Fiscal Violence

This week, Donald Trump exhibited verbal and physical rudeness in Brussels, leaving everyone a little stunned. The verbal hostility was directed at his NATO partners, whom he boldly scolded for their inadequate contributions toward financing the alliance. He also demonstrated physical rudeness when he shoved the prime minister of Montenegro out of the way while posing for the summit’s “family photo.” This incivility is nothing, however, compared to the violence of the cuts contained in his government’s first budget, the details of which were made public last Tuesday in Washington – in the unusual absence of a president departed on his trip and who was making a fool of himself abroad.

It’s a budget that, contrary to all voter understanding, will directly harm many of those left behind by the American dream, those who voted for Trump last November believing in his promise that they would finally be heard. A budget that Ben Carson, the new secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, an agency whose mission is to provide shelter for millions of low-income Americans, defended by arguing that poverty was “to a large extent … a state of mind.”

The budget proposal is titled, “A New Foundation for American Greatness.” It bolsters the military and the police above all else; we already knew the Department of Defense would see its budget grow the most substantially. We also now know that money allocated to the fight against illegal immigration could grow significantly as well — by more than $2.5 billion, about half of which would be devoted to the construction of the wall on the Mexican border.

By way of compensation, the presidential conception of “greatness” proposes dark cuts to the social safety net. The main programs for low-income seniors are spared. But he proposed, among other measures, to subtract $800 billion from the Medicaid budget, the federal health insurance program for the poor, which will contribute, according to the Congressional Budget Office, to 23 million Americans being deprived of the coverage that would have been accessible to them under former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

This budget will necessarily be negotiated in Congress. It has no chance of being approved in its current state, especially since it goes too far for a large number of congressional Republicans, including ultraconservatives. Which is not saying much. There are apparently no limits to this billionaire’s cruelty.

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