We’re now getting a feel for what it was like to work in a business run by Donald Trump.
His budget is out, and it predicts we will have super-duper, excellent, great – no, huge – economic growth based on monster tax cuts for the rich and cuts in spending that will leave the poor with no money to buy anything.
It was produced in concert with that great health care bill, which the Congressional Budget Office now estimates would cost 23 million Americans their insurance coverage over the next 10 years.
On the plus side, in 10 years Trump will definitely not be president. Unless there’s a coup.
We’re being run like a bad Atlantic City casino. It’s only a matter of time before the government will be trying to make ends meet by selling its name to golf course developers and marketing USA Steaks.
The budget came out while Trump was overseas, talking about peace with Pope Francis, who occasionally looked as cheerful as if he was watching his car being towed away.
Meanwhile at home, the detailed presidential spending plan was being unveiled, like the magic show at a mismanaged gambling house tottering toward bankruptcy court. There were a few, um, flaws. For one thing, the budget appeared to count the same $2 trillion twice. We hate when a government does that.
It also presumes that a country with an aging population is going to spur economic growth by battling immigration. And the big tax-cutting plan that is the basis of said explosive growth is still just that one-page summary the administration handed out to catcalls last month.
And it has two names.
“Well, it’s called the New Foundation for American Greatness, but I wanted to call it the Taxpayer First Budget,” said budget director Mick Mulvaney at the rollout.
Which do you prefer, people? I am imagining a salesman urging his customer to buy extra supplies “so you'll be ready for the New Foundation for American Greatness.” Maybe we could just call it by the nickname it has already acquired in the outside world, Thing that Won’t Add Up (TWAUP). I sort of like TWAUP. It sounds like a dyspeptic frog.
Congress could not have been less enthusiastic about the president’s plan if the members had been with the pope at that picture-taking session. Perhaps they were remembering that one of Trump’s casinos went on to a career that involved ultimately being sold for 4 cents on the dollar.
“Probably dead on arrival,” said Sen. John McCain when the budget emerged.
You have to believe that McCain is having a good time these days. He made his name as the tough-talking, truth-telling presidential candidate before he actually won a nomination and became the cranky guy who looked as if he was yelling at kids to get off his lawn. Then he was the bored loyal Republican during the Obama administration. And now, it’s back to anything goes.
The spending cuts were so ridiculous that nobody was taking them very seriously. (Good luck with squashing the National Institutes of Health.) But in this administration, just because something is stupid and universally derided doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention. These days, that’s life as we know it, and Trump’s plan could serve as a potential justification for whatever less-nutty cuts the Republican majority is going to try to make. So let’s treat them seriously for a minute.
Mulvaney claimed the new budget was all about “compassion.” It’s not everybody whose heart bleeds so much for wealthy taxpayers that he’s prepared to feed them the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
But Mulvaney used to be a leader in a House caucus so conservative that even the rest of the Republican majority thought they were sort of bananas. Now he’s definitely in the running for most awful Cabinet member, even in a competition that includes Jeff Sessions.
The goal of dismantling the social safety net, Mulvaney said, was to make recipients of federal aid “take charge of their own lives.” You could certainly do some of this by identifying, say, disabled Social Security recipients who might be capable of working and giving them the right training. But that presumes your goal is actually to make the programs better.
“There are a number of things that could be done. But they’re very labor-intensive,” said Cristina Martin Firvida of the AARP.
And the effort would probably have to be led by an administration that has made more than 54 nominations for the 500-plus top positions requiring Senate confirmation.
The Trump budget – just one more carp, please – is apparently going to try to limit food stamp benefits to poor families with a lot of young children. Yes! The Department of Agriculture says it’s going to cap food stamps at six people per household. If another kid comes along, they’re out of luck.
The budget also eliminates all government payments to Planned Parenthood.
Roll the dice.