What’s different about Donald Trump is that his inability to handle the weight and responsibility of his office is not something that crept up gradually
.. Instead it’s been a defining feature of his administration from Day 1 — and indeed was obvious during the campaign that elected him.
.. the president’s unfitness is not really a Harvey Weinstein-style “open secret,” an awful reality known to insiders
.. anyone who reads the papers (this one especially) knows that some combination of Trump’s personality and temperament and advancing age leave him constantly undone by the obligations of the presidency.
.. the book may be dubious in some particulars but as the consummate insiders Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen wrote on Thursday, the parts about Trump’s capabilities and mental state “ring unambiguously true.”
.. the 25th Amendment option isn’t happening — not without some major presidential deterioration in the midst of a major crisis, and probably not even then.
.. So unless Robert Mueller has more goods than I expect, we are going to live for the next few years in the way that America lived during the waning days of Nixon, the end of the Wilson administration
.. the central question of these years is not a normal policy question, or even the abnormal sort that the Resistance and other fascism-fearers expect to face.
.. The idea of a right-populist agenda died with Bannon’s exit from the White House
.. the standard-issue G.O.P. agenda has little left after the tax cuts
.. Trump’s authoritarian impulses, while genuine, seem unlikely to produce even aggrandizement on the scale of past presidents from F.D.R. to Nixon, because he has no competence to execute on them.
.. Can the people who surround Donald Trump work around his incapacity successfully enough to keep his unfitness from producing a historic calamity?
.. the men and women of the West Wing, for all that the media was ridiculing them, actually felt they had a responsibility to the country,”
.. the work has been necessary and important, and the achievement of relative stability a genuine service to the United States.
.. Can it continue in the face of some greater crisis than Trump has yet confronted? Can it continue if the Democrats take a share of power or if the president’s own family faces legal jeopardy?
.. Is the American system more able to correct for presidential incapacity than some of us have feared?
The GOP has married its fortunes to a fake news industry that has been driving & chasing its audience’s anger deeper & deeper into extremism and fantasy for over 2 decades. A country that mistakes Fox or Breitbart for journalism, or Mr. McConnell or Mr Ryan for anything but thieves (or Obama for a socialist), is a country that can mistake Trump for an intelligent adult.
.. Republican Party interest resides in power, not in government.
What they adore is a lack of government, a lack of free and fair elections, a lack of consumer, environmental and worker protection, a lack of affordable healthcare, a lack of education, information, science and progress… a lack of income taxes to pay for any sort of decent civilization for the non-rich masses.
.. Trump The Useful Idiot is a perfectly fine fake President for Republican pirates and Reverse Robin Hoods to decimate America with fake justices, fake elections, fake healthcare and the fraudulent Prosperity Gospel that has reduced America to a shameful, unrepresentative oligarchic state.
.. The more the media rails about Trump’s mental status, the more the third of the electorate which supports him will feel the vicarious paranoia and outrage against the “elites” who, they feel with some justification, are trying to gaslight him out of office sooner rather than later.
.. As long as the stock market keeps booming and the rich keep growing richer, the #Resistance will continue playing out as a soap opera for our aghast entertainment.
.. The media had their chance to destroy Trump’s candidacy. Instead they nourished it with $5 billion worth of free advertising. His TV rallies and debates were ratings bonanzas. Media mogul Les Moonves even gloated that Trump “may not be good for America, but he’s damned good for CBS!”
With Steve Bannon out of the White House, it’s clearer than ever that Donald Trump’s promise to be a populist fighting for ordinary workers was worth about as much as any other Trump promise — that is, nothing.
His agenda, such as it is, amounts to reverse Robin Hood with extra racism — the conventional Republican strategy of taking from struggling families to give to the rich, while distracting lower-income whites by attacking Those People, with the only difference being just how blatantly he plays the race card.
.. So is the Trump agenda dead? Not necessarily, because trickle-down has never been the whole story of the Republican assault on workers. Or to put it another way: Don’t just watch Congress, keep your eyes on what federal agencies are doing.
.. According to the Congressional Budget Office, back in 1980 the top 1 percent paid 33 percent of its income in federal taxes. Under Reagan, that share briefly fell below 25 percent. But as of 2013, the most recent year covered, Obama’s tax hikes had brought federal taxes on the 1 percent back up to 34 percent of income.
.. Medicaid, which in 1980 covered only 7 percent of nonelderly Americans. Today that number is up to 21 percent.
.. While the rich still pay taxes and the safety net has in some ways gotten stronger, the decades since Reagan have nonetheless been marked by vastly increased inequality, with stagnating wages for most, but soaring incomes for a tiny elite. How did that happen?
Yes, globalization probably played some role, as did technology. But other wealthy countries, just as exposed to the winds of global change, haven’t seen anything like America’s headlong rush into a new Gilded Age. To understand what happened to us, and in particular to American workers, you need to look at policy
.. truck drivers, whose pay used to make them members of the middle class. No more: Their real wages have fallen about a third since the 1970s, with most of the decline taking place during the Reagan years.
.. What happened to truckers was, basically, the collapse of their bargaining power due in part to a changed ideological climate — not least at the National Labor Relations Board — that encouraged private employers to fight unionization, and in part to deregulation that undercut the position of unionized firms.
.. Does anyone doubt that financial deregulation played an important role in surging incomes at the very top of the income distribution?
Nothing in his history as a developer showed any inclination to a friend of working people:
- He bought foreign steel because it was cheaper;
- he imported foreign workers because he could pay them less and they are more vulnerable;
- he stiffed small contractors because they couldn’t fight back.
