Trump and his White House dont argue on the merits. They attack the institutions that come up with facts and arguments they dont like.
They even do it preemptively. Last week, White House press secretary Sean Spicer warned that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office couldnt be trusted to be submitted with accurate numbers about the costs and coverage of the Republicans replacing for the Affordable Care Act.
If youre looking at the CBO for accuracy, youre appearing in the wrong place, he said.
So whats the right place? The Oval Office?
Bear in intellect the director of the CBO is a Republican economist and former George W. Bush administration official who was chosen for his position by the Republican Congress in 2015.
No matter. The White House is worried about what the CBO will say about Trumpcare, so it throws the CBO under the bus before the bus arrives.
Trump couldnt care less about the long-term consequences, but the rest of us should.For more than four decades the U.S. budget process has depended on the CBOs analyses and forecasts. The office has gained a reputation for integrity and reliability under both Republican and Democratic appointees. Now, its tainted.
This has been Trumps MO since he first met a fact he didnt like.
When candidate Trump didnt like the positive job numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics presenting the economy improving under the Obama administration, what did he do? He called the official unemployment rate such a phony number, one of the biggest hoaxes in American modern politics and the biggest gag there is.
Its possible to take issue with the ways the Bureau of Labor Statistics measures unemployment, but why undermine public trust in the Bureau itself?
Of course, when Februarys job numbers turned out rosy, Trumps White House embraced the monthly employment report. But the damage has been done. The BLS looks political.
Spicertries to wrapTrumps institutional attacks in populist garb: I guess[ Trump] addressed that in his inaugural speech when he talked about shifting power outside of Washington D.C. back to the American people because for too long its been about stats and its been about, what number are we looking at as opposed to what face are we looking at?
Rubbish. The only way we can understand the true dimensions of the problems real people face is with data about these problems, from sources the public trusts. But if the credibility of those sources is repeatedly called into question by the president of the United States, theres no shared truth about the problem.
When Trump disagreed with judicial findings about his original traveling forbidding, he didnt offer any reasons or analysis. Instead, he called the magistrate who issued the stay a so-called judge and attacked the appellate judges who upheld it as so political they werent able to read a statement and do whats right.
When he blamed the intelligence agencies for the downfall of his first national security advisor, he didnt spell out why. He just attacked them, issuing belittling tweets with intelligence in quotation marks.
When he detests press reports, Trump doesnt try to correct them. He assails the press asthe enemy of the American people, dishonest, purveyors of fake news, and the opposition party, and questions their motives( they have their own agenda, and its not your agenda, and its not the countrys agenda)
When polls show that he has a low approval rating, he doesnt say he expects the rating to improve. He attacks the entire polling industry, asserting any negative polls are fake news.
When scientists come up with conclusion he disagrees with, he doesnt offer other believable sources of scientific data. He assaults science.
Trump guess climate change is a hoax. His new head of the Environmental Protection Agency asserted last week that climate change isnt caused by human activity.
What does the Trump administration do to prove the point? Nothing. Instead, it tells EPA staffers to remove pages from the EPAs website relate climate change, threatens to review all the agencys data and publications, and cuts the budgets of all scientific research in government.
Trumps big lies are bad enough because they subvert the truth and sow disarray. But Trumps attacks on the institutions we rely on as sources of the truth are even more dangerous, since they are make it harder for the public to believe anything.
In a democracy, the truth is a common good. Trump is actively destroying the truth-telling organizations our republic depends on.
Cross-posted from RobertReich.org
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