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By: Rich Galen

 

Spinning Plates

There are not only a lot of things on President Donald Trump’s plate, there are a lot of plates spinning over the president’s head. He’s like that guy in the circus who kept plates spinning on long wooden rods.

He has a plate spinning with a health care bill that is anything but healthy. He has another spinning with his first budget that, at least on the top lines, makes massive cuts in social and environmental programs to fund military, homeland security, and veterans affairs programs. It also pushes just under $2 billion across the political poker table onto the stack marked “Mexican Wall.”

A federal judge tossed a plate into the air last night with a nationwide injunction against what the president himself called a “watered-down” travel ban. And the Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Ca) – who has been a stalwart supporter of the president’s – said “I don’t think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower.”

Whew!

Let’s take the easy one first: Donald Trump totally invented the story about Barack Obama having personally ordered the tapping of the wires at Trump Tower during the campaign. The president is doing his “I-Made-It-Up” dance by quoting that failed, phony medium the NY Times. He said he remembers reading a story in the Times on January 20 that talked about wiretapping.

Ok. First of all one of his Tweets on March 4 read:

“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

January 20 (actually, the piece was posted online on January 19) to March 4 is just shy of two months. Only in discussions of the movement of tectonic plates can two months be called “just” as in “just found out.”

So, that’s not true. Secondly, the article never suggests that any surveillance of any type was ever ordered by Obama.

Then there’s the ever heavier legislative anchor known as Obamacare. This central piece of legislation, the ACA, – not just in 2016 but going back to 2010, 2012, and 2014 – has now been on the books for too long to just turn off the tap.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said this week that, according to ABC News, “GOP leaders would now make ‘some necessary improvements and refinements’ to the legislation” in order to get enough Republican votes to pass in the House.

Seven years, they’ve had. Seven years of chanting “Repeal and Replace” and they are still looking for “improvements and refinements” to get just this first step in the process to the Floor.

To his credit, President Trump has been doing his part to help sell this first “prong” of the bill, but I wonder how much of it he understands and if he has any clue what prongs two and three involved.

Next, the budget. The howls of outrage would be heard on Pluto if Pluto were still a planet. The Budget Director, Mick Mulvaney, correctly said that every program has a great name. But not every program is a necessary expenditure of tax funds. “Should a coal miner in West Virginia pay for National Public Radio?” he asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”.

I don’t know. I guess if he or she wants to listen they can donate, but here’s what I do know:

Until we stop scoring federal programs on how much money we spend on them, and begin keeping score on how well they accomplish what they were set up to do, we’ll never shrink the size of government.

But, $1.7 billion for the first section of the Mexican wall? Nah.

Last there is the travel ban. Wednesday a Federal judge in Hawaii put a halt to its implementation. Thursday another Federal Judge in Maryland ruled the same way.

Both judges used Trump’s own words on the campaign trail and White House advisor Steven Miller’s words since, to show that the ban is an unconstitutional violation of what is known as “the establishment clause” of the First Amendment.

The president can rail against the courts using campaign rhetoric to make these rulings, but the Budget director has used that same rhetoric to defend the budget saying this is what Trump promised the people who voted for him. And the same rhetoric is justification for the “Repeal and Replace” effort.

That’s a lot of spinning plates. We’ll see if they start crashing to the circus floor.

 

 

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