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Thursday, February 23, 2017
Trumps Bait and Switch government
The Art of the Scam
Remember Donald Trump’s tax returns? It was unheard-of for a presidential candidate to refuse to release returns, since doing so strongly suggests that he has something to hide. And at first the Trump campaign offered excuses, claiming that the returns would eventually be made available once an I.R.S. audit was done, or something. But at this point it’s apparent that Mr. Trump believed, correctly, that he could violate all the norms, stonewall on even the most basic disclosure, and pay no political price.
Indeed, it’s clear that Hillary Clinton was in effect punished for her financial transparency, while Mr. Trump was rewarded for his practice of revealing nothing about how he makes money.
And as a result, we can expect radical lack of transparency to be standard operating procedure in the new administration. In fact, it has already started.
Take, for example, the budget process. Normally, an incoming administration issues a fiscal plan conveying its priorities soon after taking office. But as the budget expert Stan Collender notes, there are strong indications that the Trump administration will ignore this precedent (and, possibly, the law) and simply refuse to offer any explanation of how its proposals are supposed to add up. All we’ll get, probably, are assurances that it’s going to be great, believe me.
True, we don’t yet know for sure that there will be no budget. But it’s already clear that bait-and-switch — big but empty promises, completely lacking in detail — will be central to Republican strategy on one key issue: the future of health coverage for millions of Americans.
The background: Back in 2010 President Obama and the short-lived Democratic majority in Congress passed the Affordable Care Act with zero G.O.P. support. Ever since, Republicans have promised to repeal the law as soon as they had a chance, replacing it with something much better. Strange to say, however, they have never described what their replacement would look like.