It is astounding how people can act so far against their own self-interests without even coming to realize it. In today’s politics, we are seeing individuals voted into office by constituents who are totally oblivious to the negative effects that the policies they are voting for will have on them. In order to prevent the immense level of favoritism to their corporate donors from becoming too transparent, politicians have mastered the ability to deceive working class voters with false narratives and lies about the effects of their policies. The reality is that constituents have become so concerned with the interests of their party that they have forgotten about their own interests, and it has allowed politicians the ability to pass such egregious pieces of legislation.
All Republicans who feared that President Trump was not a real conservative need not fret over his latest budget proposal, as it reflects the same traditional and misplaced priorities that the party has been harping on for decades. The proposal, released on Monday, reflects virtually every integral aspect of the Republican fiscal agenda; a huge boost in defense spending, a huge slash in social programs, and a huge slap in the face to working class Americans.
A basic breakdown of the budget proposal can be seen here. It includes just over a 10% increase in spending for the Department of Defense, while axing the EPA (31.4% decrease) and the Department of Education (13.5% decrease) among many other important departments and agencies. But when the head of the EPA does not believe in man-made climate change or when the Secretary of Education does not believe in public schools, these details should not come as a surprise.
Despite frightening many conservatives on during the campaign by saying he would not make any cuts to Medicaid, Trump proposed in his budget an 800 billion dollar cut to the program. This is in addition to the over 800 billion dollar cut to Medicaid that is proposed in the American Health Care Act. Despite Medicaid being immensely popular and providing health insurance for over 70 million people, Trump opted to roll back on his campaign promise to not cut the program. This might come as a surprise to those voters who actually took Trump as a man of his word. But even as Trump voters are primarily hurt by these cuts, they seem to simply not care.
Funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as the food stamp program) will be cut by 29 percent despite providing benefits for 44 million Americans in 2016. Trump’s budget director and architect of the budget proposal Mick Mulvaney said, “We need people to go to work…If you’re on food stamps and you’re able-bodied, we need you to go to work.” This statement exemplifies how distant from reality conservatives have become. The fact is that nearly two thirds of food stamp recipients are children, senior citizens, or disabled citizens. And the rules of the program are that those recipients who are able-bodied must be working at least 20 hours per week in order to continuously receive benefits from the program.
Mulvaney’s depiction of food stamp recipients as lazy takers who refuse to work is the kind of myth that the Republican Party has continuously resorted to in order to justify their outrageous policies. The irony is that seven of the ten states with the highest food stamp usage by population voted for Trump in the election, which unfortunately proves that the party’s strategy of deception has been successful.
Former Director for the Office of Management and Budget Peter Orzag tweeted, “These massive Medicaid cuts either delusional or cruel — delusional if you think can be done w/o serious harm; cruel if aware of impact”. For decades, Republicans have sat in their establishment bubble and continued to demonize welfare programs and those who benefit from them. At the same time, they have totally rejected policies such as an increase in the minimum wage and a Medicare for all health care system that would reduce the need to fund these programs. And while conservatives corner lower class Americans into poverty, they have the nerve to turn around and cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy and gratuitously increase military spending. How is this moral?
The White House has expressed its concern for establishing sustained economic growth. The true hallmark of economic growth is increasing prosperity for not just the wealthy, but for all. But, as his budget proposal suggests, Trump appears have hardly any concern for the working class Americans that put him into office. Trump’s budget proposal is yet another sad example of how Republicans have deceived their voters in order to advance their morally distorted agenda.