Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The election was not about policy

Mick Mulvaney, the head of the OMB and a leading figure in designing Trump's budget proposal, is just about as extreme in his views as anyone ever in that role.  He is an unequivocal political appointee rather than a career budget professional in government.  He is notable as a South Carolina Republican, and that is the sort of pol atmosphere that bred Lee Atwater.  They are harsh and unapologetic.  That's an observed generalization and may be unfair to some in the state of Aiken and Myrtle Beach, but it is in fact true.  This is a place of extreme unvarnished opinions.

So here is Mulvaney in this pivotal role for the scatterbrained but intuitively disruptive Trump. Mulvaney says that the budget reflects Trump's commitments during the election, and that he and his staff are determining what Trump thinks by reviewing all of his speeches during the campaign.  Then they are distilling what policies he has committed to in speaking to the American people, and turning them into a budget.  Could anything sound more like a way for Steve Bannon to remind Trump what his policies are and for a callous person like Mulvaney to try to implement them.

Congress is the arbiter of the budget and the budget must be approved there.  The Republicans, in a perfect world, would like to coalesce around a proposal that they could all agree on and with their power in the executive and legislative branches put it in place.  Unfortunately for them, as some in Congress are realizing now, Trump was not elected based on policy proposals.  He articulated nothing clearly in the campaign other than an opposition to the ruling paradigm and an ever soaring obsession with himself.

So now, repeatedly, Trump and his handlers are mandating, when executive orders allow, and proposing, where others need to approve, policies that will disadvantage the base that elected him. Whether in healthcare, or wage policy, or environmental needs, or taxation or...on and on, they are betraying their voters and think they can get away with it through obfuscation and patriotic blather.

This is not new.  It's a different iteration of an old game.  Now it has become more extreme in a way that is troubling even to some mainstream Republicans and libertarians of the past who were, in their own way, constructive and balanced opponents of the Democratic Party approaches to governing.

A budget that pinpoints with precision relatively tiny programs that are dedicated to straightforward positive fulfillment of the social, dietary, and aspirational needs of our citizens, and cuts them as unnecessary, is beyond troubling.  It could be the vanguard of something far worse.


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