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Another Round of Modest Policy Changes From the Second of America’s Two Interchangeable Neoliberal Parties

[ 173 ] March 17, 2017 |

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Finally, those freeloading geezers getting Cadillac and T-Bone steak deliveries from the Meals on Wheels racket will get theirs:

“Just to follow-up on that, you were talking about the steel worker in Ohio, coal worker in Pennsylvania, but they may have an elderly mother who depends on the Meals on Wheels program or who may have kids in Head Start,” Acosta said. “Yesterday, or the day before, you described this as a hard-power budget. Is it also a hard-hearted budget?”

“No, I don’t think so,” Mulvaney replied. “I think it’s probably one of the most compassionate things we can do.”

“To cut programs that help the elderly and kids?” Acosta asked, incredulously.

“You’re only focusing on half of the equation, right? You’re focusing on the recipients of the money. We’re trying to focus on both the recipients of the money and the folks who give us the money in the first place,” Mulvaney explained. “And I think it’s fairly compassionate to go to them and say, ‘Look, we’re not gonna ask you for your hard-earned money, anymore, single mother of two in Detroit … unless we can guarantee to you that that money is actually being used in a proper function.’”

This is obscene. In addition to the cuts already mentioned, Trump’s budget slashes rental assistance and home-energy aid to low-income families. His plan would almost certainly increase the rate of homeless and malnutrition experienced by the children of single mothers in Detroit.

Mulvaney’s argument doesn’t even make sense on its own terms. By itself, this budget has no impact on taxes — it just transfers federal spending from programs that directly benefit working families to ones that don’t. And the Trump administration has expressed no interest in significantly cutting payroll or sales taxes, which make up the bulk of many a Detroit resident’s tax burden.

Really, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between Mick Mulvaney and, say, Heather Boushey.

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  1. Lit3Bolt says:

    TRUMP VOTER: What do I have to do to make the black people go away?

    TRUMP: Hold your hand out. I promise, we’ll put out a lot of plans to punish blacks (and f-cking losers like you).

  2. shomer says:

    The GOP’s framing seems to be that regardless of the effectiveness of various govt programs, recipients are only getting them by stealing money from taxpayers. It’s the makers vs takers argument.

    Believe it or not, it works on many Republican voters. Democrats need to find a way to counteract this framing. Otherwise the idea will slowly start to take hold.

    • AMK says:

      It works because the makers-takers formula is always framed in racial terms. The issue for the GOP is that while they can demagogue on race, they can’t actually make the welfare programs whites-only anymore, so as soon as the GOP voters themselves start getting hit, it’s a huge political problem (see also:healthcare).

    • Juicy_Joel says:

      Or maybe the Democrats can help the Republicans find a final solution for these useless eaters.

    • los says:

      The oligarchs’ unions Took from the Makers long before the loot was taxable.

      The oligarchs’ laws ban – by a million cuts – the makers‘ unions.

      • rea says:

        See, that’s the original Marxist makers/takers framing. These guys (they tend to be guys) reverse that. They see the capitalists as the makers and the workers are the takers. Entrepreneurs are the ones who create jobs, they claim (ignoring the role of demand–they’re supply-siders).

        • cpinva says:

          “they claim (ignoring the role of demand–they’re supply-siders).”

          this. to listen to them, demand no longer seems to matter, if they make/do it, they will come. which may be true, but only because they (usually by advertising) have generated interest (demand) in the product/service.

          you would be astonished at the number of well educated people, people with a business education and background, I have had to explain this basic, Econ 101 concept to. I do it very simply, because apparently they aren’t capable of higher level thought. it’s interesting to see the light bulb suddenly flick on (with those who finally get it), as they realize that I’m right. it is, at minimum, disturbing that so many supposedly smart people can be so stupid.

          • cpinva says:

            out of curiosity, are there any plans afoot to bring back the edit function here? asking for a friend.

          • DAS says:

            I have a friend who is a real estate appraiser and knows from microeconomics and finance. When it comes to macro, he’s clueless but doesn’t realize how clueless he is. Part of the issue is that, in his field, the Wall Street Journal is the paper you read, so I guess it’s not surprising he’s so misinformed.

            The problem is that, in many blue areas, a lot of Democrats are like my friend.

          • DAS says:

            , if they make/do it, they will come.

            I guess if people can base their economic ideas on any of Ayn Rand’s novels, why not base your economic worldview on Field of Dreams?

          • Tzimiskes says:

            Doesn’t surprise me at all. I recently completed an MBA after having already received a MA in political science (long, boring story why/how I got both).

            Something that really struck me about the MBA is that they didn’t really spend much time on teaching method and how to assess evidence like they did in my MA. They taught a lot of technical skills and how to apply case studies to particular situations but there wasn’t the same emphasis on sound method that I had hammered into my in class after class in my MA.

            A related observation is that in my business ethics course they spent a lot of time talking about stakeholders as if they magically had some kind of claim on the corporation and actual firm behavior was informed by stakeholder interests, this carried into other classes. But this is transparently absurd, shareholders have actual legal rights in controlling a corporation, other stakeholders rarely do (and when they do it is very limited or involves rare corporate forms such as a firm owned by an ESOP). This means that when claims by stakeholders are in conflict the shareholders, or upper management appointed by them, get their way and other stakeholders get screwed. While it may be true that firms, as a discrete entity, perform best when acting in the interests of all stakeholders, it does not follow that shareholder interests are necessarily aligned with firm interests. For instance, shareholders will often prefer cash out or an M&A to a firm making a marginal investment at a lower rate of return than is industry standard that would benefit firm employees, customers, and the economy at large through increased output and wages to employees.

            Judging from the limited sample of my class MBA graduates come away either completely cynical about the world or they come to believe that corporations do in fact embody some kind of stakeholder concept and their interests magically result in broad social interests being fulfilled and evil liberals just don’t get how benign corporations really are. My doubts about this were deemed “interesting” for pointing out that formal institutions matter and that the stakeholder theory of the firm, as presented in required MBA courses, has a major gap in not pointing out that the formal institutionalization of stakeholders is a key point in understanding how corporations actually behave. I am somewhat convinced that corporations actually controlled by stakeholders, rather than shareholders, would probably be pretty benign; but this isn’t the world we actually live in.

