Thursday, March 16, 2017


President Trump's budget is Reaganism on crystal meth:
Trump’s first budget proposal ... would increase defense spending by $54 billion and then offset that by stripping money from more than 18 other agencies. Some would be hit particularly hard, with reductions of more than 20 percent at the Agriculture, Labor and State departments and of more than 30 percent at the Environmental Protection Agency.

It would also propose eliminating future federal support for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Within EPA alone, 50 programs and 3,200 positions would be eliminated.

... the budget chops funding for the National Institutes of Health by $5.8 billion, or close to 20 percent ... the proposal would eliminate a Transportation Department program that funds nearly $500 million in road projects....

And the Trump administration proposed to eliminate a number of other programs, particularly those that serve low-income Americans and minorities, because it questioned their effectiveness. This included the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which disburses more than $3 billion annually to help heat homes in the winter. It also proposed abolishing the Community Development Block Grant program, which provides roughly $3 billion in targeted projects related to affordable housing, community development and homelessness programs, among other things....

He proposed cutting combined spending for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development by $10.1 billion, or nearly 29 percent. It would cut an unspecified amount of funding from U.N. peacekeeping efforts.
These aren't sharp cuts that are likely to be explained away as trims of waste, fraud, and abuse. These cuts are meant to be punitive and meant to look punitive. The Trumpers aren't Reaganites insisting that they're just trimming the fat. These folks want you to think that they're cutting into muscle.

As I'm reading about this, I keep thinking about Steve Bannon's fondness for the pseudo-scientific prognostications of William Strauss and Neil Howe, particularly in their book The Fourth Turning. I quoted this a month ago, but let me go back to what the Huffington Post's Paul Blumenthal and JM Rieger wrote about Bannon and Strauss/Howe:
Strauss and Howe postulate that during [the predicted] Fourth Turning crisis, an unexpected leader will emerge from an older generation to lead the nation, and what they call the “Hero” generation (in this case, millennials), to a new order. This person is known as the Grey Champion. An election or another event — perhaps a war — will bring this person to power, and their regime will rule throughout the crisis.

“The winners will now have the power to pursue the more potent, less incrementalist agenda about which they had long dreamed and against which their adversaries had darkly warned,” Strauss and Howe wrote in The Fourth Turning. “This new regime will enthrone itself for the duration of the Crisis. Regardless of its ideology, that new leadership will assert public authority and demand private sacrifice. Where leaders had once been inclined to alleviate societal pressures, they will now aggravate them to command the nation’s attention.” ...

“We’re gonna have to have some dark days before we get to the blue sky of morning again in America,” Bannon warned in 2010. “We are going to have to take some massive pain. Anybody who thinks we don’t have to take pain is, I believe, fooling you.”
(Emphasis added.)

I think this is a Fourth Turning budget. I think it's meant to cause disruption and pain. I think it's informed by the belief that it's good to knock the populace around, because that's an inevitable step before we reach the Promised Land.

Of course, the disruptors will be just fine -- the Trumps with their Russian and Chinese capital, Bannon with a nice egg from his Goldman Sachs earnings and his Seinfeld residuals and his former $750,000 Breitbart salary. The apocalypse is for the rest of us.

No comments: