Government, Meet Bathtub

It’s easy to run a government that does (next to) nothing.

Here’s where Trumpism — or really Pence-ism, or really, exactly what the GOP has been promising (threatening) will have its most immediate, and quite possibly its most damaging impact:

Staffers for the Trump transition team have been meeting with career staff at the White House ahead of Friday’s presidential inauguration to outline their plans for shrinking the federal bureaucracy, The Hill has learned.

The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.

Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump’s team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years.

The NEH and NEA cuts are at once symbolic — the GOP is killing stuff liberals like, which is reward enough in those quarters — and, I think, intended to distract from other hugely reckless choices:

The Heritage blueprint used as a basis for Trump’s proposed cuts calls for eliminating several programs that conservatives label corporate welfare programs: the Minority Business Development Agency, the Economic Development Administration, the International Trade Administration and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The total savings from cutting these four programs would amount to nearly $900 million in 2017.

At the Department of Justice, the blueprint calls for eliminating the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Violence Against Women Grants and the Legal Services Corporation and for reducing funding for its Civil Rights and its Environment and Natural Resources divisions.

At the Department of Energy, it would roll back funding for nuclear physics and advanced scientific computing research to 2008 levels, eliminate the Office of Electricity, eliminate the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and scrap the Office of Fossil Energy, which focuses on technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

Under the State Department’s jurisdiction, funding for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Paris Climate Change Agreement and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are candidates for elimination.

The single most important point I can make is that this is the Kansas-ification of America.  This isn’t a Trump policy choice.  This is Mike Pence shepherding plans the Republican Party has been trying to implement for years, decades even.  I doubt it will all get through, but much of it will, I’d guess, and when it does we will need to hang every shitty outcome and terrible choice around the neck of every Republican officeholder.

This is what they want. This is what they told us they wanted. They’re likely going to get it, to some approximation.  And they’re going to have to own it, so that once again, Democrats can come in and fix the serial catastrophes we’re going to witness very damn soon.

Also, too — who wants to bet all the pieties about the deficit and restoring balance to the budget will fall to the tax cuts to come?

Fuck it.  I’m heading back to the seventeenth century.

Image: Francesco de Rossi, Bathesheba at her Bath1552-1554.



Engulf & Devour, Inc.

As expected, Trump is absorbing the United States government into his family cartel and will install his eldest daughter and her husband in the White House as senior advisors — the latter, at least, on an official basis, according to NBC:

President-elect Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner will be named senior adviser to the president, a senior transition official confirms to NBC News.

Kushner was an influential behind the scenes confidant to his father-in-law throughout the 2016 campaign. But a number of legal questions complicate his potential role in the incoming administration.

Don’t worry about those legal complications — Trump will brazen it out. His surrogate Newt Gingrich already dismissed such worries by suggesting that Trump could just issue a blanket pardon to family members who flout any applicable anti-nepotism laws.

Like Trump, Kushner is a real estate developer who will be formulating policies that can enhance his vast wealth. I suspect he’ll enter into a flimsy “half-blind trust” arrangement like the one Trump himself has proposed and call it clean.

Whatever it takes, no matter what heat it generates, Trump is going to find a way to have the kiddies involved, and I don’t think it’s just because the grift opportunities will be so epic. I think he requires their presence because he’s not mentally stable enough to function without them.

Anyhoo, this concludes the latest episode of, “Why Are We in This Handbasket, and Where the Hell Are We Going?” Open thread!



One More Thing: I Do Dare Call It Treason

There’s no way to parse what happened in the few weeks before the election without recognizing that both FBI director Comey and Senate Majority Leader McConnell effectively colluded with Russia to throw this election.

hanged-men-pittura-infamante-andrea-del-sarto-6c

Comey can’t not have known about the Russia connection to the emails, and yet chose to violate policy, precedent and explicit advice from Justice in his email letter ten days before the vote.

McConnell was specifically briefed on Russia’s efforts to influence the election, and he pressured (successfully, alas) the Obama administration to withhold that information from the public.

Both of them made choices that directly enabled Putin’s efforts.  Both of them knew, to a virtual certainty, that this was the case.

Both of them are in my view traitors — both to our country as it is now, and to the idea of a representative democracy America is supposed to embody.

And one more one more thing: Elaine Chao, McConnell’s wife, is Trump’s nominee for Transportation secretary. It is unconfirmed at this time that this is payment for services rendered.  It would, however, be irresponsible not to speculate.

Image: Andrea del Sarto, Study for a “Shame Painting” — In Italy, this form of execution was associated w. traitors. Before 1530.



And Now They’re Coming for Your Social Security Money

Can’t say you weren’t warned:

A Republican lawmaker introduced legislation Thursday to shore up Social Security’s finances and boost benefits for low-income workers without raising taxes, a conservative version of reform that could gain attention under unified GOP government next year.

The bill put forward by Texas’ Sam Johnson, the chairman of the subcommittee on Social Security, would reduce costs by changing the benefits formula to reduce payments progressively for high earners. It would also gradually raise the full retirement age from 67 to 69 for people who are today 49 or younger. Lastly, it would change the inflation metric used to calculate benefits to one that shows lower inflation, essentially slowing the growth in benefits, and eliminate cost of living adjustments for high earners.

On the flipside, it would increase benefits for lower-income workers, and raise the minimum benefit for low-earners who worked full careers.

They want ALL the fucking money. ALL OF IT.

And Carlin is right. They’ll get it. Unless Democrats fight.

(via)



But What About the Children

This is disgusting, but par for the course with the Republican party:

More than a year after lawmakers originally ordered it, Texas announced Monday it will enact significant cuts to the money that it pays therapists who treat vulnerable children with disabilities in two weeks.

