Friday, March 17, 2017

Death of a Salesman

Budget Director
Mick Mulvaney
Trump's budget director Mick Mulvaney defended his proposed budget yesterday, and we were all edified. Short version: The president has determined that the poor have too much and the rich, too little. Shorter version: Take all the money and give it to the military. Shortest version: Screw everybody.

People have been focused since yesterday's news on the projected loss of programs like Meals on Wheels. Those hot meals go most frequently to people who watch Fox News all day and who probably voted for Trump. They live predominantly in rural areas that boosted Trump over the top in swing states.

But Meals on Wheels is the least of the damage, really, to Trump World, as all sorts of programs that benefit farmers, small-town educators and their students, rural redevelopment, infrastructure replacement -- the list gets long very fast -- are also fingered for destruction. The Appalachian Regional Commission, which built 4-lane highways in West Virginia for the coal industry, and supports the delivery of health care all over Appalachia -- you're dead!

But never you mind. Mulvaney's budget is just an indication of the smallness of his soul and has zero prospect of actually passing Congress. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), the powerful former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, spoke for many Republicans who haven't yet fallen off the right side of the known universe: “While we have a responsibility to reduce our federal deficit, I am disappointed that many of the reductions and eliminations proposed in the president’s skinny budget are draconian, careless and counterproductive.”

Draconian. Careless. And counterproductive. That's an apt selection of adjectives, Congressman!

Speaking to reporters, Mulvaney was sunny in his disposition about his budget rollout, saying in effect, "What did you effing expect from this particular president?" We're very accustomed now to a Trump who makes no apologies, but Mulvaney wanted to underline that trait:
[Mulvaney] said that after-school programs had failed to help children in schools, that housing programs were “not well run,” that government health research had suffered “mission creep” and that grants to local communities “don’t do any good.”
...And he said that the president made no apologies for eliminating the government’s efforts to curb climate change.
“We’re not spending money on that anymore,” Mr. Mulvaney told reporters at the White House. “We consider that a waste of your money to go out and do that.”
A smiling death's head
The people Trump said he would never forget -- those coal miners in West Virginia, those rural poor in Wisconsin, those scrambling farmers in Texas -- they're officially and resoundingly forgotten in this budget. Never mind the environment. Never mind public radio and PBS. Never mind the encouragement of art and the humanities. They will go because they're supported by liberals. All the other stuff that poor people depend on -- it will go because Steve Bannon wants to destroy government, and Trump is Bannon's puppet.

This budget will not pass, not as proposed. But it will stand as an object lesson for the kind of minds that have taken control in the White House.


Anonymous said...

JW, am I correct in assuming that you were never in the military?

Anonymous said...

I am a Vietnam vet. I oppose President Trump's budget because it stands against everything I fought for.

Anonymous said...

Trumps budget proposes increases in veteran's health care, increased defense spending and increased border security. These are things that are "against everything (you) fought for?"

Apparently you didn't fight on our side.

Anonymous said...

Increased spending does not mean increased security.

Anonymous said...

Mulvaney’s an educated guy from our neck of the woods, which makes this all the more disappointing. A warning for all: do not make the mistake of trusting Mulvaney to care about regular people.

Although he looks the part of public servant, he has never outgrown his early bad habits that reared their head more prominently back in his real estate and lawyering days. His behavior in Lancaster County with repeated failed subdevelopments is mostly a tale of pocketing money regardless of ethics... “business is business.” He wasn’t just misleading the local county government though...regular people were left facing real problems long after Mulvaney made his money and bolted. When he was in Charlotte, instead of misleading a county, he was getting regular people to trust him and then taking advantage of them. (I had some fairly direct knowledge of several situations.) It was especially egregious because Mulvaney was already wealthy and advantaged (and had come from a wealthy family), and some of the people he misled were lower-middle class, young, or with young children. Not that a local county government is really “faceless” but there’s no denying that the Charlotte situations were on a personal level.

These people were easier to cheat (and it was misleading and breaking promises, not just squeezing) because they were naive and/or lacked means. Sure, Mulvaney was entitled to make money. His decisions were financially sound for himself, but ethically dubious. The vast majority of us learned not to take advantage of the less fortunate and the vulnerable. For example, sure it might be easier to talk that elderly lady into spending more than she needs on house repairs, but the vast majority of us wouldn’t do that. In Mulvaney's case, I suspect an innate moral impoverishment.