Talbot County
Democratic Forum


Tooltip TextNearing the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration, it would be helpful to review his impact on the United States. This president considers himself a theater producer. Leadership is affirmed by audience enthusiasm.
Saying what will elicit applause or sycophantic behavior is more important than honesty or carefully crafted policies. His base, while not a majority of Americans, provide the applause, thus only they are entitled to his attention. Americans who don’t join in the affirmation are disparaged. Meanwhile, the cabinet and his vice president provide the sycophancy. The base applauds his efforts (note at rallies he leads the handclapping), an overt reminder that the star needs adulation, as is the norm for many television game shows. (As an aside, it is interesting to note that this is the same behavior exhibited by North Korea’s leader.) Trump claims the appointment of conservative judges, passage of a tax bill and a reduction in federal regulations is evidence of his “unbelievable” success. But the real issue is how these actions impact or will impact Americans. For example, judges are being pushed forward even if they are deemed unfit by the ABA if they meet two litmus tests: one, opposition to abortion and other social issues such as gay marriages, and two, their personal loyalty to President Trump. Nominees are young with small resumes. Fewer years mean fewer opportunities to create paper trails that unmask unacceptable actions or positions. Also revealing is the extent to which their ideology is in conflict with an American society that has become more accepting of diversity. Some of the nominees have been so lacking in judicial temperament and skills that even the Republican-controlled Judiciary Committee forced their withdrawal. The president, who has publicly attacked the judiciary, believed Neil Gorsuch, his Supreme Court appointee, disloyal when he concurred with those critical of the president.
The tax bill, passed in a rush just before the holidays, was the convergence of two sources. The first was the long-standing aspiration of Congressional Republicans to reduce taxes, particularly for businesses and the wealthy, with the ultimate goal of cutting non-defense spending. Less revenue means fewer federal programs, as well as substantial reductions to Medicare and Social Security. Second are Trump’s promises made during the campaign to reduce the tax burden on middle-income and working-class Americans. “The wealthy are not going to like my tax plan,” Donald Trump repeatedly asserted, further adding, “It will not be good for me.” In fact, the tax legislation will transfer even more money to the wealthiest Americans, including President Trump and his family.
As a Republican official said in 2016 shortly after Donald Trump was nominated: “We don’t really care who is our nominee as long as they can wield a pen to sign legislation.” It is expected that in return for a few more dollars in their paychecks, Americans will ignore the massive transfer of wealth to the already wealthy. So the impact for the rest of us will be: (1) increased debt for our children and grandchildren; (2) a plan that will require even more bond purchasing by the Chinese; (3) a modest but temporary increase in take home pay; (4) a divergent strategy while the real wealth transfer occurs; (5) fewer people supported through the Affordable Care Act; (6) lessened support for Medicare and Medicaid; and (7) a greater reduction in government services. The less dramatic activity that occupied much of Trump’s first year was a reduction in regulations and regulator y activities. Protection of average Americans through the Consumer Protection Agency have been aggressively curtailed in spite of its success in recovering funds derived from exploitation of Americans, including $12 billion from Wells Fargo. The ability of the IRS to uncover tax cheats has been severely curtailed through such techniques as not filling
vacancies, transferring personnel, and publicly attacking personnel until they resign or acquiesce.
One of the most serious regulator y attacks has been against the EPA. When the president claims he wants to return regulations to 1960s levels, he is restricting or eliminating the government’s ability to protect us. Think of the regulations that removed lead from gasoline and paint, cleaned the Chesapeake Bay, reduced air and water pollution, protected endangered species, and restricted application of EPA’s regulations and addressed the threat of climate change. The Department of the Interior is removing more than a million acres of protected public lands so as to allow businesses access. The war on science continues. The Centers for Disease Control are told that certain phrases such as “science” or “evidence-based” studies should be deleted from reports. Replacement of scientists on advisory bodies is done to protect against conflicts, but representatives from the industries being regulated are being appointed without any concern about conflict
of interests. So what do we get? (1) government decisions that ignore science; (2) increased chances for water and air pollution; (3) increased damage to public lands and waters as they are opened up to the carbon industries; and (4) less oversight of those who would exploit the vulnerable.
While all these efforts and dozens more should be cause for concern, there is a more fundamental issue. Donald Trump has a total disregard for the three branches of the American political system. He cannot understand why the Senate has procedures that make it difficult to pass legislation. He believes that judges should be more concerned about loyalty to the administration than to the Constitution. Media are labeled purveyors of “fake news” because they have the audacity to challenge and question officials and their actions. We should have tougher libel laws, proposes the president. He criticizes our intelligence services, in some cases to foreign adversaries, because they presented him with evidence that he believes questions his electoral victory. He openly appeals to white- supremacist groups.
The Roman statesman Cicero warned more than 2,000 years ago that the greatest danger to a nation are individuals who “appeal to the baseness that lies in the hearts of all men.” To date, his most pronounced achievement is that the American presidency is a flourishing Trump profit center. Meetings at Trump properties, renting
Trump facilities, White House staff promoting Ivanka’s business, hiding income tax returns and most glaringly, his signing tax legislation on Dec. 22, 2017, are all actions that will enhance his wealth and that of his family at the expense of the American people. The Republican legislators serve as an enabler for someone many of them acknowledge privately is an unqualified occupant in the White House. But as long as he signs their legislation, he will be protect-ed. Let him take the credit seems to be their mantra. Space precludes a discussion of the Republicans’ most egregious fault: minimizing the cyber war that has emerged with the Russians because they know what will be exposed in the several investigations underway. Andy Harris and his colleagues in 2018 will have to answer the question: What have you done to protect Americans against a blatant attack on our democratic institutions?