Kicking Them When They’re Down

A few days ago, I referenced President Obama’s efforts to console family members of the worshippers gunned down during bible study in Charleston, and said I found it impossible to imagine Trump trying to comfort anyone.

Not only does he not console– or even empathize with–people who are suffering, Trump’s instinct is to kick them when they’re down. Just as he insisted that John McCain wasn’t a hero “because he got caught,” he considers Americans who are disadvantaged “losers” –his favorite epithet. And “losers” have absolutely no claim on his sympathies (assuming, in the absence of any evidence, that he has the capacity for sympathy) or on government largesse. To the contrary.

Time Magazine recently reported on the difficulties disabled poor people are experiencing buying groceries during the pandemic. As the story noted, it can be difficult getting to the store in normal times, but in some states–where “stay at home” orders keep the elderly and “medically fragile” residents from venturing out, it has become a huge problem– because unlike other Americans, recipients of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) aren’t permitted to use those benefits for grocery delivery in most states, including Indiana.

Speaking of food stamps, Vox and a number of other media outlets recently reported on the administration’s effort–in the middle of a pandemic that has triggered massive unemployment–to cut over 3 million people from the rolls.

The Trump administration is proposing bumping 3.1 million people off of food stamps (about 8 percent of the total program) through the federal rule-making process — cutting out Congress.

The rule cracks down on “broad-based categorical eligibility,” or BBCE, a policy that enables states to enroll people in food stamps (formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) if they’ve already applied for other benefits limited to low-income people, most notably Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The claim (which doesn’t have much basis in evidence) is that this provision is easy to game and keeps benefits from going to the neediest people.

In fact, Trump and his administration seem to be mounting a positive vendetta against Americans who have the nerve to be disabled and/or needy. Another recent proposal from the Social Security Administration would cut $2.6 billion dollars over the next decade from the two programs that anchor the disability safety net: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Recipients of these safety net programs aren’t exactly living high on the hog: the maximum amount that SSI will provide to a disabled beneficiary is just 74 percent of the federal poverty level — currently $12,490 for an individual– and the average for SSDI was just $14,855 per year.

Speaking of vendettas, Trump is clearly intent upon destroying the nearly 250-year-old Postal Service, evidently because he is convinced that the post office delivers Amazon purchases at a loss. (That–like so much of what Trump believes–is demonstrably untrue.) And he hates Jeff Bezos, who also owns the Washington Post.

Trump blocked a bipartisan plan to provide $13 billion to the post office, which was already struggling due to a 2006 Congressional requirement that it pre-fund employee retirement obligations to the tune of several billion dollars a year. Trump has now appointed a crony with no postal experience to be the new postmaster general, and is demanding a hefty raise in postal rates.

The Post Office employs 600,000 workers. It supports a $1.6 trillion mailing industry that employs close to another 7 million. (It also employs black workers at double the rate of the overall workforce.) Only someone as clueless–or heartless– as Donald Trump would try to throw another seven and a half million Americans out of work at a time when unemployment is at an all-time high.

The post office is also critical to American healthcare: in 2019 alone, it delivered 1.2 billion prescriptions, including almost 100 percent of those ordered by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Those who are inclined to minimize the importance of the postal service might take a look at its performance during the current pandemic. Letter carriers are delivering much-needed items and at much lower cost than services like FedEx or UPS–everything from masks to stimulus checks. As states have migrated to vote-by-mail primaries, they’ve delivered the ballots. In fact, it isn’t much of a stretch to attribute the attack on the post office to Republican efforts to defeat vote-by-mail.

SNAP recipients, disabled people, poor folks, postal workers–to Trump, they’re all “losers” who can be kicked to the curb.

I think it was Maya Angelou who said “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

31 thoughts on “Kicking Them When They’re Down

  1. Sheila,

    “I think it was Maya Angelou who said “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”

    What more would you expect from PRESIDENT DEATH?

  2. We have to find a way to SUCCESSFULLY prosecute Trump/Pence/Bannon in the “Court of Public Opinion,” much like the Nazi war criminals,who were tried during the Nuremberg trials.

    See http://www.TheAlarmReport.info for a perfect example of how to do it.

    It cost George Bush his re-election.

