Scam Week?

For the second time in the Trump administration this is supposed to be infrastructure week. (The previous one didn’t accomplish anything.) Monday is the kickoff day of the workweek in America and somehow the Trump administration chose the same day to unveil its budget for the next fiscal year; for a publicity conscious President that is really a case of stepping on yourself. That is unless of course both the infrastructure program and the budget were scams. Let’s explore.

In anticipation I have written about the Trump infrastructure package in the past and my prognostications have been substantially borne out. The plan unveiled Monday is even worse than I had predicted. Trump is billing it as a $1.5 trillion package and you’d have to believe in unicorns to buy that number. Under Trump’s plan the federal government would supposedly provide $200 billion with the remaining money coming from local and state governments and private entities.

The $200 billion is a scam to start with. Most of it comes from existing federal programs that have been watered down and “appropriated” by this plan. Local and state governments are for the most part broke so looking for money from them is unrealistic.

That leaves private enterprise and this is where the organized criminal enterprise comes into play. Companies (including Trump owned companies) would front a substantial part of the cost at a profit, get a very generous tax credit and retain ownership of the piece of infrastructure. Of course, they would only invest in plans that fit into their business model. (Can you see a fossil fuel corporation investing in a plant making solar panels?)

Now we come to the social safety net decimating budget proposal. Trump proposes massive cuts to SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. Even far right fiscal conservative admit that slashing Medicare and Social Security are not going to happen so I won’t dwell on them.

Trump proposes turning the SNAP program into some sort of food delivery to your door program. This is insanity personified. Instead of taking your EBT card to the grocery store and stretching your dollar as far as possible while trying to meet your family’s dietary needs you would wait for your package of supplier selected food to arrive. How does that allow for special dietary needs? One of the food items these packages supposedly would contain is peanut butter. What about people with severe allergies to peanuts? How are you going to design a personal delivery program that is cheaper to run than individuals going to the store and picking food off the displays and shelves? Grocers make a lot of money by selling food to SNAP customers; they are not going to take losing that business lying down. However if your aim was to siphon off as many tax dollars as possible determining who got all these contracts (including possible yourself) would present a self-enrichment opportunity.

Trump proposes huge cuts to the Medicaid program along with restructuring. The budget proposes caps on how much any recipient could receive. I guess if your illness is expensive your life is expendable under Trump. Trump also wants to block grant much of the program to the states. That is an accounting trick that simply shifts the burden and as time goes on underfunds it at an increasing rate. States in turn will be forced to impose unrealistic and draconian eligibility requirements. Some of that is already in process with employment requirements in areas where unemployment is still high. Of course, some Medicaid recipients are simply physically, mentally or emotionally unable to work. Then there are the jobs where you lose money working – think about a commission only sales job where you use your car, phone, computer etc. While poor individuals would only make their lot worse and diminish their chances of escaping poverty by taking money losing jobs their employers (possibly including Trump and his chosen few) would reduce their cost of doing business which translates to greater profits.

Another “cute” wrinkle is cutting Obamacare subsidies. By right wing logic if you can’t afford health care you don’t deserve to live. If you think I’m engaged in hyperbole I offer the audience reactions in the September 2011 Republican Presidential Debate in Tampa as evidence.

The good news is that both of these proposals should be dead on arrival at least in the Senate if not both chambers of Congress. The bad news is that we need both a budget and a serious infrastructure package. The fact that they came out simultaneously shows that Trump is serious about neither, but if he can slip another scam(s) through that is great for him and his.

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