I’m beat. I spent every available minute this weekend at 209 Pearl, trying to get the Landline space ready for our tenants, all of whom are hoping to move in on April 1. Today, among other things, we finally hung our sign in the front lobby, and put pollyeurothene down on the floors, which we’ve seen the past few weeks sanding and repairing. There’s still quite a bit of work to be done, but we’re making lots of headway. In the days to come, I’ll let you know more. Right now, though, I just want to crack open a beer, wash off the filth, and watch an episode of Columbo.
One of the best social media exchanges I’ve seen in quite a while took place earlier this evening between white nationalist “it” boy Richard Spencer, and Jason Kander, the former Secretary of State of Missouri.
As best as I can figure it, it all started with an online dustup between Spencer and Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall, who, over the course of the several posts on Twitter, went after the leader of the so-called alt-right, calling him everything from a Nazi punk to a sad douche… Well, when Marshall wrote, “Take your trash philosophy back to the 1930s, chump,” Spencer responded as any good, young Nazi would… with a reference to the musical Cabaret.
And this post of Spencer’s, in turn, brought on the following response from Jason Kander, the great-nephew of John Kander, the composer of Cabaret, which I thought was absolutely beautiful.
Yeah, I know there’s probably other stuff that I should be writing about tonight, but there’s something about Nazis quoting show tunes, and then getting thoroughly humiliated, that I find hard to resist. [Spencer, I imagine, is still trying to think of a response.]
As promised, Trump unveiled his budget today, and I think it’s safe to say that it was far worse than most of us imagined. The President’s budget, if passed into law, would, among other things, cut the budget for the Environmental Protection Agency by 30%, completely eliminating 50 programs and 3,200 positions, and entirely cut federal funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
These cuts, according to the Trump administration, aren’t cruel, but compassionate.
“Can we really continue to ask a coal miner in West Virginia or a single mom in Detroit to pay for these programs?” White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney asked rhetorically this morning, when introducing the President’s budget. “The answer was no. We can ask them to pay for defense, and we will, but we can’t ask them to continue to pay for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”
This budget, to hear Mulvaney tell it, is all about compassion, and putting people first. It’s all about helping the needy, he said, by allowing them to keep their hard-earned dollars.
Yes, the out-of-work coal miner in West Virginia and the single mother in Detroit can keep the dollar or two that they pay each year through their taxes to support the EPA and Public Broadcasting. And they can spend that two dollars however they like. Isn’t that the very definition of compassion? Sure, they may no longer have safe air to breathe, or water to drink, but, for those two dollars, they can put a deposit down on a respirator that they everyone in their family can take turns using.
I’m sure you know this, but this budget isn’t about returning a few dollars to the coal miner in West Virginia and the single mother in Detroit. It’s about returning ten of millions of dollars to the wealthy, who don’t give a fuck if garbage incinerators are built in poor neighborhoods, and water in rural America is flammable as a result of fracking. This, as Grover Norquist told us several decade ago, is about shrinking the government to the size that that it can be dragged to a bathtub and drown. This is about handing our nation over to the corporate class once and for all.
And this isn’t just about slashing the EPA and Public Broadcasting. The budget gets even worse as far as non-wealthy Americans are concerned. The Trump budget would, among other things, would, according to the Washington Post, “slash or abolish programs that have provided low-income Americans with help on virtually all fronts, including affordable housing, banking, weatherizing homes, job training, paying home heating oil bills, and obtaining legal counsel in civil matters.”
When asked about these cuts, which would seriously impact programs like Meals on Wheels, Mulvaney told reporters this morning that, while such programs “sound great”, they don’t “work”.
I’m not sure what it means when he says Meals on Wheels doesn’t “work,” as meals are actually prepared, delivered and eaten, and the people who consume them are kept alive. Maybe he means that it’s not profitable to feed the elderly. If so, that’s a pretty fucking sobering thought.
Regardless of the intent, one wonders how Trump’s older voters are going to respond when they hear about cuts to Meals on Wheels and other programs they rely on.
Speaking of Meals on Wheels, because Trump was here in Ypsilanti yesterday, CNN’s Jake Tapper decided to use our community as an example when talking about Meals on Wheels this afternoon, interviewing Alison Foreman, the executive director of our local Meals on Wheels chapter.
Foreman said that these Community Block Grants that the Trump administration would like to cut, account for approximately 18% of our local Meals on Wheels budget, and, if those funds were to be eliminated, Ypsi Meals on Wheels would likely have to cut back to providing one meal a day, instead of two, or deny services to some seniors. Foreman also mentioned that, for 95% of the seniors her organization serves in Ypsi, those two meals a day that they receive, are all that they eat. Furthermore, in many cases, it’s the only regular human contact these people have… While there might be short term savings to be had, one wonders what the long term costs might be if we go down this pat with Trump, cutting nutritional support to our housebound seniors. One would imagine, for instance, that hospitalizations would dramatically increase… But that doesn’t seem to be something that our President and his people have considered.
Here’s the video from CNN.