            • daveincanada says:

              I firmly believe that all elected officials should have to take some course in political science and public policy before they can run for office. Perhaps even a MA in Political Science should be necessary before we give you the power to affect lives of others.

              • Abbey Bartlet says:

                I firmly believe that all elected officials should have to take some course in political science and public policy before they can run for office. Perhaps even a MA in Political Science should be necessary before we give you the power to affect lives of others.

                Well that's certainly an excellent way to diversify our elected officials and break down barriers to entry.

              • Ahuitzotl says:

                Perhaps an MA in Political Science from an Ivy League, should be the minimum.

        • daveincanada says:

          “And I think it’s fairly compassionate to go to them and say, ‘Look, we’re not gonna ask you for your hard-earned money, anymore, single mother of two in Detroit … unless we can guarantee to you that that money is actually being used”……. to lower taxes for billionaires.

      • CP says:

        The oligarchs’ unions Took from the Makers long before the loot was taxable.

        I really don’t get why this is so hard to understand. It’s no mystery why the CEOs and a handful of other categories at the top of their companies make so much more money than the rest of their employees: they’re the ones in charge, so they’re the ones who decide how the pie gets cut up, and they’re always going to give themselves the biggest chunk of it, because they can. That’s it. There’s no objective measuring going into who is doing the most for the company, which is why CEOs who run their companies into the ground are regularly sent off with golden parachutes no matter how much damage they’ve done while lower-level employees are the first ones fired regardless of productivity.

        The government probably can’t, practically speaking, set the exact price for every person in the economy, not without becoming a Rube Goldberg machine that would end up doing a far worse job than what we’ve got now. But it can take a chunk of money from those who tilted the field in their favor in order to help mitigate the damage to those they tilted it against.

        • Tzimiskes says:

          The government could also change corporate law so that employees had representatives on corporate boards rather than just redistributing directly. This isn’t uncommon in foreign countries and is associated with those at the top getting a smaller share, everyone else getting a large share, and perhaps with growing the pie a bit faster at the margins.

          • CP says:

            Sure. And it’s also just basic efficiency: ultimately, your company depends on the several hundred boring unglamorous worker drones at the bottom of the pyramid to actually make whatever it is that you’re selling, so it’s probably a good idea to involve them too. But of course, that assumes you care more about the bottom line and the company’s efficiency than status games.

            • Tzimiskes says:

              I know that pretty much all liberals get this, I just get frustrated that there isn’t more of a push for it by mainstream political figures. I know that various workplace democracy proposals poll badly but without mainstream champions how could it be otherwise. The idea that you should have a say in whether or not the plant closes and not just some distant shareholder in NYC or overseas just seems like the kind of simple message that should be able to get through to even a low information voter if someone with a strong voice shouted for it loud enough for long enough.

              • CP says:

                The idea that you should have a say in whether or not the plant closes and not just some distant shareholder in NYC or overseas just seems like the kind of simple message that should be able to get through to even a low information voter if someone with a strong voice shouted for it loud enough for long enough.

                It certainly would be nice if the people who keep whining about taking back control of their own lives and not leaving it in the hands of disconnected coastal elites actually meant it.

                • Tzimiskes says:

                  They might actually mean it.

                  We get frustrated that they oppose ways of keeping corporate power in check, like the NLRB or CFPB, but these agencies probably seem like a Rube Goldberg machine to a low information voter. They call their rep to complain, who might, at best, give them a number for the agency, who puts them in touch with someone in the agency relevant to their case, who may or may not be able to implement some kind of action that takes a long time to result in any real on the job changes, and in the mean time they’ve probably been fired anyway if they are a complainer.

                  They might react differently if we could paint a picture of them directly electing a representative from their division who could march into the Koch Industries board, tracking mud and grease from his coveralls, and say, well the boys elected me to the board because we’re all pretty pissed about X. Now I’m going to tell it like it is to you bastards because if you want to move forward with anything you’re going to need my vote.

                  This paints a very different picture of the relationship between the voter and the actions of his corporation than does the model where voter complaints are mediated through government agencies and might appeal to a different set of people than government centric solutions.

                • CP says:

                  Sure, but then you get into the problem that unions don’t seem to actually be more popular than the feds’ Rube Goldberg machines with the electorate and especially in red states.

                  According to Gallup, the number of people who see labor unions as a help more than a hurt fluctuates but seems to be somewhere in the fifty-fifty range (currently 52% support – the interesting thing being that support for them plummeted right in 2008). When asked for how much confidence they have in various institutions, Americans actually rank organized labour beneath big banks and not far above the media and big business. And of course, as far as red states go in particular, the South has always been famously impossible for labor unions to operate in, and the mentalities that used to be associated with the South seem to be gaining ground everywhere. (See also the fact that anti-union radicals can now be elected and keep their post in the Midwest of all places).

                • Tzimiskes says:

                  That is why I would avoid the question of unions by having employees directly elect representatives to corporate boards, no need to actually form a union.

                  I realize such an idea would spark mass opposition and have no chance of passage. However, I look at how far the right wing pushed the overton window by stressing a really simple message repeatedly. It’s my belief, admittedly not strongly informed by evidence, that the Democrats could do the same thing by pushing a really simple idea repeatedly for a long time. The idea that you should have representation in the organizations that you are part of (or to put it another way, you should have a say in any decision involving you) is such a simple idea. Ignore the actual organizational requirements in the early phases and just push the basic idea in order to shift the conversation and make more concrete proposals possible in the future.

                  Also, a policy to achieve this that avoids unionization wouldn’t be difficult. Once a company reaches size x employees must be granted representation with y% of the vote. This increases to z% of the vote when a company reaches size b and so on. Provide some basic outlines for how representatives are chosen and minimum voting requirements and there you go, a way to give direct employee representation on the board without the existence of a union or other institution that exists separately from the corporation itself. Right wing propaganda has turned a lot of people off the ideas of unions so I think it is important to frame ways to give workers representation through structures that don’t use the name. This provides representation directly without the need for a separate entity that negotiates with management and the board, it is part of the board itself.

                  But now I’m really far off the original topic into talking about my pet issue.

