Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Trump's Big CON: "You'd Better Start Thinking Happy Thoughts"

"Fans of old TV series may remember a classic 'Twilight Zone' episode titled 'It’s a Good Life.' It featured a small town terrorized by a 6-year-old who for some reason had monstrous superpowers, coupled with complete emotional immaturity. Everyone lived in constant fear, made worse by the need to pretend that everything was fine. After all, any hint of discontent could bring terrible retribution.

And now you know what it must be like working in the Trump administration. Actually, it feels a bit like that just living in Trump’s America.

What set me off on this chain of association? The answer may surprise you; it was the tax 'plan' the administration released on Wednesday.

The reason I use scare quotes here is that the single-page document the White House circulated this week bore no resemblance to what people normally mean when they talk about a tax plan. . .

It’s clear the White House is proposing huge tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy, with the breaks especially big for people who can bypass regular personal taxes by channeling their income into tax-privileged businesses — people, for example, named Donald Trump. So Trump plans to blow up the deficit bigly, largely to his own personal benefit; but that’s about all we know.

So why would the White House release such an embarrassing document? Why would the Treasury Department go along with this clown show?

Unfortunately, we know the answer. Every report from inside the White House conveys the impression that Trump is like a temperamental child, bored by details and easily frustrated when things don’t go his way; being an effective staffer seems to involve finding ways to make him feel good and take his mind off news that he feels makes him look bad.

If he says he wants something, no matter how ridiculous, you say, 'Yes, Mr. President!'; at most, you try to minimize the damage.

Right now, by all accounts, the child-man in chief is in a snit over the prospect of news stories that review his first 100 days and conclude that he hasn’t achieved much if anything (because he hasn’t). So last week he announced the imminent release of something he could call a tax plan."

According to The Times, this left Treasury staff — who were nowhere near having a plan ready to go — 'speechless.' But nobody dared tell him it couldn’t be done. Instead, they released … something, with nobody sure what it means.

And the absence of a real tax plan isn’t the only thing the inner circle apparently doesn’t dare tell him. . .

No, what we’re looking at here isn’t policy; it’s pieces of paper whose goal is to soothe the big man’s temper tantrums. Unfortunately, we may all pay the price of his therapy." {Link added.]

Read The New York Times, Living in the Trump Zone.

Trump's Big CON: 'I'm a Great Negotiator', Budget Edition

"[H]ere are the eight most notable areas Trump caved in his first big spending negotiation: . .

1. [E]xplicit restrictions to block the border wall.

2. Non-defense domestic spending will go up . .

3. Barack Obama’s cancer moonshot is generously funded. . .

4. The final deal trims [the EPA] budget by just 1 percent, with no staff cuts. As part of a compromise, the EPA gets $80 million less than last year, but the budget is $8 billion.

5. He didn’t defund Planned Parenthood. . .

6. The president got less than half as much for the military as he said was necessary. . .

7. Democrats say they forced Republicans to withdraw more than 160 riders. These unrelated policy measures, which each could have been a poison pill . . .

8. [T]he White House already agreed last week to continue paying Obamacare subsidies . . .

Soon after the deal was reached last night, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi quickly put out celebratory statements. But McConnell and Paul Ryan did not. . .

The bigger picture: 'Trump is a nightmare negotiating partner,' writes USA Today commentary editor Jill Lawrence, who wrote a book called 'The Art of the Political Deal.' 'The only constants with Trump are unpredictability and expediency. These are not, suffice it to say, the traditional cornerstones of getting to yes in politics.'"

Read the Washington Post, Eight ways Trump got rolled in his first budget negotiation.