It’s hard to know where to begin with a week that marked the eight-month anniversary of the Trump Administration. Really. It has only been eight months.
Friday’s headline news was the resignation of Tom Price, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, for his staggering use of government funds to charter private jets, including one to take him to Philadelphia from Washington, D.C. Price, who had railed against such abuse when he was a Congressman and criticizing Democrats, attempted to deflect widespread outrage by offering to pay for the cost of “his seat” – not the total cost of the flight – but the gambit did not work.
The President accepted the resignation, but has yet to offer any comment on other Administration flyboys such as Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, each of whom has resorted to private jets or military aircraft for their personal convenience and enjoyment.
One of the rallying cries at Trump rallies was “Drain the swamp” – you know, kind of like “Lock her up” for using personal email accounts – because of the candidate’s professed desire to rid Washington of those who used government for personal gain. As one wag observed, the Trump appointees are flying in private jets over the swamp.
Price, it should be noted, oversaw the federal agencies responsible for programs that are frequent targets of Republican budget-cutters, including Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, federally-funded public assistance and public health programs.
Joining Price and the other flyboys in the clueless department is Gary Cohn, Chair of the President’s National Economic Council. In defending the President’s tax cut plan, he said that the middle income taxpayer – who, after all, is the group the President claims to be helping – makes about $100,000 per year, and should expect a tax break of about $1,000 from the proposal. He said that would enable the family to “buy a new car” or “remodel their kitchen.” I had fortunately brought my car to a stop, because my laughter would have made driving unsafe.
Cohn reportedly received a severance of $285 million when he left Goldman Sachs, and one wonders if he ever (1) bought a car, or (2) needed to pay attention to bills he received for home renovations. Renovating a kitchen for $1,000. It was mindful of Trump once saying “No one knew how complicated health care could be.” I thought at the time he had never seen a bill for health care services, although given his casual approach to other financial obligations, it may not matter.
Then we have the President saying that his tax bill would not “benefit me, believe me.” In fairness, this is probably as true as most other things he says. But the notion that a bill benefitting the wealthy, including elimination of the estate tax and alternative minimum tax, would not benefit him is ludicrous on its face.
To cap off a week he began by playing the race card ended in the same place. Saturday morning he issued a policy proclamation – i.e. a tweet – saying that Puerto Ricans “want everything to be done for them.” This, of course, is a standard racist meme. But making this your response to 3.5 million American citizens literally facing the possibility of death is actually beyond clueless. It is the type of cruel, inhumane comments he so often makes.