Part two of the Trump tax scam is coming
The border is secure, possibly more secure than ever. It’s your retirement you need to worry about.
“The way that Donald Trump describes what’s happening down on the border in Washington, D.C. is just about as far removed from reality as it could possibly be.” pic.twitter.com/0Jg8oD8ZLG
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) June 23, 2018
This week, while the backlash against Trump’s baby jails occupied the news, the Republicans in the House Budget Committee voted on a plan that clarifies what they’d do if they keep the House in November and add a few seats in the Senate.
House Republicans want to cut $2 trillion from Medicaid and Medicare, while ending Medicare as we know by turning it into the voucher program Paul Ryan has long pimped.
The resolution would also allow this Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cut $300 billion from federal programs with 50 votes in the Senate for the rest of this budget year, which includes the lame-duck session that would take place after Republicans could lose the House.
Trump’s campaign hasn’t been shy about saying that they want this election to be about stoking racist fears over immigration. And we know it’s about stoking fears and not reducing crime, because these scare tactics are robbing resources from actual efforts to reduce drug trafficking, which generally happens at legal points of entry.
There is an obvious reason they are doing this: You can’t run on tax cuts that get less popular with each month’s paycheck. And the less obvious reason is that fear makes people conservative. This is how Republicans kept the House in 2002, using the terror of 9/11 to provoke irrational fear of Iraq, though the president’s party tends to lose seats in the midterms.
Another way to think of this is: cruelty makes weakness contagious.
MSNBC’s Katy Tur had a strong Twitter thread explaining that there’s nothing Trump is “more afraid of than looking weak.” Another way to put it is, Trump constantly feels weak and is terrified someone will notice. Summoning actual strength requires humility and discipline, so he uses cruelty.
The New York Times report that Trump says “my people love” his child separation policies and baby jails. It’s exactly the kind of cruelty that feels like strength to weak person.
To everyone else, it was a horror show.
“Because Trump and his advisors lack empathy, they didn’t see it coming,” George Lakoff explained. “They failed to understand that the sight of crying children — and the sound of their anguished cries in a recording released by ProPublica — would unleash powerful waves of profound empathy. Empathy for the children. Empathy for the parents. And outrage at the soulless man who betrays and violates American values on a daily basis.”
They were used to this strategy working because it has over and over, and it can still work as long as the press abets Trump in his use of “Salient Exemplars,” as Lakoff calls them, in which he uses “a well-publicized crime, individual, or entity to smear an entire class of people. He’s weaponizing a stereotype.”
Greg Sargent nailed the plausible deniability built into this tactic: “It slaps the dehumanizing slur on the least sympathetic subgroup and then conflates that subgroup with the larger group that is the real target, then piously feigns innocence of any intention to tag the slur on the larger group.”
It’s not just a weaponized stereotype. It’s a weaponized dog-whistle in that the racism is obvious and defensible at the same time, thrilling Trump supporters and giving the Paul Ryans of the world something to shrug away.
But we can’t ever forget the point of the strategy isn’t just to make Trump feel less like the curdled, terrified child he knows he is.
He’s made a deal with Republicans that will go along with anything he does as long it helps conservatives control the courts and billionaires loot us with tax cuts while destroying our retirement by gutting Medicaid and Medicare. That’s the agenda and it will always be the agenda.
Know this: People who’d steal babies would steal anything.