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Some losers may go hungry. They should get jobs, if there are any.


Donald Trump's proposed 2018 budget has arrived, and while plenty of senators have declared it dead on arrival, it's still worth looking at as an expression of the Republicans' most cherished principles: Screw the poor and shovel more money to the rich. They simply haven't been quite this open about it before.

For poor-screwing, we've already been over the broad outlines: enormous cuts to Medicaid, taking the $880 billion already cut in the House's terrible Obamacare repeal and then slashing another $610 billion through fiddling with the formula for yearly increases. After 10 years, the Medicaid cuts would total 47 percent.

In addition, the Trump budget guts the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps, by 25%, and would also cut the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit, both of which make up vital parts of the safety net for poor people. (That's OK, because everyone will find jobs from the magical economic growth that no economists outside the Republican Party think will actually happen.)

But just in case there are still some poors getting assistance, the budget would also cut back Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, Section 8 housing assistance, and, in a particularly brilliant application of the New Cruelty, would eliminate altogether the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps people pay their heating bills in the winter. Look forward to more people either dying from having no heat, plus an uptick in deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning and apartment fires as people take to burning stuff (clean coal?) indoors or leaving the oven on to keep warm. Maybe the fire departments will still have funding, maybe not.

Oh, and then there are the cuts to the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, which would lose $31.4 billion over 10 years. According to budget director Mick Mulvaney, these cuts won't hurt any disabled people, since he believes a lot of people getting SSDI aren't really disabled. How many aren't really disabled? Well, obviously, the people whose disability payments get cut. Asked by NBC’s Peter Alexander if people currently on SSDI would see cuts, Mulvaney was positively giddy:

“I hope so,” Mulvaney said. “If there are people who are getting SSDI who should not be getting it— “

“Those people who should be getting it — will they receive less?” Alexander interjected.

“Oh no,” Mulvaney said. “If people are really disabled, and there are folks who need this program— ”

Mulvaney explained the cuts were part of the Trump administration's Newspeak definition of "compassion," which is a bit different from how English uses the word: "a compassion that is balanced between the people who get the benefits and the people who pay them.” And the best thing is that once the cuts are in place, we can be sure that those who are still on the program really need it, because after all, they'll still be getting some benefits. The logic really is impressive: Mulvaney wants to make those lazy disableds accountable.

“If you’re paying for it, isn’t it reasonable for you to at least ask the question: Are there people on that program who shouldn’t be on there?” he asked. “And shouldn’t it be up to the government to make sure we can look folks who are paying the taxes in the eye and say, ‘You know what, we did everything we could to make sure that everybody on SSDI is really disabled’?”

For the current fiscal year, however, the administration is not yet deputizing Fox News viewers to challenge the disability status of anyone they see getting a good parking spot who doesn't look disabled to them. There's still time to get to that one.

Say, about that magic economic growth: There's little evidence to suggest that huge tax cuts spur growth, or the Reagan and Bush tax cuts would have made us all rich by now. Economist Gabriel Zucman told the Washington Post that Reagan-era tax cuts had done a fine job of making the rich richer, but not of driving growth for the middle and working classes:

“The U.S. has run a big experiment,” Zucman said. “It has failed in the most spectacular way.”

Beyond the basic cruelty and bad math of the Trump budget, which literally does not add up, there's also this fun possibility, as outlined by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI): If all the Trump budget cuts actually went into place (again, a dubious assumption), the result would likely not be an economic stimulus, but a huge economic drag as the cuts in government spending take money out of the economy (less food stamps? Great -- lower grocery sales, for instance). The EPI projects not a boom in the economy, but a contraction due to austerity policies:

All else equal, job-losses stemming from this budget’s spending cuts would total 177,000 in 2018, 357,000 in 2019, and 1.4 million in 2020. While it gets increasingly hard to estimate precise numbers further into the future, the fiscal drag just increases dramatically after 2020.

All the evidence suggests that when taxes are cut for the wealthy, they don't take that money and go hire a bunch of people; rather, they invest it: Why would you hire people, since that costs money? Manufacturing jobs won't just magically appear if there's no one who can afford to buy stuff, and the Trump budget will definitely cause more people to lose income than gain. There simply aren't enough yacht-building jobs to go around. At least there's the the military budget increases. Maybe, combined with Trump's brilliance at foreign policy, we can have a nice big war and everyone will rush off to build tanks, warships, and fighter planes. Trump saw that in a movie once, and it all turned out fine.

Yr Wonkette is supported by reader contributions. Click the "Donate" clicky to send us money; we're working on a system to allow online donations of chickens and goats if the Trump budget passes.

[Guardian / WaPo / EPI / Vox]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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