  3. Without critical thinking, way too many people believe what they WANT to believe.

  4. I wonder if anyone believes that Fed Ex or UPS will deliver a letter for 50 cents.

  5. It’s not just 45 who wants to do away with our somewhat pathetic social safety net. That has been the dream of Republicans since the start of the “War on Poverty.” They preferred a war on poor people and that’s what they have been promoting for years. It was brought into the light of day by Reagan and has been packaged and sold as “trickle down economics.”

  6. JoAnn,

    “Marv, which George Bush and which George Bush re-election was lost?”

    The first George Bush.

    The Alarm Report was filed in 199l. It was personally distributed to 10 prominent Dallas citizens, which included reporters, city council members, and pro-democracy activists.

    Shortly after Mayor Strauss dropped her appeal because of the Report, President George Bush cut off ALL aid to the State of Israel and sent Robert Strauss, an alleged Democrat, out of the country, as our Ambassador to the Soviet Union.

    Much like President Death, Bush was attempting to play his, last-ditch, anti-Semitic card [cornering the Jews between whites and blacks] in an attempt to cause disarray within the Democratic party and it back-fired.

    Bush was black-mailing Strauss over his son Ricky’s potential prosecution, which involved three different Savings and Loan companies. I was tipped off to all of this by Bill Alexander, the prosecutor of Jack Ruby.

    Previously, we had been co-counsel for the defendants in the Coal Creek Mining Conspiracy case which had lasted for months in the Federal Court. Because of our continued time together, Alexander became well aware of my long-standing feud with Robert Strauss.

    Alexander had resigned as the Chief Prosecutor for the Department of Justice in Wahington of those involved in the savings and loan association scandals in the late ’80s and early ’90s. He had returned to Dallas, because of Bush’s reluctance to prosecute Strauss’s son.

    This mess was reported in Fortune Magazine, at the time, but they were hit by a multi-million dollar (SLAPP) lawsuit filed by the Strauss family and caved-in to a follow-up story

  7. Peggy,

    Our safety net isn’t great, but it’s not pathetic. And the Republicans have been fighting ALL social benefit policies and laws since the day after Lincoln was shot. Since then, more and more corporate/banking influence has ruled Republicans. The disastrous Citizens United v. FEC decision allowed big money interests to bribe the politicians – mostly Republicans because they come so cheaply – to cut, cut, cut. The Republican meme is, basically, “If the person isn’t contributing to the bottom line, who needs them, and, OH GOD, we can’t be handing ‘those people’ free stuff.”

    Yes, Peggy, Reagan’s embrace of the Friedman doctrine shows how callous and immoral “conservative” economics really is. Next to slavery, this behavior is our greatest moral and civic sin. Will we recover? Probably not in our lifetimes.

    Remember: EVERYTHING REPUBLICANS TOUCH DIES. EVERYTHING TRUMP TOUCHES DIES.

  8. Marv; the web site you posted is from Dallas, Texas, the revision date is April 24, 1991, will a 29 year old example really be helpful in the 21st Century and with our current federal administration ignoring all laws but their own, which change daily? We don’t seem to be able to maintain prosecutions, with Guilty pleas by the federal level criminals. No court can currently prosecute Trump and Pence due to their highest level in the land elected positions and it will take more than “The Court of Public Opinion” to bring charges against them if they lose the 2020 election. If they win and have four more years to torture and “kick us while we are down”; the statute of limitations will have run out on them. We cannot compare the current criminal activities of Trump, Pence and/or Bannon on the Nuremberg Trials as long as Trump and Pence are upheld by McConnell and the Senate Republicans and Bannon is out of the government and out of reach of public opinion.

    Currently; critical thinking is up against the federal government and the total loss of democracy, Rule of Law and disregard of the Constitution. We are up against money and power in the hands of a Dictator and being upheld by the Senatorial deciding factor with full support of his every word and deed; however heinous it has become. Critical thinking is being done by the minority at this time and Trump and McConnell are doing all in their power to keep us the minority. Will hungry people vote? Will this country be allowed to vote-by-mail during the Pandemic as the chaos spreads due to no federal leadership and states operating at odds against neighboring states using individual criteria to meet the economic needs vs. life-and-death of residents of all 50 states and our territories?

  9. Not sure it is worth the effort to convince more voters that the President and his gang are corrupt, have no empathy and do not care about our democracy. That would be a waste of time and money. You only have to see the many, many polls for the past 3 years that show a historically poor “impression”.

