Talk About Cutting The Safety Net….

When you elect people who have very limited knowledge of government or the legal system, you get a lot of unanticipated and unfortunate consequences.

Trump is hardly the only self-proclaimed “genius” who is actually clueless; in fact, voters need to recognize that the real villain of this surreal moment we’re experiencing isn’t Trump–who is arguably too far out of it to even know what he’s doing–but the current in-over-their-heads gang of Congressional Republicans who are protecting and enabling him.

A recent, glaring example is in the combined impact of their much-touted tax “reform” bill and their proposals to dramatically cut America’s social safety net.

Republicans love to talk about the negative consequences of social welfare programs–the purported encouragement of “dependency,” the “unfairness” of taxing working folks to support laggards who are sitting at home eating bon-bons (and while they rarely say it out loud, there is usually a “wink wink” suggesting  that those laggards are disproportionately black or brown). Data and evidence–things foreign to their comprehension–dispel all of this, of course. For example, most adult food stamp recipients work full time, as do most non-disabled adults on Medicaid. There is absolutely no research supporting accusations that receipt of welfare produces dependency, and most people on welfare are white.

Even more irritating is Republicans’ repeated insistence that, if government would just get out of the way, poor people’s needs could be met by private and/or nonprofit charities, especially religious charities. When George W. Bush called on the “armies of compassion” to replace much of the welfare system as part of his “Faith-Based Initiative,” researchers (I was among them) pointed out that private charities didn’t have the resources to even come close to his goals–and most churches were barely keeping the pastor paid and the roof fixed.

As we’ve seen, facts are pretty irrelevant to this crew. Nevertheless, given their constant lip-service to American generosity and private-sector charity, you wouldn’t expect them to pass a tax bill that threatens to cripple those same efforts. After all, they are now proposing massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid–cuts they evidently assume will be made up by funds from the charities their tax bill is eviscerating, if they think about it at all.

Patrick Rooney is an economist at the Lilly School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, where I teach. (Full disclosure; I am adjunct faculty at the Lilly School.) I know  Patrick and his work, and he is a first-rate scholar. Here’s his analysis of what the tax bill means for charitable giving:

The tax-code overhaul that Republican lawmakers approved and Trump signed into law will raise the price of charitable giving for millions of Americans, surely reducing how much money the nation gives.

As an economist and a scholar of philanthropy who researches how public policies shape charitable giving, I anticipate that the tax tweaks will lead Americans and U.S. companies to donate roughly US$21 billion less per year to charity.

The link will take you to the article detailing the impact of the tax bill’s various provisions on incentives for charitable giving, and those details are instructive. But the real “take away” is the utter failure of Congressional Republicans either to connect the dots– or worse, to care about the harm they are doing to millions of Americans (most of whom are elderly or children) in order to further enrich their donors.

Those who aren’t “geniuses” like our President–aka mental midgets–are something even worse. They’re moral midgets.


  1. This is all that needs to be said about the recent “tax reform” package – “in order to further enrich their donors.”


    However, if you look closely at the party who supposedly supports the working class, you only see the faux outrage. Even the media protected these con men and women.

    The Washington Establishment is political theatre. I can hear George Carlin’s jokes…

  2. Patrick Rooney’s analysis of the effect the tax bill will have on charitable giving is a mirror on this society, and those who dare look will see a disturbing reflection. For too long and for too many the idea of charitable giving is nothing more than tax dodge. It isn’t giving… it is a monetary transaction used to enriched oneself. Take away that self enrichment and those so called charitable folk would step on and over the suffering lying at their doorsteps.

  3. “Trump is hardly the only self-proclaimed “genius” who is actually clueless; in fact, voters need to recognize that the real villain of this surreal moment we’re experiencing isn’t Trump–who is arguably too far out of it to even know what he’s doing–but the current in-over-their-heads gang of Congressional Republicans who are protecting and enabling him.”

