DOA … Dead On Arrival

Fortunately, since we have a caveman at the helm, the president does not write the budget – Congress does.  The president can submit his proposal, his request or wish list, but at the end of the day, it is Congress who writes the budget.  Thankfully.

This week, Trump gave his wish list to Congress, and as we all suspected, it is atrocious.  In short, he wants to take as much as he can possibly take from We the People and give as much as he possibly can to his wealthy cronies, raising the already-staggering deficit in the process.  Let’s take a look at some of the most egregious items, shall we?

  • First, there is “the wall”. Since he couldn’t bully Congress into giving him the $5.7 billion he asked for to start work on the wall, he is now asking for $8.6 billion!  And this guy is supposed to be a master dealmaker?  The art of compromise is entirely lost on him!
  • Then there is the environment. His proposal is to cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by 31%.  It would cut the EPA’s Global Change Research office, which exists to provide scientific information to policymakers about the threats posed by climate change, as well as a number of other programs involving clean water and air.
  • Along similar lines, he proposes massive cuts to the Department of Energy’s (DOE) renewable energy and energy efficiency budget … some 70%!!! The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which falls under the DOE, provides hundreds of millions of dollars a year in grants and other financial assistance for clean energy, has financed research into technologies ranging from electric vehicles to energy projects powered by ocean waves. It has been credited with financing research to help make the cost of wind power competitive with coal, and cutting the costs of LED lighting.

Note that Trump has repeatedly vowed to zero out federal spending on clean energy research and development, while doing everything in his power to promote and even subsidize the fossil fuel industry.  The only conclusion that can be drawn is that either he truly desires the destruction of the human race, or he is really that damn stupid.

  • He proposes to cut safety net programs such as food stamps, Medicaid, and housing assistance, all programs that low-income families depend on for their very survival. In spite of inflation, he proposes to freeze the maximum Pell Grant for low-income college students.
  • He has also proposed to cut Medicare … that benefit that we all paid into every single paycheck of our lives … by $845 billion over the next ten years! And … he plans to cut $25 billion from Social Security … again, a program that we all paid 6.2% of our gross pay into every paycheck we ever earned in our entire lives!

Note that in 2016, when he was still a wanna-be, he said, “I’m not going to cut Social Security, like every other Republican, and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.” More damn lies! 

  • He also proposes to cut the Department of Housing and Urban Development by 16 percent and the Education Department by 12 percent.
  • He does, however, wish to increase the defense budget by $750 billion (that’s in addition to the $8.6 billion for his damn wall).

No part of the plan addresses increasing revenue, and in fact it extends the tax cuts for the wealthy that were passed in December 2017.  It is by no means a balanced budget, and will absolutely, without question add to the national debt and deficit, both of which are already out of control, by trillions of dollars.  What happened, I would ask, to those fiscal hawks that put Obama down for eight years for not balancing the budget, for deficit spending?  Yo!  Republicans!  Can y’all hear me out there in la-la land???  This ‘man’ you all think so much of, that you’re willing to lose friends over, is going to cut Social Security … the money you have saved for your retirement since the first day of your first job.  Are you going to continue to sit on those fat, white posteriors and not even raise a stink?

But, there is good news.  And that is …

Trump’s budget proposal does not stand snowball’s chance in hell of passing Congress!  Not even a slight chance.  Even the republicans don’t like it!  It is naught but his pie-in-the-sky wish list.  However … what it does do is it speaks volumes about Mr. Trump’s priorities, and his lack of concern for the people who put him into office.  A president is elected, in theory, by the majority of the voters.  In Trump’s case, he was not elected by the majority at all, but was nearly three million votes short of it.  One might think that would make him work a lot harder to win over those of us who did not vote for him, but instead, he devotes seemingly every waking moment to finding ways to stab us in the back.

We’re tired of it.  Instead of working with Congress to attempt to develop a budget that benefits the nation and its people, he is submitting a proposal that his own advisors have told him will not fly.  He is working against the very people he swore to represent.  His priorities are a wall, his rich cronies, his Star Wars-type toy, a ‘Space Force’, and other useless crap, for lack of a better word.  Meanwhile, the poor and middle class, the 99% of the nation, will suffer if he gets his way.  Those are his priorities, folks.  His budget proposal tells us exactly where we stand … out in the cold.