.. I bristle when i hear the chattering class call Trump a populist. He’s not. Like the entire GOP, he is a classist, mouthing platitudes to fool the masses but acting as reverse Robin Hoods when it really counts. The entire charade of repealing ACA is a prime example
.. Populists are politicians who fight to help people who need the federal government to protect them against the rich and powerful.
.. James J: .. For those who do not know and associate with members of the working class, voting against one’s own economic self interest is a head-scratcher. But today’s working class is not your father’s working class. It certainly is not MY father’s working class.
Dad, because of The Depression and then war in Europe, never graduated high school. But he was an avid reader — our small working class home in a Midwest auto town was filled with books, newspapers and magazines of all varieties. He and our neighbors were union and they knew the issues.
Today’s working class has an appetite for information, but the source of that info is polluted. It comes from outlets owned by the same corporate billionaires who are picking workers’ pockets for 40 hours a week.
The outlets — Fox News, Breitbart… — are managed by very intelligent, very schooled and very slick pros. They play the intellectually lazy and proudly uneducated like a symphony; the best cons are the ones where the marks walk away thinking they got the best of the deal.
Today’s working class thinks it understands complex issues because its members read Tweets and listen to manipulating right-wing talk radio all day.
And once whipped into a hateful lather by millionaires con artists like Rush and Hannity and Bannon, economic self interest disappears behind a fog of anger and dogma.
Trump’s budget plan would follow through on a bill passed by House Republicans to cut more than $800 billion over 10 years.
.. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that this could cut off Medicaid benefits for about 10 million people over the next decade.
.. The White House also will call for giving states more flexibility to impose work requirements for people in different kinds of anti-poverty programs
.. Numerous social-welfare programs grew after the financial crisis, leading to complaints from many Republicans that more should be done to shift people out of these programs and back into the workforce. Shortly after he was sworn in, Trump said, “We want to get our people off welfare and back to work. . . . It’s out of control.”
.. In that budget, he sought a big increase in military and border spending combined with major cuts to housing, environmental protection, foreign aid, research and development.
.. The White House also is expected to propose changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, though precise details couldn’t be learned. SNAP is the modern version of food stamps, and it swelled following the financial crisis
.. As the economy has improved, enrollment in the program hasn’t changed as much as many had forecast.
.. An average of 44 million people received SNAP benefits in 2016, down from a peak of 47 million in 2013. Just 28 million people received the benefits in 2008.
.. SNAP already has a work requirement, which typically cuts benefits for most able-bodied adults who don’t have children. But states were given more flexibility during the recent economic downturn to extend the benefits for a longer period
.. the U.S. government spends between $680 billion and $800 billion a year on anti-poverty programs, and considering wholesale changes to many of these initiatives is worthwhile, given questions about the effectiveness of how the money is spent.
.. it could pave the way for states to pursue even stricter restrictions, such as drug tests, that courts have often rejected.
.. In March, the White House signaled that it wanted to eliminate money for a range of other programs that are funded each year by Congress. This included federal funding for Habitat for Humanity, subsidized school lunches and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
.. a change in the funding for Social Security’s Supplemental Security Income program, which provide cash benefits for the poor and disabled.
.. budget director, former South Carolina congressman Mick Mulvaney
.. A key element of the budget plan will be the assumption that huge tax cuts will result in an unprecedented level of economic growth.
.. these tax cuts would end up creating trillions of dollars in new revenue, something budget experts from both parties have disputed.
.. The tax cuts would particularly benefit the wealthiest Americans, as Trump has proposing cutting the estate tax, capital gains and business tax rates.
.. there has been a deficit in the United States every year since the end of the Clinton administration
.. “People think government is cheaper than it is because we’ve allowed ourselves to borrow money for a long period of time and not worry about paying it back.”
.. Its premise is that the creation of more wealth will help all Americans succeed, and the Trump administration believes that some anti-poverty programs have created a culture of dependency that prevents people from re-entering the workforce.
.. “I don’t think the Republicans on the Hill are going to feel a strong compulsion to follow the president,” Haskins said. “They are not afraid of him.”
.. the White House is expected to call for $200 billion for infrastructure projects and an additional $25 billion over 10 years for a new program designed by Ivanka Trump that would create six weeks of parental leave benefits.
An objective look at the reality of today’s economy, our demographics and our income distribution suggests that the current tax debate is terribly misguided.
.. the increasing tendency of Republicans to engage in reverse Robin Hoodism — paying for huge breaks for the wealthy by raising taxes or cutting spending on the poor — in an economy that generates too much inequality before taxes kick in is unjust and terrible policy
.. For Democrats, it means abandoning the notion that we can have everything we want and send the bill to the top 1 percent, and accepting that the corporate tax system is a hot mess that needs repair.
.. But “get it from the rich” can’t be the extent of every Democratic tax plan.
.. private business will provide optimal levels of public goods and services such as education, transportation, health care and retirement security, global protection (both defense and climate), the justice system, labor and financial market oversight, and anti-poverty and countercyclical policies
.. Since 1970, the federal revenue share of the gross domestic product has averaged 17.4 percent, ranging from around 15 to 20 percent. It’s just under 18 percent today. Congressional Budget Office analysis reveals that meeting the promises of Social Security and Medicare would require about 2.5 percentage points more than that by 2027.
That takes us slightly past the upper bound of the historical record, but the extent of our aging demographics is historically unique.
.. Tax reform .. should be revenue positive.