Tracking all the scandals

It’s incredibly difficult to stay focused on the treasonous, scandal-by-the-hour antics of the Trump administration these days. The President’s immaturity and impulsiveness are truly frightening. His bumbling incompetence is unbelievable. And the sheer greed of Trump and his family members is astounding. Yet, one recent poll showed 84 percent of Republicans still think he is doing a great job.

It leaves one almost speechless with frustration.

The rest of the world cannot understand how our country has transformed from a much-admired democracy to a banana republic in just a few years, except for Saudi Arabia, whose citizens gave a collective shrug during Trump’s May visit. As one person said, “That’s how a king acts.” But how could we have exchanged cerebral and scandal-free President Obama for the ridiculous and traitorous Trump, not in a military coup but through the voting booth? How could the United States, with its renowned institutions of higher learning, have chosen someone so uneducated, inarticulate, and clearly in far over his head as the leader of the free world?

The Trump presidency is less than six months old, but it’s hard to imagine it can survive the year at this intense pace of unconscionable behavior by the president, his family, his aides and a complicit Republican Congress. The appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special prosecutor over the Trump/Russia investigation provides a glimmer of hope, but it may be years before his work is completed. It seems likely that Trump will explode far sooner.

Those of us who lived through Watergate and President Nixon’s resignation know a president can self-destruct, although the prospect of a President Pence is hardly comforting. Pence’s motivation seems to be turning our democracy into a Christian theocracy, and his ideas about women make the ’50s look like a feminist era.

Last week, while President Trump traveled the world in his embarrassing, blundering fashion, claiming exhaustion after just one day, his administration released the fiscal 2018 budget which is far worse than the direst predictions. Trump proposes massive Medicaid cuts, more than $800 billion over 10 years, leaving about 10 million Americans with no health care. The budget anticipates huge cuts in other anti-poverty programs, such as food stamps and Social Security Disability Insurance, allowing states to put stricter work requirements on recipients, even if they’re disabled or mentally ill.

Where will all these budget savings go? Not to the budget deficit or better ways of helping low-income people. Instead, Trump will cut taxes for the wealthy under the myth of trickle-down economics, a fable shattered by recent history. Nevertheless, administration officials continue to insist that tax cuts for the rich will create “trillions of dollars in new revenue,” a bold lie they can’t possibly believe.

Budget director Mick Mulvaney tried to sell the budget as “compassion” for wealthy taxpayers and insisted that many recipients of public assistance programs such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program or Social Security Disability Insurance don’t really need the help. Mulvaney said: “We’re no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people on those programs, but by the number of people we help get off of those programs.” Once you make them ineligible, they’re off the program, you see—never mind how much they still need health care or disability payments. It’s clear that millions will suffer greatly if this budget is ever adopted.

Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, summed up the Trump budget nicely, telling the Washington Post that “the indications are strong this budget will feature Robin-Hood-in-reverse policies in an unprecedented scale.” In other words, take from the poor and give to the rich.