|Trump is preparing to royally screw Trump voters|
And old people in general, regardless of their political persuasion.
December 11, 2017 12:48 pm
By Joe Raedle/Getty Images.
Those familiar with the guiding principles of the G.O.P. know that Republicans strongly believe they were put on earth to cut taxes on the wealthy. But equally important is the notion that, at all times, government spending is out of control, particularly when it comes to services for people outside the 1 percent. So it should come as a shock to exactly no one that as Republicans move closer to passing a historically unpopular tax bill that will add at least $1 trillion to the deficit, they’re already talking about the grave need to slash “entitlements” like food stamps and Medicaid. “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit,” House speaker Paul Ryan said during a radio interview earlier this month. “We [need to] spend more time on the health-care entitlements, because that's really where the problem lies, fiscally speaking.”
But wait, you say—didn’t Donald Trump repeatedly pledge on the campaign trail that he wouldn’t cut Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security? In fact he did, but like a lot of things Trump has said, those promises were not meant to be taken literally or seriously. In the same interview, Ryan indicated that he’s getting close to convincing the ex-beauty pageant owner that the most important thing he can do to cement his legacy is nix grandma’s ability to get medical attention. “I think the president is understanding choice and competition works everywhere, especially in Medicare,” he said. And while Ryan, who presumably daydreams about slapping the government-funded blood pressure pills out of senior citizens’ mouths, may have had to do a little convincing on the Medicare front, the Trump administration is apparently already champing at the bit to slash other social services. Politico reports that the White House is “quietly preparing a sweeping executive order that would mandate a top-to-bottom review of the federal programs on which millions of poor Americans rely,” while “G.O.P. lawmakers are in the early stages of crafting legislation that could make it more difficult to qualify for those programs.” And the White House doesn’t seem concerned with the fact that its machinations will potentially hurt the very people who supported Trump’s bid for office. As the budget Team Trump unveiled in May demonstrated, such cuts will “inevitably reach many of the lower-income and less-educated whites that have emerged as the cornerstone of the modern Republican coalition,” Ronald Brownstein noted in The Atlantic.
Already, federal health officials are reportedly “encouraging states to impose work requirements on able-bodied adults on Medicaid,” plus higher costs for enrollees and “strict disenrollment penalties for not following certain rules.” The Agriculture Department indicated last week that states will soon have greater control over the food-stamps program, which could lead to stricter work requirements or even drug testing for participants. Meanwhile Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary Ben Carson has said H.U.D. will be “significantly involved” in the administration’s welfare reform; last May, Carson said that “poverty to a large extent is also a state of mind.”
Unsurprisingly, not everyone is thrilled with these developments. “It would be a recipe for massively exacerbating poverty and inequality in America in violation of all of Trump’s campaign promises,” Rebecca Vallas, managing director of the Center for American Progress’s poverty program, told Politico. And Trump and Co. are already getting a taste of what the broader reaction to these “reforms” might look like. On December 1, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin said in a phone call that his agency would end a $460 million program that works to reduce homelessness among veterans, and would instead send they money to local V.A. hospitals who could decide how to use it. (The decision was apparently made with zero input front V.A. staff.) But by December 7, the decision to essentially relegate homeless veterans to the street was scrapped after enormous and—to anyone outside the Team Trump brain trust—predictable backlash.
That little hiccup aside, Trump is reportedly expected to sign the welfare order as soon as January, with future legislation to follow. “They’re thinking about welfare reform in a large, all-encompassing way, not a program way,” Jason Turner, executive director of the conservative Secretaries’ Innovation Group, told Politico, adding that Ryan is in the process of developing a “mega-idea” for reform, which doesn’t sound terrifying at all.
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