Monday, April 6, 2020
MEXICAN CORONAVIRUS CASES SPIKE 21% OVER WEEKEND - NANCY PELOSI SAYS "FREE" HEALTHCARE IN MEXIFORNIA ALONG WITH BILLIONS IN ANCHOR BABY WELFARE ARE WAITING FOR ALL DEM VOTING ILLEGALS
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THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOR THE RICH - We must cut social security and all social programs we can grab to offset tax cuts, bailouts and handouts to Wall Street's criminals
THE GOAL OF THE TRUMP REGIME IS TO TRANSFER EVEN MORE OF THE ECONOMY TO THE BANKSTER CLASS THAN BARACK OBAMA AND JOE BIDEN EVEN DREAMED POSSIBLE.
“The proposed cuts would transfer trillions of dollars from the masses of working people into the hands of the financial aristocracy and affluent upper-middle class, having devastating consequences for hundreds of millions of workers from cradle to grave and exposing the utter fraud of Trump’s claim to represent the “forgotten men and women.”
What If Trump Wins?
The Washington Monthly explores the policy consequences of a second Trump term.
by The Editors
For many people, the prospect of what might happen if Donald Trump wins a second term is too awful to contemplate. But, as we are witnessing with the coronavirus, not contemplating scenarios that have at least some chance of happening is a grave mistake. Indeed, it’s a mistake that helped elect Trump in the first place.
Ideally, the press corps would be hard at work exploring this question. Alas, it is not. In the thousands of presidential campaign stories that have been published this year, you will be hard pressed to find much reporting or informed speculation about what policies Trump might pursue if he’s reelected, or what the consequences might be if he were successful in enacting them. That’s not because such things aren’t knowable in advance. If that were the problem, political reporters wouldn’t have spent the last six months gaming out which candidates were, say, likely to win which primaries. The real reason campaign journalists don’t do this kind of work is that it’s not what they’re trained to do—and, perhaps, it’s not what most people want to read.
We think our readers are different. So we gathered a distinguished group of area experts and beat reporters. We told them to imagine that, come November of 2020, Trump wins the Electoral College and the balance of power in Congress remains unchanged; Republicans hold the Senate and Democrats hold the House. Then, we asked them to think through the hitherto unthinkable: What will Trump aim to do, and what could he realistically get away with, if given another four years in power? —The Editors
Probably not. Here’s why.
An EPA stocked with climate change deniers. A Surgeon general sympathetic to anti-vaxxers. It could get grim.
by Julie Rovner
After packing the courts, the president’s use of executive authority will be more effective.
There’s a backdoor tactic the administration would use to weaken programs that help the poor.
by Rachel Cohen
In just his first term, he’s been a fairly effective union buster.
Will anyone be allowed into America?
by David Cole
It’s a proposition better left untested.
Let’s hope it doesn’t happen. But if it does, we won’t be helpless.
How Trump Would Gut the Social Safety Net With a Second Term
There’s a backdoor tactic the administration would use to weaken programs that help the poor.
This essay is part of a package imagining the policy consequences of a second Trump term. Read the rest of the essays here. And, if you enjoy what you’re reading, please consider making a donation—we’re a nonprofit media organization and rely on the support of our readers. In return for a contribution of $50 or more, you’ll receive a complimentary one-year subscription to our print edition.
In January 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that it would support states that wanted to add work requirements to Medicaid. Six months later, Arkansas became the first state to put that guidance into practice.
The results were disastrous. More than 18,000 people lost health coverage. It turns out, however, that most of those people had met the requirement or qualified for an exemption. So why did they lose their health care? The new regulations required recipients to log their hours online—something that was almost impossible for those who had no internet access or who tried accessing the website during its nightly shutdowns. Meanwhile, administrative mistakes meant lost coverage for thousands.
A district court halted Arkansas’s work requirements, concluding that states cannot “refashion the program Congress designed in any way they choose.” The rule has since bounced around in the court system, as more states have attempted to add work requirements, and more judges have struck them down. The Trump administration will likely take their case to the Supreme Court, and there is no telling how the Court might rule on it.
Medicaid work requirements are just a glimpse into the Trump administration’s unified, coherent, and intentional assault on the safety net. It has also targeted food stamps, public housing, health care, and immigrant services with changes that would make benefits harder to access. These attacks ignore the broad public support of government programs, and reams of social-science research, putting millions of Americans at risk.