        • JR in WV says:

          But it can take a chunk of money from those who tilted the field in their favor in order to help mitigate the damage to those they tilted it against.

          This! The tax rate for mega-millionaires and billionaires should be directly related to the percentage of their business’s cash flow goes to them. So someone taking .01 per cent of their companies’ cash flow as their combined renumeration would have a much higher tax rate than someone taking .002% of cash flow.

          Now whether to use cash flow or profit, and the precise linkage between the rip-off factor and the taxation rates I leave to those with classical training in econ. I’m just a guy who took not quite enough econ for a minor. And seemed to grasp more of it that the majors did.

          Oooowwwoow, my wrist hurts so bad when I pat my own back!

    • guthrie says:

      The idea has already taken hold. But only amongst around half of voters. There are the other half to think of too, who haven’t fallen for it, and there are the people who don’t vote, because their vote has been suppressed or they think it won’t make a difference.
      Therefore trying to counteract the framing amongst the trump voters is silly, they should be winning over the non-voters instead.

  3. M. Bouffant says:

    60000 RM
    this is what this person suffering from hereditary defects costs the Community of Germans during his lifetime
    Fellow Citizen, that is your money, too
    Read ‘[A] New People’
    The monthly magazines of the Office for Race Politics of the NSDAP

  4. PeakVT says:

    All those starving old people will still be grateful that James Comey spared the nation from the possibility of questionable email usage.

  5. AMK says:

    All the downscale olds starving to death makes the numbers work better for Ryancare.

    Really, I can understand the traditional GOP grift, where they come up with some kind of “free market reform” for programs like this that let them funnel more money to private contractors without making the service bad enough for most recipients or anyone else to really care. But this is basically asking to be hated.

  6. Breadbaker says:

    I mean, obviously Meals on Wheels doesn’t work because the people who start on it often stay on it until they die, instead of miraculously being cured of arthritis, diabetes and agoraphobia and becoming productive members of society once again.

    • los says:

      “Look at that homeless alcoholic! Probably a Communist! There’s your proof that social services have been a complete failure for us all since public schools were cast upon America!”

    • dogboy says:

      This is why I think anyone who proposes cuts to Meals on Wheels deserves to get stabbed in the eye with a flaming icicle.

      The aged, the infirm, the soon-to-be-dead, these people value Meals on wheels beyond measure. Let’s means test and drug test the carried interest exemption and fund this small modicum of decency for the least among us. A fcking baloney sandwich and a peanut butter cookie can make a person feel human and have hope that maybe they’ll live to see the next one.

      Seriously, Fck You whoever came up with this idea.

  7. Mike G says:

    ‘Look, we’re not gonna ask you for your hard-earned money, anymore, single mother of two in Detroit … unless we can guarantee to you that that money is actually being used in a proper function.’”

    “That’s why we blew $2 trillion on Dim Son’s self-indulgent Oedipal temper tantrum in Iraq”

  8. Taters says:

    If Melania Trump lived in the White House for just 10 days we could fund Meals on Wheels for a full year.
    https://twitter.com/Cocacolakid/status/842503266864975872

  9. angrifon says:

    Look, we’re not gonna ask you for your hard-earned money, anymore, single mother of two in Detroit … unless we can guarantee to you that that money is actually being used in a proper function.

    How much is it costing taxpayers for Trump to return to his swamp palace every weekend, again?

    • corporatecake says:

      Yes, but you see, Trump is rich, and has proven he has value as a human being justifying the satisfaction of any and all of his whims, whereas Meals on Wheels recipients are old, some combination of disabled, and poor, and therefore deserve to starve.

      • Sumac says:

        Meals on Wheels recipients are supposed to be fed by their families. If their families won’t or can’t feed them, or if they don’t have family at all, well, it’s their own fault. If you’re old and starving, it proves you didn’t live your life right!

    • los says:

      single mother of two in Detroit

      Someone let whoever fills their tax forms about EIC.
      unless her income resembles the DeVos family’s…

      /assuming extremes, without checking actual numbers

    • solidcitizen says:

      I think you are overlooking the fact that Trump is taking no salary. NO SALARY! He only wants to make America great. And Obama. The Obamas spent $13,876,000,000 on their vacations while in the White House.

  10. RPorrofatto says:

    Similarly, in his first week as president, Trump was focused on both halves of the equation when he ensured that 4 million workers would remain exempt from overtime pay. He was compassionately saying to employers, “Look, we’re not gonna ask you to spend your hard-earned profits on the employees that hard-earned them, not when we can guarantee to you that that money stays in your pocket where it belongs.”

    As Our Leader said, “We’re gonna win so much you may even get tired of winning and you’ll say ‘Please, please Mr. President, it’s too much winning! We can’t take it anymore!”

  11. Little Chak says:

    Ah, Scott, so I see you've been duped by the idea that Clinton was aligned with the economic stance of the Chief Economist of her transition team. An easy mistake to make. But I heard from reliable sources during the primary campaign that she was in the pocket of Wall Street and thus unqualified to be President.

    Yada yada Goldman Sachs yada yada Optics!!11! yada yada I don’t care what her actual policy positions were, or that my help in sustaining the lie that she was running on a neoliberal economic platform helped give hyper-conservative economists full control of government … “be the change you want to see in the world” is for losers.

  12. I am coming to the conclusion that the goal is to kill off as many poor people as possible. The money is irrelevant the dying is the point. Trump believes that the wealthy have better DNA and that poverty is genetic. He has said as much in an interview: look on YouTube. He wants to improve the gene pool. What else makes sense. Leaving aside moralty, this is stupid politics and trivial economics.

    I know I’m a joker but I don’t mean this as snark. I am 51% sure this is true.

    • los says:

      goal is to kill off as many poor people as possible

      has been conservative principle since at least Reagan, though the principle seems perpetually innate to conservatism.

      “surely we can sell the bodies to the Soylent factories?”

      “Elitist? Not us. Because we say we aren’t.”

      “We’ll have Alex Jones fix those Bad Optics with ‘Chemtrails in baby formula’. “

      • C.V. Danes says:

        The poor serve a more useful purpose as a political wedge alive than dead. The goal is to continue to make them as miserable and hopeless as possible so as to appear lazy and feckless, and then blame their situation on being lazy and feckless. Other than than, it costs money to actively round up the poor and kill them, so better to just let them starve.

