Shortly before he announced his retirement, Mr. Hatch gushed about Mr. Trump that “we’re going to make this the greatest presidency that we’ve seen, not only in generations, but maybe ever.”
This has been a year of extraordinary accomplishment for the Trump Administration,” Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, said. “Thank you, Mr. President, for all you are doing.” Paul Ryan, the House Speaker, added that passing the tax bill “could not have been done without exquisite Presidential leadership.” Senator Orrin Hatch, of Utah, spoke directly to Trump, saying, “You are one heckuva leader, and we’re all benefitting from it.” And Congresswoman Diane Black, of Tennessee, put it even more bluntly. “Thank you, President Trump, for allowing us to have you as our President,” she said.
It is well known that Trump, his ego as fragile as an eggshell, demands constant flattery. But this was cravenness of a level rare even for Washington. Perhaps the Republican senators and representatives were taking their cue from Mike Pence. At an end-of-year Cabinet meeting that was held shortly before the celebration on the South Lawn, the Vice-President praised his boss fourteen times in three minutes—once every 12.5 seconds, the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake pointed out—and after Pence had finished his obsequious speech, other Cabinet members chimed in with their own gushing tributes.
.. Not only do we have a chronically insecure President with Napoleonic pretensions. We also have Republican leadership that is happy to feed those pretensions in order to get its way. For much of 2017, many Trump antagonists, myself included, have taken consolation from the belief that he wasn’t achieving much.
.. The appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court received a lot of attention, of course. At least equally important, though, was the appointment of more than seventy conservative judges to lower courts. And right-wing zealots have also been parachuted into the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Communications Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and other regulatory agencies, where they are busy stripping away many of the protections that previous Administrations put in place, such as clean-air regulations, workplace rules, and guarantees of net neutrality.
.. the introduction of tax breaks for private-school tuition fees. Ted Cruz wasn’t exaggerating when he described the latter provision, which he proposed, as potentially the biggest piece of federal school-choice legislation in history.
.. Paul Ryan has already signalled what that means: a renewed assault on Medicare and Medicaid.
In a performance that would have embarrassed the most obsequious lackey of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Vice President Mike Pence delivered an encomium to his boss, who sat across the table with arms folded over his chest, absorbing abasement as his due.
“I want to thank you, Mr. President,” Pence said. “I want to thank you for speaking on behalf of and fighting every day for the forgotten men and women of America. Because of your determination, because of your leadership, the forgotten men and women of America are forgotten no more. And we are making America great again.” The president thanked him for his kind words, and Pence replied, “Thank you, Mr. President, and God bless you.”
.. Trump and establishment Republicans adopt one another’s worst qualities. Trump, who campaigned as a putative economic populist — even calling for higher taxes on the rich — will soon sign into law the tax plan of the House speaker Paul Ryan’s Ayn Randian dreams. The majority of elected Republicans, in turn, are assuming a posture of slavish submission to Trump, worshiping their dear leader and collaborating in the maintenance of his alternative reality.
.. From a secular perspective, Pence, like many other Republicans, appears to be a person inclined to authoritarianism.
.. Erich Fromm, a German-Jewish psychoanalyst who fled Nazism, described authoritarian personalities as simultaneously craving power and submission. “The authoritarian character loves those conditions that limit human freedom; he loves being submitted to fate,” he wrote. Fate, in his formulation, can be the laws of the market, the will of God, or the whims of a leader. According to Fromm, authoritarians might make a show of valuing freedom and independence — watchwords of the American right — but long to be ruled by a stronger force.
.. Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, spoke of his “love” for the president, who he described as “one heck of a leader.” He added, “We’re going to keep fighting and we’re going to make this the greatest presidency that we’ve seen not only in generations, but maybe ever.”
.. Either Hatch really believes this, or he believes in the utility of unabashed sycophancy. Neither possibility suggests he will be an ally in preserving democracy.
.. participating in the ludicrous fiction that there was a pro-Hillary Clinton conspiracy afoot in the F.B.I., an entity led by a succession of Republicans and described by one agent during the election as “Trumpland.”
.. If Republicans were as loyal to the country as they are to the president, they’d want to know exactly what had Strzok so alarmed.
.. It is, as they say, not normal for erstwhile law-and-order Republicans to attack the F.B.I. for being overzealous in its pursuit of Russian subversion.
.. Nunes’s inquiry appears similar to Trump’s voter fraud commission
.. Hannah Arendt once wrote of this sort of policy-as-disinformation: “Totalitarianism will not be satisfied to assert, in the face of contrary facts, that unemployment does not exist; it will abolish unemployment benefits as part of its propaganda.”
.. a lot of us have assumed that Republicans are putting up with Trump out of fear of their base or lust for tax cuts. We’ve imagined that beneath our mutual partisan loathing lies some remaining shared commitment to liberal democracy.
.. But there’s another possibility, which is that a critical mass of Republicans like being in thrall to a man who seems strong enough to will his own reality, and bold enough to voice their atavistic hatreds. Maybe Trump is changing Republicans, or maybe he’s just giving men like Pence permission to be who they already were.
Would you be willing to take health care away from a thousand children with the bad luck to have been born into low-income families so that you could give millions of extra dollars to just one wealthy heir?
.. The other day Senator Orrin Hatch, asked about the program (which he helped create), once again insisted that it will be funded — but without saying when or how (and there don’t seem to be any signs of movement on the issue). And he further declared, “The reason CHIP’s having trouble is that we don’t have money anymore.” Then he voted for an immense tax cut.
.. The number of taxable estates is also, by the way, well under one one-thousandth of the number of children covered by CHIP.
.. but children’s health care is relatively cheap compared with care for older Americans. In fiscal 2016 the program cost only $15 billion, a tiny share of the federal budget.
As you see, then, my question wasn’t at all hypothetical. By their actions, Republicans are showing that they consider it more important to give extra millions to one already wealthy heir than to provide health care to a thousand children.
.. And when you hear about family farms broken up to pay estate tax, remember: Nobody has ever come up with a modern example.
.. Then there’s the argument of Senator Chuck Grassley that we need to eliminate estate taxes to reward those who don’t spend their money on “booze or women or movies.” Yes, indeed, letting the likes of Donald Trump Jr. inherit wealth tax-free is a reward for their fathers’ austere lifestyles.
.. there’s considerable evidence that aiding lower-income children actually saves money in the long run... Children who get adequate care are more likely to be healthier and more productive when they become adults, which means that they’ll earn more and pay more in taxes. They’re also less likely to become disabled and need government support. One recent study estimated that the government in fact earns a return of between 2 and 7 percent on the money it spends insuring children... broadly similar results have been found for the food stamp program: Ensuring adequate nutrition for the young means healthier, more productive adults, so that in the long run this aid costs taxpayers little or nothing... That is, however, exactly what’s happening. And it’s as bad, in its own way, as that same party’s embrace of a child molester because they expect him to vote for tax cuts.