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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/30/17

Trumpism and the Ruling Class: Will the U.S. Ever Recover?

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Introduction: Major, draconian, cuts to health social services for the poor and presently not-so-poor are coming via the Trump Budget (which will be passed by the Republican congress in one form or another). There will be long-term consequences (like otherwise unnecessary deaths) which will be very hard to reverse down the road. Eventually, unrest will arise, and then . . .


"Trumpism." What does that mean? Well, as is well-known, it has different meanings at different levels of abstraction. At one level, it means governance "directed" by an individual who is remarkably poorly educated and at 70 shows no interest in moving beyond that state of (lack of) grace. At another it means governance by a remarkably rude and crude individual who has no trouble directing outwards everything from pique to anger in a remarkably uncontrolled manner. It means governance by someone who lives in an echo-chamber in terms of "getting the news" and calls everything that doesn't fit right into that echo chamber version of (non)-reality, "fake news." Related to the latter, it means governance by someone who tells and repeats falsehoods on a routine basis. But whether in this case they are "lies" depends upon whether the person telling them knows them to be untrue (the definition of a "lie") or not. And so on and so forth.

Now those characteristics of Trumpism are primarily stylistic. Of course, style matters and does, especially in Trump's case just because there is so little thinking behind his style. But no matter how bad style is (that is "bad" from the perspective of the given observer, of course), it can be recovered from. Every President has had a style to which at least some significant section of the population objected, and the country has recovered.

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But Trumpism also means policy. And if in terms of domestic policy, if the far right-wing Budget Director Nick Mulvaney's only "budget," one that is only slightly less sketchy than the first iteration issued by the White House, actually becomes law, it will very likely have outcomes that would be viewed as negative in many (but certainly not all) quarters of the population, once they became apparent. But further than that.

This budget fulfills a wish-list of policies advocated for decades by the Republican Party and the economically dominant sectors of the ruling class that it represents --- the sectors that happen to be so overwhelmingly represented in the Trump cabinet . It reintroduces the concept of the "deserving poor"(a central element of the Elizabethan Poor Law of 1601) to Federal policy making. Ben Carson, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, which department for the most part deals with helping poor people get a better life, has famously called poverty a "state of mind." And of course, if there is a "deserving poor," then there is a "non-deserving poor" (as well as a series of raters to determine who goes into which group). The Trump/Mulvaney budget would dump many currently poor people into the latter category.

And so, there would be major slashings of: food stamps, school lunch programs, housing assistance, aid for Native Americans, additional Social Security payments for disabled persons and the very poor elderly, and of course of Medicaid, as well as of affordable insurance for persons not on Medicaid who do not receive health insurance coverage through their employment. Funds for support of programs to combat global warming in developing countries would be eliminated. Farm subsidies would be cut. Federal support for public education would be slashed. Then there are neat little cuts like ending Federal support for mapping in flood areas to help property owners decide how to best protect their homes from future floods, high tides, and storms. Since this would significantly affect states like New Jersey, all of a sudden out-going Gov. Chris Christie, at one time Director of the Trump Transition Team (whatever became of him?), has become a Trump critic. And oh yes, that "massive infrastructure program?" Well, a) it's not so massive, about $1 trillion towards an estimated $3.5 trillion need, and b) it is based on a private-for-profit scheme using tax credits that would lead to the construction of only those kinds of projects from which profits could be made (surprise, surprise).

The problem here is that, as is well-known, all of the cuts outlined above are being made to finance huge tax cuts for the wealthy. And it is the wealthy, that is the ruling class, who are now firmly in charge of the Federal government and Federal government policy. There are long-term consequences with which to be concerned. First, once having taken over the Federal government, and that of an increasing number of the states too, they are not really going to give it up. Second, they got to where they are in terms of political power in part because of gerrymandering, of other means of voter suppression, and in part because the Citizens United Supreme Court decision has given the unlimited ability to fund political campaigns in one way or another. These developments will not be easily reversed.

And so, what are the consequences, for real people? If the proposed cuts in food stamps go through, certain members of "undeserving poor" are eventually going to starve and eventually starve to death. If the proposed cuts in Medicaid go through, people without access to health care for one reason or another related to inability to pay are going to die. As will people with pre-existing medical conditions who will be unable to obtain any kinds of health insurance under Trumpcare. Further, if the Trump Medicaid cuts go through, certain rural and central city hospitals will collapse, and people will die.

One Republican Congressman said that people who do not have health insurance can "always go to the emergency room." He is apparently unaware that emergency room visits (which are totally inappropriate medically for anything other than true emergencies) cost money and that in fact more than one insurance-less family has been driven into bankruptcy or lost their home due to the bill they received for emergency care. And so on and so forth.

Well, one might say, once the next Democratic administration gets into office, things can be quickly reversed. Really? First of all, they would have to get back into office in the face of ruling class gerrymandering, voter suppression and unlimited electoral spending. This is just one major obstacle, created by the ruling class now firmly in control of State Power. Second of all, to do anything significant to deal with the laundry list of problems that are being created by Republican policies, taxes on the rich would have to be raised significantly. Third, along with a vast increase in Federal government spending, there would have be the re-regulation of many parts of the economy, starting with the financial sector. Once they are free of many regulations presently in place, they ruling class is going to fight very hard against having them put back into place. Once again: and so on and so forth.

As is well-known, compared with every other advanced capitalist country, the United States presently has a very leaky safety net for the poor, the disabled, persons-not-receiving-adequate-health-insurance-through-their-employment, persons with inadequate housing, persons with poor nutrition, and etc. It will become even more leaky than it already is. And, as noted, the United States has a (literally) collapsing infrastructure, as well as an agriculture certain sectors of which will also collapse, without Federal subsidies.

It will be very difficult down the line, both politically and economically, to reverse this massive damage, inflicted by the ruling class and their political minions (primarily in the Republican Party, but certainly well-represented in the Democratic Party as well, one might add). Given the political and economic realities we face, it is going to be very difficult to ever recover from the Superstorm of the Trump Budget, 2017. And thus, unrest will grow, and the eventual ruling class response will be fascism. More on that anon.

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 35 books. In addition to his position on OpEdNews as a ├ éČ┼"Trusted Author,├ éČ Ł he is a Senior (more...)
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