    If not for the Goldwater Gag ruling so long ago; preventing accredited psychologists and psychiatrists from publishing their diagnoses of candidates and elected officials without actuall examination, we would have begun resolving the Trump problem months ago. I FULLY AGREE that NOT publishing an actual diagnosis without examination should be the “rule of law” but using that Gag order seems to have prevented these qualified members of the medical field from also making public their opinions, denying them freedom of speech. There is, however, the book, “The Dangerous Case Of Donald Trump”, a collection of 27 accredited psychiatrist’s diagnostic terms, their explanations and comparisons to Trump’s speeches, rallies, Tweets and his general behavior. The book was published prior to Trump’s pissing contest with Kim Jong Un but does issues a number of warnings of the prospect of war due to his blatant unbalanced behavior, threats and insults. His over-the-top racist “shithole” comment is now being used to distract us from what is going on regarding his administration’s behind-the-scenes dealing. As Sheila states; “…the current in-over-their-heads gang of Congressional Republicans who are protecting and enabling him.” is also keeping these distractions at the forefront in the media.

    Regarding Trump’s tax bill; being touted by some Democrats as a good thing, working Americans will not see the full effect of this bill until they file their tax forms with IRS and discover which and how many beneficial exemptions have been removed.

    Regarding all issues we have dealt with, are dealing with and will be dealing with, I have a question. We continually receive from the”White House”, replies, responses, explanations, denials and additional “alternative facts”. The White House is a building filled with probably a few hundred workers on all levels daily; WHO, from what level of authority within the “White House” is issuing these public responses? They cannot all be coming from Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ press conference sources. This takes us directly back to “…the current in-over-their-heads gang of Congressional Republicans who are protecting and enabling him.” A Republican political circle-jerk financially supported by the 1%; we must also ask ourselves why are Republican Congressional members abandoning-ship prior to the 2018 Primaries? Are they distancing themselves from the “deconstruction” of our democracy, are they being paid off to make room for stronger, more devious 1% owned candidates?

    Yes; I admit it, mea culpa…this entire past year has driven me to become a blatant conspiracy theorist. It also has me questioning…where the hell are the Democrats we are expected to elect in the Primaries? They are supposed to be our “Safety Net”.

  4. “Faith-Based Initiative,”
    One of the many problems with the faith-based solutions is that they expect the recipient of their goodness to JOIN THEM in prayer. Take the Salvation Army. They do lots of good work helping people with addictions but they extract a price. One MUST JOIN them in prayer and bible reading. Sometimes before getting a meal.
    That is NOT good public policy.
    Promoting religion and helping people should NOT be linked this way.

  5. JoAnn,

    It also has me questioning…where the hell are the Democrats we are expected to elect in the Primaries? They are supposed to be our “Safety Net”.

    Keep dreaming.

  6. Marv; either I keep dreaming or I give in to this nightmare. I see little light ahead, my hopes are dwindling but…I AM NOT A QUITTER. I am also Dreaming with my DREAMER family members and their extended family.

  7. JoAnn,

    ” I AM NOT A QUITTER. I am also Dreaming with my DREAMER family members and their extended family.”

    Keep it up. You’re an exceptionally strong person. Society needs you. The flame hasn’t been extinguished, not yet at least.

  8. Yes to all. Among those clueless wonders is the pseudo-intellectual, Paul Ryan. He is the voice of stupidity on a good day, but when he starts mouthing the Ayn Rand dogma, the country starts turning on its head. Ryan, and just about every Republican in Congress MUST be defeated this year.

    BTW, for those of you who are so uninspired by the Democrats, why don’t YOU try running for office? Or, if you’re not able to afford that, start becoming active in progressive organization that are actually selecting and training candidates to replace the “old guard”. Look into your local chapter of Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) or the one nearest you and find out how to volunteer to accomplish your goals.

  9. Let’s talk stark economics divorced from morality. Helping the poor and sick survive via “government spending” makes sense in that such monies are immediately recirculated in the economy, thus contributing to aggregate demand, the sole and final arbiter of economic growth; whereas giant tax cuts and other goodies lavished on the rich and corporate class by Republican politicians find their way in stock buybacks, Swiss bank accounts, increases in dividends to shareholders unrelated to corporate performance etc., all of which when combined explain the current bubble in the Dow (and the immense increase in our long term debt). Current nickel and dime bonuses and chump change increases in wages to corporate workers popularized by a breathless business press have decades of catching up to do and are designed primarily to keep the pitchforks and guillotines out of executive suites rather than out of the goodness of their collective hearts. The only road to economic growth is through stimulation of aggregate demand, and the trickledown effects of giant tax cuts, though good for recipient executives and shareholders, have little to nothing to do with such growth since such monies are detoured as above described. Based on such historically demonstrable fact, our economy would be better off to increase public spending on the poor and sick and less on gifts to the rich and corporate class. Heresy? Not at all. Fact supported by evidence shorn of framing.