    The effort should be to get people to believe that their vote could make a difference. The sad irony of the national excitement of the “hope” campaign of Obama crushed by the recession emergency and then the Tea Party uprising, so that it looks like the future is bleak, especially now with Covad. When people give up hope and live in quiet fear they don’t vote. The Biden campaign must speak to clear, attainable results against inequality, climate change, weakness in working class jobs, etc. which all appear to the public as “here to stay”.

  10. Marv,

    It really is a shame that we have folks who do not follow history, don’t remember historical events that happened in their lifetimes, and yet speak from a pulpit of knowledge!

    What happened in Nazi Germany? The poor, the nonwhite, the foreign resident, the elderly, the disabled, and the chronically ill, were executed! They were executed because they were a drag on government and society as a whole! Why waste resources on those individuals who can’t be useful to the plan of the Grand Master so to speak!

    We spoke about the Reichstag fire, and how that was a huge sea-change in how the average middle-class German related to the Nazi movement. Just like the days of actual lynchings in the United States, something that the Nazi Germans admired at the time, People enjoyed watching fingers and ears lopped off screaming victims, they enjoyed gouging out eyes and cutting off genitalia! While his victims were screaming in agony, there persecutors and executioners were laughing and partying with their fellow miscreants. Women with their pregnant wombs sliced open and quivering babies stomped to death! Yes, this is not only Nazi Germany, but American history! And, it’s part of American history that is doomed to repeat itself!

    Will there be a day of reckoning for these American politicians who are endorsing inhumanity to our fellow man? May be a Benito Mussolini moment? Where him and his wife were hoisted up in the public square of Rome and eviscerated like a slaughtered cow? Who knows, I don’t portend to know future events! That being said though, when faithless are ruled by their fear, any terrible thing, any vile behavior is possible!

    Even King Solomon lamented that the dead and the unborn were better off than those who were living and Oppressed by ones in power. You should read Ecclesiastes the 4th chapter!

  11. JoAnn,

    “Marv; the web site you posted is from Dallas, Texas, the revision date is April 24, 1991, will a 29 year old example really be helpful in the 21st Century and with our current federal administration ignoring all laws but their own, which change daily?”

    The web site has been online for about four years. The Report was effective because I introduced facts which no-one else would touch. Trump is VULNERABLE. So was Bush. You just have to be willing to WIN and take the RETALIATION. The Alarm Report cost me my ability to practice law which I was willing to lose, since I never wanted to be a lawyer, in the first place.

    We’re involved in a DOMESTIC WAR with the threat of real bullets, not a DEBATE. Trump didn’t start it. Hopefully, someday enough people will recognize that fact before we lose everything. But I doubt it. We’re turning out to be a country of LOSERS. BIG-TIME.

  12. Not just Trump lacks empathy or compassion; several of the programs you mentioned are the responsible of Seema Verma, Mike Pence’s handpicked csar over HHS. She did his handiwork in Indiana, kicking off tens of thousands of people off Medicaid, Food Stamps, etc.

    She’s the person advocating for cuts to all the social safety nets because she’s a wicked and entitled bitch who thinks she is doing them a favor. When you look closely at her targets negatively impacted, the term racism comes to mind.

    As for the USPS, Trump wants to cut the wages of postal workers. They make too much money and have great benefits compared to their private market competition. Instead of using the model of the USPS for other service-related jobs in this country, the goal is to use whatever means possible to crush the model before the working class gets any ideas.

    This is another case of the sheep endorsing their slaughterers or the chickens inviting the foxes into their coup. It’s the mentality of the white supremacy crowd who believes these policies against the poor are hurting people of color exclusively.

    And based on my short-term experience with this group of recipients, very few of them vote because “it doesn’t make any difference.” It makes an enormous difference for the poor, and folks like Pence and Verma know this group is marginalized and unrepresented, so NO loss of political capital.

    It’s a sad spectacle to watch.

  13. It is truly mind boggling to me that Trump still has supporters. Any. I can’t even imagine people who have that little regard for the people who they share the country with.

    That’s why this election is absolutely critical to the future of democracy. Let’s face it though, anyone who is not convinced yet is stuck where they are. They are unreachable.

    That is so regrettable but it does make our mission now perfectly clear. Turn out as many voters as possible and vote blue no matter who (for federal and state elections).

    Simple. Something we can all contribute to and fight for our right to.