    • CP says:

      I am coming to the conclusion that the goal is to kill off as many poor people as possible.

      Oh yes, absolutely. Harm, kill, either way, screwing the poor is the goal in itself – saving money for the rich is nice too, but they’d do it even without that. And it’s not just Trump, it’s definitely Ryan, and most of the party too. I’ve seen and heard too many fanatics reciting Social Darwinist and poor-loathing creed to think otherwise.

  13. Asteroid_Strike_Brexit says:

    "Destroying social programs and healthcare to provide a massive tax cut for the 0.1% sure will alleviate my economic anxiety."

  14. King Goat says:

    Asking that single mother in Detroit to pay taxes for Head Start that her kids may use=unconscionable, asking her to do the same for fat defense contracts building aircraft carriers and fighter jets to protect us from box cutter wielding terrorists, totally fair.

    • C.V. Danes says:

      Of course it’s fair, if your constituency is the oligarchs who benefit from fat defense contracts building aircraft carriers and fighter jets to protect us from box cutter wielding terrorists.

  15. dmsilev says:

    Back in what now seems like the more innocent times of the GW Bush administration, people commented that Republicans were regarding 1984 as an instruction manual. Trump and his crew are working themselves up to using _A Modest Proposal_ as their operating manual.

  16. Tzimiskes says:

    I am surprised they didn’t add that if someone really wants to be fed by the government they can just join the expanded military.

  17. C.V. Danes says:

    What the fuck does ‘hard power’ even mean?

  18. FlipYrWhig says:

    Interesting how “single mother of two in Detroit” became a sign of the problem of being overtaxed to support the moochers rather than, per usual, a sign of the existence of moochers.

  19. NewishLawyer says:

    Kevin Drum came up with a theory yesterday that Trump is trying to fail. The general consensus of everywhere but LGM is that Trumps budget proposals are DOA.

    • efgoldman says:

      The general consensus of everywhere but LGM….

      Not any more; see below.

    • Lost Left Coaster says:

      Trump is trying to fail

      Oh lord, when is this shit going to end? Trump does not try to fail; he tries to grift, he tries to bullshit, he tries to swindle, he tries to take everything and leave you holding the empty bag, but he does not try to fail.

      The fact that he is obviously a moron does not change this.

  20. efgoldman says:

    Every fucking one of these “proposals” is evil, stupid, counter-productive, and politically as astute as the sparrow on your lawn. Why in the name of Beelzebub scare and piss off your most reliable voters?!?
    Especially because this “budget” is DOA on Capitol Hill. Yeah, the occasional kkkrazy kkkaukus kkkongresskritter True Believer might go for it, but they can count up there on the Hill; they also know what happened to Heuleskamp(sp?) when he opposed a routine farm bill because of “conservative principles” (if you don’t remember, he was primaried out by a different RWNJ).
    Most of this pile of pig shit, if it’s actually in a real budget proposal, won’t even be debated in committee.

    The house hasn’t actually passed a budget since Weeping Cheetoh was speaker; they won’t do it this time, either. There will be another series of continuing resolutions with a little finagling around the edges.

    • C.V. Danes says:

      Every fucking one of these “proposals” is evil, stupid, counter-productive, and politically as astute as the sparrow on your lawn. Why in the name of Beelzebub scare and piss off your most reliable voters?!?

      Do you really think Trump cares about the people who voted him in office? They served their purpose, so now they can be discarded so he can pursue his goal of expanding his empire. Trump is not going to run in 2020. He’s going to use the next 4 years to expand his riches by a couple of orders of magnitude, then retire as king of his empire. And besides, if he has a sad, his handlers can always find some useful dupes to round up for a rally.

      • efgoldman says:

        Do you really think Trump cares about the people who voted him in office?

        No, of course not. But wasn’t the budget guy in congress? I wonder how Granny Starver and the rest of the knuckle-dragger flying monkeys feel about telling Granny (and her family) that she’s actually gonna’ starve.

    • njorl says:

      “Why in the name of Beelzebub scare and piss off your most reliable voters?!?”

      There’s two ways to go about screwing your supporters. You can string them along and try to bilk them subtly over a long time, hoping they never get too upset about it or you can pull the rug out from under them fast.
      I think the election of 2010 showed that the Republican base will forgive any betrayal very, very quickly. It makes sense to screw the right wing populists out of everything you might ever want to take from them as quickly as possible, then go about getting them to forget you did it. Lock in long term gains for the ultra wealthy, obstruct after losing power, then blame the Democrats for not repairing your harm. All the while you keep giving them little treats of hatred.

    • Phil Perspective says:

      But you best believe Paul Ryan is jerking off to it.

  21. Nick never Nick says:

    I’m starting to wonder if the problem with the GOP (or the United States) isn’t ideological, but something more profound — perhaps what has happened is this . . .

    1990s — GOP develops a fairly absurd rhetorical technique it uses to try and prevent Clinton from implementing his policies; it’s informed by their triumphs of the 1980s, and is essentially a political sneer, meant to imply that Democrats and their deeds are illegitimate.

    2000s — 9/11 happens on GOP watch, they must now be the Patriot Party (which they were already disposed to be). Everything they do is patriotic, absurd rhetorical technique gets factored in.

    2008 — the madness of seeing a black man in the Presidency reinforces everything that has already happened. Patriot Party never surrenders!

    2010s — by this time, a significant proportion of Republican voters, and Republican politicians, only know the absurd rhetorical technique. They have forgotten the Long-Before-Time, and whisper weird myths about Reagan to each other — how he won the Cold War, balanced the budget, the Perfidy of Borking.

    2017 — Trump is elected.

    I guess I feel like I need some kind of explanation for why the GOP behaves more like a cultish cigarette company and not a normal political party. This isn’t necessarily it, but maybe it’s part of the puzzle, I hope I live long enough to understand.

