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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 5/26/17

Of Budgets and Beatitudes: The Pope Meets the Donald

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Well, that happened. Pope Francis, who has made his mark with proclamations for social and environmental justice and a humble lifestyle, met the president whose life has been marked by self-indulgence, grandiosity, and greed. Their meeting took place as Donald Trump's administration was releasing a budget that, despite the president's self-proclaimed faith, makes a mockery of Christian teachings.

Contrary to what some might have expected, the universe did not explode in an antimatter fireball when these two opposites finally came together. Although they exchanged strong words during Trump's presidential campaign -- among other things, the Pope said Trump was "not a Christian" -- the tone of their meeting was civil. Nevertheless, the Pope's dissatisfaction was in plain view.

The Pope was polite enough to refrain from quoting Matthew 20:26 in today's meeting: "Whoever wants to be great among you must first be your servant "" But Francis did find ways to signal his dissatisfaction, starting with his facial expression. There must be days when even the Pope hates his job.

Then there was this initial exchange, as reported by the press pool:

"" the pope and the president were seated across from each other at the pope's wooden desk. POTUS told the pope 'it's a very great honor.' The pope did not say anything. He did not smile. He looked at pool several times. We were quickly ushered out ""

The Pope's attitude could most clearly be seen, however, in the gifts he gave Trump: Evangelii gaudium, his condemnation of capitalist economics; Laudato si, his environmental encyclical, and Amoris laetitia, an exhortation on the family that calls upon governments to provide a strong safety net for economically struggling households.

Side by Side

The Pope said this in 2015 in Bolivia: "A just economy must create the conditions for everyone to be able to enjoy a childhood without want, to develop their talents when young, to work with full rights during their active years and to enjoy a dignified retirement as they grow older."

How well does Trump's budget meet that standard? It slashes after-school programs for kids, labor protections for working people, and Meals on Wheels for seniors.(It also slashes life-saving science research, agricultural funding, food inspection, and clean drinking water.

Trump's budget includes massive cuts to both Medicaid -- more than $800 billion -- and Social Security ($72 billion), despite his promises not to cut either program. So much for "Thou shalt not lie."

It's a rich man's budget. It was crafted by far-right Republicans like Trump Budget Director Mick Mulvaney Republicans and HHS Secretary Tom Price, although "far-right Republican" is a redundancy in today's GOP and the predator-oligarchs who seem to comprise the rest of the Trump presidential team.

The budget is entitled, "A New Foundation for American Greatness." The White House budget promises extraordinary economic growth, something Trump thinks will happen as "we unleash the power of private sector job creation."

Francis nailed that kind of thinking in Evangelii gaudium when he wrote:

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Richard (RJ) Eskow is a former executive with experience in health care, benefits, and risk management, finance, and information technology. Richard worked for AIG and other insurance, risk management, and financial organizations. He was also a (more...)
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