  10. Here’s a link to an NPR article on what the end of the American experiment on liberal democracy looks like.

    Included is a bar chart that shows the media spread oligarchy fueled cancer of extremism growing. What’s been stolen from us is confidence in the institutions of governance.

    Can we recover enough of it in the next 10-11 months to start a recovery?

    I think I can. You?

  11. JoAnn,

    “Yes; I admit it, mea culpa…this entire past year has driven me to become a blatant conspiracy theorist. It also has me questioning…where the hell are the Democrats we are expected to elect in the Primaries? They are supposed to be our “Safety Net”.”

    That’s the big question. And JoAnn’s suspicions are warranted. What has been accomplished the past year in the Democratic Party? Is it a big secret? If nothing, then…..Why not?

  12. We can’t have a social democracy because of racism. In America, everything is about racism. And I mean everything: every choice we make, ultimately reduced to one original sin, racism.

    I worry about my future. What if I go bankrupt? Will I be begging for food as an old man? There is a fundamental insecurity attached to living in a cruelly competitive society, and the havoc that wreaks on one’s psychological and physical health, and most importantly brain and nervous system, shows in our levels of crime and destructive behavior in general.

    It’s the Bowling for Columbine effect, as Michael Moore so brilliantly pointed out. FEAR. Why do Americans murder so much? FEAR. Why are they so racist? What do the dogs keep eating the dogs instead of turning on their owners? FEAR. What is racism, really? FEAR. Tribal fear, on its most fundamental level.

    What is it about our systems of economy and government that so cause fear in the population? That is what we should be asking, and it is the reality we need to accept before we can make things better.

  13. Poor Indiana. Everybody picks on it. Even Indianans. This also shows how deep and wide racism is in this country.

    Indiana teen Mat Blood, who was caught on video yelling racial slurs while wearing a Nazi flag (Screen cap).

    A teenager from Nobelsville, Indiana is apologizing profusely after a video of him wearing a Nazi flag and chanting racial slurs went viral on the internet.

    Report Advertisement
    Local news station WKBW reports that 17-year-old Mat Blood, a student at Noblesville High School, is taking responsibility for a viral video that showed him yelling “f*ck n*ggers” into a bullhorn with a Nazi flag draped across his back.

    “I’m sincerely ashamed,” Blood tells WKBW. “I wish I wouldn’t have done it.”

    The Indiana teen says that he is not a neo-Nazi, and that he only agreed to take part in the video because someone dared him to do it.

    “I really never back out from a dare,” he explains.

    But once the video of Blood went viral, he quickly realized he’d made a grave mistake that could deeply harm his own future career plans.

    “I planned to join the army, but that’s probably not gonna happen now,” he says. “I’m sorry for all the people I’ve offended.”

    Noblesville High School called Blood’s actions “ugly” and said it did not condone hateful rhetoric, but also did not say whether Blood would face disciplinary action.

    Watch WKBW’s report below.

  14. As others today and I have mentioned here in the past – finding the Democratic Party is like a search for – Where’s Waldo.

    The only consistent piece the Democratic Party has is attacking Trump. As I mentioned here before Trump is not up for election this year.

    Where is the Democratic Party’s Platform?? Many people that post here point to the Electoral College as a reason the Trumpet (Agent Orange) was elected in 2016. Yet, the Democratic Party has it’s own version of the Electoral College called Super Delegates.

    The Democratic Party should have a nation wide stand on Health Care – Universal Health Care or Enhanced Medicare for All. Forget about fixing ACA.

    Reduce Defense spending, right now, as Nick Turse notes in his latest article at, that military’s Special Operations forces deployed in one way or another to 149 countries in 2017, roughly 75% of countries on the globe. The Pilgrim Papers and the Paradise Papers have revealed the scams the 1% and large corporations use to avoid taxes. We need to close these loopholes. Properly fund Social Security lift the cap. Address DACA- What is plan or path for these people???

