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Five Hundred Days of the Welfare/Warfare/Police State

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Earlier this month, Donald Trump reached his 500th day in office. A White House “Fact Sheet” touted “Trump’s 500 Days of American Greatness.” Many Republicans and conservatives were jubilant, and sang Trump’s praises. And of course, Trump himself, on his 500th day in office, tweeted that he had “accomplished a lot — many believe more than any President in his first 500 days.” But accomplishments or not — the United States has just experienced 500 more days of the welfare/warfare/police state.

In Trump’s first 500 days, says the White House Fact Sheet, he “has achieved results domestically and internationally for the American people.” President Trump has

  • rolled back unnecessary job-killing regulations beyond expectations.
  • advanced free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals that protect American workers, ending decades of destructive trade policies.
  • strengthened American leadership, security, prosperity, and accountability.
  • re-asserted American leadership on the world stage, secured vital investments in our military, and stood up against threats to our national security.
  • put the American people first and made government more accountable.

Under Trump, “The American economy is stronger, American workers are experiencing more opportunities, confidence is soaring, and business is booming.” “Nearly 3 million jobs have been created,” “the unemployment rate has dropped to 3.8,” and “job openings have reached 6.6 million, the highest level recorded.”

The Republican National Committee (RNC) has created a video highlighting Trump’s first 500 days in office that will be used as strategy to win over voters before the November 6 midterm elections.

Conservative talk-show host Sean Hannity said that Trump “proved the naysayers wrong” and called it “undeniable that the entire world is seeing massive, serious progress under this president’s leadership” before listing dozens of accomplishments that Trump helped engineer.

Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway told the Daily Caller that Trump’s accomplishments demonstrate that “America is back” and serve “to remind everybody of the sheer velocity and volume that has marked the last 500 days.” “People are more prosperous; they’re more secure; the country is more respected on the world stage. Everything from the consumer confidence among small business owners, manufacturers, consumers, major employers in this country, is up,” she said.

According to the latest Gallup poll, Trump’s approval ratings among Republicans are 90 percent.

But even if all of Trump’s accomplishments are good, and even if Trump is directly responsible for every good thing that has happened in the country during his first 500 days in office, neither of these claims can counterbalance the fact that the United States is still just as much of a monstrous welfare/warfare/police state under Trump as it was under his predecessors.

The welfare state

The United States still has about 80 means-tested welfare programs that provide cash, food, housing, utility subsidies, medical care, and social services to poor, disabled, and lower-income Americans on the basis of the beneficiary’s income or assets.

Under Trump and the Republican majority in Congress, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program is still in operation, millions of Americans are still receiving food stamps, the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program still distributes cash directly to 3.5 million welfare recipients, college students are still receiving Pell Grants, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is still spending $3 billion a year on some Americans’ energy bills, and more than 70 million Americans are receiving Medicaid at an annual cost of almost $600 billion; the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is still going strong, subsidized phone service still exists, and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program still survives; schools are still participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the School Breakfast Program (SBP), and the Special Milk Program (SMP); Head Start and Healthy Start are still functioning; and the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) is still around.

And then there are other welfare programs that are not means-tested, such as Unemployment Compensation, Social Security, and Medicare.

The warfare state

In the White House Fact Sheet about Trump’s first 500 days in office, the following are included as accomplishments of the president:

  • secured historic increases in defense funding in order to rebuild our Nation’s military with the resources they need, after years of harmful sequester.
  • signed legislation to provide $700 billion in defense spending for fiscal year (FY) 2018 and $716 billion for FY 2019.
  • ordered strikes against Syria in response to the regime’s use of chemical weapons in April 2017 and April 2018.

U.S. foreign policy is still reckless, belligerent, and meddling. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops are still stationed overseas. The New York Times reported last year that the United States “now has just over 240,000 active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories.” “We operate and fight in every corner of the world,” boasted Gen. Raymond Thomas, the chief of U.S. Special Operations Command. Hundreds of foreign military bases are still open. Drone strikes have gone up more than 400 percent since Trump took office. Trump bombed seven countries last year — Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen — just as Obama did during his last year in office. U.S. special forces conducted missions in 138 countries last year. Trump’s military now drops a bomb somewhere in the world every 12 minutes.

Trump is even more of a militarist and warmonger than his predecessors. He has accomplished the expanding of the warfare state.

The police state

The TSA is still treating the traveling public as potential terrorists. Local police are still militarized. SWAT teams are still deployed in record numbers. Civil asset forfeiture laws have been strengthened. Drivers in southwest border states may encounter domestic immigration checkpoints miles from the border. The government still listens to our phone calls, reads our email, tracks our movements, scrutinizes our purchases, monitors our bank deposits, and peers through the walls of our homes.

The police state is at its worst when it comes to the drug war. The war on drugs has destroyed financial privacy, eviscerated the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, eroded civil liberties, unnecessarily swelled prison populations, corrupted law enforcement, turned law-abiding people into criminals, and increased the size and scope of government.

Yet, the White House Fact Sheet praises Trump for cracking down “on the import and distribution of illegal drugs,” seizing “284 pounds of fentanyl” already this year, seeking “to reduce drug demand,” and launching a $4 billion “nationwide effort to fight the opioid crisis.”

The war on drugs is a war on individual liberty and private property.

Sadly, neither President Trump nor the Republican majority in Congress is even suggesting that the welfare/warfare/police state be scaled back, let alone shut down. We can certainly expect 500 more days of the same.

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