By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams (2/13/18)
Just 24 hours after denouncing President Donald Trump’s newly-unveiled budget as “morally bankrupt,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took full advantage of his chance to grill Trump budget chief Mick Mulvaney directly during a Senate hearing on Tuesday, calling the White House’s 2019 blueprint “the budget of the Koch brothers” and arguing thousands would die if the plan became law.
Highlighting the Trump budget’s call for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Act), Sanders askedMulvaney to explain “the morality of a budget which supports tax breaks for billionaires, throws 32 million people off of the health insurance they have, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of fellow Americans.”
“Do you really think this is something we should be doing?” Sanders, who is ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, asked.
The Vermont senator demanded that the White House budget chief explain “the morality of a budget which supports tax breaks for billionaires” while slashing the safety net.
Mulvaney insisted in response that he doesn’t “think it’s something that we’re actually doing,” but Sanders continued to rattle off the budget’s proposed cuts to Medicaid—which would amount to more than $300 billion over the next decade—and other crucial domestic programs.
Implementation of Trump’s budget proposals would create “a situation where people will get cold, some may freeze to death,” Sanders said, pointing to the Trump budget’s elimination of the Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). “That’s not what we should be doing.”
“The good news is this budget is going nowhere,” Sanders added.
Sanders also called attention to Trump’s promises on the campaign trail to not cut Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid, and concluded that his 2019 budget demonstrates that he is doing “exactly the opposite.”
“President Trump ran for office and he said, ‘I’m a different type of Republican, I’m not the Mick Mulvaney type of Republican. I’m different. I’m gonna stand with working families. We’re gonna take on the establishment,'” Sanders said. “Well it turns out he did exactly the opposite, and this budget is a clear manifestation of him doing exactly the opposite.”
Watch a clip of Sanders’ exchange with Mulvaney, below.
I’ve Reviewed Some Cruel Budgets. I’ve Never Seen Anything Crueler Than This.
I wasn’t going to write about Trump’s budget, because it’s dead on arrival in Congress. But its unbridled cruelty is so alarming that I can’t resist saying something.
Bear in mind, this budget increases overall federal spending and it comes on top of a huge cut in taxes for corporations and the wealthy. In other words, its purpose is not at all to reduce the federal budget deficit or federal debt.
1. Trump calls for huge increase in defense spending – 13 percent more next year alone. And as you know, our military budget is already bigger than the next five largest nation’s military budgets put together, and is larded with waste as it is.
2. Trump wants to slash safety nets Americans depend on:
(a) He proposes cutting Medicare by $554 billion and Medicaid by around $250 billion over the next decade.
(b) He wants to slashes Medicaid. (The Trump administration has already approval Kentucky and Indiana’s requests to impose work requirements on adult Medicaid recipients – even though there’s not a shred of evidence that access to health care has kept people from working. It’s just the opposite. Lack of access to health care has kept people from working.)
(c) He’d cut disability insurance.
(d) He’d cut housing assistance.
(e) He’d slash food stamps by nearly 30 percent over the decade — and he’s proposing to give food stamp recipients pre-selected boxes of food!
3. And you can forget about helping people get ahead.
(a) Trump aims to cut a large swathe of the Education Department’s budget designed to help needy children — including after-school activities to keep kids off the street and a grant program for college students with “exceptional financial need.”
(b) Yet he’d increase spending by more than $1 billion on private school vouchers.
(c) He’d also slash funding for National Dislocated Worker Grants, which support people who lose jobs because of factory closures or natural disasters, as well as cutting adult employee and training, which helps high-school dropouts and veterans.
Bottom line: I’ve reviewed some pretty cruel budgets (Reagan’s first budget, George W. Bush’s first budget, for example). But I’ve never seen anything crueler than this, less justified by the facts, and seemingly more intended to hurt vulnerable people. Trump has taken social Darwinism to a new level of absurdity.
What do you think?