Trump fighting government programs that work  

Well, this week the Trump Administration has stepped up its fight against two major pillars of liberalism in this country–Social Security and the U.S. Post Office.  

Social Security was born during the double-digit unemployment years of the Great Depression.  From the first, it made payments to those over 65 without jobs and to spouses and children of deceased workers. Disability insurance was added in 1956 and Medicare in 1965.

For me, it has meant that I didn’t have to choose between getting my father decent medical care and sending my daughters to college or to mortgage my home so my sister could get newly patented cancer treatments, and that I could retire without worrying if I would outlive my savings.

For some, however, it’s the thing they dread most: a government program that works. Many Republicans are working for the “privatization of Social Security” that would require workers to pay Wall Street traders to invest their retirement funds and would make future benefits subject to market fluctuations.

Now President Trump has signed a Tax Memorandum to stop deduction of social security taxes on wages paid from September 1 to the end of the year.  If the Secretary of the Treasury can’t find substitute sources of funding, workers must pay the tax later.

Some say this is just an attempt to boost the economy and enhance Trump’s chances of re-election.
Others contend that Trump is out to ruin Social Security.  His 2021 budget proposes cutting the number of persons receiving disability payments by 5%, and reducing funds for Medicare by 7% and for Medicaid by 16%.

The U.S. Postal Service, originally headed by Benjamin Franklin, is an even older example of a government program that works. The Founding Fathers recognized the importance of communication in bonding states into a nation and in promoting internal trade.

Today, with dozens of other delivery services available, the USPS is the ‘public option’ that keeps prices down.

The government cut out federal subsidies to the USPS during the 1980s, thus forcing it to charge enough to cover all of its expenses. In 2006, Congress ordered the agency to make payments to fund retirement obligations in advance, something neither Social Security nor other Federal retirement programs do. Four times since the USPS has failed to fund annual payments toward future retirement obligations.

President Trump has proposed making USPS “a private postal operator,” delivering mail fewer days per week, and ending door-to-door delivery. He has publicly called for a price increase for package deliveries.

In the last week or so, however, the danger to the post office became more immediate.

Trump appointees now fill every seat on the USPS board of governors, and Trump’s new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, holds at least $30 million in stock of a competing delivery company.

Over 600 machines used for rapid sorting of mail are to be “dismantled.’ CNN cited postal workers as estimating that two workers using a machine can do the work of 30 workers without one.

A major cause of the stalemate in negotiating a third coronavirus relief bill is President Trump’s rejection–and Speaker of House Nancy Pelosi’s insistence–on $25 billion in financial help for the USPS.

And Thursday, in an interview on Fox Business Network, President Trump said he believes opposing that aid will stop mail-in voting. “Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money.  That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it.”

I’m guessing not all Republicans admire President Trump’s current battles to eliminate socialistic government programs.

Fulcher misrepresents impeachment issues

I found last week’s guest editorial by U.S.

MSNBC ohoto

Rep. Russ Fulcher about the impeachment of President Trump disturbing.  

It sounded reasonable and knowledgeable.  

Yet, a reader would hardly know that the central question is whether President Trump made gaining political advantage in the 2020 elections a higher priority than extending moral and financial support to a nation that serves as a buffer between Europe and the territorial ambitions of Russia.

 Fulcher dismissed the President’s hold on $391 million in military aid to Ukraine. “It is also important to note that aid was in fact delivered to Ukraine, who gave nothing in return.”

Yes, the aid was released six days after a Washington Post editorial implied that Trump was holding up aid to Ukraine for his own political advantage and two days after members of Congress learned of the whistleblower’s complaint about Trump’s “request” for dirt on the Bidens.   

Trump stopped once people knew what he was doing.    

Had Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky felt threatened?

Zelensky scheduled a Sept. 13 interview with CNN, presumably to announce the investigation President Trump was demanding. He canceled it when the aid was released Sept. 11.    

Fulcher also wrote, “Witnesses were pre-interviewed and selected solely by democrats. Nearly all of them were not involved with the phone call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky in July of 2019.” 

The House’s job was to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant a trial in the Senate. In every court such investigations are not required to hear the defense.  

The U.S. House, however, did ask President Trump to testify. Others who refused invitations included Mick Mulvaney, chair of the Office of Budget and Management; John Bolton, former chair of the National Security Council; and and Bolton’s former deputy Charles Kupperman. 

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman of the National Security Council was included in the July 25 phone call. He testified that he believed the President had committed a crime and talked with the NSC lawyer and was told to keep quiet. The call transcript was then treated as classified information. A summary written by the White House was released instead. 

The House hearings, moreover, revealed that U.S. officials had been urging Ukrainians to announce an investigation of the Bidens and Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 U.S. election for six weeks prior to that phone call.  

Fulcher uses careful editing to imply that most of the witnesses “selected solely by democrats” said the President did no wrong. Some said they would not call the President’s actions bribery; others were responding only about the President’s actions during the July 25 phone call.  

Fulcher quotes European Union Ambassador Gordon Sondland as saying President Trump told him, “I want no quid pro quo.” 

Sondland’s full testimony, however, makes clear that there not only was a quid pro quo, but that he–along with Energy Secretary Perry, Special Envoy Kurt Volker, and Rudy Giuliani–repeatedly urged Ukrainian officials to go along with the President’s request. 

Originally, Sondland thought the President was only withholding a “working phone call” and an invitation to the White House. When he learned in mid-July that the military aid was blocked, he asked why. He received “no satisfactory answer” but continued pressuring Ukraine to give Trump the investigation he wanted in hopes that would lead to the funds’ release.    

Fulcher’s propaganda piece is an insult to the intelligence of every Idaho voter.

It sets him up as an authority figure dealing with a public too lazy or too dumb to comprehend the issues.