The theme that unites all of Trump’s initiatives so far is their unnecessary cruelty.
His new budget, released on Friday, comes down especially hard on the poor – imposing unprecedented cuts in low-income housing, job training, food assistance, legal services, help to distressed rural communities, nutrition for new mothers and their infants, funds to keep poor families warm, even “meals on wheels”.
These cuts come at a time when more American families are in poverty than ever before, including one in five children.
Why is Trump doing this? To pay for the biggest hike in military spending since the 1980s. Yet the US already spends more on its military than the next seven biggest military budgets put together.
He ran for president as a man of the people, who was going to fight for those who were left behind, but everything we’re hearing about his forthcoming federal budget says exactly the opposite: Spending that’s a great deal for big corporations that have hired armies of lobbyists, and great for the wealthiest few like himself, but leaving everyone else a lot worse off.
Four important early warning flares:
1. Trump’s budget will increase military spending by 10 per cent. And that’s frankly scary for a lot of reasons, from what it signals about his foreign policy priorities to the impact of that whopping spending hike on other parts of the budget.
2. Trump actually plans to cut corporate taxes (even though US corporate profits after are higher as a percentage of the economy than they’ve been since 1947).
3. He’s going to pay for this – in part – by cutting billions of dollars from the Environmental Protection Agency (which would strip the EPA of almost all its capacity to enforce environmental laws and regulations, at a time when climate change threatens the future of the planet). This is precisely the opposite of what the United States ought to be doing.
4. Last – but by no means least – huge leaps in military spending plus tax cuts will also mean big cuts to programs such as food stamps and Medicaid (at a time when the U.S. has the highest poverty rate among all advanced nations, including more than one in five American children).
This is only the first step in the budget process, but with Republicans in control of both the House and the Senate these priorities have a good chance of being enacted.
This article was originally published on Robert Reich’s website.
Robert Reich is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the 20th century. He has written 14 books, including the best sellers Aftershock, The Work of Nations, Beyond Outrage and his most recent, Saving Capitalism. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, Inequality for All.