Democrats didn’t much care for presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, or George W. Bush — mainly because they were Republican presidents. Just as Republicans weren’t too fond of presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, or Barack Obama — mainly because they were Democratic presidents. But it is no secret that Democrats, whether they call themselves liberals, leftists, progressives, Democratic socialists, or just plain socialists, hate Donald Trump. They focus on every single thing he says or does in a way that they never did with previous Republican presidents. Now, I realize that “hate” is a very strong word. But I really don’t know how else to describe how many Democrats feel about Trump. They loathe him. They despise him. They detest him. They abhor him. They have contempt and enmity for him. And now that Trump is running for reelection, hatred of the president has reached a whole new level of intensity.
Hatred and impeachment
Trump has been hated from the very beginning. About seventy House Democrats boycotted his inauguration and even before he was inaugurated, some House Democrats declared Trump to be an “illegitimate president.” Democratic hatred for Trump goes back even to when he was still just the Republican nominee for president. Since that time, Democrats have referred to the president as “pond scum,” a “human turd,” “toxic sludge,” a “sebaceous cyst,” an “infectious microbe,” a “bursting landfill of municipal solid waste,” a “mountain of rotting whale blubber,” a “walking staph infection,” a “decomposing jack-o-lantern,” a “fascist carnival barker,” and a “snake-oil salesman.” And those are just the epithets that can be listed in a family-friendly publication such as this.
The plot to impeach Trump was hatched long before his phone call to the president of Ukraine. In between his election and inauguration, some Democratic House members proposed that Trump be impeached. Just a few months into the Trump presidency, numerous Democrats in Congress were openly discussing impeachment. When Trump had been in office for less than six months, two Democratic House members introduced an article of impeachment. In December 2017, fifty-eight House Democrats voted to advance articles of impeachment after Trump criticized NFL players who knelt in protest during the national anthem. In January 2018, sixty-six House Democrats voted to advance articles of impeachment after Trump was said to have referred to some nations as “s**thole countries.” In July 2019, ninety-five House Democrats voted to advance articles of impeachment after Trump remarked that certain Democratic representatives should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”
Eventually, on December 18, 2019, Trump became the third U.S. president to be impeached. The Trial Memorandum of the House impeachment managers concluded that the president had “betrayed the American people and the ideals on which the Nation was founded.” Unless removed from office, Trump would “continue to endanger our national security, jeopardize the integrity of our elections, and undermine our core constitutional principles.” House Democrats said that Trump was a “threat to the Constitution” and a “clear and present danger to our free and fair elections and our national security.” They insisted that the president had “fundamentally broken his covenant with the American people,” “betrayed his oath,” “betrayed the Constitution,” “abused the powers of the presidency in a manner offensive to and subversive of the Constitution.” Impeachment manager Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) termed the president a “dictator.” Although maintaining that “we do not hate President Trump,” Nadler said that “we do know that President Trump will continue to threaten the nation’s security, democracy, and constitutional system if he is allowed to remain in office.”
The hatred that Democrats have for the president was pointed out by some Republicans before the vote was taken in the House of Representatives on the articles of impeachment:
- This vote, this day is about one thing and one thing only. They hate this president (Chris Stewart, Utah).
- This is a tragic day in our nation’s history. We have individuals that hate this president more than they love this country (Greg Murphy, N.C.).
- It’s obvious today that there’s an intense hatred from the Democrats of President Donald Trump. Why do they hate the man so much (Paul Gosar, Ariz.)?
President Trump is viewed by Democrats as rude, combative, arrogant, offensive, crass, crude, and politically incorrect. Many Democrats consider him to be a megalomaniac, a xenophobe, a homophobe, an Islamophobe, a racist, and a misogynist. But what is so interesting and intriguing about Democratic hatred for Donald Trump is that there is really no ideological basis for it.
The federal budget
President Trump submitted his fiscal year 2021 budget to Congress on February 10, 2020. Although the Constitution doesn’t mention a federal budget, according to the Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 the president must annually submit a detailed proposed budget request to Congress for the next fiscal year by the first Monday in February. Because the federal government’s fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30, the budget submitted in February is actually for the next fiscal year that begins in October. The president’s budget is both a blueprint and a request because it is ultimately up to the Congress to decide how much money the federal government will spend in any given fiscal year.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the budget request is “developed through an interactive process between federal agencies and the President’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB).” The budget request plays three important roles:
First, it tells Congress what the President recommends for overall federal fiscal policy: (a) how much money the federal government should spend on public purposes; (b) how much it should take in as tax revenues; and (c) how much of a deficit (or surplus) the federal government should run.
Second, the President’s budget lays out his relative priorities for federal programs — how much he believes should be spent on defense, agriculture, education, health, and so on.