The Bully Goes To NATO 😱

Consider this:  you have a child who is cruel and a bully, the one who kicks sand in all the other children’s faces and shoves them off the swings.  Now, he is invited to a birthday party … not because anybody wants him there, but because the parents of the ‘birthday boy’ felt it was the right thing to do.  You understand all too well the dangers of your son attending the party, you realize he could spoil it not only for the ‘birthday boy’, but for every child in attendance.  Do you allow your son to go to the party, or do you do the right thing and keep him home, perhaps spend some time explaining why he isn’t being allowed to go?

We the People unfortunately have just such a bully, and later this month he will be attending an event that he seems prepared to ruin: the annual NATO summit.  Remember the last such event he attended, the G7 hosted by our close friend and ally, Justin Trudeau of Canada?  Remember how he insulted every one of the other 6 leaders there and demanded that Putin/Russia be allowed back into the group?  And remember how he insulted Trudeau after leaving the meeting, refusing to sign off on the joint communique?  Remember the 2017 NATO summit where he refused to endorse the collective defense clause and then … then in order to be first in front for a group photo, he shoved Dusko Markovic, the Prime Minister of Montenegro?

There is every reason to believe that this year’s NATO summit will turn into an even bigger disaster, for he has already laid the groundwork.  Last week Trump sent letters to eight of the 29 NATO members criticizing and threatening them for not yet having met the guidelines of defense spending.  Donald Trump has either no concept or an erroneous concept of how the NATO collective defense program works, and he sees his own role as being considerably larger than it is.

NATO is based on the principle of collective defense: an attack against one or more members is considered an attack against all. So far that has only been invoked once — in response to the September 11 attacks on the U.S. To make the idea work, it is important for all members to make sure their armed forces are in good shape. So NATO sets an official target on how much they should spend. That currently stands at 2% of GDP. The 2% target is described as a “guideline.” There is no penalty for not meeting it. It is up to each country to decide how much to spend and how to use the money.

A few things are worth noting:

  • Jens Stoltenberg is the Secretary General of NATO, not Donald Trump
  • The 2% target is a ‘guideline’. Many countries are not in a financial position to be able to spend 2% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on military, and at least one nation, Germany, has other reasons for not being able to spend 2%
  • The agreement was that member nations would work toward the goal of spending 2% of GDP on military/defense by 2024! This is only 2018
  • European members of NATO are spending more on defense than in the recent past. Most have increased spending as a share of GDP since 2014, and in economically difficult times
  • Nations do not pay this 2% to NATO and no nation owes any portion of it to the U.S.
  • Thus far, the U.S. has been the only nation to receive the benefits of this program

Trump is a bully, and the letter he sent to several nations was a thinly veiled threat.  Here is the letter he sent to Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada:NATO letter-Canada

He was also particularly contentious toward Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, that letter said to contain the harshest language of the eight letters, though I am unable to find a copy of the letter to Merkel.

Chancellor Merkel backs plans for Germany’s defense budget to eventually reach 2 percent of GDP. However, her Christian Democrats’ junior coalition partners, the Social Democrats, are against massive defense spending increases and demand funds be used more efficiently.  I would note here that the U.S. Congress should also be demanding that our own funds be spent more judiciously, for we have a ridiculously and unnecessarily burdensome military budget, while we are cutting safety net programs for the poor, ignoring infrastructure needs, and making health care unaffordable to all but the wealthy.  Our own priorities are truly skewed, and Trump reminds me of a little boy playing with his army soldiers.NATO defense spendingNote that there are only five nations that are currently able to meet the 2% defense spending goal, yet Trump singled out our closest allies for his letter-writing campaign. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accords, pulled out of the Iran deal, criticized our allies at the G7 summit, and harshly imposed unwarranted tariffs on our European allies, and now he is bullying them ahead of the NATO summit.  What could go wrong, eh?

“Why the president would find it necessary to send a letter like this in advance of the NATO summit is a mystery. It shows a lack of understanding … and sets the wrong tone in advance of an important summit in mid-July. This isn’t how you ‘prep’ for a NATO summit. Letters like this will only backfire.”  — Julie Smith, a Europe expert with the Center for a New American Security.

International relations are difficult at best when the parties involved have a full understanding of the issues.  Trump has no understanding and does not listen to those who do. He is a loose cannon and stands to do even further harm to our relations with our allies, making this nation far less safe than it has ever been perhaps since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. I do realize that nobody has the power to stop Trump from going to Brussels on July 11th, but I certainly wish there were a way to keep him home.  I’m thinking duct taping him to the potty?