Saturday, March 18, 2017

Conservative Fantasies, Collide With Reality

Two pathological liars

As often is the case, in a New York Times column, Paul Krugman cuts to the core of the Republican Party's dysfunction: its core base lives in a fantasy world, as do so many of its elected officials.  Thanks to "news" outlets like Fox News, a/k/a Faux News, Breitbart, Drudge Report and a host of similar propaganda mills, the party base remains in a bubble and rails against government even as the morons of the base fail to grasp that their own reliance on Social Security, Medicare and a host of other programs constitutes reliance on government programs and what they condemn as handouts if benefits go to anyone else - especially those with darker skin color. The irony is especially stunning with older white voters who suck up Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid benefits like pigs at a trough.  And don't get me going on welfare benefits that are used by whites more than any other group in red states. The willful ignorance is dumbfounding.  Here are column highlights:
This week the Trump administration put out a budget blueprint — or more accurately, a “budget” blueprint. After all, real budgets detail where the money comes from and where it goes; this proclamation covers only around a third of federal spending, while saying nothing about revenues or projected deficits.
As the fiscal expert Stan Collender put it: “This is not a budget. It’s a Trump campaign press release masquerading as a government document.”
So what’s the point of the document? The administration presumably hopes that it will distract the public and the press from the ongoing debacle over health care. But it probably won’t. And in any case, this pseudo-budget embodies the same combination of meanspiritedness and fiscal fantasy that has turned the Republican effort to replace Obamacare into a train wreck.
In this vision, much if not most government spending is a complete waste, doing nobody any good. The same is true of government regulations. And to the extent to which spending does help anyone, it’s Those People — lazy, undeserving types who just so happen to be a bit, well, darker than Real Americans.
This was the kind of thinking — or, perhaps, “thinking” — that underlay President Trump’s promise to replace Obamacare with something “far less expensive and far better.” . . . . however, Republicans turn out to have no ideas about how to make the program cheaper other than eliminating health insurance for 24 million people (and making coverage worse, with higher out-of-pocket spending, for those who remain).
And basically the same story applies at a broader level. Consider federal spending as a whole: Outside defense it’s dominated by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — all programs that are crucial to tens of millions of Americans, many of them the white working-class voters who are the core of Trump support.
Given this reality, why are so many people opposed to “big government”?
Many have a distorted view of the numbers. . . . . Many also fail to connect their personal experience with public policy: Large numbers of Social Security and Medicare recipients believe that they make no use of any government social program. . . . politicians can often get away with running on promises of drastic spending cuts: Many, perhaps most voters don’t see how such cuts would affect their lives.
But what will happen if anti-big-government politicians find themselves in a position to put their agenda into practice? Voters will quickly get a lesson in what slashing spending really means — and they won’t be happy.
[T]he reality is that the proposed cuts would have ugly, highly visible effects. Zeroing out the Community Development Block Grant program may sound good if you have no idea what it does (which Mr. Trump surely doesn’t); eliminating Meals on Wheels, an immediate consequence, not so much. Nor would coal country, which voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Trump, like the consequences if he eliminates the Appalachian Regional Commission. 
Wait, there’s more. Effectively disemboweling the Environmental Protection Agency may sound smart if you imagine that it’s just a bunch of meddling bureaucrats. But the public wants stronger, not weaker, environmental protection, and would not be pleased to see a sharp deterioration in air and water quality.
The point is that Mr. Trump’s attempt to change the subject away from his party’s health care quagmire isn’t going to work, and not just because this supposed budget literally isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. At a more fundamental level, it doesn’t even change the subject.
 As a one time Republican activist, the party has sadly become a gathering of ignoramuses, racists, religious extremists and misogynists.  My Republican ancestors would be embarrassed to be affiliated with such people, many of who my southern belle grandmother would have viewed as "white trash.".

1 comment:

Stephen said...

The country did not "vote overwhelmingly for Trump." Nearly three millions more people voted for Clinton than for Trump (plus votes for other non-Trump candidates). Nonetheless, lots of Trump voters would be hurt by his budget.