As The Real News reported, the White House has unveiled a budget proposal that slashes the safety net for tens of millions of people. It's called A New Foundation for American Greatness. Its main targets are programs for low-income Americans including well over $1 trillion in cuts to Medicaid and welfare and tens of billions for disability benefits and student loans. Meanwhile, the budget proposes what it calls the biggest ever tax cut and a 10% increase in military spending.
As Richard Wolff told to RT :
This is the most kind of horrific, classic right-wing, Republican, conservative notion of what their hero would do. And Mr. Trump is trying to become their hero, and doing a pretty good job it seems to me.
This budget should put to rest any notion, that Mr. Trump is something different, something beyond the conventional right-wing, left-wing split of the Republicans and Democrats. This is good, old 'cut the taxes for the rich and take it out in everybody's back'. It goes against what he promised, but even more than that: this is going to make the gap between the rich and the poor worse, it's going to make supports for the middle class even weaker than they've been before.
It's sort of the sign of the society rushing headlong into the self-destruction of a gap between rich and poor that is not sustainable in most countries, and certainly not in one that used to pride itself on giving everybody a chance, giving everybody a leg-up, putting everyone in the middle class. This is the end of all of that, even if Trump doesn't get it all.
The overall thrust is, unmistakably, we are going backwards historically, into the 19th century.
The very programs Trump is cutting, are programs that in many different ways put money into this economy, help public services. And we are going to see the effects, even if it's not bad as this budget proposal wants it. Those effects are going to be felt by everyone, and above all, by the middle and lower income people who don't need another blow in the face, who will not get the benefits of the tax-cuts, but will face a massive downsizing of what it is they've come to count on.
I follow closely the statements of large bankers, of large hedge funds operators. They like Trump, they are happy with Trump. They see the tax-cuts he's pushing, they see the deregulation he's pushing. He is delivering to that part of the Republican party what he promised them. And he is deciding to do that in classic fashion, by kind of reneging the promises he made to the average people.
The rich would have voted for Mr. Trump so that they can be richer at the end of his presidency, than they were, going in. That seems to be as far as those folks can see and we're going to live with the consequences of that mentality.
On Capitol Hill, Senator Bernie Sanders denounced Trump's proposal:
This is a budget which will make it harder for our children to get a decent education, harder for working families to get the healthcare they desperately need, harder for families to put food on the table, harder to protect our environment, and harder for the elderly to live out their retirement years in dignity. This is a budget that is immoral, and that will cause an enormous amount of pain for the most vulnerable people in our nation.
Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research also spoke to The Real News about the huge cuts that Trump administration is about to bring for what has remained from the US welfare state:
My guess is it's probably bigger than the cuts the Ronald Reagan had for low-income programs. It's important to keep in mind, not all this is targeting low income. He does disproportionately hit low-income, but the better or worse, there's not that much money that we give to low-income people now. So a lot of the cuts here aren't really directed at low-income people. I'm not trivializing the impact on low-income people, it is bad.
Roughly a quarter of Medicaid spending is for seniors, many of whom aren't low income or at least weren't low-income during their working lifetime. Many of these are seniors that are in nursing home facilities, and they spent through their assets, and they now qualify for Medicaid. So that's a very, very big hit.
Also in here, there is huge cuts to the domestic discretionary portion of the budget. This is most of what we think of as the Federal Government: the National Parks, the National Endowment for the Arts, humanities, NIH, the National Institutes of Health. He's projecting cuts over the course of a decade of about 50% for those programs. That's an enormous cutback on the size of those programs.
Also, very big hits for federal employees. He's proposing large cuts to their pay, to their retirement benefits, and I'll have to double-check this, but I believe he's even proposing to cut pensions for people who are already retired. This is money that they worked for, and he's going to take it away from them.
Unfortunately, it happens exactly as described by the blog, right after Trump's election: “Trump purely represents the ruthless and direct cynicism of the elites: Yes, we are the one percent who have exploited you and impoverished you, and we want to govern so that to make sure that you will never rise up. Neoliberalism officially passes the torch to a ruthless, modern Feudalism ...”
The 'anti-establishment Trump' joke is over for good and the American people will pay for it.