    At this point the Democratic Party appears to be poised to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

  15. I think that there is evidence that the TrumPenceGOP strategy is working as planned. Take up news time with tale after tale day after day of gross negligence and dereliction of duty. Keep Democrats completely out of all government. Destroy confidence in all public institutions.

    After a while due to the absence of any other news people will ask, where are the Democrats?

    That will be the victory of oligarchy.

  16. living as a second rate human,(trucker) im exposed to the facts,everyday.. i dont bend elbows with the posh in the nearest radison/ trump(shithole,) but i tend like others,to migrate with like minded,socio-economic side of town. my fear isnt in the neighborhood,but with people that will become desprate.and like the chain of events,led to prisons for hire,and ruining someone elses life because whitey,isnt fair. (me white,63)seems the cards have never changed since Dr,Kings march.I was livingnin Newark,NJ in the 60s, and was actully able to see,the unfairness with my own eyes,how minorities were treated,and further kicked to the curb. Living and growig up with kids my age, I knew,they didnt have much,and I see this today. when you issolate a child from gaining any kind of relief,you breed contempt,and hate. when they see,and hear,the very people who run this country,kickem again, in 2017, we have definitely failed as a society. When i talk with the average joe on whatsup! its basically, he and most everyone has never moved from,their status,in generations. they can and will work, but when living in the city,a car or, public trans is required. i even had issues in l.a. with this,as my bus and job time didnt get me to work on time. 7 am bus route started at 6:45 9 miles away. when you look at where most of these people live,their in areas not promoting jobs,or any real world wages. we have denied them a way to get out,and instead,offered them a life of incarseration in the penal system,because whitey cant see over his stacks of cash. when you hand someone a jail sentence,its for life,,,I can say this,and i live with it. When we send people a message of dispare, we will have to live with the fallout. when crap like ryan and mcconnel walk, they shit problems,the followers who voted and rail on the so called,problems we have with the others..have made America in their eyes,and its more like a takeover,with the only goal of killing off this class of people. we elected them,we allowed them to take,and send,us a fist of hate. if we dont stand up to this,make a permanite change in our voting,we will,as a working class,settle in for the same,in a very near future..

  17. Ideology is more important than reality in the current environment of Soviet Capitalism.

  18. I hate to be Debbie Downer…….But,keeping Democrats out of government? Hell,if Trump is such a monster,why did a coterie of Democrats agree to give Trump expanded spying powers upon the American population?

    The rule of law simply doesn’t exist anymore. Where are the Democrats? Aligned with the donor class. Their constituents are the same as Repubs;Booz, Allen, Hamilton/Academi/Dyncorp, et al. It is more important for monies to go to Academi than to uphold the constitution. And that way of thinking/acting is bipartisan. That’s fact,not opinion. If Trump is a monster,why are Democrats enabling him? If the rule of law is important,why is it being eroded in a bipartisan manner? Why is anyone expecting the Democratic Party to stop enabling the Repubs? They serve the same donor class. The suits won years ago.

  19. To put it more succinctly,the donor class wants to remove all safety nets for the hoi polloi. They live in their own world and nothing and no one else matters. Both political organizations want the funds/monies from the donor class. In America,unfortunately money buys you everything/anything. We can piss and moan and create more kayfabe with regard to Trump. But the reality is the rot is more systemic. Of course,by constantly reiterating the OMG! RUSSIA meme and others,we are distracted from the real causes of the rot and are merely focused only on the symptoms. Just as the suits want it.

  20. I think we’re all starting to see straight. Better late than never. We have to find a way, IF POSSIBLE, to shake-up the Democratic Party before it’s too late.

    We need to try the IMPOSSIBLE.

  21. Marv,

    The impossible becomes the possible when people get off their asses and do the work necessary. The bitching in today’s blog about the Democrats fails to see, or appreciate the fact that election boards across the country are being flooded with candidate applications from…..Democrats.

    Look, when we have an absolute lunatic in the Oval Office, the media, doing their best to stay solvent, cover it. Trump, in his infinite stupidity and insane desire to be loved, is fueling the resurgence of newspapers; the NYT is flooded with applications and is adding staff daily. In light of social media, the growing progressive/Democratic movement is secondary to the mainstream, TV-oriented media.

    So, for all the hand-wringers out there: Keep the faith in progressive movements and get off your ass and do something about your concerns.