  14. I am a daily reader of your excellent column Sheila, but this is my first comment. With increasing WH and administration shenanigans over the past several weeks (Barr interfering with Flynn case, IG removals, Sen. Burr Investigation and resignation as committee chair) it has become clearer to me that there really is only one solution to this mess. Lester’s comment above made me think of two quotes that I think say it best:

    “OVERWHELM THE POLLS WITH OUR PRESENCE. That is the best way to beat foreign interference and voter suppression.” – Stacey Abrams

    The absence of Democratic voters who sat out the 2016 election was “almost like a slap in the face”. – Michelle Obama in the documentary “Becoming”.

    So, I believe doing everything we can do to get young people, people of color… every single possible Blue voter out to vote is our primary mission over the next 5 months . I have decided to not even try to change the mind of even one Trump supporter. The work is in getting out a HUGE BLUE wave to meet the challenge of foreign interference, voter suppression, gerrymandering and unethical campaign tactics. RALLY OTHERS and VOTE BLUE!

  15. Thank you for mentioning the Post Office…the place who made a retirement possible for me. The prefunding requirement is the most ridiculous thing ever dumped on a business. I’m extremely thankful my Union, the American Postal Workers Union, is a strong Union with a lot of bipartisan support. The Public Post Office belongs to the American people and shouldn’t be a cash cow for the rest of the government.

  16. Kicking hungry people while they are down (especially when food prices are headed up and inflation generally is on the rise) is particularly disgusting as we listen to the rich and corporate class via their spokesman (McConnell) lecture us on socialism after just giving us a good example of just such an ism with his delivery of bipartisan trillions to the troves of such class. Apparently saving banks, Wall Street, over-leveraged corporations etc. is capitalism but feeding hungry Americans is socialism, which I think is a distinction without a difference.

    We have been conditioned to believe that socialism is inherently evil, but the truth is that any economic system can be evil depending on how it is practiced in the real world, including capitalism. Hunger, like the virus, knows no ism; it is a human condition, and any economic system that seeks to ignore such existential needs of citizens is in great need of reform.

    Thus a debit is a debit and a giveaway is a giveaway, whether via SNAP or tax cuts for the rich and corporate class. There is no difference in how such expenses are treated on the nation’s balance sheet since both such “giveaways” can be classified as socialism or enlightened capitalism which, for the hungry, is immaterial. So, ignoring the propaganda of the WSJ and others in re isms, the real question is whether as a matter of policy we choose to make the rich richer or see to it that the poor survive. My vote is for the poor. If we have trillions to beef up the balance sheets of the rich, we can come up with mere billions for those who are victims of the system we are presently employing, i.e., an admixture of capitalism and socialism currently in need of further reform, as personified by more of Liz Warren and less of Liz Cheney.

  17. Cathy Hanson – AMEN! As an aside, I was a sailor during WW II and came to a beach in the Palaus the Marines had just secured, never dreaming that a friend of mine (a Marine) from our small southern Indiana town had just been killed there. I came home on leave and his parents came to see me and that was a pitiful encounter. Both grieving parents were rural mail carriers.

  18. Once upon a time, I worked for a legal aid entity in mostly rural small town (then) south-central PA. It was in the late 1970s. I represented folks on their denied claims for SSDI, SSI, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare (AFDC), and food stamps. For all the folks I represented in the three years I did this, I recall discovering a client trying “to game the system” in only one instance. (Which we quickly put a stop to.) Most disabled folks are just trying to get by, keeping a roof over their head and food on the table. For the non-disabled poor, usually single mothers with small children, the goal was the same except the children also needed clothes. Not only are these programs under attack, but the organizations that provide support for the poor, such as the Legal Services Corp., have been gutting and consistently attacked. Expecting NGOs, churches, and volunteers (attorneys are expected to do volunteer/pro bono work out of the generosity of their heart and wallet), to be able in continue to do this sufficiently on their own just isn’t enough to cover the need.

    Postal workers are a generous and caring group. The Postal Service is one of our oldest Government institutions. It bound the United States together. Those of us unable to make daily trips out, especially during this self-quarantine time, and in rural America, are dependent on them for tasks & connections we would not be able to make otherwise. Destroying the USPS is another attempt to dismantle our unity as a country. Another very sad situation for all of us.

  19. During this pandemic I have been binge watching the Investigation Discovery channel. I can tell you from watching these shows that may, many people rarely believe what people show them the first time or even the 23rd time!

