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Trump Conservatism

Trump Conservatism                Gerry O'Shea

During the recent presidential campaign, Mr. Trump sought to distance himself from the hard-line conservatives in his own party by reminding voters that he was the candidate of the Republican Party and not the Conservative Party. In addition, on two vital progressive issues, he promised not to cut Medicaid and that his tax proposals would primarily benefit "ordinary" working people.

Some Trump apologists explained that his scatterbrain statements about building walls and punishing women who had an abortion and other far-out proposals would fade away when he actually achieved power. They confidently predicted that modern sophisticated people like his daughter and son-in-law would exert a strong moderating influence.

All wishful thinking, unfortunately, because in issue after issue Mr. Trump has emerged as the most right wing president in recent memory. Here is his record to date.

Can you ever remember a Republican candidate for any major office who didn't trumpet his commitment to lower taxes? However, the record shows that their penchant for lowering taxes mainly benefits the rich, and that is certainly the case in Trump's proposed budget. If you are earning $250,000 a year, you will see a significant improvement in your take-home pay, but if you are making ten times that, bonanza time has arrived. On the other hand, if you are one of the $20 an hour workers that played a major role in electing Trump, your paycheck will only increase  by a few dollars.


Republicans rationalize this approach by arguing conveniently that when the rich get richer, the benefits trickle down to the whole community - a very dubious proposition, contrary to common sense and to the opinions of most economists.

 Donald Trump showed his hand in this vital issue during one of the presidential debates when he was accused of paying no taxes. His outrageously cynical and really shameful response was:"That makes me smart," sending a clear message to the guy earning a thousand a week that he is somehow a bit stupid to be paying his share of federal and local taxes.

Another bugaboo of all conservatives centers on social programs designed to help the poor.  Apart from Social Security and Medicare, the new president and his conservative followers oppose and seek to undermine all the other anti- poverty programs.

True to form, the Trump budget reduces funding for these programs by about 20%. Medicaid, which provides healthcare for the poor, is cut by a massive 750 billion over 10 years, and food stamps, disability payments and student loans are all slashed. Clearly, the new president with unquestioning  support from the Republican leaders in Congress, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, is determined to re-order the priorities of the Obama years. Tough luck on the indigent, the disabled and the uninsured.

The scientific community is close to unanimous in asserting that global warming is due in large part to pollutants in the atmosphere caused by the use of coal and oil to generate power. Trump's core constituency - about one-third of the electorate - rejects this scientific evidence and supports Trump's campaign comment that global warming is a hoax.

The President has decided that he is withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord negotiated by President Obama in 2015. We join Nicaragua and Syria as rejectionist countries. This shocking decision, while delighting many conservatives, has greatly lessened Washington's leadership at the United Nations and throughout the world.

Government regulations are viewed disdainfully by most conservatives. They look at these rules that govern all aspects of life, including public safety and environmental considerations, as bothersome intrusions on a person's right to function freely. Responding to this hostility to the hated bureaucrats who impose these rules, the new president ordered that any proposed new regulation cannot be implemented until two existing regulations are lifted.

Finally, in the area of international leadership, Trump has responded to the many challenges that America faces by following new right-wing policies that reveal a different vision from any of the recent occupants of the White House.

He has distanced himself from traditional allies in NATO and at the UN, and while constantly stating that Islamic extremists are our number one enemy, he has strengthened America's alliance with Saudi Arabia whose citizens provide much of the funding for these extremist groups. He refuses to criticize Putin who has invaded the Ukraine, and he praises the autocratic leaders in places like Egypt and the Philippines despite their disregard for  human rights in their countries.

Nearly all Republicans  identify themselves as strong conservatives and so there is very little outcry when Trump cuts services to the poor or reneges on the Paris Climate Accord. They are all for cutting taxes to benefit the affluent and reducing government regulations.

However,  his estrangement from America's  traditional allies in Europe and his friendship with Putin are not winning him friends on the right, but, with the exception of John McCain and a few others, the Republican elected representatives are going along so far with this new world order.

 The total impact of these conservative policies has left Trump's approval rating at around 37% - basically his core constituency- a number that has Republican members of congress worried about their seats in next year's election.




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