But unlike the GOP playbook of yore, where changes or cuts to safety net programs played out through the legislative process, Trump’s approach takes place almost exclusively behind the scenes—through executive actions and administrative rule making, and in the federal courts. While some of the administration’s proposals have proceeded, the courts have, until now, served as an important bulwark against these initiatives. If Trump wins a second term, that’s likely to change.
Republican efforts to cut safety net programs are not new. When Ronald Reagan came to power in the early 1980s, he launched an aggressive campaign against the welfare state, arguing that Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society project was “the central political error of our time.” The Reagan administration reduced funding for a range of safety net programs and restructured them to shift authority to the states.
Republicans accomplished much of their agenda in that era by working with moderate and conservative Democrats. But that bipartisanship—as well as public support for many antipoverty policies—limited their efforts to dismantle the programs.
Trump differs from his conservative predecessors in that he has made no such effort to work with Democrats. His first attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act was profoundly unpopular, with support for the effort polling in the teens and 20s, the lowest ratings for any major piece of legislation in at least a generation. Republicans nonetheless tried to ram through several bills, which generated widespread protest and outrage, and eventually failed. Congressional efforts to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), otherwise known as food stamps, were also unsuccessful.
And so, the Trump administration has shifted its attention away from Congress and to the rule-making process. Last year, in the span of nine months, the Agriculture Department proposed a bevy of changes to SNAP. For example, they proposed tightening work requirements and raising the income and asset limits that determine eligibility. Court decisions have stopped work requirements for now, and the asset rule has yet to go into effect. But if it does, about three million people will lose benefits.
Other agencies have been busy changing rules, too. Under dispute in the courts now is a proposal from the Health and Human Services Department that would allow health care providers to withhold medical services, medications, and information if they have moral or religious objections.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development proposed a rule forbidding people who qualify for public housing from living with an undocumented family member. For some, loss of housing or family separation would become the only options.
In many instances the courts have blocked these changes. But there are ominous signs on the horizon—specifically from the Supreme Court. In January, it overturned a lower court’s injunction and allowed the Department of Homeland Security’s “public charge” rule to move forward. The rule allows the federal government to deny green cards to immigrants who use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers, or other forms of public assistance. In late February, the administration began implementing that change.
The lower courts’ resistance to the administration’s proposals has come to frustrate many prominent conservatives, including at least one on the Supreme Court. Justice Neil Gorsuch has criticized this “increasingly common” use of nationwide injunctions by district court judges to halt government policies, and has vigorously urged the Court to confront the issue.
If given four more years, Trump will continue to work with Republicans in the Senate to reshape the judicial system to accommodate conservatives’ decades-long goal of dismantling the welfare state. He has, at breakneck speed, already appointed more than a quarter of the active judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals. His judicial appointees are also comparatively younger than his predecessors’, extending their long-term power. Trump’s judicial legacy will entrench conservative governance for the foreseeable future.
IThe U.S. safety net is not easily understood. More than 80 interwoven and interdependent programs are spread across several departments and agencies. Nearly every program has different application procedures, eligibility criteria, and benefit levels. For millions of underemployed workers, children needing free lunch, families with exorbitant health care bills, people who cannot work because of a disability or chronic illness, and others, these programs may be the only reason they get by. But the vastness of the safety net makes it difficult to protect.
The programs do, however, have one unifying element: Nearly all of them use the federal poverty line to determine eligibility. Changing that line would hit all the programs at once, upending the lives of millions.
In 2019, the Trump administration proposed redefining the poverty line formula and changing how inflation is factored in. While it is not clear which inflation index the administration would use, it seems likely they would choose one that grows slowly. In other words, as the cost of living increases for everyone, the federal poverty line would stay comparatively low.
This change would ripple across the dozens of federal programs that use the poverty line in some way. More than 250,000 low-income seniors and people with disabilities would receive less help from Medicare, or lose it altogether; over 300,000 children would lose comprehensive health coverage, as would some pregnant women; at least 250,000 adults would lose health care coverage that they gained through the ACA’s Medicaid expansion; around 40,000 infants and young children would lose nutritional supplements; and more than 200,000 people, most of them in working households, would lose food stamps.
It is unclear whether the administration even has the authority to make this change on its own, but that has not stopped them before. For now, the rule is under review and hasn’t been finalized. If it is, it will almost certainly be challenged in court. But if that case comes before a judge who is sympathetic to the administration’s argument, millions of Americans could lose access to health care, food assistance, prescription drug benefits, heating assistance, or housing subsidies.
