Trump is laugh­ing at the chumps who elected him

The Day - - OPINION - The Wash­ing­ton Post

Vot­ers who thought Pres­i­dent Trump would at least try to ful­fill his pop­ulist, Amer­ica-first cam­paign prom­ises were cyn­i­cally and cru­elly de­ceived.

T he Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is an aber­ra­tion, an out­rage, a threat to the na­tion’s very soul. But most of all it’s a great big fraud.

Vot­ers who thought Pres­i­dent Trump would at least try to ful­fill his pop­ulist, Amer­ica-first cam­paign prom­ises were cyn­i­cally and cru­elly de­ceived. Trump pla­cates these sup­port­ers with rhetoric, dis­tracts them with cul­tural war­fare and en­cour­ages them to seek refuge in cul­tural chau­vin­ism. What he doesn’t do for them is de­liver.

The most re­cent ev­i­dence of Trump’s dis­hon­esty comes in the bud­get and in­fra­struc­ture plans the ad­min­is­tra­tion re­leased Mon­day. Both are half smoke-and-mir­rors, half tra­di­tional Repub­li­can eco­nomic pol­icy. For­give the re­dun­dancy.

Re­mem­ber how the pres­i­dent promised a $1 tril­lion pro­gram to re­build the na­tion’s roads, bridges, air­ports and rail­roads? Well, he claims to be do­ing even more — $1.5 tril­lion in in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing over the next decade. But the prom­ise comes with lit­tle or no new fed­eral money, which means it barely qual­i­fies as an idle wish.

Trump says he wants to spend just $200 bil­lion over 10 years on in­fra­struc­ture, with cities and states pro­vid­ing the rest. But may­ors and gover­nors don’t have $1.3 tril­lion ly­ing around; ask them, if you don’t be­lieve me. And since the $200 bil­lion is sup­posed to come from sav­ings else­where in the bud­get, Trump ef­fec­tively plans to give with one hand and take away with the other.

Any­one who ex­pected projects on the scale of Hoover Dam or the in­ter­state high­way sys­tem should re­al­ize that Trump will never come through, be­cause he has no idea how. If he were re­ally the pharaonic builder he brags of be­ing, don’t you think he’d have an ac­tual plan rather than a vague, un­der­funded set of hopes? Many vot­ers per­haps did not re­al­ize that the Trump Or­ga­ni­za­tion’s busi­ness model had lit­tle to do with ac­tual con­struc­tion and ev­ery­thing to do with brand­ing. The pres­i­dent’s very good at that. But you can’t take an out­dated port and brand it into be­ing deep enough to ac­com­mo­date the new­est su­per­tankers.

Trump cam­paigned as the pur­ported cham­pion of a work­ing class that was be­ing robbed blind by das­tardly elites. He has gov­erned, how­ever, as rob­ber-in-chief.

The tax bill that Repub­li­cans passed and Trump signed into law de­liv­ers the lion’s share of its ben­e­fits to cor­po­ra­tions and the rich. The pres­i­dent hopes that mid­dle-class tax­pay­ers will be so trans­fixed by see­ing a lit­tle more in their pay­checks that they fail to no­tice how other costs, such as health care, are ris­ing be­cause of his poli­cies.

Trump has changed GOP dogma in one re­gard: The party no longer even pre­tends to stand for fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity. Repub­li­cans are ap­par­ently wild-eyed Key­ne­sians now, cut­ting taxes and boost­ing spend­ing in an at­tempt to stim­u­late the econ­omy. Trump an­tic­i­pates bal­loon­ing the na­tional debt by $7 tril­lion over the next decade.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a sup­posed cham­pion of small gov­ern­ment and balanced bud­gets, goes along like a lit­tle mouse.

Trump drew loud cheers at his cam­paign ral­lies when he com­plained about the high cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, say­ing all that money would be bet­ter spent at home. But the deal he signed last week will in­crease de­fense spend­ing by $195 bil­lion over the next two years, and his bud­get di­rec­tor sug­gested the mil­i­tary could get even more.

So is there more money for ev­ery­body? No, not for pro­grams that pro­vide im­por­tant sup­port to Trump’s base. The pres­i­dent pledged to main­tain or strengthen the so­cial safety net, but — sit down, you won’t be­lieve this — he lied.

His bud­get cuts $554 bil­lion in Medi­care spend­ing over 10 years, which is of con­cern to any­one over 65. It cuts up to $250 bil­lion in Med­i­caid spend­ing, which has im­pli­ca­tions for any­body who has a loved one in a nurs­ing home. Trump wants to cut $214 bil­lion from the Sup­ple­men­tal Nutri­tion As­sis­tance Pro­gram, bet­ter known as food stamps, a vi­tal source of help for the work­ing poor.

The idea of Don­ald Trump as some sort of Man of the Peo­ple was laugh­able from the start — a boast­ful plu­to­crat who lives in a gold-plated aerie above Fifth Av­enue, claim­ing lunch-bucket sol­i­dar­ity with fac­tory work­ers and coal min­ers. He sold it, though, largely by ce­ment­ing a racial and cul­tural kin­ship and shame­lessly mis­rep­re­sent­ing his in­ten­tions.

Trump tells lit­tle lies all the time. But this is the Big Lie that must be con­stantly ex­posed be­tween now and the Novem­ber elec­tion: Trump is wors­en­ing the so­ci­ety’s bias in fa­vor of the wealthy — and laugh­ing at the chumps who put him in of­fice.

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