Thursday, March 16, 2017

Parsing Mulvaney on The Budget: Hard And Stupid Words

Mick Mulvaney, Trump's budget director, speaks like a manly man's man:*

“It is not a soft-power budget,” Mulvaney explained. “This is a hard-power budget, and that was done intentionally. The president very clearly wants to send a message to our allies and to our potential adversaries that this is a strong-power administration.”

STEM fields used to be called hard sciences, humanities soft.  The terms were intended to be derogatory to humanities, but they also captured a gendered flavor, given that the researchers in the former were mostly men and many in the latter were women:  Real men get hard!  Real men do hard stuff!  Girly men and girls can't get hard and can't get clear results.

Even if you don't agree with that comparison, it's exceedingly clear that Mulvaney talks war-talk.  Trump wants to show the world that the US military spending is insufficient, because it only amounts to spending as much as the next seven countries put together.

That's not hard enough!  Let's spend more than the rest of the whole world!  Let's spend double that!

For what purpose?  To protect Americans from death?  The same budget tells us that Trump does not want to do that.  After all, he is cutting medical research and scientific research, the kind of basic research which corporations cannot perform, the kind of basic research that might find cures for all the current killer diseases.

And he is cutting help to the poor.  That those cuts would also apply to Meals On Wheels**, a program which helps some frail elderly stay longer at home and provides them with proper nutrition,  is not surprising, given what Trump's health insurance plan taught us about the age of those most likely to be unable to afford insurance in it: Older individuals.  But do note that this "hard-power," "strong-power" budget plans to pay for more military might by skinning the weakest, oldest and frailest among us.

Mulvaney explained how the programs and contributions to be guillotined were picked:

White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney on Thursday defended the Trump administration’s proposed deep cuts to social welfare programs such as Meals on Wheels and after-school services, saying it’s unfair to taxpayers if such programs don’t show hard results.
“Meals on Wheels sounds great,” Mulvaney said during the White House news briefing, adding that “we're not going to spend [money] on programs that cannot show that they actually deliver the promises that we’ve made to people.”

Did this man's brains leak out without him noticing?  And notice that "hard" word again:  Programs must show hard results.

How has the Meals on Wheels program failed to deliver?  Do the volunteers who transport the meals leave them somewhere en route?  Do they smear them on the walls or poison them with arsenic or what?

What are the hard results Mulvaney expects from a program such as after-school services or Meals on Wheels?  Should an elderly person sip the hot soup, suddenly rise up and do thirty pushups?  Should an after-school service produce PhDs from eight-year old children?  What is sufficiently hard or erect to qualify?

And if we use hard results to determine the budgetary allocations, it might be worth pointing*** that the military made a mess out of Iraq, that it lost the Vietnam war and that the US forces are still in Afghanistan which has not turned into a progressive paradise of equal rights for all.

This budget proposal is not going to be the final budget.  But it tells us what Trump has in his mind.  And that, my friends, is frightening.


* Among the white supremacists and misogynists,  men who are viewed as not dominant and insufficiently oppressing are called cucks or beta males.  I'm sure the Alt Right and Bannon love this budget proposal.

**  The actual cut in federal aid are a fairly small percentage of the total funding of this nonprofit program and would not kill the program.  But clearly Trump's budget-makers never even noticed that the budget condoned the faster killing of frail elderly homebound individuals.

***  The blame belongs to those who make the decisions, of course.  My point is that the way Mulvaney explains what is to be cut could not explain why military spending is to be increased so much.  In a rational reality, that is.