    • Tzimiskes says:

      I see the problem is that changes in our economy and institutions have resulted in a situation where business elites no longer have shared interests with the rest of society. It is easier to engage in rent seeking within large corporations than it is to actually grow existing businesses or fund new ones. They can count on the fact that any given policy has groups that gain relatively more and relatively less to get votes from those that gain relatively less even if they don’t offer them any policies that favor them. People will vote against someone else getting more than they do and this is all they need to win elections now and then to go on a spree of rent seeking. They are hardly bothering to argue any more that their rent seeking creates a tide that lifts all votes. Whenever I read right wing writing I am struck by how much the focus is on attacking the left and how they barely bother to argue for what they want to do.

      • Pat says:

        Innovation is hard, Tzimiskes. A lot of the people who are good at it are weird. And you can’t teach it very well. A millionaire can’t really hire an innovation teach for their kid, so that they can grow up to be Bill Gates. Gates figured it all out on his own. Which probably means that he also has weird ideas about class and responsibility.

        I don’t really believe that this country has every had a time when the born wealthy business elites had shared interests with the rest of society.

        • Tzimiskes says:

          I think there were a few brief periods where the interests of business elites corresponded with those of society as a whole, not that there weren’t areas where interests diverged as well as where they were congruent. The early to mid part of the 19th century or the post WWII years for example. These periods are characterized by capital being relatively scarce to investment opportunities and those investment opportunities, such as canals, railroads, or large steel plants, having already been developed and thus having little need for innovation. The problem is that these periods are brief exceptions that last a couple of decades at most, the nostalgia tinged politics of the GOP attempt to present these periods as normal and thus the interests of business elites as normally being congruent with that of their voters. In normal times there is almost no convergence of interests between business elites and regular people, the periods of convergence are few an far between.

          • guthrie says:

            The thing I like to point out is that the interests of the owning class coincided with the rest of society for a while in the later 19th and 20th centuries, since the lower classes were needed to fight wars, and to work in the owners factories etc.
            However, with the age of truly global capitalism and hence a global ruling class (Look at Rupert Murdoch and his wives for instance), they have no allegiance to any country or citizens and as such, it doesn’t matter.

          • Pat says:

            Tzimiskes, I believe that there are several reasons why the post WWI period was so atypical.

            First, income taxes on the wealthy were at a high point: the effective high rate on top earners was around 70%.

            Second, the US was exporting enormous amounts of goods to Europe to help with rebuilding after the war.

            Third, the US was investing heavily in infrastructure, including the highway system, universities, and research. DDE wanted the highway system in case we had a war on this continent; all the PTSD WWII vets needed jobs and education; and the government was interested in what other kinds of bombs they could make after the atomic bomb.

            Fourth, the US started investments and research into advertising, which began a narrative about the country that continues today.

            Fifth, none of the benefits provided went to “undesirables” like blacks, Jews, or Native Americans, and women were taken off the job and put back in the home.

            I think that these macroenvironmental factors played more a role than the interests of the business elites.

    • guthrie says:

      You’ve left out another factor- the evil billionaire sponsored tea party, which has dragged the party and many of the folk now in congress farther to the right. That many of these billionaire’s are cultish evil people is the whole point.

  22. Rob in CT says:

    I wonder…

    So this is such a pile of dogshit that it won’t pass, apparently.

    It’s basically a bunch of (unhinged) campaign rhetoric in “budget” form.

    And I think it relies, just as his campaign rhetoric relied, on the idea that his voters won’t actually look at it and think about it. They’ll hear that he tried to cut a bunch of stuff, including a bunch of things they don’t like, and like that. The stuff that he wanted to cut that they wouldn’t like cut? Meh, it didn’t happen so whatever. It’s the same thing with his outrageousness during the campaign: those things I don’t like? Oh, he’s just saying that. That stuff I do like? He’s totally gonna do that! MAGA!

    In this case, it’ll be that Trump tried to do good stuff but was stymied by those horrible Democrats and traitor RINOs in congress (who, of course, simultaneously get zero credit for stopping him from doing the bits they wouldn’t like).

    I don’t know that the above will work. But I think that to the extent there’s any actual political thinking behind releasing this “budget,” that’s it.

    • Nick never Nick says:

      This is actually an interesting way of looking at things — it kind of assumes that . . .

      1) Trump has pretty much no interest in policy
      2) Trump has pretty much no interest in Congressional Republicans
      3) Trump has figured out that the easiest way to get people to like him is to say whatever he wants and then blame Congressional Republicans

      I think that all of these are kind of likely — however, it doesn’t explain the extreme small-time perfidy of things like cancelling Meals on Wheels. What does Trump get out of that? Perhaps you also have to assume some of the people around him are totally bonkers, and increasingly unable to disguise that fact.

      • Rob in CT says:

        Well, yeah, including Trump himself. Dude gets his information from the worst shows on Fox, Breitbart, and InfoWars. Crazy is a given. But then so, so many Republican voters get the same information (from RW hate radio, Fox, etc).

        However, assume the MoW bit gets stripped out of whatever final budget or budget type thing the GOP manages to eventually pass.

        Do his voters get upset at Stern Daddy for trying to defund MoW? Or is that just the sort of thing that Stern Daddy is supposed to do? Oh, sure, sometimes he gets a little carried away but he relented so he still loves us…

        This is armchair psychoanalysis of people I really don’t understand, so take it for what it’s worth (likely nothing).

        • Nick never Nick says:

          My explanations for what is going on are starting to leave the realm of the intentional, and consider that a decades-long process has resulted in stupid, crazy people making GOP policy, and that the smart people left in the party know that if they buck this trend, they’ll lose elections.

          • Schadenboner says:

            It’s getting hard to tell at this point who the abusers and who the abused are w/r/t the GOP and its’ supporters.

          • Cheap Wino says:

            This. The GOP is infested with idiot ideologues who truly believe the bullshit they’ve been fed for 30 years. These ignoramuses believe that cutting taxes is the solution to all problems and are, for practical purposes, too stupid to understand policy consequences for their ideology. They don’t know how to govern, they’re ignorant and mostly stupid, and they’re callous, privileged, and usually racists. It’s a toxic mix for the country but severely mitigated by their inherent incompetence.

