Eery year, during the run-up to Halloween, when Jim DeMint goes to Hell’s mega-mall and sits on Satan’s lap, he has a list of things he wants for the holiday. The parents of the assembled demons and imps behind him in line often get frustrated because the list is so long. On Thursday, the Trump Administration released its proposed national budget. It’s been a long time coming, but DeMint and the rest of the greasy barbarians at Heritage finally got most of what they asked for.
This proposed budget isn’t extreme. Reagan’s proposed budget in 1981 was extreme. This budget is short-sighted, cruel to the point of being sadistic, stupid to the point of pure philistinism, and shot through with the absolute and fundamentalist religious conviction that the only true functions of government are the ones that involve guns, and that the only true purpose of government is to serve the rich.
There is an increased stirring among allegedly respectable conservatives to separate themselves from the president* and his more manic supporters in the Congress and out in the country. To hell with them. Like Haman, they’re dancing on a gallows they spent years devising. This budget represents the diamond-hard reality behind all those lofty pronouncements from oil-sodden think tanks, all those learned disquisitions in little, startlingly advertising-free magazines, all those earnest young graduates of prestige universities who dedicated their intellects to putting an educated gloss on greed and ignorance, and ideological camouflage on retrograde policies that should have died with Calvin Coolidge—or perhaps Louis XVI.
This is it, right here, this budget. This is the beau ideal of movement conservative governance. This is the logical, dystopian end of Reaganism, and Gingrichism, and Tea Partyism, and all the other Isms that movement conservatism has inflicted upon the political commonwealth. This is the vast, noxious swamp into which all those tributaries of modern conservative thought have emptied themselves. People die in there, swallowed up in deep sinkholes of empowered bigotry and class anger.
Meals on Wheels?
Who in the hell zeroes out Meals on Wheels? Who decides that a program that spends $3 million to help volunteers feed the elderly and infirm in their communities is something that the country can no longer afford? Who are the men in the meetings who make this kind of call? What are their names? Trot them out so the country knows who they are. C’mon, David Brooks, find out who they are and explain why National Greatness Conservatism has a problem with starving elderly shut-ins.
The National Endowment For The Arts? The National Endowment For The Humanities? The Corporation For Public Broadcasting?
Who in the hell zeroes out the NEA, or the NEH, or the CPB? Who decides that rural museums, and Ken Burns, and Antiques Roadshow are too elitist for a country full of righteous bumpkins? I’ll tell you who does. Newt Gingrich does, that’s who, and 23 years ago Newt Gingrich was the superstar of the conservative movement, the intellectual anchor of the modern Right, until, of course, he became a public embarrassment. You know who else does? George Effing Will, just today, that’s who. These programs did not become targets last November.
WHO IN THE HELL ZEROES OUT MEALS ON WHEELS?
Who the hell eliminates research funding for the climate crisis in an age of mega-storms, and wildfires, and steadily vanishing coastlines? Who pulls the country out of the Paris Agreement? Who takes the United States of Goddamn America out of the fight against the biggest existential crisis the planet has faced since the asteroid landed near the Yucatan? Gee, why don’t we take a wild guess and say it’s the political party—and the political movement that is its only life force—that for decades has taken billions from the extraction industries, placed a climate denier at the head of the EPA—where he isn’t going to have much to do, anyway—and appointed an oilman to be Secretary of State. Which reminds me…
The fcking State Department?
Who the hell virtually defunds the goddamn State Department? The party that tolerates a Tea Party hack like Mick Mulvaney, taking him as such a serious person that he can become to be the director of the Office of Management and Budget, instead of the extremist loon he’s always been. Mick Mulvaney didn’t need the rise of Donald Trump to become a crackpot who would be marginalized in any sane democratic republic. He was always there on the fringes. He is as much a creature of movement conservatism as Paul Ryan is, even more so because Mulvaney was one of the prime movers in the defenestration of John Boehner.
Now, he’s in a position to enact all those policies that made him a star. From ABC News:
The president’s vision is to add $54 billion to military spending and cut the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development by 28 percent. “There is no question this is a hard power budget, it is not a soft power budget,” the president’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, told reporters Wednesday. “The president very clearly wanted to send a message to our allies and our potential adversaries that this is a strong power administration, so you have seen money move from soft power programs, such as foreign aid, into more hard power programs.” While Mulvaney described the cuts to the State Department as “fairly dramatic,” he said the country’s core diplomatic functions will not be impacted by the cuts, which he said are focused on reducing foreign aid. “That is not a commentary on the president’s policies toward the State Department, that is a comment on the president’s policies toward what is in their budget,” he said. “The foreign aid line items just happen to fall in State.”
There are other goodies in here besides. The budget proposes to privatize the air-traffic control system, finishing the work that Reagan started in 1981, and adapting the system to a philosophy that has worked so very well in the prison system and in education. Speaking of which, the Department of Education is taking a 13.5 percent cut, but there’s going to be $1.4 billion shifted over into various charter and voucher schemes that have proven worthless in practice, but that warm the heart of Betsy DeVos, our anti-public-education Secretary of Education. Pell Grants also take a whack. I’m sure that any kid from, say, McDowell County in West Virginia who dreams of a college education will be thrilled by that news.
A lot of this is going to make the members of Congress choke, so a lot of it may not pass. It’s very existence is important, though, as a document that lays out quite clearly the vision of government shared almost everywhere in modern conservatism. This is a DeMint Budget, a Heritage Budget, a Gingrich Budget, a Reagan Budget, and a Tea Party Budget. It may be crude and lack a certain polish, but its priorities and goals are clear. There is no modern Republican Party without movement conservatism, and this budget is the most vivid statement yet of that philosophy.
None of the people who have become rich and influential through shining this philosophy up needed the election of Donald Trump to become what they are. If the country allows them to step away from him and his budget—the way they all stepped away from Gingrich when he became toxic, or Reagan when he became senile, or George W. Bush, when everything went wrong—then the country does itself no good service. This budget isn’t what they want. It’s who they are.
Meals on wheels?
Jesus Christ, these really are the fcking mole people.
Update (5:45 PM): Mulvaney came out from under his bridge to take questions about the budget on Thursday afternoon. The results were as hacktacular as you can imagine. This is what he said about feeding children in after-school programs: He said they showed “no demonstrable results.”
He also says that Meals On Wheels is one of those programs “not showing any results.”
Food, how does it work, anyway?