President Donald Trump’s second-term agenda would not keep us safe or secure.
When peaceful protest turns into violence, the perpetrators of that violence should be prosecuted – regardless of their political loyalties.
Unfortunately, the president too often applies a double standard – defending whatever his supporters do while criticizing peaceful protests against police tactics we white Americans would not tolerate if they were aimed at us.
Although Trump is promising to restore “law and order,” he has yet to articulate an effective strategy. His proposed law enforcement crackdown would likely fail unless it were to punish violence by both his critics and his supporters and were accompanied by meaningful steps to reduce racial discrimination in policing. Furthermore, his proposed funding cuts for cities that are not doing enough to curb violence would likely mean less money for police departments.
Fortunately, it is not necessary to choose between supporting the police and supporting racial justice.
In fact, Trump himself issued an executive order that acknowledged some police officers have misused their authority, called on departments to weed out officers with a history of using improper force, and proposed restrictions on chokeholds.
However, when Congress deadlocked over how best to translate his executive order into permanent law, the president did not use his claimed skill as a deal-maker to broker a sensible compromise.
Instead, he spent his time defending the Confederate flag, blocking the military from removing the names of Confederate generals from U.S. bases, and proclaiming that Confederate monuments erected as symbols of segregation are part of the heritage we should honor.
Notwithstanding Trump’s promise to prioritize law and order in a second term, American lives are actually at greater risk from his health care policies than from violence in the streets.
First, the coronavirus has killed about 15 times as many Americans this year as have shootings by criminals and the police. In addition, because of Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic, we have suffered 22% of the world’s deaths from COVID-19 even though we have only 4% of the world’s population.
Second, Trump promised in 2016 to replace Obamacare with something better. However, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that 20 million fewer Americans would have coverage under Trump’s plan than under Obamacare. Because Congress rejected his plan, the president is now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate Obamacare.
If Trump succeeds in the Supreme Court, businesses with 50 or more employees will no longer have to provide health insurance for their workers, the taxes that subsidize premiums for workers in smaller companies and for the self-employed will be wiped off the books, and insurance companies will no longer have to provide affordable coverage for Americans who have pre-existing medical conditions.
Trump claims that an executive order could protect those with pre-existing conditions.
However, if the Supreme Court were to declare Obama-
care unconstitutional, an executive order would be ineffective because the federal government would no longer have the legal authority to force insurers to provide that coverage at affordable rates.
In addition to undermining Americans’ health care, Trump’s second-term agenda would endanger Social Security by repealing the “payroll tax.”
At present, employees and employers each pay a 6.2% tax on wages in order to finance Social Security benefits.
According to Trump, repealing this tax would boost the economy by providing consumers and businesses with more spending money. However, because the federal government already spends much more each year than it takes in, the president’s proposal would require either a massive increase in the budget deficit, the replacement of the payroll tax with some other unspecified tax, or a cut in Social Security benefits.
Because the payroll tax has generated a surplus in the past, current benefits could continue for about three years until the surplus ran out.
However, without a replacement tax, the amount of an individual’s benefits in subsequent years would be unpredictable because Social Security would have to compete against defense, health care, and other needs for a share of the federal budget.
Furthermore, if the government were to shut down because of disagreement over a new budget (as happened for 35 days in December 2018 and January 2019), the uninterrupted payment of Social Security benefits would no longer be guaranteed.
Many 2016 voters were fed up with the recycled promises of career politicians and saw Trump as a non-politician who would shake up the status quo.
However, because his second-term agenda would do more harm than good, it is now time for a change.