Mark Shields: The praying mantis explains today’s politics
To understand the bizarre political era in which we live, let us recall the mating rituals of the praying mantis. In their amorous encounter, the male mantis approaches the female — which is the physically larger and stronger of the two — and, if permitted, mounts the female from the rear. In the frenzy of the pair’s passion, the female will often turn her head completely around and, unromantically, bite off her male partner’s head. After the femme fatale’s act of sexual cannibalism, the headless male’s decapitated torso continues to remain fully engaged — his little hips somehow managing to grind even faster and longer.
Today’s Republican Party agenda, embraced most recently by President Donald Trump, bears a striking resemblance to the headless male mantis. Proving that there is nothing more enduring than an idea that once led to a White House victory, the GOP now stands for tax cuts for the most advantaged (only, of course, to encourage job creation) and improving the moral fiber of our American citizens by shrinking character-eroding government “handouts” — such as students’ school lunches, children’s health programs, the elderly’s Meals on Wheels and family food stamps — all while proposing to increase U.S. defense spending, which by itself is already greater than that of the combined defense budgets of the next eight biggest-spending nations in the world, by some $52 billion.
This all comes from the self-described “first and only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid” (a man who further pledged that “we’re going to have insurance for everybody,” that “everybody’s going to be taken care of”) in a week when he, as president, has championed the Republican House-passed health care “reform” bill — which, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, would result in 23 million Americans losing their health insurance in the next 10 years — and his administration has proposed a budget that would chop Medicaid spending by $610 billion over the next 10 years.
Call it supply-side economics or Reverse Robin Hood, the numbers tell the real story. According to the respected analysis of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, President Trump’s budget would take the $1.25 trillion it would cut over the next decade from the government’s health care spending after repealing and replacing Obamacare, along with that $610 billion in Medicaid cuts, “to finance tax cuts that largely benefit the fewer than 1 percent of Americans who make over $1 million a year, who would get tax cuts averaging $50,000 annually.”
Forget Trump’s populist campaign and all his rants against global financial titans. Ignore the Trump campaign commercial showing unflattering images of Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen and financier George Soros while Trump personally denounced the interests that “robbed our working class, stripped our country of its wealth and put that money into the pockets of a handful of large corporations and political entities.” This president and the Republican Party he now commands endorse straight trickle-down economics, or what the late economist John Kenneth Galbraith referred to as the horse-and-sparrow theory of redistribution: “If you feed the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.”
Instead of comforting the afflicted of America as candidate Trump promised, President Trump and his party in Washington have committed themselves to further comforting the already comfortable.