Amid the mayhem of Trump’s first days in office, the Congressional Budget Office’s crushing report on the impact of the Republican health-care plan offers a moment of clarity. The Republican plan will deprive millions of health insurance, and raise the price for many more to pay for deep tax cuts for the rich. The math gives way to an obvious conclusion: This is the Republican mission.
Further proof will come on Thursday, when the administration is slated to present the outlines of its budget to the Congress. It will surely call for increased spending for the Pentagon and big tax cuts, all financed by deep cuts in social services for working and poor people.
The Pentagon—despite a cesspool of waste and fraud, and accounting books so convoluted that they still can’t be audited—will be showered with more money, with Trump planning a 54 percent increase.
Meanwhile, rural development, energy research, clean-water programs, preschool education, Pell Grants for college, affordable housing, Head Start—all are likely to be slashed. The State Department is slated for a cut of 37 percent; United Nations programs on health, development, peacekeeping, and more by 50 percent. The domestic discretionary budget—everything outside of Medicare and Social Security plus interest on national debt—will be cut to about half the ratio to GDP as seen under Ronald Reagan.
And as for the safety net, that’s certain to be targeted as well. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who would turn Medicaid into a block grant, as well as cap food stamps and other safety-net programs, has said, “We don’t want to turn the safety net into a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency, that drains them of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives.”
The problem is, this doesn’t work. Stripping people of health insurance puts lives at risk. Slashing domestic provision reduces opportunity, increases misery, and impoverishes our communities—from clean air and water to public schools to public parks and transportation. The rich get richer, but those that looked to Trump for help get shafted.
Trump has also launched the largest effort since Ronald Reagan to roll back regulations on corporations and privatize services. His first week featured an executive order instructing the Labor Department to block enforcement of the “fiduciary rule” on retirement advisers. The rule prohibits investment advisers from cheating their clients when recommending investments for retirement accounts, and Trump’s prompt action will ensure that they can continue to stiff their clients without fear. This will be followed by systematic efforts to weaken consumer, environmental, and worker protections. It isn’t an accident. It is what they do.