        • Rob in CT says:

          Like, look at this:

          https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/03/15/daily-202-reagan-democrats-give-trump-a-long-leash-but-deeply-distrust-gop/58c8f664e9b69b1406c75d69/?tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.18e96e10996b

          Choice bits, via Digby:

          There was no buyer’s remorse. Despite the drama of the opening weeks, not one of the participants regretted voting for the president. They described Trump as sincere, complained about unfair media coverage and criticized protesters for not giving him a chance to do good things. They love that he remains politically incorrect. They remain confident that he is a strong leader who will shake up Washington, secure the border and bring back manufacturing jobs. Their faith is strong. Their doubts are sparse.

          At the same time, no one in the focus groups trusted congressional Republicans to do the right thing, particularly on the economy and health care. The Trump/Obama voters were asked to react to pictures of Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Among the responses: “shifty,” “they only look out for themselves,” and “like the CEOs.” They want these guys to support Trump and his agenda, not the other way around. Asked for impressions of Republicans generally, several volunteered that the party cares primarily about the rich.

          Many of these voters could get behind Trump partly because they saw him as so distinct from the GOP. The defections by Republican leaders last fall, especially after the 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape came out, cemented the perception that he was his own man and not beholden to party bosses. “Nothing has happened that has broken their trust in him and their belief that they cast the right kind of vote,” Greenberg explained in an interview yesterday afternoon. “That doesn’t mean it won’t break at some point, but it gives him a lot of space for now. They also know regular Republicans were not with him. They’re very conscious of this.”

          Greenberg was also struck by how much health care dominated the conversation in his focus groups, which was not by design. Nearly everyone told a story about how the Affordable Care Act is not affordable enough for them. They almost all have struggled to afford their insurance plans, co-pays and medications. Some expressed frustration about having to subsidize coverage for the poor and minorities. One man lamented that he cannot retire because he needs to pay for health care. A woman complained about her son having to pay a penalty because of the individual mandate.

          Asked to write down what they like most about Trump, one of the most dominant answers was his promise to fix the health system. Yet not one person during any of the four sessions, which were conducted before the House GOP plans were released last week, uttered the word “repeal.” People said they weren’t sure what exactly the alternative should be, Greenberg notes, but they were hopeful Trump can figure it out.

          “Repairing health care is what they expect him to do,” Greenberg said. “If it doesn’t happen, though, I believe they will think it’s because of the Republicans in Congress first and foremost, rather than Trump.” (Greenberg and Nancy Zdunkewicz, of Democracy Corps, wrote a 17-page memo summarizing their findings. It’s worth reading in full.)

          And her take:

          I’m sure the Democrats will spent the next decade bending over backwards to get these people back in the fold. Because they are Real America and their thoughts and dreams are all that matter. The fact that the represent less than 45% of the country is irrelevant. The rest of us need to just STFU and keep our petty concerns to ourselves. They like Trump because he’s “different.” That Access Hollywood tape was an awesome display of his … manly independence, if you know what I mean. And if he messes everything up, as he surely will, they’ll blame the Republicans in congress, the Democrats and the “bitches”, “blacks” and “illegals”. They love the guy.

          I can’t really argue with this (except that, due to the EC, we’ve got to flip some states. Winning more votes overall is nice, but the system is what it is).

          • Rob in CT says:

            Reading the full Democracy Corps report, it’s really hard not to come away with a feeling of “JFC these people are SO STUPID.”

            Which is, of course, not productive.

            The report indicates that many of these people are apparently open to a certain kind of Dem (Sherrod Brown, Bernie and Warren are mentioned).

            • Rob in CT says:

              I mean, what do you do with this:

              Steve: Five years ago, five, six years ago I had a really great job, was working at Coca-Cola,
              making really good money and blew out my back. My wife’s a nurse, I lost my job and they denied
              me unemployment. We’re struggling. We tried to apply for a BRIDGE card, we get denied
              because she’s a nurse. Her income. And it just – at the time, it just irritated me because we’d be at
              the grocery store, just looking at each other. How are we going to pay for all this and I’ll see
              somebody with a basket full of stuff, loaded with – just overloaded, use a BRIDGE card wearing
              top of the line stuff, $500 purse and then they walk to an Escalade. What is wrong with this system,
              we get denied –

              Matt: The Escalade’s usually parked in the handicapped spot.

              Steve: Exactly.

              Tom: Pull the card out, they got wad of cash –
              William: It was funny, the backlash that we got over the EBT cards, people could use them at gas
              station to buy dog food –

              Chris: Cash withdrawals.

              William: Cash withdrawals, and here I’m struggling to get my kid hot dogs and you’re buying a porterhouse and I’m being told that I’m wrong or I’m racist or I’m not the – I’m privileged and that’s what’s wrong.

              Chris: It’s almost like you wonder how are they working the system that you’re not. There’s
              some way they’re working the system I sometimes think that to qualify for something like you
              said, how’d they qualify when you didn’t and you – and you put side by side, you would think
              that you would qualify.

              William: And I’ve paid so much into it.

              Matt: It’s kind of off color, [but] I think we’re checking the wrong box when we’re filling out
              paperwork.

              Roy: Well the people that are working the system, that’s their full time job is to work the system.
              There’s people out there like that, that’s what they’re doing.

              • sibusisodan says:

                There’s a hotline here in the UK for people to report suspected misuse of benefits.

                It’s been quite useful in an indirect fashion:

                – people on the internet moaning about colossal amounts of fraud that they’ve personally viewed tend to shut up when presented with the phone number

                – the govt released figures showing that 85%+ IIRC of calls were relating to bona fide benefits recipients.

                • Rob in CT says:

                  Maybe that would help here, but we might be too far gone.

                  Also, these two weren’t people ranting on the internet. They were focus group participants, supposedly relaying their lived experience (which magically lines right up with the Reagan-era welfare queen story).

              • Linnaeus says:

                The focus groups were in Macomb County (a place that I am intimately familiar with), which Obama won twice. It’s a place that Democrats need to win if they’re going to win a state like Michigan.

                While quotes like the one you’ve cited are pretty discouraging and, sadly, reflect attitudes that are more common than we’d like, the county isn’t as a whole a hard-core Trumpist place and it’s diversifying enough for Democrats to be competitive there.

                • Rob in CT says:

                  I get that.