The third role of the President’s budget is signaling to Congress the President’s recommendations for spending and tax policy changes.
There are two kinds of federal spending: mandatory and discretionary. Mandatory spending refers to the portion of the budget that Congress legislates outside of the annual appropriations process. It accounts for about 62 percent of the federal budget, and includes spending on entitlement programs, welfare, and subsidies. Discretionary spending refers to the portion of the budget that is decided by Congress through the annual appropriations process. It accounts for about 30 percent of the federal budget, and includes spending on defense, education, NASA, foreign aid, and job training. (The other 8 percent of federal spending is interest on the national debt, which is paid automatically.) The president’s budget spells out how much funding he recommends for each discretionary program.
According to the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, within six weeks of the president’s submitting his budget, the twelve congressional subcommittees of the Appropriations Committee in the House and Senate are required to submit their “views and estimates” of federal spending and revenues. The House and Senate budget committees hold hearings on the president’s budget, draft budget resolutions, and then send the resolutions to the House and Senate floors to be debated and amended. After a conference committee resolves differences in the House and Senate versions of the budget resolution, a final version is voted on as a concurrent resolution on the budget. The budget resolution states how much money Congress is authorized to spend in each of the 21 “budget functions” (agriculture, education, health, defense, et cetera) and how much total revenue the federal government is supposed to collect, not only in the next fiscal year, but over the next ten fiscal years. The difference between authorized spending and projected revenue is the budget deficit. The budget resolution can also include changes to the budget process. A report that accompanies the budget resolution takes the budget-function spending figures and distributes them by congressional committee.
Action on the budget resolution is supposed to be completed by April 15. It is only then that Congress enacts the twelve regular appropriation bills that fund discretionary programs for the coming fiscal year and sends them to the president for his signature. But if, as is usually the case, Congress fails to pass a budget resolution before the beginning of the next fiscal year (October 1), a series of continuing resolutions or an omnibus spending bill is passed and sent to the president for his signature to fund the federal government for a certain period of time.
The first budget that Trump proposed soon after taking office (FY2018) was $4.094 trillion, even though federal government receipts were projected to be only $3.654 trillion — resulting in a budget deficit of $440 billion. The actual deficit ended up being $779 billion. The budget deficits for fiscal years 2019, 2020, and 2021 were each around $1 trillion. For fiscal year 2021, Trump is proposing that the federal government spend $4.829 trillion, even though receipts are estimated to be only $3.863 trillion — again, resulting in a budget deficit of almost a trillion dollars. The national debt has increased by almost $4 trillion since Trump has been in office — and that was before the first American was diagnosed with the coronavirus. Yet, in the introduction to the president’s new budget (“A Budget for America’s Future”), it says, “The President has laid out a vision to drive down deficits and debt through spending restraint in every Budget he has submitted to the Congress.” The Trump administration’s budgets “have proposed more spending reductions than any other in history.” The fiscal year 2021 budget “continues to propose strategic reductions in spending.” I guess this is why Trump would have the federal government spend 21 percent more in fiscal year 2021 than when he took office.
The introduction to Trump’s budget reads like an indictment by his opponents of his last three years in office:
Unsustainable Federal deficits and debt are a serious threat to America’s prosperity. Gross Federal debt is now more than $23 trillion. The 2019 deficit was $985 billion—the largest since the Great Recession — and will climb above $1 trillion this year and for years after.
Such high and rising debt will have serious negative consequences for the budget and the Nation. It slows economic growth, as the costs of financing the debt crowds out more productive investments and could eventually limit the Federal Government’s ability to respond to urgent national security needs, invest in key priorities such as infrastructure, and enact other pro-growth policies. In fact, by 2021, the United States will be spending more money on paying for the debt than for the budgets of the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Justice, Homeland Security, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration combined.
Each year, billions of taxpayer dollars are wasted on programs that are duplicative, unnecessary, and ostensibly without priority. This has reduced the ability of the Federal Government to meet its constitutional responsibilities to the American people.
But instead of blaming all of this on his own budget priorities, Trump blames everything on the Congress:
Unfortunately, the Congress continues to reject any efforts to restrain spending. Instead, they have greatly contributed to the continued ballooning of Federal debt and deficits, putting the Nation’s fiscal future at risk.
The Administration cannot simply sit by while the Congress continues to spend. In addition to providing a clear road map to a more fiscally responsible future in the Budget, the Administration is using all available tools and levers to restrain spending.
Now, although it is true that Congress is not obligated to pay a whit of attention to any president’s budget, and although it is true that the president gets not so much as a thin dime to spend unless Congress appropriates it, Trump is ignoring the fact that it is he who has signed every spending bill into law. He has vetoed only six bills since he has been in office, all in 2019, and none of them was a spending bill. Trump is on track to veto fewer bills than any president since Warren Harding — who died after less than 30 months in office.
