Monday, July 29, 2019

Same Old, Same Old

The New York Times asked twenty-two Democratic candidates the same eighteen questions, including such pertinent ones as "how many hours of sleep do you get a night"; "describe the last time you were embarrassed: why?:";what is your comfort food on the campaign trail?": and "what do you do to relax?" (They forgot "if you were an animal, what animal would you be?")

As long as they went to all this effort, the Times should have included "what were the failings of President Obama- if there were any?"  It's even money a popular answer would have been "none- why would you even think such a thing?"

Matt Stoller has labeled Barack Obama "a bad President" and hence could never get out of the gate in a Democratic primary campaign. However, he has good advice for the general election campaign:
If we give them enough time, Democrats probably will point out that Donald Trump has been a corrupt President. But they will assiduously avoid identifying Trump as weak, and probably will little note that he continuously breaks his promises (video below from 3/17).

Oh, they- or at least a surrogate or two- will ridicule the President because Mexico has not paid for a border wall. Nonetheless, that will be drowned out by condemnation of Trump because of his immigration policies, including his effort to get a wall built. Democrats thereby will miss an opportunity to remind voters on the (figurative) fence that Trump has let them down because he can't get anything done.

They will castigate the President because he is a racist, as evidenced by his vicious attack upon Representative Cummings and the people of Baltimore. What they will not do, though, is to inform voters that before he became President, Donald Trump vowed that he would transform the city into a veritable heaven on earth.  Nor will Democrats emphasize that the President is failing the people of southern Ohio, southeastern Pennsylvania, and of other places by the opiate epidemic which rages on under his watch.  (Most of such areas are represented by Republicans, and we cannot offend the other side. It's just not done.)

There are other promises broken by President Trump. But arguably the most important in terms of policy, and virtually inarguably the most powerful strategically, is in the matter of earned benefits and Medicaid. In March Vox explained

President Donald Trump’s 2020 budget breaks one of his biggest campaign promises to voters: that he would leave Medicaid, Social Security, and Medicare untouched.

“I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid,” Trump told the Daily Signal, a conservative publication affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, in 2015.

Over the next 10 years, Trump’s 2020 budget proposal aims to spend $1.5 trillion less on Medicaid — instead allocating $1.2 trillion in a block-grant program to states — $25 billion less on Social Security, and $845 billion less on Medicare (some of that is reclassified to a different department). Their intentions are to cut benefits under Medicaid and Social Security. The impact on Medicare is more complicated...

Addressing the President's policies on Social Security and Medicare highlights Trump's habit of breaking promises, reinforces the position of the Democratic Party as the protector of the old and the infirm, and exposes Donald Russia as just another politician who says one thing while campaigning and then does another.

The Democratic Party can add that Trump does so with a heaping topping of bigotry. However, it should emphasize that the President's pattern of duplicity is a continuation of a pattern of presidential behavior that includes our 44th President,  a concession to reality that- as Stoller understands- is sadly unlikely.

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