                  There is more in the report that is less discouraging, if not actually encouraging.

                  I pulled pretty much the worst bit (note thought that the diversification you mentioned is specifically mentioned in the report as driving some of these people to Trump).

                  The most encouraging bit, I guess, is that these people really hated Hillary Clinton, in particular, as opposed to Democrats. I mean, that’s frustrating in its own way, but it’s also a non-problem for 2020.

                  I do keep coming back to “but NONE OF THIS justifies voting for Donald fucking Trump!” but whaddyagonnado…

                • Abbey Bartlet says:

                  Jamelle Bouie had some thoughts on that report.

                  Also, some dipshit blue state ~Justice Democrat~ on twitter tried to convince me that report showed that a left-wing Democrat could win in West Virginia, which is why these people should not be allowed anywhere near politics.

                • rea says:

                  And of course, most of what they are saying is flat out wrong.

                  You can’t get dog food at gas stations with a Bridge or EBT card.

                  Cash assistance is limited to low income families with less than $3000 in assets and with children (or a pregnancy). Such benefits are temporary, and limited to emergency situations, e. g., pregnant woman fleeing from abuse.

                  The only time I’ve seen an Escalade driven by a person with an EBT card, it was 12 years old with mechanical issues, and she needed a car with enough room to transport her 4 kids. Yeah, she parked it in a handicap zone–she legitimately had a sticker due to back problems

              • MyNameIsZweig says:

                What do you do with this? Nothing. You can’t do anything with this. These people know what they know, and what they know is provably wrong, but they know it just the same.

    • JKTH says:

      It won’t pass wholesale, but plenty of pieces have been on Republican wishlists for a long time. Whether they’ll actually be able to stick to them without forcing a government shutdown is a different question. September should be fun.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight says:

      RawStory has an item about a Trump supporter who is overjoyed that Trump’s new healthcare program is responsible for her son getting insurance at a lower cost.

      Of course, it’s Obamacare that got her kid the coverage, but she knows it’s Trump who did it because he said he was going to help people, and he never lies.

      Add to that the numerous Republicans who insist that unemployment really went up and the stock market really went down throughout Obama’s two terms.

      You can’t fix stupid/brainwashed.

  23. Rob in CT says:

    Stepping back from the “how will this play in Peoria” question, there’s this take:

    http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/03/meals

    • jim, some guy in iowa says:

      an example of Ds working the refs who in turn misrepresent what an R says in a way that makes the R look bad?

      and people say the Ds can’t learn new tricks

      • Rob in CT says:

        This point was made in the comments.

        And the R response was to throw gas on the fire, which is just what we want. I mean, Mulvaney could have said hey, this budget barely touches MoW. But he didn’t (likely because he doesn’t understand how this all works).

    • Schadenboner says:

      I’m in ur MotherJoneses, clutchin mai pearls.

      Fuck off Kev, this is what they’ve been doing to us for 40 goddamn years and we finally grew the balls to hit the fuckers back.

      • Ahenobarbus says:

        If you don’t want to know what the budget really does, no one can force you to learn. But it isn’t KD’s job to protect you.

        And KD ends with this (emphasis added):

        “Someone managed to plant this idea with reporters, and more power to them. Good job! But reporters ought to be smart enough not to fall for it.”

      • Nick never Nick says:

        What’s with the snide rage? One of the most contemptible behaviours of Republicans during the Obama years was harping for years on non-scandals, that were products of confusion, mistaken questions, or out-of-context quotes. Do you want to be like that? I appreciate Kevin’s explaining the chain of communication that took place.

        • Schadenboner says:

          I want to win and if that means using whatever half-truths are necessary to motivate bunch of lazy nominal-democrat low information voters to get angry enough to turn out in 2018 then that’s the price of success.

          • Rob in CT says:

            There was a time when I’d argue strongly against this.

            I just don’t have the heart anymore.

            • Schadenboner says:

              We can only transform the world (or whatever subset thereof) if we have power.

              The mistake Obama (and, to be fair, most other Democrats in the past 30 years) made was thinking the transformation could be won solely through elections, that being honest and earnest and well-meaning and appealing to high ideals would remake the electorate, one that’s been lied to for nigh-on 40 years at this point by a rightist media machine which lacks any of our encumbrances.

              I’m still going to tie this into the love of the “demographic inevitability” narrative that was so popular in 2008/12/16: it’s a quintessentially technocratic policy wonk attempt to end-run/short-circuit the nasty business of electoral politics.

              This is what electoral politics is: sometimes you can’t raise an index finger and footnote yourself.

        • MyNameIsZweig says:

          Do you want to be like that?

          Why no, I’d rather keep losing. Our moral purity is much more important.

    • Alex.S says:

      Well, kind of — the standard argument about why a budget cut won’t hit a popular program was either to not specify the popular program or to claim that another resource would step in to cover that program.

      Both of these options were available. The hilarious and tragic thing is that the Trump administration does not believe they need to make those arguments.

      It’s bizarre — I could have done a better job yesterday because I know all the ways that Republicans have previously used to pretend they aren’t evil. But Trump’s team doesn’t, so they just go out there and argue that, eh, whatever, food is probably useless or something.

  24. JKTH says:

    And I think it’s fairly compassionate to go to them and say, ‘Look, we’re not gonna ask you for your hard-earned money, anymore, single mother of two in Detroit

    Even if you accept this framing, Republicans want to raise taxes on the single mother of two and ensure that she isn’t able to get child care and health insurance.

  25. drpuck says:

    Let me get this straight. (And, I will hop to the second-to-last part of the end of the story.)

    Someday, if Hair Duce makes it through his term having survived arteries clogged with remnants of fish filet, he will commission a Presidential Library. In this library will be the testament to how he made America great again. I suppose it will need to include a 24/7 LED twitter scroll commemorating how his awesome accomplishment were funded by governing-by-tweet.

    The last chapter will be a literal chapter in a future American history book. It will recount how it was that the country celebrated its having elected for two terms the first black President, and, then, mystically, elected his successor, a white nationalist malignant narcissist with an authoritarian bent.

