Micek: Face it, Trump voters — you got played
While he was off bowing to the Saudis, contemplating the Western Wall and visiting other foreign heads of state, President Donald Trump's White House dropped a doozy of a budget proposal that will hit — surprise, surprise — its own voters the hardest.
As The Washington Post reported, Trump's first full budget will gut Medicaid by $800 billion over the next 10 years, cutting off coverage for as many as 14 million people by 2026.
Also scheduled to fall under the knife is the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance). SSDI, is part of Social Security, The Post reported.
All told, the Republican's budget will propose $1.7 trillion worth of entitlement cuts over the next 10 years. It's a reflection of the White House's belief that these programs encourage people to remain on government assistance and not seek work.
Taken together, these cuts are a one-two punch to the voters who put their stock in Trump: The poor, the aged and working-class Americans — those who hoped he'd Make America Great Again (at least for them).
With his budget proposal, Trump took a torch to key campaign promises his supporters swallowed whole during packed rallies across the country last year:
"'I am going to save Social Security without any cuts. I know where to get the money from. Nobody else does.' — my @SRQRepublicans speech." Trump tweeted in May 2015.
That Tweet came days after he bragged that he was the "first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid. Huckabee copied me."
By no means is this Trump's first pivot — it's just his most egregious.
The former real estate mogul began shredding his campaign promises moments after taking the oath of office. And it's only picked up speed.
Trump abandoned his noninterventionist foreign policy when he loosed (without congressional approval) the first cruise missiles on Syria, and followed it by escalating the American presence in Afghanistan.
He temporarily backed off on the border wall (the administration's budget boosts spending for border enforcement and defense. They're about the only programs spared from cuts.).
And Trump reversed an Obama-era policy of releasing White House visitor logs.
There's also no small irony in the fact that, even as President Trump undertook these actions, candidate Trump eviscerated the Obama White House on Twitter for doing many of the same things (The Post has a very efficient rundown of his online hypocrisy. It's well worth your time.).
"Let's get out of Afghanistan. Our troops are being killed by the Afghanis we train and we waste billions there. Nonsense! Rebuild the USA," Trump tweeted in 2013.
"The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria-big mistake if he does not!" Trump also tweeted in 2013.
But you'd have to look awfully hard to find actions quite so offensive or harmful as those Trump proposes to take in his first budget proposal.
After campaigning as the Defender of the Forgotten Man, his budget does the most predictable of all things.
It funnels the savings from his massive entitlement cuts (which also includes a staggering $193 billion in cuts to food stamps in the coming decade) into tax breaks for the very wealthiest Americans by eliminating the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax, among other measures.
Democrats on Capitol Hill reacted about as you would have expected them to react.
"This scheme is a massive tax giveaway to millionaires, billionaires and big corporations at the expense of middle class families in Pennsylvania. This tax plan may help the wealthiest and the biggest corporations avoid paying their fair share, but it won't create jobs, increase middle class incomes or grow our economy," U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., said last month.
Hyperbole? Definitely. But it doesn't mean that Casey was wrong.
The consolation here, of course, is that Congress controls the purse strings.
And that means a final budget, assuming Congress can manage to pass one, may not reflect all of the White House's priorities.
But make no mistake — these are the White House's priorities, laid out in black and white, for the whole nation to see.
The only thing that's surprising is that Trump's voters expected him to behave any differently.
They elected a casino owner.
And the house always, always wins.
John Micek is the opinion editor and political columnist for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa.