Wednesday, March 1, 2017

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Give the guy credit: he sold one helluva lot of snake oil last night.

Talk about job creation! The responsible media had to hire extra fact=checkers to keep up with all the lies, half-truths, misleading innuendo and downright wishful thinking in his speech to a joint session of Congress.  It was an audience of willing believers.

Quickie polls showed that up to 78% of the TV watchers, mostly Republicans, approved of the performance.  Even the failing New York Times called the speech “presidential.”  Compared to what?  Bush II?

Ronnie Reagan won the descriptor “presidential” because he was a gifted B-movie actor.  He spent eight years playing a Hollywood version of a president and his worshippers loved it.  This new guy attained his celebrity by playing the role of a powerful executive on something called “reality TV,” which, of course, is as real as the “landslide” victory he claims to have won in the Electoral College.  But when his string-puller, Alt-Pres. Bannon, tones down the language — as he did last night — the titular president can play it fairly straight.

But if his style was vaguely presidential, his substance was pure snake oil.  He promised big tax cuts, but offered no numbers, no details on how he intended to accomplish this.  Meanwhile, he promised to make America great again by beefing up its military spending bigly.  The increase in the military budget is greater than the total military budgets of the next-biggest spenders on war toys among the nations of the world. This is madness.

It’s clear that interest rates are about to rise.  So we’re going to throw tons of new money into the military hog sty, cut everybody’s taxes and pay more interest on the federal debt.  And in the very next breath he criticizes the guy who came before him for increasing the national debt.  Debt is a vile four-letter word to congressional Republicans.  Will they stomach this guy’s pipe dream?

Who’s going to pay for his craziness?  Not corporate America.  He wants to cut their taxes, claiming that they pay the highest rate in the world. False.  It’s not even in the top 30. Our multinational corporations, many of which pay zero taxes most years, have dozens of cute accounting tricks and loopholes that assure the greatest tax burden for the operation of the country will be borne by the wage-earners, not the corporations. The system enables them to defer payment of taxes so that they can, in effect, make money off their unpaid taxes by investing them and earning interest on them.  

He boasted about jobs.  Despite his wild claims,  his actions have accounted for about 1,300 jobs — and that’s being generous.  He said he “saved” the jobs at the air=conditioner plant in the midwest, but in fact only about half the positions remained in place.  The Michigan auto plant will account for perhaps 700 more.  The “new jobs” at other companies he named were, in fact, in the pipeline long before the election last November.

Speaking of pipelines, he boasted that the environmentally-destructive Keystone and Dakota pipelines he’s pushing will create thousands of new jobs,  In fact, they will create 35 permanent new jobs.  All the rest are temporary jobs associated with the actual construction work, jobs that actually cost the affected communities money.  They have to tap the tax dollars of local residents and businesses to pay for expanded services — police, fire, education, sanitation — for the temporary workers who lay their pipe and then move on. Inevitably the pipes they’ve laid will rupture, sending thousands of gallons of highly toxic tar sands crude into the drinking water of the permanent residents. More snake oil: he boasted that he has “ordered” that only U.S.-made steel be used for the pipelines.  This, if it actually happens, would be a departure from his own practices in building his towers and sprawling resorts.  All of them were built with foreign-made steel.

Consider immigration.  He hinted that he’d be open to some sort of compromise that might offer somewhat more humane treatment for some of the people of color he’s been targeting.  Or maybe he didn’t.  Not even his cronies in Congress are sure, but many of them felt blind-sided and said so when they emerged from meetings to learn what he said a few hours before his speech. He salved them, though, in the speech itself when he promised unprecedented police brutality in ferreting out the potential criminals among those illegal people of color. 

But never mind the facts. His performance fooled a lot of people.  What can you expect from an audience that thinks “reality TV” has something to do with reality? 

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