in Washington, DC these days. It is possible that trouble is coming for this White House too fast for Ryan to out run it, especially with the Freedom Caucus and moderate Republican Senators pulling his agenda apart.
At this point its all speculation, but there is no doubt that if the Republicans get their way much damage will be done to many people over the coming months. How much depends on all of us standing up, making our voices heard, and voting in every election.
Image of Trump and Ryan originally published in ORA, May 6, 2016: