Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Trump's Big CON: A Déjà Vu Nixon Presidency (Cont.)

Read the Washington Post, Reporting from 1974 confirms: Trump and Nixon are uncannily similar, which states that “to look back at news coverage in the months before Nixon’s resignation is to find remarkable echoes. Americans in 1974 focused on the same personality traits, debated many of the same issues, and experienced the same sense of news overload and impending national nervous breakdown that seem so familiar today.’

The article notes that that Nixon and Trump are both:

Stingy and using the presidency for personal and family profit

"[D]escribed as their own worst enemies, unable to ignore a slight or let go of a grudge. Nixon was privately obsessed with revenge, ‘a battle to be fought and won, no quarter given,’ observed Post writer William Greider. Likewise, they shared a tendency to choose staffers more on the basis of loyalty than expertise, and observers debated whether working for the president would degrade those associated with him or was justified by the need to keep capable people serving their country. . .

[E]ngaged in a strange and long-standing love-hate relationship with the media — even as they sought to bypass it to speak directly to the people. . . 'For the loyalists … slanted newspapers and television commentators are out to destroy the President.'"

Have as their own worst enemy something inside themselves

From the same party whose members are grappling "with the idea that they should be loyal, that 'our fortunes are as one'"

"[A]cted with such impunity seemed like a symptom of something gone terribly wrong. As Times columnist Anthony Lewis lamented of the Nixon White House and its impact on the country, 'There is no respect for truth, and the community loses the belief that knits it together. … Americans may hesitate at what seems to some regicide, but they understand that their sickness comes from the king.'"

"[M]anaged to entangle us in another round of the same traumatic psychodrama."

Read also Trump's Big CON: A Déjà Vu Nixon Presidency.

Trump's Big CON: Ha Ha Ha, The Scams on You

UPDATE VI:  "The Trump economic team has not engaged in serious analysis or been in dialogue with those who are capable of it so they have had nothing to say in defense of their forecast except extravagant claims for their policies. Taking their supply-side perspective, do they really believe that through tax cuts and deregulation they are going to accomplish more than Ronald Reagan, who after all reduced the top tax rate from 70 to 28 percent? Between 1981 and 1988, GDP per adult grew by an average of 2.5 percent, distinctly slower than what they are forecasting. Even this figure reflects a substantial cyclical tail wind from the decline in unemployment from 7.6 percent to 5.5 percent (which from Okun’s law implies adding about half a percent to GDP growth) — something unavailable in the present context. . .

A business trying to sell stock on the basis of a document half as hype-filled as the Trump budget would be a joke. No reputable investment bank would underwrite their offering. A great mystery here is why the experienced investment bankers in senior positions in the Trump administration hold the budget of the United States to so much lower standards of integrity than they applied in their earlier lives."

Read the Washington Post, What history tells us about Trump’s budget fantasy

UPDATE V:  There is a unifying theme in Trump’s health care proposals and budget.  "And that theme is contempt — Donald Trump’s contempt for the voters who put him in office.

You may recall Trump’s remark during the campaign that 'I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.' Well, he hasn’t done that, at least so far. He is, however, betting that he can break every promise he made to the working-class voters who put him over the top, and still keep their support. Can he win that bet?

When it comes to phony budget math — remember his claims that he would pay off the national debt? — he probably can. We’re not talking about anything subtle here; we’re talking about a budget that promises to 'abolish the death tax,' then counts $330 billion in estate tax receipts in its rosy forecast. But even I don’t expect to see this kind of fraud get much political traction.

The bigger question is whether someone who ran as a populist, who promised not to cut Social Security or Medicaid, who assured voters that everyone would have health insurance, can keep his working-class support while pursuing an agenda so anti-populist it takes your breath away.

To make this concrete, let’s talk about West Virginia, which went Trump by more than 40 percentage points, topped only by Wyoming. What did West Virginians think they were voting for?

They are, after all, residents of a poor state that benefits immensely from federal programs: 29 percent of the population is on Medicaid, almost 19 percent on food stamps. The expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare is the main reason the percentage of West Virginians without health insurance has halved since 2013.

Beyond that, more than 4 percent of the population, the highest share in the nation, receives Social Security disability payments, partly because of the legacy of unhealthy working conditions, partly because a high fraction of the population consists of people who suffer from chronic diseases, like diabetics — whom Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, thinks we shouldn’t take care of because it’s their own fault for eating poorly.

And just to be clear, we’re talking about white people here: At 93 percent white, West Virginia is one of the most minority- and immigrant-free states in America.

So what did the state’s residents think they were voting for? Partly, presumably, they supported Trump because he promised — falsely, of course — that he could bring back the well-paying coal-mining jobs of yore.

But they also believed that he was a different kind of Republican. Maybe he would take benefits away from Those People, but he would protect the programs white working-class voters, in West Virginia and elsewhere, depend on.

What they got instead was the mother of all sucker punches. . .

So many of the people who voted for Donald Trump were the victims of an epic scam by a man who has built his life around scamming. In the case of West Virginians, this scam could end up pretty much destroying their state."

Read The New York Times, It’s All About Trump’s Contempt.

Read also the Washington Post, The White House kept contradicting itself this week on many of Trump’s biggest promises.

UPDATE IV:  "President Trump’s budget demonstrates the costs of accepting lies as a normal currency in politics, broken promises as a customary way of doing business, false claims of being 'populist' as the equivalent of the real thing and sloppiness as what we should expect from government. . .

We demean ourselves if we cynically normalize the reality that every Trump promise is meaningless claptrap aimed at closing a deal — and that the vows will be forgotten even before the ink on the agreement is dry. Many who did business with Trump learned the hard way not to trust anything he said. His supporters are being forced to learn the same dreary wisdom.

Trump lies so often that journalists tied themselves up in an extended discussion of when it was appropriate to use 'lie' and when it was better to deploy such euphemisms as 'misstatement' and 'fabrication.' We should stick to the short and simple word. Allowing Trump any slack only encourages more lying.

Although fibbing with numbers is an old trick, the etiquette of budget discussions leans toward references to 'rosy scenarios' and the like. But how can you explain a budget that counts $2 trillion in claimed economic growth twice? It’s used once to 'pay for' massive tax cuts for the wealthy, and another time to paint Trump’s budget as reaching balance in a decade.

This can’t just be careless math.

Companies that make comparable errors in their prospectuses for public offerings can face legal action. No wonder former Obama administration economic adviser Seth Hanlon called this plan 'the Bernie Madoff Budget.'

Another sign of fiscal fraud: the budget’s blithe assumption that we will hit 3 percent annual growth in gross domestic product over an extended period. That would be nice. But no respectable economic forecaster thinks this is credible. Trump is asking us to bank our country’s fiscal future on his signature catchphrase, 'Believe me.' We should know by now that we can’t.'

Martin Wolf, the Financial Times columnist, captured Trump’s ideology with precision when he called it 'pluto-populism.' It involves 'policies that benefit plutocrats, justified by populist rhetoric.'"

Read the Washington Post, The Trump scandal that has nothing to do with Russia

UPDATE III: A "bedrock of the Trump budget: an economic growth assumption of 3 percent . . . is sharply more optimistic than those projected in recent Obama administration budgets and by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. . .

[and the budget assumes] 'not only will we not have a recession — though we’re in the third-longest economic expansion in history — but it’s going to keep going for another 214 months.'"

Read the Washington Post, A Freedom Caucus Republican says the foundation of the Trump budget is ‘a lie’.

UPDATE II:  "Between the health-care plan it supported, its tax-reform outline and its budget, the Trump administration has demonstrated an unusual degree of intellectual dishonesty. Most administrations take liberties with economic projections and re-interpretations of campaign promises, but it is rare to see a team of advisers so blatantly and ineptly trying to conceal what they are up to. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s recent testimony in front of the Senate Banking Committee (in which he insisted that the administration was for a '21st-century Dodd-Frank' but not for breaking up banks — something akin to adopting a healthy diet but not giving up chocolate sundaes at every meal) and an interview with CNBC reveal the five major head fakes the Trump administration is trying to pull off.

First, the Trump administration refuses to acknowledge that it has reneged on its vow not to touch entitlements . .

Second, the Trump administration will not admit it is engaged in a massive giveaway to the rich. . .
Third, the Trump administration has no plausible explanation for why its policies won’t lead to a mammoth increase in the debt. . .

Fourth, the Trump administration won’t own up to the anti-growth aspect of its immigration stance. . .

Fifth, the Trump administration won’t present a budget that has a ghost of a chance of passing.

As we have pointed out, this incorporates draconian cuts that already are proposed in the “skinny” budget. That didn’t fly, nor will anything resembling this."

Read the Washington Post, The Trump team’s five major shams

UPDATE:  "President Trump's budget only pretends to balance itself in 10 years' time by assuming that the economy will grow at a 3 percent pace between now and then, which is somewhere between wildly optimistic and wildly implausible.

It also might be the most realistic part of Trump's budget.

Now, it was always pretty obvious that Trump was relying on rosy economic projections, but the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has figured out by just how much. It turns out that even if the economy started partying like it's 1999, that'd only be good enough to get growth back up to 2.9 percent today. Trump's budget promises are akin to when he promised to make "every dream you ever dreamed come true." And if neither of those propositions seem likely — if you don't think Trump can make things better than they were at the height of the tech bubble — well, then you clearly haven't taken enough classes at Trump University. . .

[In addition,] Trump appears to be double-counting these phony savings. . . The administration, of course, has belatedly tried to say this isn't what they're doing, but budget tables don't lie. It is what they're doing. So if you add it all up, Trump's budget is built on $5 trillion of fairy dust.

But — stop me if you've heard this before — it's actually worse than that. . .

You'd think that fake savings this big would just be a cover for the fact that there weren't any real ones, but you'd be wrong. Trump wants to turn the safety net into a few strands of string. Over the next decade, his budget would cut Medicaid by 47 percent, food stamps by 25 percent, and welfare by 13 percent. It's a reverse Robin Hood on a scale unseen anywhere other than an Ayn Rand novel. And it might be the least realistic part of Trump's budget. After all, even congressional Republicans think it's too 'draconian.'

Trump's budget is an incredible political document, a self-parodic exercise in hostility to arithmetic, economics and everyone who has the misfortune of being poor or sick. You can tell he only hires the best people."

Read the Washington Post, Donald Trump’s $10 trillion magic asterisk

"There are numerous Trump lies being forced out into the open right now. Trump claimed he would not touch Medicaid and simultaneously that he’d repeal Obamacare and replace it with something better for all. It was a lie for Trump to claim he wouldn’t touch Medicaid; it was a lie to suggest preserving Medicaid and repealing Obamacare were compatible; it was a lie to claim that his repeal and replace plan would result in coverage for everybody. If anything, the White House’s justifications only throw the scale and audacity of these intertwined scams, lies, and betrayals into even sharper relief.

The scam may end up running even deeper than this. One might argue Trump promised his voters something better than safety net protections: Good jobs with benefits. Indeed, as Catherine Rampell reports, the White House is defending its cuts by arguing that the true measure of success is 'the number of people we get off of those programs.' This is compatible with Trumpism’s promise to restore an old economic order via a revival of manufacturing and coal. But what if those jobs don’t ever materialize?"

Read the Washington Post, The enormity of Trump’s scam is coming into view., which asks: "Are you tired of all the winning yet?"