Republicans are just starting to question their investment in the real estate huckster who has taken his businesses through bankruptcies six times — and at least five of those bankruptcies involved casinos, so Trump was the rare business genius who could lose money running casinos. But he looked good on TV and now he’s in the White House.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil CEO who has repeatedly been undercut by Trump in his attempts to engage in diplomacy, reportedly called his boss a “f***ing moron,” which we have sanitized to “king moron.”
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is the most prominent Republican to quit the Trump fan club. After Corker announced he was not going to seek re-election, the Tweeter in Chief on Sunday morning, Oct. 8, claimed Corker “begged” for his endorsement. “I said ‘NO’ and he dropped out (said he could not win without my endorsement). He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said ‘NO THANKS.’ He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal! Hence, I would fully expect Corker to be a negative voice and stand in the way of our great agenda. Didn’t have the guts to run!”
Corker, who had been a prominent Trump supporter in 2016 and for most of this year, replied with his own tweet: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.” Ouch!
In an interview with the New York Times, Corker said Trump had asked him at least four times this year to run for re-election and promised an endorsement. Corker also charged that Trump was treating his office like “a reality show” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”
Corker started distancing himself from Trump in August, criticizing the president’s handling of the deadly rally of white supremacists, including Ku Klux Klansmen and neo-Nazis, in Charlottesville, Va. At that time, Corker said, “The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.”
On Oct. 8, Corker said he was alarmed about a president who acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.”
“He concerns me,” Corker added. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.”
Other Republican members of Congress might feel the same way, but they are willing to put up with Trump as long as he is willing to sign a tax cut bill that their wealthy donors are demanding.
Trump and Republican congressional leaders in September released a summary of their new tax “reform” that would cut taxes by an estimated $2.4 trillion over the next decade, with 80% of the breaks going to the top 1% of superrich by 2027 while tax rates for the lowest-income level actually would increase from 10% to 12%. Americans for Tax Fairness figured that 30% of middle-class families making between $50,000 and $150,000 a year will pay $2,000 more in taxes, on average, under the Republican proposal.
To set up the tax cuts for billionaires and multinational corporations, the House on Oct. 5 passed a 2018 budget resolution on a 219-206 vote, with 18 Republicans joining 188 Dems in voting against the bill. Among other things, it repeals the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), resulting in a $1.5 trillion cut in health care spending, and it cuts Medicare by $473 billion, regardless of Trump’s campaign promises to protect those programs, Americans for Tax Fairness reported.
Trump also has vowed to protect Social Security, but we’ll see how that stands up to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s determination to privatize and/or raise the retirement age for Social Security benefits. Trump’s own budget proposes cuts to Social Security Disability Insurance. The Senate budget proposal not only cuts Medicare and Medicaid; it also cuts $37 billion from affordable housing programs, $100 billion from Pell Grants for university students; $3 billion from Head Start and essentially guts the WIC program that provides food assistance to 1.25 million for women, infants and children, said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Republicans plan to pass the budget through special rules that allow them to get it through the Senate on a simple majority vote. But the choke point is still the Senate, where the loss of three Republicans can stop the bill. If your senators claim to be conservative deficit hawks when Democrats are in power, get them to explain how the US can afford to give $2.4 trillion to billionaires, claiming it will spur economic growth, when the experience of the last 20 years proves that “supply-side” economics is a right-wing fantasy.
About a third of Americans continue to support Trump, polls show, despite his transformation from populist reformer during the campaign to a friend of oligarchs as president. He claimed he would “drain the swamp,” but he named executives and alumni from the Wall Street investment firm Goldman Sachs to key White House positions, as well as pro-corporate administrators to various agencies to prevent health and human services, environmental protection, public schools, federal lands and fair labor and housing standards.
Workers who invest their hopes in Trump are bound to lose.
Save the Iran DealTrump is trying to intimidate North Korea into giving up its nuclear weapons at the same time he is threatening to renege on a deal with Iran, which agreed to give up its program to develop nuclear weapons.
Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign repeatedly ridiculed the Iran deal, which the Obama administration negotiated with the Islamic republic to give up its program to develop nuclear weapons in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. Russian, China, France, Britain and Germany also were in on the deal, but Trump vowed to rip it up. He declared at the United Nations Sept. 19 that the agreement was “embarrassing to the United States.”
The only problem is that Iran is living up to its side of the bargain. The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that Iran is in compliance; when it has found minor violations, they were quickly fixed.
Trump must decide by Oct. 15 whether to certify that Iran is keeping up with its end of the deal. He wants to renegotiate the deal, but Iran has warned it would refuse to renegotiate the deal, unless the US was also ready to make concessions, which Trump won’t accept.
Trump’s top Pentagon advisers told Congress Oct. 3 Iran appears to be sticking to the 2015 agreement to halt its nuclear weapons program and expressed support for keeping the pact.
“At this point in time, absent indications to the contrary, it is something the president should consider staying in,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joe Dunford, told the panel Iran “is not in material breach” of the agreement, contending that the pact has “delayed the development of a nuclear capability by Iran.”
”By declining to certify Iran’s compliance, Trump would essentially kick it to Congress to decide whether to reimpose punitive economic sanctions. But even among Republicans, there appears to be little appetite to do that, at least for now,” Mark Landler and David E. Sanger reported in the New York Times Oct. 5.
Still, Trump’s expected move would allow him to tell supporters that he had disavowed the accord, while bowing to the reality that the US would isolate itself from its allies if it sabotaged a deal with which Iran is viewed as complying. But Trump’s bad-mouthing of the Iran deal is another cynical ploy to distract from the damage he is doing at home. And it tells our allies he can’t be trusted. — JMC
From The Progressive Populist, November 1, 2017
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