Government antipoverty programs work. Census data shows the massive economic impact these programs have on low-wage workers: In 2018, income from these programs kept more than 47 million people out of poverty. During economic downturns, they play a critical role in helping low-income families meet basic needs and act as a stimulus for the economy. Studies of the Great Recession suggest that the effects of unemployment spikes and poverty increases were buffered by safety net programs that acted as a counterforce. The changes proposed by the Trump administration will likely obliterate this cushion in the next recession.
Incomes are soaring and poverty is plummeting, Donald Trump said during the State of the Union address in February. “Our economy,” he said, “is the best it has ever been.” The facts reveal a different reality. A 2017 study showed that nearly 40 percent of Americans cannot pay for a $400 emergency expense. Income inequality is worsening, and the racial wealth gap is widening. Real wages have stagnated. Inflation and rising prices are creating new economic burdens for low-income families. A third of Americans struggle to afford food, shelter, or medical care. Social mobility has plummeted.
The 2021 budget proposal confirms Trump’s intent to cut social programs. Billions of dollars in spending on programs that provide economic stability and health care for families could be slashed. Student loan assistance, Medicaid, children’s health insurance, food stamps, housing assistance, disability insurance, heating assistance, and Medicare all face major reductions.
If Trump wins a second term, the emergence of a stingier, more punitive, and increasingly burdensome safety net would be a high priority for the administration. The federal court system—not Congress—would become the primary battlefield where social policy is contested. The judicial system, ripe with appointments of like-minded judges and perhaps another justice to the Supreme Court, would wage the administration’s war on the safety net. The damage to the policy infrastructure would not be easily undone. In the meantime, millions of already sidelined Americans would become hungrier, sicker, and more vulnerable, eradicating any shot at the American dream—or even just plain survival.
Ryan LaRochelle is a Lecturer at the Cohen Institute for Leadership and Public Service at the University of Maine. Luisa S. Deprez is Professor Emerita of Sociology and Women & Gender Studies at the University of Southern Maine. They co-l
Trump’s budget proposal: A new offensive in the social counterrevolution
12 February 2020
Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget is an announcement that the American ruling class is deepening its offensive against the social rights and living conditions of the US and international working class.
The proposed cuts would transfer trillions of dollars from the masses of working people into the hands of the financial aristocracy and affluent upper-middle class, having devastating consequences for hundreds of millions of workers from cradle to grave and exposing the utter fraud of Trump’s claim to represent the “forgotten men and women.”
President Donald J. Trump talks to members of the press [Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian]
Trump proposes to cut $900 billion from Medicaid, $500 billion from Medicare, $24 billion from Social Security and billions more from after school programs for working class children, programs for homeless students, aid for impoverished rural schools, programs that subsidize federal student loans, food stamps and programs for impoverished infants and their mothers. It also places the US military on a war footing toward “great power” rivals Russia and China, including a $50 billion plan to modernize the US nuclear arsenal.
Trump’s proposed cuts to departments such as Education (8 percent), Interior (13.4 percent), Housing and Urban Development (15.2 percent), Health and Human Services (9 percent) and Environmental Protection (26.5 percent) are steps toward dismantling social programs and government regulation of corporate activity.
The announcement of the White House budget proposal begins the staged process in which the Democratic Party feigns indignation over the proposed cuts only to ultimately accede to many of the demands. Under conditions where the vast majority of Americans are demanding increased spending on social programs, higher taxes on the rich and a redistribution of wealth, the inevitable outcome of the bipartisan budget negotiations will be to shift the entire political establishment further to the right.
This was previewed by Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi who, when asked last Thursday about Trump’s forthcoming budget, said:
I say to my members all the time, ‘There is no such thing as eternal animosity. There are eternal friendships, but you never know on what cause you may come together with someone you may perceive as your foe right now. Everybody is a possible ally in whatever comes next.’
This offer of friendship to Trump came less than 24 hours after the collapse of the Democratic Party’s impeachment effort, a process in which Pelosi and Democratic impeachment managers called Trump a “traitor” and stooge of Russia for withholding $391 million in military aid to the right-wing nationalist government in Ukraine, which provides money and arms to far-right paramilitary forces. Speaking the language of McCarthyism, the lead Democratic impeachment manager Adam Schiff said Trump was obstructing the US from arming Ukraine, an imperative that ensures “we can fight Russia over there so we don’t have to fight Russia here.”