    It will go on to recount how this President made America gross, violent, poor, and, even more racist, during his term. It will tell how a Constitutional Convention came to be called for the purpose of reverting back to having senators elected by state legislatures, and came to chaos and grief, how tactical nukes were used on, first, North Korea, and, net, Iran, and how this all led to the collapse of the market economy in the USA, then the world. The ensuing depression led to 30% unemployment and starvation in America.

    . . .leading to a state of emergency and other foul stuff.

    Or some alternate dystopia. Use your imagination; I’ve hardly used my own at all!

    It seems the end game of Trumpism is to turn the US into a plutocratic oligarchy, then go try to defend it, all the while earning the reputation for the USA of transforming it into the most vulgar pariah state possible.

    Except, the gang can’t really shoot straight.

  26. Harkov311 says:

    I know I’ve asked this question on this blog before, but I’ll ask it again: just how different would the two major parties have to be, and on which issues, before these “no difference” shriekers would finally acknowledge that, yes, there actually is a difference between liberalism and conservatism.

    • GeorgeBurnsWasRight says:

      I’m not sure there is any amount of difference that would lead to that acknowledgement.

      What prevents it is their unshakeable assumption that Hillary, especially, and Democrats, in general, are the source of all evil everywhere throughout all time. And the assumption that anything that looks like a difference is just a lie, and they can see through the conspiracy and know that the “real” policy would be exactly the same as what Republicans would do.

    • Schadenboner says:

      #NeverDemocrats are Gatsbys, reaching for out for the green lantern*, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. And that this past of left wing purity never actually happened affects this not one whit.

      *: for the longest time I thought this is what “Green Lanternism” was in the context of LGM because comic books were way way too nerdy for my D&D-playing ass to ever consider reading.

    • Tzimiskes says:

      I’m hoping, but not exactly believing, that while no amount of difference will make people realize the two parties are different generational change might. I’m old enough that I learned while young that the two parties have broad overlaps in the center, I continued to believe this was true rather longer than it was (it wasn’t true by the time I was in high school, but I believed it was true into my early twenties). I think a lot of people my age or older internalized this idea that there is broad overlap in the center of the parties and continue to understand politics through this lens leading them to believe that both parties are really the same where it counts, even if the fringes of each differ. I hope that people that didn’t have this as a reality in their childhood are less likely to believe it and that as younger generations take over the punditing profession that we’ll see less of this nonsense.

      • John F says:

        I’m old enough that I learned while young that the two parties have broad overlaps in the center, I continued to believe this was true rather longer than it was (it wasn’t true by the time I was in high school, but I believed it was true into my early twenties).

        I don’t know how old you are, but when I was “young” the parties did indeed “overlap” at the center- the left most Repubs were to the left of the right of most Dems.

        I’m not sure that ceased being true, but I realized it was no longer really true in the early-mid 1990s. It was so obvious by the mid aughts that I was always somewhat take aback by people who thought the Blue Dogs were “really Republicans” or the folks who complained about RINOs (label always being affixed to someone who was waaaay to far right to be a Dem)

        Yes someone like Joe Manchin is well to the right of the Dem party’s center- that doesn’t make him a Republican- he’s well to the left of every single GOP Senator- he’s closer to the Dem Center than he is to the leftmost fringe of the GOP.

  27. John F says:

    Forbes has a semi-interesting article out- about how is (and has been for 150 years) a three (3) party system-
    Dems, Republicans & Southern Conservatives- Southern Conservatives have always been aligned with/inside one of the other 2 (Originally inside the Democratic Party, now in the GOP)

    It also notes that generally speaking the “South” has never really had a functional two party system – the Southern Conservatives (aka “Southern Conservative Shadow Party) always vote as a block and always control the direction of government.

    Southern conservatism presumes the existence of a natural, inherited hierarchy
    ***
    Southern conservatism finds freedom and equality, by its unique definitions, through adherence to a social hierarchy based on race, Christianity, a male duty to protect women, and a commodity-driven economy.
    ***
    This bloc falls into occasional alignment with business interests due to their far greater fear of central government power. Their distrust of bankers and industrialists is less pressing than their loathing of a central government premised on “all men are created equal.” Southern conservatives have been at war with the opening premise of the Declaration of Independence from our earliest days.
    ***
    Preserving their unique racial and religious order inside a hostile liberal democracy depends on the jealous protection of each state’s individual sovereignty.

    Driven by this mandate, conservatives in the slave states developed a political system unlike anything that existed elsewhere in America. Southern states never indigenously fostered a free press, freedom of expression or movement, or any of the liberal values that were taken for granted elsewhere. Every form of personal, religious, political, or economic expression was subjected to the overarching concerns of a white population living in fear of their slaves, or later their liberated former slaves.

    “Freedom,” like every other term in the American political lexicon, took on a unique meaning in the South; reinterpreted through a lens of racial conflict. Freedom for Southern conservatives depended on a racial, religious and economic caste system that could suppress the impulses of the dangerous lower orders. Freedom was inseparable from security, and security was inseparable from fear.

  28. Alex.S says:

    So the quick summary of this budget — it’s what the Republicans have been promising for the past 6 years… just everything written out and specified.

    • Rob in CT says:

      There was a good pull-quote I saw somewhere… Mulvaney said basically “we went back through what the President said during the campaign, and translated that into budget form.”

  29. Rob in CT says:

    Via Balloon Juice comments section:

    Adam Cancryn @ adamcancryn
    House Speaker Paul Ryan to Rich Lowry on capping Medicaid funding: “We’ve been dreaming of this since you and I were drinking out of a keg”

    Matthew Yglesias‏Verified account @ mattyglesias 7m7 minutes ago
    Imagine your youthful dream being denying health care services to the poor children, the elderly, and the disabled

  30. Joe Bob the III says:

    Look, we’re not gonna ask you for your hard-earned money, anymore, single mother of two in Detroit…

    Funny, I would have thought Ms. Single Mother was one of Mitt Romney’s 47%’ers, a.k.a.: Lucky Ducky, with zero federal income tax liability.

    So, which is it? Is Ms. Single Mother a struggling working class taxpayer? Or a freeloading welfare queen?

  31. […] And his budget now takes a hacksaw to pretty much everything but military spending, for example Meals on Wheels. Which at the link Trump’s budget director explains needs to guarantee the money is […]

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