By Tom Burke / Herald columnist
President Trump’s budget was released last week, and captured but one news cycle. For how much it (adversely) affects folks (like everyone on Medicare and Medicaid, people with pre-existing conditions, families needing a student Pell grant, homebound seniors needing help with meals, visitors to national parks, as well as people who breath air or drink water) it should still be front page news.
Because it represents everything Trump.
And the truth is, gentle readers, that Trump’s budget is, in a presidentially-approved word, “Bulls***.”
You see, his budget is based on a lie; built on a fantasy; and filled with falsehoods.
It is deadly, dangerous and disingenuous; and it’s been pronounced dead-on-arrival by both Rs and Ds in Congress.
Now if you want to know what Trump really stands for, don’t listen to his words, watch what he does. So lets look at his budget.
Because Trump’s budget blatantly breaks many of his core promises; ignores the needs of large, vulnerable swaths of our population; burgeons the federal debt and deficit; and shortchanges not just the people he hates (everyone who doesn’t worship him), but his supporters as well.
Here are the details:
Trump’s budget lie: He actually cares. About you. About me. The truth: he only cares about himself and reelection.
The fantasy: he’ll achieve 3 percent GDP growth through 2025. His budget is based on 3 percent growth, which is a total fiction. He hasn’t been able to get, even with his “great(?)” business acumen, more than 2.3 percent growth in the past three years (after promising it would grow 4 or 5 or 6 percent). (And for the economics-theory-challenged out there, if growth don’t meet his 3 percent projection, both the deficit and national debt balloon even more. And that ain’t good for yer pocketbook.)
• He promised he wouldn’t touch Medicare. He’s cutting $845 trillion from it in the next ten years.
• He promised he wouldn’t touch Medicaid. He’s cutting $241 trillion in the next 10 years.
• He promised he wouldn’t touch Medicare drug funding. He’s cutting $135 billion from it in the next ten years.
• He promised “much better health care.” He hasn’t proposed anything new.
• He promised Mexico would pay for the wall. Mexico isn’t, you are. Your tax dollars are building it.
What’s deadly, dangerous, and disingenuous:
• He’s cutting $207 billion from Pell student grants and loan forgiveness.
• Cutting $220 billion in food stamps for our neediest citizens (mostly children).
• He’s cutting the EPA budget by 31 percent. (Now take a deep breath of [more-polluted] air or a big swig of [more-polluted] water. ‘Cause air and water is what EPA protects.)
• His Justice Department is trying to kill the law making health insurance companies insure people with pre-existing conditions.
• He’s cutting $22.1 billion from farmers crop insurance programs, while giving them a $14.5 billion bailout for his disastrous China tariffs.
• He’s cutting renewable energy funding and increasing funding to bring back coal.
• The Economic Development Administration is being eliminated (so no more help to new businesses in distressed areas).
• The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is being cut by 12 percent, and
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is being slashed by 10 percent (can you can “coronavirus?”)
• The Department of Housing and Urban Development is getting cut by 16 percent, so wave buh-bye to meals delivered to homebound seniors and to more affordable housing.
• The Interior Department and National Park Service budgets are slashed. Trump is allocating a whooping $300 million to help reduce the park service’s $12 billion backlog to fix buildings and roads.
• And the Justice Department is getting a 2.3 percent decrease, mostly from the COPS program which funds hiring police in critical areas.
Trump talks a lot. Most of what he says is a lie (over 16,000 times so far); but there’s one quote that seems true.
It’s our master “businessman’s” take on spending, “Who the hell cares about the budget?” Which may have been the philosophy that drove him into bankruptcy six times.
But wait, there’s more.
He promised we’d have a deficit of $456 billion within a year of his taking office. The deficit is now $1 trillion.
And he said he would zero out America’s $23 trillion federal debt within eight years. So far, our national debt has grown by $3 trillion in his first thee years in office and this budget will grow it by another $5 trillion.
Der Furor is attacking our democracy. He’s a wanna-be dictator who’s daily becoming more unhinged and unfettered. He’ll say anything, true or not, to please his base. But when he puts numbers on a page, and if the base actually reads and understands what those numbers mean (to them), well, maybe they’d finally understand what Donald Trump really stands for: Donald Trump, and nothing more.
Tom Burke’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.