  22. Although the list of Democrats’ shortcomings is long and impressive, let’s avoid the lunacy of accepting that there is a moral equivalence between Republicans and Democrats. While members of both parties adore their dollars, Democrats I speak with commonly bring up a lot of priorities that they value as much or more. Republicans I talk with – at least those who believe in party dogma – have only one mantra: I got mine, what’s wrong with you? Now and then they take time to explain how people of color and those too lazy to work are spoiling their otherwise perfect country. I hang out with a lot of Democrats, and I’ve yet to talk with one who doesn’t have a reasonable supply of empathy for people in difficult circumstances. Most are anxious and willing to help and do so. This subject of empathy is the shibboleth that best differentiates the two parties.

    The Republican political class believes that what makes America great is a military that can blast their enemies (anyone who doesn’t kowtow to American might) to smithereens, that there’s no such thing as an unjustified war, and that most diplomacy is a waste of time. They advocate for unlimited defense budgets and the childish position that might makes right and that “America First” is a rational policy. In my experience, few Democrats make those arguments.

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Democrat promote the idea of winning an election by proposing that we limit access to the ballot. This is now a mainstream Republican election strategy.

    Because they incarcerate too many of the wrong people for too long, and incentivize locking people up, relatively few Democrats come out in favor of for-profit prisons. Many Republicans, especially those of the Joe Arpaio school of law and order, see this practice as the solution to all crime and to the problem of moving tax money from the public to the private sector.

    Republicans worship power so much that they are willing to excuse constant lying and abuse of America’s most vital institutions, as well as gross incompetence, to support a self-serving president. They unabashedly lie to cover up the president’s most ill-advised verbal vomit. I’d be shocked to find a Democrat who would go that far, even for a Democrat president.

    Republicans believe that almost all money belongs in the hands of the wealthy and the professional classes. This addled economic philosophy not only forces millions into lives in which survival is a daily struggle and which elevates crime, also but proves a drag on an economy that would otherwise prove far more dynamic. Democrats treat income inequality for what it is – a practice that diminishes us and divides us into unequal classes. I thought Barbara Ehrenreich put this issue to bed twenty years ago.

    Republicans love, and agree that God loves, Bible thumpers. Conduct, they argue (see Roy Moore) is irrelevant because even if you’ve spent your entire life as a Mafia hit man, or a pedophile, on your penultimate day God will give you a pass if you simply ask for one. Democrats, who are less admiring of imaginary forgiveness deities, think that conduct matters. That doesn’t mean they are necessarily better people, just that they are less hypocritical.

    Democrats believe that this country, which was built on the backs of hard-working immigrants, was built on the backs of hard-working immigrants. Republicans agree, but they insist that the adjective “white” precede “immigrants.”

    Most Democrats would support the principle that education is the surest and shortest path to curing the ills of individuals and of mankind, and they advocate providing a lot more of it. Many Republicans are ardent backers of the highly successful program known as “The Dumbing Down of America.” They appear to have concluded that one’s education level is inversely proportional to their probability of voting Republican, and therefore pursue policies such as making student loans more difficult to pay off.

    Republicans, for the most part, will demonstrate in support of the principle that guns can solve most problems, and that semi-automatic weapons can solve all problems if the clip is big enough. Democrats, many of whom are hunters, believe that reasonable people can make rational laws that lead to fewer deaths. The point is inarguable, unless the person you are arguing with is a Republican.

    This list, like the expansion of the universe, could go on forever. But the point stands: With all their faults, Democrats believe more in democracy than in kleptocracy and hypocrisy. The once-proud Republican Party has signed onto a Faustian bargain that will result in either totalitarian ascendancy over reason and decency, or an ignominious and total collapse. The outcome will be a comment on whether we’ve wasted the last two hundred and twenty-nine years testing whether the people are capable of running their own country. Let’s hope not.

  23. I remember a graffiti I once saw:
    “When life gets to be a BITCH – We’ll EAT THE RICH!!!”

  24. Vernon,

    From my vantage point, it appears that the Democratic Party has allowed a fascist-like movement to take over our government without a fight. And further, I haven’t seen anything from them, since that time, that they have learned a damn thing.

    Applications in themselves mean nothing.

    I believe that the Democratic party to use your words, needs “to get off their ass and do something about our concerns.”

Comments are closed.