“It’s race-baiting in the service of plutocracy.”
Yesterday, President Trump released his budget request for 2021 and beyond. It extends tax cuts for the wealthy, dramatically increases immigration enforcement funding, and cuts health care, retirement security, education, housing, environmental protections, safety net services and more.
The following is a statement by Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
President Trump’s newly-released budget embodies the Trump presidency: demonize immigrants to give white grievance voters someone to blame for their troubles so they will be distracted as he gives billions in tax cuts to the wealthy while slashing billions in healthcare, retirement security and education for the rest of us.
Once called the ‘Southern strategy,’ it’s been a staple of the GOP’s playbook for the past 60 years. Just some of the issues that have been shamelessly exploited include crime, welfare, school prayer, affirmative action, gender equality, reproductive rights, marriage equality, trans equality, and immigration.
As President Lyndon B. Johnson ruefully pointed out in the 1960s : ‘If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.’
Trump’s demonization and dehumanization of immigrants are particularly raw and cynical. He incites his followers with talks of dark-skinned criminals, murderers and rapists. Yes, cruelty is the point. And it has a purpose. It’s race-baiting in the service of plutocracy.
With his budget blueprint for a second term, President Trump is asking American taxpayers to spend billions to prosecute his war on immigrants: build a stupid and ineffective border wall that he promised Mexico would pay for; separate families through cruel and chaotic deterrence measures; lock up immigrants in squalid and life-threatening conditions in record numbers; dramatically increase the size, authority and impunity of his deportation agents; and more. Meanwhile, he slashes billions from health care, retirement security, education, housing, clean air, safe drinking water, food security and aid to the disabled.
This cynical strategy is at the heart of Trump’s ongoing effort to hang onto power by dividing us along racial and ethnic lines and distracting voters from radical policies that line the pockets of the super wealthy while picking the pockets of the average citizen.
As Greg Sargent of the Washington Post writes:
President Trump is cruelly working overtime to gut health care for millions of Americans — while simultaneously demanding that we spend billions on the wasteful, useless, hateful border wall that he vowed to make Mexico pay for. If Democrats are looking for campaign arguments against Trump, that juxtaposition is one place to start. It highlights two big issues on which Trump stands in opposition to majority opinion.
Evidence that Trump’s budget is a political disaster: This Obama-Trump voter (who voted D in ‘18) was upset that Trump is spending tax dollars on the wall instead of protecting her retirement. And I heard similar retirement worries from multiple voters in this focus group.
Below is additional background on the wall and immigration sections of the new Trump budget
- Billions More for a Stupid, Ineffective, Offensive, and Political Border Wall: The American taxpayers’ tab for the border wall is now up to $18.4 billion – only 27.7% of which has been appropriated by Congress. On top of that, Trump is using the Defense Department budget as a slush fund for his reelection campaign. The new White House budget contains an additional $2 billion request for border wall construction, but as CNN reports, the “Defense Department, under White House pressure, is expected to announce this week that billions more in Pentagon funds will go toward the border wall.” For more on the wall and why it’s such a disturbing boondoggle, click here.
- Billions More on a Cruel Immigration Enforcement Agenda: Beyond just the wall obsession and wastefulness, the Trump budget also advances a cruel vision of targeting immigrants while failing to seriously address the drivers of asylum and migration. For example, it seeks to ramp up immigration enforcement and spend more than $3 billion to increase detention bed capacity to 60,000; it would spend an additional $126 million to continue the horrific MPP program that is part of their effort to restrict a fair asylum process; and it seeks to slash foreign aid by 21% at a time when destabilized Central American countries can least afford it (see this good recap of the immigration sections of budget from Nicole Narea at Vox).