Not fooling anybody (except those who voted for him)

I got a perverse kick out of this NYT article yesterday written as if Donald Trump actually believed his campaign rhetoric about the social safety net:

Two days before Election Day, Donald J. Trump traveled to Sioux City, Iowa, and proclaimed that he was the protector of federal programs aimed at helping elderly and low-income Americans. It was Hillary Clinton, he said, who was an untrustworthy steward of the working class and who would slash vital benefits.

“I am going to protect and save your Social Security and your Medicare,” Mr. Trump said. “You made a deal a long time ago, a long time ago.” The pledge followed earlier promises to enact a new paid-maternity-leave benefit and not to make cuts to Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor.

When President Trump addresses Congress this Tuesday and follows the speech with a budget blueprint for the fiscal year that begins in October, his White House will finally address in concrete numbers one of his central contradictions: He campaigned as the populist protector of programs for the working class, yet he has pledged to control the budget deficit, cut spending and cut taxes.

Moreover, Mr. Trump has surrounded himself with traditional small-government conservatives bent on cutting back or eliminating many of the programs he has championed. Many of his aides and cabinet members have expressed views that are fundamentally opposed to those he campaigned on…

The disparity between Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and his appointments has cheered many Republicans and left Democrats fearing that he will not only renege on his promises to protect the government’s largest entitlement programs but that he will also slash programs he did not mention on the campaign trail that offer food, housing and child care support for the poor.

Seriously, is anybody actually the least bit surprised.  Trump is clearly committed to this as he’s committed to the pro-life agenda.  That is, he knows what to say because it helps him win votes/support.  There’s basically zero evidence it’s anything more than that.  And anybody who thinks otherwise (or voted otherwise) has just been scammed.

In Evan Osnos’ fabulous profile of Trump last year, he identified Trump’s clearly held, core beliefs: nativism, isolationism, opposition to free trade, and authoritarianism.  And from what we’ve seen so far, it is clear as day that these are his guiding principles.  Everything else?  Electoral strategery.  And it’s truly transparent to any people paying half-attention or not willfully deluding themselves.


About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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