Nel's New Day

February 12, 2020

Budget Shows DDT’s Cruel Priorities

Last year, household debt topped $14 trillion.

The day before Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) Trump tweeted “BEST USA ECONOMY IN HISTORY!” he slashed a scheduled pay raise for federal workers from 2.5 percent to 1 percent because, according to DDT, he’s “keeping the nation on a fiscally sustainable course.” The White House said that a president can “implement alternative plans for pay adjustments” in “a national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare.” This assertion came from the man who signed $1.5 trillion cuts for the rich and big business. The increase in cost of living for 2019 was 2.3 percent, the highest since 2011, which means that federal workers’ wages dropped 1.3 percent.

In January, the federal deficit climbed to $389, 25 percent more than the same period last year. The Treasury Department estimates a deficit of more than $1 trillion, even higher than the almost $1 trillion for each of the first two years after DDT was inaugurated. Revenue is down because of loss from individual corporate tax cuts of 40 percent.

Against this backdrop, DDT released his new budget with the redundant name “The Budget for America’s Future.” On the campaign trail, DDT said he would eliminate the federal debt, or at least halve it, during his presidency. Instead, his new budget adds $3.4 trillion by 2024 on top of the $3 trillion he already added—and that’s likely a very conservative guesstimate—with an “optimistic” projection of ballooning debt until 2035.

When he pushed the tax cuts, DDT promised to grow the economy by at least four percent and maybe 5 percent or 6 percent. Last year, the GDP grew at 2.3 percent, and he projects 2.8 percent for 2020, going up to 3 percent a year after that. He’s still saying that his tax plan will create business investment and economic growth. The Congressional Budget Office’s far more realistic estimate is GDP growth of 2.2 percent this year, 1.9 percent in 2021, and average 1.7 percent through 2030.

Saturday morning, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) tweeted that he “will not be touching your Social Security and Medicare in Fiscal 2021 Budget.” The next day, DDT’s newly released budget showed “steep reductions in social-safety-net programs” of $2 trillion, including $1.6 trillion cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, according to the conservative Wall Street Journal. Among the $920 billion cut for Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act are $135 billion for prescription drugs and $292 billion in safety-net cuts such as work requirements and food stamps. [Last year, drug prices increased by 5 percent] DDT’s budget cuts Medicare by $451 billion. Gone are $1.7 billion for low-income children’s school meals, $200 billion by requiring Social Security numbers for the child tax credit and earned income tax credit, and $170 billion for student loan programs. Social Security was cut by $70 billion eligibility for disability benefits, adding to a total of $4.4 trillion cuts for programs benefiting families and working people.

With Mick Mulvaney still making the $203,500 for salary from his past position as director of the Office of Management and Budget but now action chief of staff, acting OMB director Russell Vought, making only $179,000 to do Mulvaney’s dirty work, was left to justify DDT’s budget. According to Vought, the administration isn’t making these cuts at all: it will “remove” parts of the Medicare and then “moderate their growth” with reforms. He declined to give a total figure of all cuts (aka moderations of growth) to Medicare and Social Security.

Vought couldn’t answer the question about DDT’s introduction of the new budget that stated the government “abused its authority to go after business.” He said:

“Who? Who? Who’s saying that? Don’t have it in front of me.”

The White House put most of Vought’s briefing “off-camera.”

Asked about the $2 trillion in proposed cuts to “entitlement programs,” Vought answered that they weren’t cuts. He said, “We believe these are good-government reforms.” He also commented that “the coronavirus is not going to have a ripple effect.”

Under oath while testifying before the House Budget Committee, Vought refused to answer the question about whether President Obama’s administration had created any jobs.

Once again DDT panders to his base with his budget. His only increases are 12 percent to NASA for a trip to Mars (which DDT unfortunately won’t be taking), an increase in military spending to $740.5 billion, and 13.3 percent increase to the VA mostly for veterans’ health care, some of it for the after affects of DDT-caused head injuries from rocket attacks. And of course, the wall would get another $2 billion.

Other cuts:

  • 9 percent cut from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • 8 percent cut from the Education Department.
  • 21 percent cut from foreign aid.
  • 21 percent cut for the State Department and related international programs which includes the elimination of the Overseas Contingency Operations account.
  • 26.5 percent cut from the EPA.
  • 22 percent cut from the Army Corps of Engineers.
  • 37 percent cut from the Commerce Department.
  • 15 percent cut from the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
  • 11 percent cut from the Labor Department.
  • 8 percent cut from the Energy Department.

