Despite his degree, Donald Trump is not an economist. He has no experience in government. He does not know what it takes to run a municipality or state, let alone an entire country. He pays people to deliver economic and financial analysis and, most of the time, they probably tell him what he wants to hear. That must be why the first budget proposal of his presidency is so devoid of reality.
Trump’s biggest goal is to cut the social safety net, one which has enabled and contributed to American prosperity since the end of the Great Depression.
Being the son of a wealthy slumlord, from whom he received a “small loan of a million dollars,” Trump has never had to use food stamps. His children have never attended public schools. Trump does not know what goes into providing for 310 million people across this country. His budget reflects his complete lack of familiarity with the effects of poverty, hourly pay, childcare, and countless other realities facing regular Americans every day. Simply put, Trump has some nerve putting a budget together.
The Trump budget is based on the philosophy that there must be “a greater role for state and local governments and the private sector to address community and economic development needs.” Basically, you’re on your own. Countless state and local programs and initiatives previously funded by the federal government are on the table and Trump is looking to spill blood.
Little more than half of states are expected to meet revenue goals this year. Midwestern states are lagging behind in economic development and accessibility, a big factor in Trump’s electoral victory. Manufacturing jobs that have moved abroad are not expected to return, and many of the nation’s former industrial hubs have died off.
Economic dissatisfaction was cited as a motivator for voters to support Trump, despite evidence that cultural change and demographic anxiety played larger roles. Trump is essentially turning his back on those who put him in office. Like the American Health Care Act, the Trump budget hurts his own base the most and it’s easy to see why: Despite claiming to be “one of them,” Trump is so far removed from his base, he has no ability to conceptualize what their lives could ever be like.
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney has frequently cited waste as justification for such broad cuts to traditional programs.
“We need people to go to work. If you’re on food stamps, and you’re able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you’re on disability insurance, and you’re not supposed to be — if you’re not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work. We need everybody pulling in the same direction.”
This is a common line of reasoning on the Right. People are lazy. They’re freeloaders. They take advantage of a generous government. Social programs disincentives work. This is all nonsense. American workers have less capital today than at any other time since the Depression. Wealth has consistently moved upwards and the rate of that movement is hastening.
At the end of the day, Donald Trump’s budget is a reflection of the wealthiest Americans redistributing wealth to themselves, while convincing the greater population to fear socialized programs. This budget does nothing for Americans, but shrink their bank accounts, while also denying them the benefits they previously enjoyed. It is cruel. It is deliberate. It is un-American.