Trump’s Budget Is No Fun — Or — The “Blue-Apronization” Of Food Stamps
It’s not even a diverting game anymore to see what deeply horrifying cuts Trump would make if he had all the power, because it’s become so predictable.
Huge increases for the military. Big dollars for Homeland Security. Budget deficits be damned. And cuts to just about everything else: including some of the deepest in the social programs that benefit Trump voters the most. Anyone surprised? Didn’t think so.
But there’s one big reason it’s still very important: it indicates Trump isn’t likely to reject a budget purely on the basis that it adds too much to the federal deficit. Politico sums it up well: “The only certainty in Trump’s budget: oceans of red ink”.
There are 3 ways you can react to Trump’s latest budget proposal:
- Get really angry over the things Trump is proposing to cut.
- Ignore it. Since none of the stuff you got angry about at this time last year (except perhaps a huge increase in military spending) ended up getting implemented in the budget bill that just passed last week (much to Trump’s dismay). The only danger would be if Republicans somehow win a filibuster proof majority in the Senate this fall.
- Do a little of both.
We’re going with option #3, and will call your attention to just a couple of things that caught our attention:
• Snap quiz: if Trump were to get his way, how big in dollar terms would the State Department be compared to the Defense Department? Think about it for a minute. We’ll give you a couple of hints:
- Trump’s proposing cutting State Department funding by 25%.
- It’s true that Homeland Security’s taken over a lot of the vetting of people entering the country. But the State Department is still responsible for issuing visas. With dramatic cuts to immigration imminent; not a big deal anymore. And there will be no real premium put on processing visas promptly and efficiently.
- Trump seems to feel diplomacy can be largely accomplished through Twitter and an increased show of military might. A story on Vox sums it up this way: “[we’re] saying we have a hammer and nothing else”.
- The diplomats that remain will be increasingly pushed in the direction of negotiating agreements allowing other countries to buy more and bigger weapons from the U.S., turning a big part of what’s left of the State Department into an arms bazaar.
- There another side to this, which comes with its own skewed logic. The biggest ticket industrial products still made in the U.S.A. are planes and weapons. The surest way for Trump to achieve strong domestic growth with factories at capacity and plenty of new jobs is to make sure those industries get lots of new business.
- The answer to the question at the beginning of this section? 3% according to Slate. That is, the State Department’s entire proposed budget would amount to just 3% of military spending.
• A plan where food stamp recipients get a box of canned goods shipped from the government instead. This one seems like a “pet project” of White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, who spoke excitedly about transforming the food stamp program. Said Mulvaney: “What we do is propose that for folks who are on food stamps, part — not all, part — of their benefits come in the actual sort of, and I don’t want to steal somebody’s copyright, but a Blue Apron-type program where you actually receive the food instead of receive the cash.”
Reminds us of the 5-pound blocks of cheese the federal government handed out to poor people during the Reagan administration. Except they didn’t have to give their food stamps up to get it.
- Where’s the outrage? When Obama suggested using more energy efficient light bulbs, Republicans (most notably Sarah Palin) slammed him, saying Americans were entitled to “light bulbs of their own choosing”. And all that stuff about the “nanny state” not letting kids have cookies? Now the government literally plans to tell more than 40-million Americans exactly what they’re gonna eat. Nothing? Really?
- Trump says he’s all about deregulation. Yet when it comes to social programs, it seems he’s all about more regulation: work requirements and lifetime limits on Medicaid, for instance. (Whether you agree with it or not, he’s vehemently in favor of adding regulations there). So next time Trump talks about “deregulation” remember that’s only for corporations and rich developers who want to build without worrying about things like pollution and environmental impact.
- In order to receive a box of food you need to have a place to receive it, and a place to store it. It’s harder to manage than some money automatically being put on a card you take to the supermarket Which seems to be consistent with a lot of things Trump is doing because he can’t (yet) cut these programs outright: make social programs so cumbersome recipients will just give up and stop using them.
Meanwhile, Axios says forget about all of this: Trump’s real goal this year is finding some new, divisive “cultural flashpoint” that can re-polarize the electorate and energize his supporters ahead of the midterm elections.