Trump’s Populist Promise Is a Fiction

Derek Thompson, The Atlantic:

Trump has repeatedly promised to preserve Social Security and Medicare while possibly growing defense and infrastructure. If he sticks to that commitment, it takes about half of government spending out of consideration. He also can’t really choose to cut spending on interest on the debt, which is another six percent of the budget.

As a result, Trump would have no choice but to gut the remainder of the government’s programs, including Medicaid, subsidies for food and housing, and veterans’ benefits. Eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse sounds like a nice idea, but the fact is that, beyond military spending, the federal government is essentially a transfer of money from people with above-average incomes to the sick, old, and poor.

Herein lies the internal mechanism of the federal budget. After defense, Social Security, Medicare, and the handful of service programs not already contracted out to private industry it’s largely a transfer vehicle for moving money from areas and citizens of higher income to areas and citizens of lower income. It is a means of redistributing wealth.

Many disagree with this function as un-Constitutional; that the transfer of wealth is not a duty specifically enumerated within the document. Others argue, and I agree, that the this duty is clearly spelled out in the preamble to the Constitution of the United States:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence (sic), promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

(Emphasis mine.)

We cannot obtain general welfare when broad swaths of our citizenry live below the poverty level, are under- or un-employed. What does this leave the Trump administration to cut? Very little.

Let’s be clear. Republican administrations rarely cut the size of government. Their priorities don’t come down to how much spending, but rather where the money will be spent, and in what direction the redistribution of wealth will flow.

Note the rise and fall of federal employment, a fair metric for the size of government, in the following graph from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis’ FRED database:

Federal headcount rose during both the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations, declined just as sharply during the expansion years of Bill Clinton, was remarkably flat during George W. Bush’s presidency, and both rose and fell under Barack Obama. The tall spikes are temporary workers employed conducting our decennial census.

The gist of this article rings true. The non-politician Trump, enamored of the trappings of office will continue giving populist speeches as though his campaign never ended. Indeed, he’s already campaigning for the 2020 election. His minions will act to defund social programs and contract out to private industry those functions still held within government all the while. In this way Republicans can have their cake, and eat it, too. They will make a pretty sound, and slowly strangle the “back row” folks, the under- and un-employed, the sick and the elderly.

This is what America has wrought for itself with the election of Donald Trump. We have four years, if he lasts that long, to watch it play out.

A simple request – if you voted for this man, keep an eye open for the relief he promised and continues to promise. Watch for a return of “American Greatness.” Be honest with yourself when, month after month, you don’t find it.

#Trump #GOP #fraud #populism #sizeOfGovernment #government #transferOfWealth