Michael Lind

Whatever happened to Trumpism?

Well, that was quick. Along with President Donald Trump’s preliminary budget proposal, Trumpism as a radical new governing philosophy is dead on arrival.

Trump was elected in part by voters who preferred Obama to Romney in 2012. They saw in Trump a different kind of Republican from the green-eyeshades accountants whose passion is cutting government spending on the middle class and the poor. During the campaign, Trump sounded more like a New Deal Democrat, promising a trillion dollars in infrastructure investment, the revitalization of manufacturing, and a less aggressive foreign policy.

That Trump, it seems, is being held hostage in Mar-a-Lago, while the Trump impersonator who used to pose with photographers in front of Washington, D.C.’s new Trump Hotel has taken up residence in the White House. The administration’s first proposed budget is not Trumpism but warmed-over Reaganism, the kind of thing President Ted Cruz or another orthodox conservative might have proposed. There is a massive defense build-up, like those of Reagan and George W. Bush, to be paid for in massive cuts for government agencies hated by the right, like the EPA. Federal subsidies for PBS, the public broadcasting network, and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), equated with hoity-toity cultural liberals in the conservative mind, are zeroed out completely.

The promised plan for infrastructure investment has yet to arrive. Meanwhile, contradicting his campaign promises to support American manufacturing, Trump in his budget eliminates the valuable manufacturing extension program (MEP) of the Commerce Department and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), viewed as hotbeds of ‘crony capitalism’ by the libertarian devotees of Ayn Rand and Friedrich von Hayek.

If the Trump budget seems like something that could have been written by the government-hating conservatives of the Heritage Foundation, it’s because it was.

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