Question: what do public education, public roads, and earned benefits have in common with each other?
Answer: They all are in danger in the upcoming presidency of the great populist and (white) working-class hero, Donald Trump.
Trump has announced that he is nominating Betsy DeVos, a member of the DeVos family of Michigan, which rivals the Koch family of Kansas in its wealth and dedication to right-wing, corporatist causes. Tierney Sneed of Talking Points Memo reports
Much of DeVos’ political activity has been focused on the expansion of charter schools and school vouchers, putting her selection in line with Trump’s campaign proposal to shift $20 billion in federal education funding into state block grants to enroll children in charter and private schools.
The DeVos family bankrolled a failed 2000 Michigan ballot initiative that would have required that students enrolled in failing public school districts be offered vouchers for private school tuition.
Though the measure was rejected soundly by voters, the DeVoses doubled down on the issue and formed a political action committee to support pro-voucher candidates nationwide, according to ChalkBeat, a nonprofit news organization focused on education. They also operate philanthropic organizations known for giving to entities aligned with the charter school movement, including faith-based schools and conservative think tanks, Inside Philanthropy reported.
Charter schools usually are not good for students, but generally profitable for the private companies sponsoring them- with taxpayer money. That sounds like the motivation for Donald Trump's transportation plan, under which as currently written
the federal government would offer tax credits to private investors interested in funding large infrastructure projects, who would put down some of their own money up front, then borrow the rest on the private bond markets. They would eventually earn their profits on the back end from usage fees, such as highway and bridge tolls (if they built a highway or bridge) or higher water rates (if they fixed up some water mains). So instead of paying for their new roads at tax time, Americans would pay for them during their daily commute. And of course, all these private developers would earn a nice return at the end of the day.
At least Trump was less antagonistic during the primary campaign toward earned benefits than were most of his rivals. Now that he has been elected, however, that is beginning to change. Jonathan Chait observes that in a Fox News interview with Brett Baier
“Your solution has always been to put things together, including entitlement reform,” says Baier, using Republican code for privatizing Medicare. Ryan replies, “If you’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare, you have to address those issues as well. … Medicare has got some serious issues because of Obamacare. So those things are part of our plan to replace Obamacare.”
Chait notes, however, "The Medicare trust fund has been extended 11 years as a result of the passage of Obamacare, whose cost reforms have helped bring health care inflation to historic lows. It is also untrue that repealing Obamacare requires changing traditional Medicare."
Ironies abound. Trump has gotten cold feet about deporting illegal immigrants, now asserting instead that his Administration will get tough on those who have committed crimes, which bears a curious resemblance to President Obama's policy. He speaks now of his signature wall on the Mexican border as part wall, part fence, not unlike the current structure.
But Trump was portrayed as a different kind of Republican candidate, and expected to be a different kind of Republican President. Guess again. While focused on squeezing from the presidency as much income for his businesses as he can, Trump is embarking on a plan to intertwine the federal government with the market to enrich the private sector at the expense of the American public and make crony capitalism the hallmark of his Adminstration. (WARNING: Video below is from a conservative libertarian legal outfit.) The campaign cry of "Crooked Hillary" should now be seen as a case of a plutomaniac with a serious case of envy.