The denunciations of Trump by the Democratic leadership on questions of imperialist foreign policy and the Democrats’ crusade for internet censorship contrast with their appeals to bipartisan friendship on social and domestic policy.
From the day Trump took office, the Democratic Party has facilitated Trump’s attack on living conditions and democratic rights, first by diverting and suppressing mass protests that erupted immediately following Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 and in response to his travel ban and attacks on immigrants, and then, over the last three years, by voting for major elements of Trump’s agenda.
In June 2019, the Democrats voted overwhelmingly to support passage of Trump’s record $750 billion Pentagon budget, which allowed the government to continue to detain prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and provided $3.6 billion in “back-fill” funding for Trump’s border wall.
In June 2019, Democrats voted to provide Trump with $4.6 billion to fund Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) despite massive opposition to family separation and the detention of immigrant children, ongoing issues which the Democratic Party and corporate media have essentially blacked out from national coverage.
These are only the most egregious examples. Trump’s corporate tax cut, which the proposed budget will extend, was initially proposed by the Obama White House. Obama slashed funding for food stamps, Medicare, and programs for impoverished children and other programs.
Today, some Democratic presidential candidates have used Trump’s budget proposal as an opportunity to demand further deficit reduction, verbally opposing his budget but focusing attacks on Bernie Sanders’ proposals to modestly increase social spending.
The Washington Post noted yesterday that after Trump’s budget was leaked in the Wall Street Journal, “Former vice president Joe Biden has warned Democrats not to embrace an agenda that calls for unrealistic social policy goals, and Buttigieg declared at a town hall event in Nashua, N.H. on Sunday that it was time to get serious about the rising deficit, even though ‘it’s not fashionable in progressive circles to talk too much about the debt.’”
The Democratic-aligned corporate media has greeted Trump’s budget with far less concern than the prospect that Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will win the Democratic nomination.
In the lead-up to yesterday’s New Hampshire primary, television personality Chris Matthews claimed that socialists will carry out “executions in Central Park,” while Chuck Todd compared Sanders supporters to Nazi “brown shirts.”
This language shows that however serious their internal conflicts, both factions of the ruling class are allied in the existential struggle to protect the wealth of the financial aristocracy from the growing mood of social opposition from below. They do not fear Sanders, a longtime Washington insider and loyal Democratic caucus member. What they fear is the growing leftward movement among workers, youth and students reflected in the support for Sanders which the Vermont senator may not be able to control.
All factions of the ruling class view the mass demonstrations in France, Chile, Puerto Rico, Sudan and elsewhere as signs of what is to come.
Trump, having emerged victorious from the impeachment, is preparing for the class battles ahead by building a fascistic movement and threatening to stay in power regardless of the outcome of the 2020 elections.
Sections of the Democratic Party are using a different technique, elevating figures like Sanders and Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to feed popular illusions that the Democratic Party can be reformed, that the ruling class can be pressured to enact progressive social policy and that no independent social struggle is required.
This is a hopeless utopia. Even if Sanders manages to win the nomination in the face of widespread corruption in the DNC, his entire program amounts to asking the network of generals and CEOs who run America to voluntarily part with trillions of dollars. In explaining the futility of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, Leon Trotsky wrote that the New Dealers “wind up by appealing to the monopolists not to forget decency and the principles of democracy. Just how is this better than prayers for rain?”
The Socialist Equality Party’s candidates in the 2020 elections—Joseph Kishore for president and Norissa Santa Cruz for vice president—call on workers and youth to break with the two parties of American capitalism and harness their immense social power in the struggle for control of the commanding heights of the world economy.
The entire budget proposed by Trump totals $4.8 trillion—far less than the $27 trillion possessed by the world’s 2,170 billionaires. Redistributing the world’s wealth requires the building of a mass revolutionary movement to confiscate the wealth of the financial aristocracy and place the world’s productive forces under the democratic control of the international working class.
Trump outlines massive cuts in Medicaid and Medicare in 2021 budget plan
By Kevin Reed
President Trump is planning to release a 2021 budget on Monday that includes deep cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other mandatory and discretionary spending while also increasing funding for the military, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The Journal report, based on information provided by a senior administration official, said that the $4.8 trillion budget “charts a path for a potential second term” by planning to raise military spending by 0.3 percent, to $740.5 billion, and lowering nondefense spending by 5 percent, to $590 billion, for the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2020. The cuts to social programs would be below the level Congress and the president agreed to in a two-year budget deal last summer.
