Rep. Martha McSally and Gov. Doug Ducey used to tread a fine line when it came to President Trump. They distanced themselves from the scandals — the Access Hollywood tape, the embrace of dictators and authoritarians, the demeaning of our nation’s intelligence community — while embracing his policies.
Sure, they seemed to acknowledge, Trump’s behavior is unbefitting for the leader of the free world (or for any moral adult), but we can let him off the hook because his policies are so darn spectacular.
At Trump’s Mesa rally last week, it seemed even the scandals were A-OK with our state’s Republican leaders. Ducey, while standing next to the man who used a “fixer” in an attempt to silence his porn star mistress, said about Democrats, “These guys are actually proud to stand with Bernie Sanders. Would you be proud to stand with Bernie Sanders?”
The governor clearly doesn’t understand irony.
But let’s pretend the president’s behavior isn’t bad enough to outweigh the good he’s accomplished. How have Trump’s policies helped the forgotten Arizonans he appealed to when running for office?
McSally and Ducey like to point to the revered tax cuts, a plan that was sold as a boon to working Americans.
Did you notice a significant difference in your paycheck? If so, congrats on being part of an elite class.
Economists warned us what would happen if we slashed revenues for wealthy corporations, and they were right. The cuts cannot and will not pay for themselves. Our deficit is growing by leaps and bounds and is now the highest it’s been in six years. Our ledger is horribly lopsided, and the only way we’ll avoid defaulting on our debt is if our leaders either raise taxes or make massive cuts in spending.
We already know Republicans are allergic to tax increases. Trump, who has realized the middle-class caught on to the first scam, is trying to sell yet another tax cut plan. More tax cuts means even greater reductions in other areas of the budget but not in the areas that harm the elites.
If we listen closely to McSally, we get an idea of where these spending cuts might come from. In her lone debate with Rep. Krysten Sinema, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, McSally insisted we must increase our spending on the military at the same time she stressed the importance of paying down our debt.
Defense spending is the biggest slice of the budget, occupying more than half of all discretionary spending. If our leaders continue to increase this portion of the budget along with adding many billions more to construct and maintain a border wall with our southern neighbor, there’s only one other place for budget cuts: Social Security and Medicare.
Now, McSally wants to ensure us she loves social security and would never kick granny off of it. And I believe her. Granny is, after all, most likely a Republican voter. The folks who really need to worry about what will happen to social security and Medicare are the Gen-X’ers — those in their 40’s and early 50’s — and the millennials and younger generations.
These individuals will need to work longer and sock away even more in their retirement savings account if they hope to retire before they die. Sounds easy enough, unless one also considers the effects of skyrocketing student loan debt and wealth inequality on younger generations. It’s difficult to save for retirement when student loan payments are as large as mortgages, or when the “gig” economy means less access to benefits like employer-sponsored retirement and health care.
Younger generations also need to worry about what will happen when the next recession hits. If we’re growing our deficit in times of economic prosperity, there won’t be any room for a safety net for those hardest hit — lower- and middle-class Americans — during a recession. Once again, these individuals will be left picking up the pieces of an economy that does not work for all.
But no worries, there are other tremendous policies Trump has enacted. For instance, the deregulation of environmental and labor laws meant to protect the most vulnerable among us as well as the withdrawal from climate change agreements. But hey, who needs a healthy earth when faced with collapsing infrastructure and the prospect of working until one’s death?
Then there are the stacked courts, the ones filled with justices approved by the Federalist Society. Their rulings on the right to privacy, the blurring of lines between religion and government, and additional infringements on a woman’s reproductive freedom will affect generations of Americans. Perhaps these judges won’t overturn Roe v. Wade, but they will definitely make it easier for the wealthy to buy elections and hide their dark money spending under the auspices of free speech.
Yes, Trump’s policies are beautiful for those who are older and wealthy. But for the rest of us, the only option we have to move the country in a different direction is to reject the politicians — on a national, state and local level — who embrace an elitist economy and its reality star president.