To ensure the continued economic strength of the United States, says the president in the introduction to his budget, he has “called on the Government to reduce wasteful, unnecessary spending, and to fix mismanagement and redundancy across agencies” even as his budget “looks to reduce wasteful and unnecessary spending, and put in place procedures to keep a vigilant eye on fraud, abuse, and negligence with taxpayer dollars.” Trump’s budget puts forth six “universal tenets on which broad bipartisan action to reduce spending” should be based, but none of them even vaguely mentions that all federal spending should be authorized by the Constitution. The focus is all on eliminating “wasteful and unnecessary spending,” “overlap, duplication, and fragmentation in Federal programs,” and programs that have “outlived their mission” while “reorganizing and repurposing” and “reforming and reducing” other programs.
President Trump’s budget is a budget that Democrats can be proud of. Not only is it the largest budget ever proposed in the history of the United States, with the largest deficit ever proposed, it would basically fund the welfare/warfare state much as it is now. What spending reductions it actually contains are offset by even greater spending increases. Two examples will suffice. One, the proposed budget for the Department of Homeland Security eliminates $535 million in unnecessary spending for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but increases spending to $8.2 billion for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), including pay raises for TSA workers. And two, Trump’s budget eliminates funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). That is a good thing. However, the funding for those agencies is a less-than-minuscule part of the federal budget, and the money saved is squandered many times over by increased defense spending, including $69 billion for “Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO),” meaning foreign wars. Overall, Trump’s budget has much for Democrats to be proud of. Here are just a few highlights:
- Trump’s budget requests $21.8 billion for the Department of Agriculture. In addition to “funding the robust suite of farm safety-net programs, the Budget funds a variety of national, State, and local initiatives to help farmers succeed.” And no wonder, since under the president’s budget “roughly one-third of farm income will come from Government payments and crop insurance benefits.”
- Trump’s budget requests $66.6 billion for the Department of Education. That includes $749 million in funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, expanded eligibility for Pell Grants, and an additional $100 million in grants to states for special education services.
- Trump’s budget requests $94.5 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services. It includes $716 million “for the second year of the multiyear initiative to eliminate new HIV infections in America,” $1 billion for the states to “fund child care and early learning,” $225 million “to improve community mental health services,” and the creation of a new agency to “focus on tobacco regulation.” The president wants to “protect and improve” Medicare.
- Trump’s budget requests $25.2 billion for NASA, a 12 percent increase over last year, with “robust funding for the programs” that support the goal of returning astronauts to the moon and on to Mars.
- Trump’s budget “invests in a better future for Americans with a proposal to provide paid leave to new mothers and fathers, including adoptive parents, so all families can afford to take time to recover from childbirth and bond with a new child.”
Since when does the Constitution authorize the federal government to have departments of Agriculture, Education, and Health and Human Services or to spend money on those things? And the Constitution certainly doesn’t authorize the federal government to pay for space travel and exploration. Trump’s paid family-leave proposal is in line with a similar proposal in the Democratic Party platform.
There are, of course, other problems with Trump’s budget that, although Democrats might be ambivalent about them, are anathema to libertarians. For example, the drug war. Since 2014, Congress has effectively prohibited federal prosecution of marijuana users whose actions comply with state medical marijuana laws in spite of the federal prohibition of marijuana. Trump’s budget would restore funding to the Department of Justice so it can prosecute medical marijuana users in states where it is legal, including “an additional $6 million to support 10 new attorneys and support staff to ensure that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will continue to generate drug cases for prosecution.” Regarding drug-war funding, Trump’s budget also provides:
$2.4 billion in discretionary resources for the DEA, including an additional $67 million to enhance efforts to identify, investigate, disrupt, and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations and online illicit drug marketplaces.
$5 billion in critical investments to combat opioid dependency and abuse, investing in research, surveillance, prevention, treatment, access to overdose reversal drugs, and recovery support services.
And yet, Trump maintains that his budget “cuts low-priority and wasteful Government spending, reduces duplication, and eliminates programs and agencies that do not fulfill a Federal role or demonstrate results.” There is nothing more low-priority and wasteful that is not authorized by the Constitution and has deplorable results than the federal war on drugs.
Trump’s budget is fiscally irresponsible, full of unconstitutional spending proposals, interspersed with cuts to the projected rate of growth of spending increases that are not actual reductions in the amount of spending and it is based on unrealistic assumptions. It is filled with “savings” that will never materialize, reliant on rosy economic projections of economic growth, and dead on arrival like the budgets of most of his predecessors. Democrats should love it. It makes the bloated budgets of George W. Bush and Barack Obama look frugal. Why do Democrats hate President Trump so much when philosophically, he is one of them?
This article was originally published in the June 2020 edition of Future of Freedom.