When a minority of American voters gave Donald Trump a victory in the Electoral College it was obvious that we were in for a bumpy ride, but Trump’s presidency is jumping off the track faster than anybody could have predicted. In less than two months Trump has created four problems for himself that even a highly skilled politician would have a hard time solving (and therefore would not have created), let alone a pathological narcissist who is intellectually and emotionally totally unfit to occupy the Oval Office. The first problem is of Trump’s own making. His blatant anti-Muslim rhetoric during the campaign caused his second attempt to keep people from six predominantly Muslim countries out of the US to fail, at least temporarily. There is little else Trump can do here than appeal the decisions of federal judges who have put injunctions on his executive order, until he finds a court that sides with him. It is a good civics lesson that the president is not above the law, although Trump advisor Stephen Miller still firmly believes that, and Trump probably too.
The second problem was created by Paul Ryan, who is trying to live his boyhood dream of gutting social programs that help the poor on behalf of the very rich who line his campaign coffers. Ryan’s attack on Obamacare would make 24 million Americans lose their health care coverage and transfer $600 billion to rich people who don’t need it. His plan, that would cap Medicaid by shifting it to the states in the form of block grants, will send the poor back to the emergency rooms where they receive minimal care, give many pregnant women who need an abortion no other option than the wire clothes hanger, and confront people between 50 and 65 years of age with premiums most of them cannot afford. By all accounts the people who voted for Trump will suffer the most if ‘Ryancare’ becomes the law of the land – the reason why Trump doesn’t want it named after him – but that doesn’t appear to be Trump’s problem. However, even among Republicans Ryan’s plan is very controversial, and it’s hard to see what kind of a deal can get it through congress.
Yesterday Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director who is aligned with the Tea Party, unveiled a blueprint for a budget that hovers between cruel and insane. Next to completely irresponsible cuts in the budgets of many federal departments and the announcement that the US ‘doesn’t do climate change anymore,’ it terminates programs that provide poor seniors and children with a daily meal. In the latter case, according to Mulvaney because it isn’t clear that children who have eaten perform better in school.
The main beneficiary of Trump’s budget would be the Pentagon, that would be endowed with an extra $53 billion. Mulvaney argued that you cannot ask lower middle class people to support programs for the poor, but you can ask them to pay for the military. Strangely enough he seemed to have forgotten that Paul Ryan wants to shift $600 billion to the rich.
A budget is a moral statement, and this budget shows that the Trump administration is morally bankrupt. On top of all this Trump can only hope that his fourth problem, his accusation that Obama wiretapped him – now an international scandal – will somehow go away without him being forced to apologize.