The Miami Herald on Trump’s festival of cruelty.
President Trump’s recently unveiled budget further clarifies his vision for this great country. It’s a dark one.
It’s a nation where even more Americans are hungry; where they, after breathing freely for decades now become reacquainted with smog; where a high-quality public education, especially for low- and middle-income kids, is further out of reach — but Trump loves the “poorly educated,” right?
Trump’s budget will give Trump a lot more to love. Of course, there will be more funds for vouchers to new DeVos-brand schools / workhouses. That’ll be educational.
Trump not only loves the uneducated, as he crowed to a cheering crowd after winning the Nevada caucuses a year ago, he seems to have a warm spot in his heart for the unfed, the uncultured, the unhealthy, the unsheltered and the unprotected. He must because his vision creates so many of them.
The chances that Mexico really will pay for that wall are looking better every day.
Ruth Marcus and the “you only wish I forgot you” men.
“The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer,” Trump vowed in his inaugural address. “Everyone is listening to you now.”
They are? The Republican health-care plan that Trump endorsed and the budget he just submitted cater more to the interests of the billionaires Trump chose for his Cabinet than to the lower-income, rural and older voters who formed the backbone of his electoral support.
Oh, no. Trump remembered that poor people were out there. He remembered long enough to take their food, heat, education, and healthcare.
Indeed, if you convened health-care experts and asked them to design a system guaranteed to alienate those Trump voters, you would come up with something like the American Health Care Act. The bottom line of the Congressional Budget Office number — that 24 million fewer would have coverage by 2026 — actually understates the harms that the proposal would inflict on many Trump voters.
Ahem. 5th Avenue. Shooting people. Still true.
Ross Douthat pauses in his unicorn hunt long enough to look at an actual issue.
In theory there is a coherent vision underlying Republican health care policy debates. Health insurance should be, like other forms of insurance, something that protects you against serious illnesses and pays unexpected bills but doesn’t cover more everyday expenses. People need catastrophic coverage, but otherwise they should spend their own money whenever possible, because that’s the best way to bring normal market pressures to bear on health care services, driving down costs without strangling medical innovation.
Considering that the Sean Spicer fantasy argument for the last two weeks has been that the ACA is full of plans with massive deductibles, it seems unlikely that the GOP is about to start talking up the benefits of out of pocket expenses.
Is there an existing health insurance system that vindicates this boast? Yes, in a sense: There is Singapore, whose health care system is the marvel of the wealthy world. Singaporeans pay for much of their own care out of their own pockets, and their major insurance program is designed to cover long-term illnesses and prolonged hospitalizations, not routine care. The combination has produced genuinely extraordinary results: The island state has excellent health outcomes while spending, as of 2014, just 5 percent of G.D.P. on health care.
And how do they do that?
Their catastrophic insurance doesn’t come from a bevy of competing health insurance companies, but from a government-run single-payer system, MediShield. And then the government maintains a further safety net, Medifund, for patients who can’t cover their bills, while topping off Medisave accounts for poorer, older Singaporeans, and maintaining other supplemental programs as well.
Uh huh. That sounds exactly not like Trumpcare. Which, I predict, Republicans will pass despite all the supposed rebellion and chest-pounding. There will be some minor adjustment made, Republicans will “discover” that it fixed all the problems. Trump will sign it. People will suffer. Then Fox will explain, again, how Obama left “traps” in Obamacare so Republicans had no choice and the flaws in the AHCA are Democrat’s fault. And some good portion of the 24 million without healthcare will nod.
Kathleen Parker fills in the back-to-back “reasonable Republican” block with her thoughts on the Trump budget.
The budget, which includes massive cuts to spending in the arts, sciences (including medical research) and diplomacy — mostly in the interest of increasing military spending by $54 billion and subsidizing that blasted wall — was designed by asking: Can we ask the single mother in Detroit to pay for this? ...
Are there really no single mothers in Detroit listening to NPR’s “Fresh Air”? Or whose kids watch “Sesame Street”? Although the CPB receives $450 million annually in federal funds, much of that money is distributed to local television and radio stations and producers. NPR, long an object of GOP contempt, probably will be fine thanks to donor support, but not so the local shows, which often are educational or public-safety-oriented. …
And, of course, the ultimate goal in whittling away programs that serve the poor or protect the environment is to Make America “Great” Again. As Inigo Montoya said in “The Princess Bride,” “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
I never get tired of anyone going full Montoya.