Medicaid reimbursement rates are used to pay for pediatric therapy services provided to disabled babies and toddlers. Carrie Williams, spokeswoman for the state’s Health and Human Services Commission, said that Texas will apply cuts on Medicaid rates on Dec. 15 in attempt to achieve savings directed by the Texas Legislature in 2015.

“The most important job we have is making sure kids have the services they need and that we are responsible with taxpayer dollars,” Williams said in an e-mail. “We will monitor the reduction of rates to ensure access to care is not impacted and that Texans around the state receive the much-needed therapies required to improve their lives.”

***

“This is terrible news for Texas kids with disabilities and developmental delays and their families,” Rubin said. “Kids with autism, speech delays, Down syndrome, and other disabilities and delays rely on these therapies to learn to walk, communicate with their families, get ready for school, and meet other goals.”

Sociopaths.








HAHAHAHAHA NO ONE COULD HAVE PREDICTED HOOCOODANODE OH FUCK IT ALL

deficits

Anyone who is surprised by this should never comment about politics again. Ever:

A serious case of fiscal amnesia may soon be sweeping the GOP.

For eight years, Republicans hammered President Barack Obama for exploding the national debt. But now a GOP-led spending spree is coming, with Donald Trump riding to the White House on trillion-dollar promises and a Republican Congress that looks likely to do his bidding. It’s a potential echo of the last time Republicans ran Washington, when then-Vice President Dick Cheney memorably remarked, “Deficits don’t matter.”

Trump campaigned heartily on a spending splurge and nothing he’s said since his shocking election suggests he will reverse course. Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, are papering over divisions with the man who frequently tossed party orthodoxy aside on the trail.

“There is now a real risk that we will see an onslaught of deficit-financed goodies — tax cuts, infrastructure spending, more on defense — all in the name of stimulus, but which in reality will massively balloon the debt,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Everything he does is going to explode the deficit and debt, from tax cuts to building the wall to deporting millions to the infrastructure grift to his cronies to dismantling ACA and so on, and what makes it even better is that they will attempt to gut SS and Medicare at the same time under the guise that they are unaffordable. Ryan’s already lying about that shit:

When Baier asked Ryan about the Republican plans for entitlement reform, the Speaker took the conversation back to their plans to repeal Obamacare and said:

If you’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare, you have to address those issues as well. … Medicare has got some serious issues because of Obamacare. So those things are part of our plan to replace Obamacare.

Ryan went on to say that, “Because of Obamacare, Medicare is going broke.” That is a lie.

Health reform, along with other factors, has significantly improved Medicare’s financial outlook, boosting revenues and making the program more efficient. The HI trust fund is now projected to remain solvent 11 years longer than before the Affordable Care Act was enacted.

In other words, repealing Obamacare would mean that Medicare would become insolvent 11 years earlier than is currently projected by those who manage the Medicare trust fund (here is a link to their latest report). In terms of timing, it is important to note that right now the trust fund projects that Medicare will remain solvent until 2028. If Obamacare is repealed, that happens in 2017. So the plan is to roll back the savings that extended its solvency and simultaneously generate fear that the program needs to either be privatized or begin reducing benefits to current seniors.

Democrats should do everything in their power to protect SS and medicare, but I doubt they will be able to do anything because the Republicans will either use reconciliation to do these things without requiring the super-majorities they demanded of everything in the Obama era (I know they can do tax cuts, but am unsure if they can do medicare and SS reform that way), and if the Democrats filibuster, I have no doubt they will nuke the filibuster. They feel emboldened.

And if they do that, the only thing Democrats can do is oppose vocally and try to insert poison pills. Like, for example, any changes they make to Medicare and SS can not godfather current recipients. If privatization is so good, the people who de facto voted for it, our selfish elders, should get to experience it for themselves. None of this phasing it in bullshit so the people currently on get to benefit as everyone always has while those younger than them get fucked.

All Democrats should be focused on doing is fighting and shouting No. And, btw- that’s how we will find who the real leaders in the party are and who we should follow on our way forward.



Tabeletop Presidenting

alternatereality

I don’t know if there is a word for something that is both hilarious and horrifying, but were there such a word, I would use it to describe this:

Donald Trump’s cabinet-in-waiting is taking shape in the final days of the race, as aides eye a number of Trump loyalists for major posts should he win on Tuesday.

Among the names being considered, according to conversations with three campaign advisers who requested anonymity to speak freely: Rudy Giuliani for attorney general, Newt Gingrich for secretary of state, retired Lt. Gen Michael Flynn for defense secretary or national security adviser, Trump finance chairman Steve Mnuchin for Treasury secretary, and Republican National Committee finance chair Lew Eisenberg for commerce secretary.

Trump himself has not taken an active part in transition efforts, in part out of superstition: He fears too much planning before a victory might jinx the campaign. In 2012, he was shocked to read detailed stories on Mitt Romney’s preparations for the White House long before election day.

But wait, it gets better:

Reince Priebus, the current RNC chairman, is under consideration as Trump’s chief of staff. Priebus earned Trump’s trust over the course of the campaign by steadfastly defending him while other top Republicans denounced Trump or shied away from brand.

“They’re thinking, ‘We need to find that balance between someone who knows how Washington works and someone who shakes things up,'” the senior campaign adviser said.

***

If Priebus leaves the RNC, two close Trump allies could be considered to take his position. Trump’s team is talking about former campaign manager and current CNN contributor Corey Lewandowski or current deputy campaign manager David Bossie as possible options.

But sure, kids. Vote third party. Because principles.