Writing yesterday for Esquire, Charles P. Pierce took a look at the latest White House budget and concluded, "[I]n a sane and functioning American republic, this budget would be more than political suicide."
That's a reasonable assessment. Donald Trump's new budget blueprint is brutal towards Americans struggling most. It proposes slashing health care investments. It eyes cuts to education and environmental safeguards. It targets the same social-insurance programs -- so called "entitlements" -- that the president swore he'd never touch, which is emblematic of the larger abandonment of Trump's earlier promises.
Trump's tax cuts, however, are protected in the new budget, which also seeks additional funding for the presidential vanity project along the U.S./Mexico border.
New York's Sarah Jones highlighted the extent to which the White House plan "clarifies the election's stakes."
Trump's budgets reveal both the fraudulence of his populist rhetoric and the truth of his motivations. His nationalism is pure, untainted by any complicating ideology; he has no commitment to lifting the standard of living for the poorest Americans. His ideal America is prosperous but exclusive, a gated community, a country club, Mar-a-Lago itself. It is not open to most people, and that is by design. The budget is a blueprint for a padlock on the door.
What I don't think Trump realizes, at least not yet, is the political problem he's created for his Capitol Hill allies.
There's obviously no way the Democratic House majority would ever approve the president's plan, but it's a safe bet Democratic leaders will bring Trump's budget blueprint to the floor, giving Republicans a chance to weigh in on its merits.
If GOP lawmakers vote against it, the White House will face another election-year embarrassment, with Trump's radical vision facing a rebuke from his own party. If Republicans vote for it -- or if Trump demands that they vote for it -- the campaign ads will write themselves.
The president and his team had the option of presenting a more sensible election-year budget, cognizant of how a far-right plan would be received. But for whatever reason -- hubris? incompetence? indifference? -- they chose a more radical direction.
The result is a gift to Trump's opponents.