Nicholas Kristof has a column almost too painful to read (and an image at the top of it that’s unimaginably awful).
“We are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations,” warned Stephen O’Brien, the U.N.’s humanitarian chief. “Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death.”
How is Trump responding to this crisis? By slashing humanitarian aid, increasing the risk that people starve in the four countries — Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria. The result is a perfect storm: Millions of children tumbling toward famine just as America abdicates leadership and cuts assistance. …
The essence of the Trump budget released a few days ago is to cut aid to the needy, whether at home or abroad, and use the savings to build up the military and construct a wall on the border with Mexico.
How many children will the wall save exactly? How many could that same outlay have saved? Can we measure the wall in bodies per foot?
In particular, the catastrophe in Yemen — the country with the greatest number of people at risk of famine — should be an international scandal. A Saudi-led coalition, backed by the United States, has imposed a blockade on Yemen that has left two-thirds of the population in need of assistance. In Yemen, “to starve” is transitive.
For what that’s like, see the image at the top of Kristof’s piece. Warning: you can’t unsee it.
Dana Milbank is thankful for the daily chaos.
In one of the presidential debates, CNBC’s John Harwood asked Trump if he was running “a comic book version of a presidential campaign.” Now Trump seems to be running a cartoon version of a presidency, and he’s Elmer Fudd. His proposals could, if successfully implemented, be ruinous. But so far, at least, Trump has been mercifully incompetent.
He and the GOP-controlled Congress have been on the job two months, but he has signed only nine bills into law, none major. The only law so far this month: a bill naming the Veterans Affairs facility in Butler County, Pa. A McClatchy-Marist poll last month found that a 58 percent majority of Americans reported being “embarrassed” by Trump. For good reason:
Some credit should be shared here. Considering that Donald Trump would sign a dead fish if it was put in front of him, the staggering achievements in incompetence of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell can’t be overlooked.
Milbank’s piece is worth a bookmark as a list of Trump regime lowlights. And really, considering that this is only week eight, it’s an amazing list of un-chievements.
The New York Times on Trump’s jobs “policy.”
What is Mr. Trump himself actually doing to meet his campaign pledge of 25 million jobs for working-class Americans?
In a word, peanuts. His jobs strategy, to the extent he has one, is full of switchbacks and detours, the destination nowhere in sight. He tears up trade agreements that could lower the price of American products abroad, then backs a border tax that would raise the cost of components for manufacturers here. Instead of the $1 trillion infrastructure spending bill he promised, he sends Congress a budget proposal right out of the Republican establishment playbook that spends a ton on defense while shortchanging job retraining programs and public investment in essential needs.
What’s in those Community Development Grants Trump wants to kill? Infrastructure improvements. What’s the Economic Development Agency do? A helluva a lot of it is infrastructure improvements. In fact, there are both jobs and infrastructure all over the list of things that Trump wants to cut. Which makes you wonder if the Trump regime’s understanding of the whole government is about on par with that of Rick Perry surveying the Department of Energy.
John Podesta believes the Virginia governor’s race could be a preview of the Democratic future.
In Virginia, another battle for the future of the Democratic Party is being waged by two progressives: Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former congressman Tom Perriello. Both are strong candidates for Virginia governor, but Perriello is the better choice for the party’s future during a Trump presidency.
Each candidate has impressive credentials. Northam has served his country as an Army physician for eight years and the commonwealth of Virginia as an elected official for the past nine years. He has the support of much of Virginia’s senior elected officials, including Gov. Terry McAuliffe. Perriello was elected to the House of Representatives in a conservative district in 2008. He was defeated two years later because he put people before politics, casting politically courageous votes for the Affordable Care Act and President Barack Obama’s stimulus package. He later served with distinction in the Obama administration’s State Department.
Perriello served with Hillary Clinton in the State Department, which could account for at least part of Podesta’s enthusiasm. On the other hand, Tim Kaine supports Northam. A lot of Virginia Democrats are unhappy with Perriello for hopping into what looked like an easy sail behind a single, well-liked candidate against a quarrelsome Republican field.
Podesta’s argument seems to be that both men are similar on issues, but Perriello is better at framing. To which I say … shrug. How about it, Virginians?
Catherine Rampell on how Republicans are building a poor people motel.
