EDITOR’S NOTE: Each week we cross-post an excerpt from Katrina vanden Heuvel’s column at WashingtonPost.com. Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.
We tend to associate the word “brutality” with physical violence, especially violence at the hands of the state. It calls to mind police shootings, torture, and war. But there is another form of brutality that is less apparent to the naked eye—the brutality of policy.
In recent weeks, the Trump administration has announced policy proposals that appear to serve little purpose other than cruelty. For example, the Labor Department is apparently planning to roll back child-labor protections that limit the hours that teenagers can spend performing dangerous jobs, such as operating chain saws and trash compactors. The agency risibly described its proposal as an effort to “launch more family-sustaining careers by removing current regulatory restrictions” in a summary of the draft regulation obtained by Bloomberg Law. Worker and child-labor advocates, however, credit the rules with significant reductions in the number of teenagers who are injured or killed.
After blowing up the deficit with tax cuts for corporations and the rich, the White House is now using the pretense of fiscal responsibility to ask Congress to cut $15 billion in approved spending, including some $7 billion from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The program, which provides health coverage for 9 million low-income kids and pregnant mothers, was extended for a decade earlier this year after Republicans allowed funding to expire last fall amid their attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In defense of its request, the Trump administration has claimed that cuts would come from funds that are unlikely to be spent. If that’s the case, however, then “there are no savings,” as Georgetown Law professor David Super has noted. This means that Trump’s plan, should Congress approve it, will either accomplish nothing or will deprive children and families in need of care.
Read the full text of Katrina’s column here.