In Philadelphia on Thursday, President Donald Trump seemed to reassure his party that he supports right-wing budget priorities like those embraced by House Speaker Paul Ryan—whose past budget plans have been denounced as "cruel," "draconian," "a massive cut-off of state funds to the most vulnerable population in the country," "going after what Americans want, on issue after issue," and "a Koch brothers' dream and the American peoples' nightmare."
"He's writing his heart out," Trump said, looking over at Ryan during his address at the Republican congressional retreat. "And we're actually gonna sign the stuff that you're writing—you're not wasting your time." To the room of GOP lawmakers, who erupted in whistles and applause, Trump continued: "He would write and send it up—and nothing would happen. But now it's gonna happen."
This should strike fear into progressives across the country.
Since Ryan assumed control of the Budget Committee in 2011, his budget proposals have been met with howls of alarm, described as dangerous for women; "the most extreme version" of austerity economics; and a "path to more adversity."
"It calls itself a 'blueprint for American renewal' while systematically trampling the American dream," Robert Borosage of the Campaign for America's Future wrote of the 2012 version.
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Trump's Thursday statements also undermine hopes that discord between the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government—both under Republican control, but embracing wildly divergent approaches to spending—will hamstring the more extreme aspects of the GOP agenda.
As Forbes contributor John Wasik wrote last month:
Ryan's plan is at odds with Trump's repeated defense of social insurance programs during his campaign. "Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid," Trump said. "And we can't do that."
But Trump's campaign promises would certainly be broken if Ryan gets his way; past Ryan budgets have sought to "destroy" Medicaid and "obliterate" Medicare, and while his stance on Social Security has evolved somewhat, Ryan has pushed to privatize the key safety net program.
Trump's picks to head the Department of Health and Human Services and Office of Management and Budget similarly indicate that should Trump indeed move quickly on the "stuff" Ryan's writing, the American people are in grave danger.