The White House projects the economy will grow by an average of 3 percent a year if all of its proposals are adopted. The administration said real, or inflation-adjusted, gross domestic product would grow by 3.1 percent in 2021, up from its estimate of 2.8 percent this year. The administration forecast is considerably higher than the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate that GDP will grow by 2.2 percent this year, 1.9 percent in 2021 and average 1.7 percent through 2030. White House forecast is based in part on the expectation the 2017 tax cuts, which would be extended in the budget plan, will spur business investment and economic growth.

DDT’s budget proposal nullifies a two-year deal negotiated with Congress last summer that raised both defense and domestic spending.

Two years ago, James Hohmann wrote a piece for Washington Post about DDT’s budget. Everything he said then holds true in 2020:

“[DDT] campaigned like a populist, but the budget he proposed Monday underscores the degree to which he’s governing as a plutocrat….

“’This is a messaging document,’ budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at the White House.”

These are the messages:

DDT campaigned on never cutting Medicaid, Medicare, or Social Security, but his budget proposes these cuts with block grants.

DDT campaigned on bringing back manufacturing jobs, but he’s slashing budgets for training and support of job loss. Last year, the auto industry alone lost 50,000 jobs.

DDT campaigned on a balanced budget and created almost $3 trillion in deficits in his first three years.

DDT keeps campaigning on strong GDP growth while it becomes weaker.

DDT campaigning on helping the low-income workers but passed tax cuts for the rich and big business that helps only the “haves.” His budget promotes human suffering.  

DDT wants to kill the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, programs to prevent pollution, and eliminate any program that might stall climate change.

DDT campaigns on less government while increasing the part that he loves—military build-up. [In 2013, when former Defense Secretary was a Marine general leading Central Command, he told Congress, “If you don’t fully fund the State Department, then I need to buy more ammunition.” Now DDT buys more ammunition.]

DDT continues his plan of privatization to destroy public lands through mining, grazing, etc. and increase private school vouchers for Christian schools while slashing the Education Department budget.

About his budget, DDT said:

“We’re doing a lot of things that are good, including waste and fraud. Tremendous waste and tremendous fraud.”

Yes, he’s right. He’s doing “a lot of … waste and fraud. Tremendous waste and tremendous fraud.”

An overview of DDT’s budget. 

December 25, 2019

Christmas by DDT, GOP

The purpose of Christmas, December 25, is to commemorate the birth of Christ—although he was likely born in spring. (December doesn’t have any lambs.) Those who celebrate the birth of Jesus glorify a refugee family of color fleeing fear of persecution as described in the second chapter of the Gospel of Matthew about the “flight into Egypt” from Bethlehem (Mt 2:12-15) to escape the infant’s slaughter by King Herod.  Later Jesus said that welcoming the stranger means welcoming Jesus (Matt. 25), a religious superseding of any laws designed to hinder, prevent, or outlaw care and compassion for refugees and migrants. He also told people to feed the hungry, sell possessions, and give the money to the poor while treating people with the love, generosity, and kindness that he modeled.

Oliver Willis with Media Matters tweeted:

“If only we had a seasonally appropriate story about middle eastern people seeking refuge being turned away by the heartless.”

[Check out Jesus and refugees on the internet to see conservatives blowing up at the very mention of this connection!]

On Christmas Day 2019, some people celebrate the refugee family, others the day’s culture of exchanging gifts and eating large meals. Yet millions of people in the United States lack the privileges of secure housing, food, and employment. Those who are safe might think of the disadvantages and misery caused by GOP lawmakers for almost two decades.

 

GOP policies have two major characteristics: give to the rich and take from anyone else because they are considered sub-human.

Adam Serwer’s 2018 essay “The Cruelty Is the Point,” published in The Atlantic, uses photographs of lynchings to illustrate shared pleasure from other people’s suffering. White men surrounding the hanging people enjoyed what they saw, just as lawmakers are pleased with their own cruelty from punitive laws toward those they view as “others.” People who don’t receive aid often resent those on programs such as food stamps, accusing them of being lazy and weak. The U.S. saves only $1.1 billion a year with the new rules taking food stamps from hungry people compared to the $1.3542 trillion expenditure for the military. has a minimal cost, compared to the wealth accruing to the top percentage of people in the U.S. from the tax cuts.