Yesterday afternoon, the good people of Michigan braved the cold to welcome President Trump, who, for some reason, had chosen Ypsilanti as the backdrop for his announcement that he’d be eliminating fuel efficiency standards passed into law during the Obama administration in order to address global climate change, essentially saying “fuck you” to future generations. [I’d like to say I’m surprised, but, really, what did we think was going to happen? He is, after all, the same many who once tweeted that global warming is a Chinese hoax.] While I couldn’t make it, as something had suddenly come up, several good people were kind enough to share their photos with me. Here are just a few.[The last three come by way of our friend Steve Neavling, who covered the protest for the Motor City Muckraker. I’m sorry, but I can’t recall where I got all the other ones, as over a dozen people sent me images and links.]
Ironically, Trump’s Ypsilanti speech, which was apparently made in front of an audience of about three thousand people, came a day before his budget was to be released… a budget which, according to this morning’s Detroit Free Press, proposes “altogether eliminating funding for Great Lakes restoration efforts, eradicating tens of millions of dollars in annual funding for Detroit and slashing job training funds, heating assistance for the poor and a vast array of other long-standing programs.”
Here, for those of you who were outside protesting, is video of what Trump said inside the Willow Run Airport hanger, beneath a “Buy American – Hire American” banner, which, by the way, I found incredibly ironic given yesterday’s “Ivanka Trump was importing 50 tonnes of Chinese clothing as her father was saying ‘buy American’” headline in the Independent.
And here, from MLive, is video from outside the invitation-only event, where about one dozen Trump supporters faced off against a few hundred protestors. [My favorite part is the Trump supporter on the motorcycle who keeps revving his engine in an attempt to drown out the protestors.]
Trump promised “insurance for everybody,” and, instead, slashed coverage to fund tax breaks for the wealthy
Back in 2015, at the outset of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump told the American people that, as President, he would replace Obamacare with something better, “something terrific.”
“I am going to take care of everybody.” Trump told 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley. “Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”
And he continued to make such claims right through the election, and up until he took office.
Just two months ago, in fact, Trump promised the American people, “We’re going to have insurance for everybody.”
In reality, though, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Far from it.
People all around the country woke up this morning to headlines like this one on the front page of the Arizona Republic, announcing that TrumpCare, if implemented, would mean that millions of Americans would lose the health insurance they currently enjoy.
And it’s not just a few million people. According to the analysis of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), TrumpCare would “increase the number of people who are uninsured by 24 million” over the next decade. And, not only that, but it would make health care more expensive for the elderly and the non-wealthy. It’s so bad, in fact, that the Brookings Institution today referred to the legislation as an act of “class warfare.” Here’s a clip.
…The Republican plan, released this week, would, if enacted… would cut off Medicaid coverage altogether to millions of low-income households. It would encourage states to cut Medicaid benefits for those who remain covered by eliminating federal cost sharing on additional outlays. It would reduce financial help to the old and the sick — those who have most difficulty affording health insurance. Meanwhile, it would extend subsidies to higher-income households, who need little or no help in affording insurance coverage…
The Republican plan would eliminate assistance with deductibles and copayments for low-income households. It would reduce the refundable tax credits ObamaCare provides to available to comparatively old and poor households to help them afford health insurance premiums. In contrast, the plan would increase credits available to most comparatively young and middle-income households. In addition, It would extend full assistance to higher income households most of whom can afford health insurance without assistance — by providing tax credits of as much as $8,000 to couples with incomes as high as $150,000 a year, two-and-one-half times the current limits under ObamaCare…
The Republican plan would also repeal a series of taxes that fall exclusively on high-earners and the wealthy. One of those taxes helps support Medicare. Its repeal would hasten depletion of the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund.
Overall, the plan would boost the number of uninsured and shift federal assistance away from some of the most vulnerable people in this nation, while cutting taxes for the richest. Exact estimates of each of these effects must await official reports from the Congressional Budget Office and other research organizations…
And that’s why the Republicans wanted to rush this to a vote, before people had an opportunity to read the bill, and before the CBO had an opportunity to weigh in. And it’s likely also why Trump has been so adamant about not wanting to refer to the legislation as TrumpCare. [As someone else pointed out, it’s telling that a man who puts his name on everything from tap water to second rate steak would turn down an opportunity to have an ambitious piece of legislation like this named after him.] He knows that, the more the American people know about it, the more they’ll hold it against him.
So, today, we’ve got Republicans everywhere trying to cast doubt on the CBO’s numbers, neglecting to mention, of course, that the CBO Director got his start in government as a Bush nominee, and took the job at the CBO with Paul Ryan’s support. This isn’t a Democratic “hit” job. These are just facts. But the Republicans know that the facts won’t help get this passed, so they’re spinning another narrative. Trump is calling the CBO numbers “unbelievable,” and Newt Gingrich is declaring that the “corrupt” CBO should be abolished. And that’s really all they’ve got. They can’t defend it on the merits. They can’t answer the American people who ask why, after eight years of promises, the Republicans have given them a plan that sees 24 million losing their health insurance. And those are the facts. 24 million Americans, mostly in red states, will be loseing their health care if this bill passes. And the rich will get richer.