  20. I absolutely agree with Nancy, Trump and all of his henchmen and women have got to go. Short of another revolutionary war, November is our first chance as civilized people.

    “So, I believe doing everything we can do to get young people, people of color… every single possible Blue voter out to vote is our primary mission over the next 5 months . I have decided to not even try to change the mind of even one Trump supporter. The work is in getting out a HUGE BLUE wave to meet the challenge of foreign interference, voter suppression, gerrymandering and unethical campaign tactics. RALLY OTHERS and VOTE BLUE!”

    And if that doesn’t work…..well there is always a Plan B……

  21. Trump has no clue about what makes the economy work. The Post Office is a critical piece of that puzzle. I think every Industrial 1st world country has a government run post office. Why? Because it is a critical part of doing business and making the economy work.

    I worked for IPL who is owned by AES, and they also owned Electropaulo in Brazil. We would get transfers that would tell us stories about running a power company in an country that does not have a reliable post office. In Brazil, they could not mail bills to customers. The mail system just did not work. They had a fleet of 450 armed mo-ped drivers that would go door to door to deliver bills and collect payments, almost like the paper boy (sans the side arm) used to do in the US 30 or 40 years ago.

    Not only would he put 600,000 people out of work, he would soon find out that he is crippling whole sections of the economy.

    I don’t think anybody has told Trump’s rural supporters that those packages from Amazon or Walmart will either cost $30 each to ship, or will just flat out be “delivery unavailable”.

  22. Great article but FYI according to the Star: “Beginning in mid-May, the state will launch a new permanent SNAP benefit. Hoosiers in high-risk populations, such as seniors, will be able to get their groceries delivered to them using their SNAP benefits.” So that is an improvement

  23. Pete,
    It really is not that hard to comprehend, this is the United States of America remember? Our history of wholesale slaughter of native populations, import of slaves, bull whipping of the opposition, and various other rotten and miscreant activity.

    Do you think it will just go away? Do you think an election is the answer? What happened before? Abraham Lincoln was assassinated for his efforts against slavery, maybe he wasn’t a squeaky clean as some might believe, but for the time he lived in, he was pretty radical in that regard. Anyway it cost him his life, the same with Robert Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, you can go on and on, but those who have a supremacist agenda will always be lurking in the background, around the dark corner, hiding in the weeds. It was the same with the German bund before world war II, as I’ve mentioned before. They were worse than the KKK, the reason being, they were organized, and they had some intellect behind there hatred.

    Politicians don’t have the answer, they never have, they never will!

    Human society is going to continue to crumble, because you cannot eradicate this type of hatred by “winning” it doesn’t only faster with those who espouse it in the open, there are plenty who claim to not be involved in it, those who are closet Nazis, those who claim to be on the”other side” just like individuals who roial against the LGBT community but are gay themselves! Self-interest and superiority it goes hand and hand. There are plenty of folks who have a tepid toe in the water, kind of like hiding behind the barn having a smoke when you were a kid!

  24. We have such a Frankenstein Monster of Healthcare, and social supports for those who are the victims of Steroid Capitalism.

    The diabolically clever message is it the fault of the Proles, never the fault of Capitalism: Not well educated, not well trained, working for a Rust Belt Industry, Unions, laziness, etc. Democratic Socialism with a plan could be a short term and long term answer.

    It will not happen Democratic Socialism would demand the 1% and big corporations pay higher taxes and elimination off shore stash for cash. One thing the GOP and Corporate Democrats can agree on is Wall Street and the 1% are at the top of Food Chain. We Proles can only wait for the crumbs to drop off their table.

  25. Thanks Marv,

    I’m glad we both agree on that, because something that you’ve said to me before just like I’ve mentioned it to you. I was reading an article earlier did kind of confirmed a lot of the stuff I’ve been thinking about. Martial law, famine, amongst a lot of other terrible and unwanted things. And this was by a mainstream economist.

  26. john,

    “I was reading an article earlier did kind of confirmed a lot of the stuff I’ve been thinking about. Martial law, famine, amongst a lot of other terrible and unwanted things.”

    It’s called UNAVOIDABLE CONSEQUENCES born from a society who has its head “buried in the sand.” God help us all. We’re paralyzed in the sand.

  27. Picky sidenote:
    ” to enroll people in food stamps (formally called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP) ”

    It is actually SNAP *now* – formerly called ‘foodstamps.’

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