The first year that the tax cut for the wealthy and big business went into effect, businesses spent over $1 trillion in stock buybacks and dividend payment, more than one-hundred times the savings from making people go hungry. The explosive budget deficit from these tax cuts makes GOP lawmakers complicit with Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) to take even more from the poor with the excuse of balancing the budget.

On the southern border, the federal government tear gasses refugees and drives them back to Mexico to be raped and killed. Before the courts prevented family separation, the government separated families with no records of how to reunite them and put children in cages where they might be sexually assaulted. These are refugees like Jesus and his parents.

Because the conservatives on the Supreme Court made the Medicaid expansion from the Affordable Care Act optional for states, they can reject the provision that gave 90 percent of the expansion funding to states from the federal government. ACA funding allows states to reduce aid to hospitals for uncompensated costs and raises state tax revenues from a boosted economy. Yet 14 GOP-controlled states, several of them the poorest in the nation, turned down the neutral or even net positive expansion. Some of these states want to limit Medicaid even more with stringent work requirements, another action costing states money. The goal isn’t to make money; it’s to punish people by making their lives worse.

GOP lawmakers want to take Medicaid from everyone and cause others to lose health care—at least 20 million people by eliminating the ACA. People who lose health care can lose their work because of poor health and then their homes from bankruptcies through unreasonable expenses, causing less tax revenue. Without the ACA, older people will pay far more for prescriptions and health care premiums. Part of the ACA is to eliminate fraud and corruption in Medicare and Medicaid–$4 billion in its first year of 2011—but GOP lawmakers want continued corruption to benefit their big business donors.

DDT’s open hatred makes cruelty more acceptable. He doesn’t like Puerto Rico so his followers accept his refusal to send them aid appropriated by Congress. He wants the money sent instead to Texas and Florida, states that added to his electoral college total. DDT wants to support Russia, who interferes in U.S. elections on the part of Republicans so he threatens Ukraine by withholding military aid that would help Ukraine fight Russia. His followers echo DDT’s lying excuse of fighting “corruption” while accepting the massive corruption that DDT has brought to the federal government.  

DDT accepts indiscriminate killing and violence, whether in the U.S. or foreign countries. He refused to criticize Saudi Arabia for torturing and dismembering a U.S. resident and journalist and pardoned war criminals to use on his campaign trail. In his speeches and tweets, he encourages violence against his opposition, pretending surprise when his supporters carry out the violence and killing.

In its incessant worship of mammon, a greedy search for gain, DDT’s government kills people by eliminating regulations for greedy big businesses. Developed by the Nazis as a nerve gas, the pesticide chlorpyrifos causes brain damage in children, Parkinson’s disease, and forms of cancer.  Yet the EPA allows the chemical on fruits and vegetables, a chemical also dangerous for farmworkers and rural communities. Judges ordered a ban on chlorpyrifos in 2018, but chemical companies have EPA permission to keep making it—and money—as long as the case is in the courts. Actions from other agencies in favor of big business are equally destructive for humanity.

DDT not only rejects any thought of fighting climate change but also ridicules children who want to save the world for their future. He and his followers have been particularly vicious about the protests of Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old leader who ignores the GOP lawmakers’ push to give to the rich at any cost to everyone else.

Well-known for ridiculing disabled people, DDT mocks them at his rallies, and his sycophants follow suit. Highly religious Sarah Huckabee Sanders, hoping to be Arkansas’ governor, made fun of Joe Biden when he tried to explain the suffering of people who stutter. A GOP proposed rule change would take disability benefits from hundreds of thousands of people through further complicating Social Security eligibility payments. Ronald Reagan’s similar benefit cut took earned benefits from 200,000 people; he reversed the attack after public outcry protesting human suffering and death. The addition of a fourth disability category affecting 4.4 million recipients, many of them children and people 50-65 with poor health and no income, requires reviews every two years although health issues worsen with age.  

Throughout his almost three years, DDT has turned on LGBTQ people, literally making them sick. A meta-analysis of 300 scientific studies in the U.S. shows overwhelming evidence that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity damages the health of LGBTQ people. Mental health problems include depression, anxiety, suicide, and PTSD while physical problems include substance use, heart disease, and high blood pressure. In states implementing “license to discriminate” laws, “the proportion of sexual minority adults reporting mental distress increased by 10.1 percentage points.” These effects are “compounded” for LGBTQ people of color, queer youth, and transgender people. Again, poor health takes from tax revenue and adds to costs for care. Poor health from discrimination will also affect immigrants, people of color, the poor, and everyone else suffering from discrimination.

Laughter at cruelty is rampant among DDT’s followers—his mocking Puerto Rican accents after thousands were killed by Hurricane Maria, women talking about sexual abuse, calls to “lock her up,” ridicule of opponents’ Christian faith—there seems to be no low bar for DDT’s abuse of humanity and his supporters admiration of his cruelty. Cruelty is the new norm for DDT’s supporters.

People who defend DDT worship him because “he tells it like it is.” On Christmas Day 2019, this is “like it is.” It’s Christmas Day: Jesus was an immigrant refugee and person of color who wouldn’t like the way that Republicans are running the United States. As DDT’s acting chief of staff would say, “Get over it.” And maybe try to do better.

In Charles Dickens’ “The Christmas Carol,” Ebenezer Scrooge had an epiphany after visits from the ghost of his former business partner and three spirits—Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Yet to Come. On Christmas 2019, we can only hope for a similar epiphany in 2020.

 

July 14, 2019

Hatred: Conservative Religion in U.S.

Today, highly religious VP Mike Pence undoubtedly prayed to his god in a fundamentalist church after ignoring the plight of immigrants. Frustrated by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) assertions that the detention centers are “concentration camps,” Pence visited them himself. A video shows he wrinkled his nose at the stench, made no eye contact with the men, and turned his back on them to leave after a minute. He didn’t take his wife with him and have dinner in the center, as he had promised. After his visit, Pence praised “the care that our Customs and Border Protection personnel are providing.” He tried to whitewash the situation by saying “I was not surprised” and that something should be done about overcrowding.

Reporters stayed for 90 seconds and reported that the foul-smelling McAllen (TX) border facility had almost 400 immigrant men in sweltering cages without mats or pillows on the concrete floor. The heat index in McAllen on Friday was 110 degrees, and some of the men said they had been there for over 40 days. Agents claimed they could brush their teeth once a day and have water when they wanted, but the inhabitants refuted these claims. They said they couldn’t have water without permission to go outside the cage and were not provided showers. Men said that they were hungry.

The DHS Inspector General report reported adults and children with no access to showers, adults fed only bologna sandwiches, and immigrants held in standing room-only cells, some standing on toilets for breathing space. One for-profit company is billing the U.S. $775 for each child for one day of detention in Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) “tent cities.” These are the facilities where understaffing requires children to care for toddlers and some infants don’t even have diapers. That $775 doesn’t provide mattresses, clean clothes, bed linens, sufficient food, soap, etc. DOJ lawyer Sarah Fabian tried to argue that migrant children don’t need amenities such as soap and toothbrushes. 

Pence chuckled in an interview with Jake Tapper about detained migrant children lacking toothbrushes and soap and about the “stench.” “It’s all part of the appropriations process,” Pence said. 

Fox’s Shep Smith called Clint’s facility “horrendous” and said that conditions would violate the Geneva Convention of the incarcerated were prisoners of war. A doctor permitted into a McAllen (TX) facility after five infants were taken from there to neonatal intensive care from flu compared conditions to torture. One toddler was “completely unresponsive,” and her eyes rolled to the back of her head. The doctor said that minors were subjected to “extreme cold temperatures, lights on 24 hours a day, no adequate access to medical care, basic sanitation, water, or adequate food.” The diseases easily spreads from denial of access to washing hands and cleaning baby bottles.

Dismayed by the lack of hygiene products for children, six people paid $340 for diapers, wipes, soaps, and toys that they took to a detention facility in Clint (TX). They were ignored at the facility, and others have been told that no donations of such necessities as toothbrushes, soap, towels, etc. are accepted.

Pence gave sufficient warning that he would be visiting detention centers, but other government officials are prevented from inspection. Five Democratic candidates for president including two U.S. Senators were denied entry into the Homestead (FL) facility that holds 3,000 children. Two other candidates, also senators, were earlier refused entry.

When migrant children in an Arizona facility reported bad food and water, the CBP agents removed mats from their cells and forced them to sleep on concrete. Agents also offensively treated the children and sometimes sexual assaulted them. These are not problems from overcrowding; they were denied phone calls, showers, warm blankets while sleeping outside, and enough food. Dinner wasn’t served until after 9:00 in the evening. Lack of funding is no reason for the abusive behavior of agents toward the detainees and the retribution they suffer if they tell the truth about their treatment.