Emboldened by his acquittal in the Senate impeachment trial last Wednesday, Trump is making it clear that he is going on the offensive to attack the working class by proposing to cut essential programs and increase the military budget in preparation for future imperialist wars. The budget also calls for $2 billion in new funding for the southern US border wall that is a critical element of the Trump administration’s extreme right-wing racist campaign against immigrants.
The new White House budget proposes to cut spending by $4.4 trillion over ten years by reducing mandatory programs by $2 trillion. This includes $292 billion from safety-net programs by changing the work requirements to receive Medicaid and food stamps and $70 billion by restricting access to disability benefits.
The plan to attack Medicare in particular is an explicit repudiation of Trump’s campaign promises in 2016 that he would protect this program, which underwrites health care coverage for nearly all Americans aged 65 and older, and for many disabled people of all ages. Other reported cuts include a 21 percent reduction to State Department and foreign aid funding, a 26 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency and a 15 percent cut to the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Press reports suggesting the Pentagon budget will rise only 0.3 percent, after three years of whopping increases, are likely a political smokescreen by the White House. Much of the increase in military spending comes in the form of an Overseas Contingency Operations fund that is not accounted for in the regular budget. Last year, the Trump administration proposed a similar dodge, but the increases were ultimately made in the regular Pentagon budget, not the OCO, and dutifully rubber-stamped by both the Republican-controlled Senate and the Democratic-controlled House.
Besides direct Pentagon spending, there will be war-related increases in the Department of Veterans Affairs (13 percent), the Department of Homeland Security (3 percent) and the National Nuclear Security Administration (19 percent).
In order to fulfill his goal of returning American astronauts to the moon by 2024—which was presented as a major objective in his State of the Union address last Tuesday, President Trump is also proposing a 12 percent increase in NASA funding next year.
There are two interconnected and overriding considerations in the 2021 budget plan. Together these amount to a significant acceleration of the wealth transfer from the working class to the top one percent that has been underway for the past four decades.
The first priority is the maintenance of the $1.5 trillion tax cuts—enacted in 2017 and set to expire in 2025—for corporations and the wealthy, which reduced government revenues and drove deficits up to 4.7 percent of GDP, significantly higher than the 2.7 percent average of the past 50 years. The second consideration is the drive to reduce and eventually eliminate the social programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and food stamps, on which the most vulnerable sections of the working class and poor depend.
The federal deficit is estimated at $1 trillion for 2020, more than double what the Trump administration claimed in the budget and tax cut proposals in 2017. The new plan claims the deficit will be reduced by a total of $4.6 trillion in the next decade and will be completely eliminated by 2035. During the 2016 election campaign, Trump promised to completely pay off the federal debt in eight years. Instead, it has rocketed upwards to $23 trillion, the largest of any country in the world.
Meanwhile, the plan assumes a pace of overall economic growth that is significantly higher than that which is predicted by most economists. The Trump budget plan projects an economic growth rate of 3.1 percent in the final quarter of fiscal 2020 and 3.0 percent in all of 2021 and the rest of the decade. The US economy has been growing at a quarterly average rate of approximately 2.2 percent throughout the Trump presidency. The Congressional Budget Office projects growth rates of between 1.6 and 1.7 percent over the next ten years.
Trump claimed he would accelerate US economic growth to four and even five percent, but this is impossible under capitalism, dominated by financial speculation, wage cutting, and militarism. The plan also makes the assumption that interest rates will remain at historic lows for another ten years.
The budget plan will have little immediate effect, since neither the Democratic-controlled House nor the Republican-controlled Senate would agree to such massive cuts on the eve of the elections. Instead, the document represents an assurance by Trump to corporate America of the general trajectory of his administration, assuming he remains in office.
As has been the case throughout the Trump presidency, including during the disastrously unsuccessful attempt to remove him from office, the Democrats are mouthing opposition while preparing to collaborate with the White House on the 2021 budget. Several provisions are designed for the purpose of providing a path for House Democrats to negotiate with Trump, such as the offer to carve $130 billion from Medicare prescription drug costs by forcing a drop in prices.
Typical of the posturing by Democrats was a statement released on Friday by the House Budget Committee majority that said it was on “high alert” for attempts by the administration to circumvent Congress. “If the budget is as destructive and irresponsible as the President’s previous proposals, House Democrats will do everything in our power to stop the cuts and policies from coming to pass,” they said.
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