Sorry, poor people of America. Republicans are quietly sealing all the exits on the poverty trap.
It’s a four-part process, in which officials at all levels of government are taking part:
First, reduce poor women’s access to the reproductive services they need to prevent unintended pregnancies, so they have less control over when, and with whom, they have children.
Second, make it harder for any unexpectedly expecting women to have abortions.
Third, make the adoption process more expensive, reducing incentives for other families to adopt the babies resulting from these unplanned pregnancies. (Yes, amazingly, Republicans plan to do this.)
Finally, cut the services these involuntarily growing low-income families rely on to help support and care for their children, and to move up in the world.
Wait. Republicans are anti-adoption?
The House leadership’s “A Better Way” blueprint calls for dramatically cutting tax rates, especially for the rich. It partly pays for these rate cuts by eliminating some credits and deductions. Among those set to go? The adoption tax credit.
You can’t say that the House Republicans aren’t constantly surprising. But then, Republicans making orphan children suffer to create tax breaks for the wealthy … no, I’m not really surprised.
Akhil Reed Amar has his take on what Gorsuch means by “originalist.”
Not all conservatives are originalists, nor are all originalists conservative. Most jurists, most of the time, follow modern judicial precedents rather than pondering first principles of constitutional text and history. Practical considerations also factor into most jurists’ decision making. Originalists are no different in this regard, but they are more apt to dwell on first principles of text and original meaning and to discard precedents violating these first principles.
The Warren court at its best was an originalist court, albeit a liberal originalist court. It overturned many precedents and rightly so. Plessy v. Ferguson flouted the Constitution’s explicit promises of racial equality; pre-Warren cases slighted the Constitution’s repeated affirmations of a “right to vote”; early-20th-century precedents ignored basic rights guaranteed by the 14th Amendment as plainly understood in the 1860s; and pre-Warren jurisprudence also undermined bedrock constitutional rights of political expression. So argued the 20th century’s greatest originalist and the Warren court’s driving force — the crusading liberal justice Hugo Black, appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Today, some of the best originalist work either comes from avowed liberals or supports various liberal outcomes.
Uh huh. Not thinking that’s what the founder of Fascism Forever has in mind.
David Dorsen hits the same subject.
Originalism proclaims that the Constitution should be interpreted according to how it was understood at the time of its ratification in 1789 and similarly for amendments, starting in 1791. Policy arguments and the consequences of different interpretations simply do not matter. For originalists, the Constitution is not alive; it is dead, static. …
Gorsuch’s 2016 law-review article reflects uncompromising originalism. For him, the Constitution makes an emphatic distinction between lawmakers and judges, with the latter simply enforcing the law and not writing it; judges should stick to enforcing the law and not be creative. To Gorsuch, a failure to adhere to originalism makes a judge a “pragmatic social-welfare maximizer” and leaves us “only with a radically underdetermined choice to make.” But he exaggerates. Non-originalist judges rely on precedent, history, the language of the Constitution and consequences. Gorsuch’s description is a caricature of the majority of justices.
What we have so far suggests that Gorsuch is a bigger jackass than Scalia who also happens to write better than Scalia. Somehow that’s not comforting.
Leonard Pitts and the anti-Trump nature of telling the truth.
Fox is still Fox. For proof, look no further than a peculiar little story that aired last week on “Fox & Friends.”
“Media bias on full display!” chirped the report breathlessly. “Newspapers now cashing in on T-shirts splashed with anti-President Trump rhetoric!”
So what, you ask, are these terrible anti-Trump slogans?
From The Washington Post: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”
From The Los Angeles Times: “Journalism Matters.”
From The Chicago Tribune: “Speaking Truth To Power Since 1847.”
My God, they’re so open about it. They mean to tell … the truth! Forget the wall, how fast can we expand Gitmo?
In just the last few days, we’ve had the bizarre spectacle of the so-called president accusing his predecessor of wiretapping him, based on no evidence whatsoever. Then his press secretary “clarified” by explaining that when Trump said “wiretapping,” he didn’t mean “wiretapping.” Meantime, the attorney general clearly lied under oath. And Russia goes drip drip drip.
Actually, Spicer explained that when Trump said Obama was wiretapping him, he didn’t mean wiretapping, he didn’t mean Obama, and he didn’t actually mean him, as in Trump. He just meant that someone did something to someone. Glad that’s cleared up.