A report from the House Oversight Committee shows that at least 18 migrant infants and toddlers under the age of two were separated from their parents at the border “including nine infants under the age of one” for between 20 days and six months. Some children were detained in Border Patrol facilities longer than the allowed 72 hours, sometimes moved to multiple facilities to give the appearance of staying within the law. Media reports caused 300 children to be removed from a Texas facility where children were left filthy and neglected. Yet agents returned 100 of them within a few days, saying that the Clint facility was a “consolidated” holding facility. In early June, DDT canceled English classes, recreational programs, and legal aid for unaccompanied minors in detention centers. Licensing laws may not allow him to carry out that plan, but Florida has not licensed the Homestead facility.

Tropical Storm Barry officially begins this year’s hurricane season, and children in Homestead are in tents, metal trailers, and a former U.S. Job Corps building—all in the second-most vulnerable hurricane zone in Florida. HHS claims that its plans are secret, but history shows a serious lack of planning from that agency about undocumented immigrants.

DDT plans to eliminate interpreters for undocumented migrants, using only videos to videos in multiple languages to explain rights and the proceedings. After that, no one will be available to answer questions in their language. Immigrants speak diverse indigenous languages and frequently don’t speak Spanish. Many of them don’t have attorneys and lack representation.

CPB agents and private companies with detention centers are creating a serious and permanent public health crisis replete with pulmonary diseases, fungal infections, skin infections, and a large number of illnesses such as mumps, measles, and chicken pox. Conservatives claims that the people came with these diseases; even if that were true, DDT’s policies are greatly excerbating the problem because of no attention and care.  If people in prolonged detention escape these diseases, they still suffer from mental health conditions from panic attacks to psychosis. Young people can have irreversible neurological impact both physical and emotional, and the problems can be genetic for future generations. Those not arrested and deported live in constant terror and fear that parents or spouses will be taken from them, affecting the health of blood pressure, metabolism, psychological well-being, etc. The number of abusers using deportation threats against their victims has increased by 100 percent in the past two years while rape reports by Latinas has decreased by 50 percent.

As of early June, 24 people died in ICE custody during DDT’s term. At least four others died soon after release, and more migrants, including five children, died in the custody of other federal agencies. Since that report, at least one migrant, a Honduran man, died after being in ICE custody for almost a month.

Officials have known for over three years about the sexist secret Facebook page by 9,500 current and former border agents with abusive content and done nothing about it. Since information about the social media went public, the members dropped to 4,000. They also tried to scrub the content, but a website has captured and archived much of the content. The head of the Border Patrol for almost a year, Carla Provost, condemned the racist, vulgar, and sexist posts as inappropriate, but she is one of several Border Patrol supervisors who participates in the Facebook. At least one more Facebook page for CBP employees posting vulgar and sexually explicit posts has been uncovered, this one also demeaning Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and blacks and Asian-Americans.

ICE has increased detention to 54,000—far above the 40,520 limit and ignoring congressional instructions at the end of the government shutdown in February. With no permission for more detention money, ICE has also opened three new for-profit immigration centers in Louisiana and Mississippi correction facilities within the past few weeks. ICE plans to put 15,000 asylum seekers in Louisiana by the end of summer although the state lacks judges to hear the cases. Congress has given ICE no additional detention money so no one knows how the bills will be paid, especially because existing facilities cannot afford soap and toothbrushes. ICE is also not telling lawyers where their clients are and not listing them on the detainee locator software. When the facilities were prisons operated by the same companies as the detention centers, they were understaffed, and inmates received poor treatment.

Bank of America reported that it will no longer have connections to companies that provide prisoner and detention services, including Homestead. Meanwhile, DDT is using his citizenship question and today’s raids in ten cities to distract people from his sexual assaults, fraudulent financial dealings, and close relationships and appointments with corrupt people.

Not satisfied with the number of people in detention centers, DDT plans to increase the overcrowding in detention facilities by breaking up families of those with Temporary Protected Status and deporting youth with DACA status. Haitian families arriving at the border are already not permitted to work in the U.S.; instead men and teenage boys are arrested and put into detention, leaving the women and children without any family support. HUD is threatening to evict 100,000 members of mixed-status families if any of them are undocumented. DDT plans to destroy millions of people in his goal to “make America white.”

On Sunday, July 14, 2019, that’s religion in “America.”

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