Didn’t take long to see the real Donald Trump

January 23, 2017

Alan Maass draws up a balance sheet of the first actions of the new administration.

"JANUARY 20, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again," Donald Trump blustered in his inauguration speech.

But it would be more accurate to remember it as a day when health care started getting even less accessible for the poor, when it got harder for low- and middle-income people to buy a home, and when the federal government's meager commitment to combatting climate change got even harder to find.

When Trump went inside after taking the oath of office--and before he changed into a tux to party with other rich people--he and his administration got to work on a few matters that couldn't wait.

The signings and statements that took place within hours of Trump becoming president weren't earth-shattering, and there's worse to come. But they show how casually cruel the new administration can be--and they definitely prove that Trump couldn't care less about the "forgotten men and women of our country" who he claims to speak for.

FOR SOMEONE who just blabbed about how his decisions "will be made to benefit American workers and American families," it didn't take long for the Trump administration to make a decision that benefits Wall Street.

Trump signs an executive order on his first day in the Oval Office
Trump signs an executive order on his first day in the Oval Office

Roughly an hour after Trump took power, the new bosses at the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced they would suspend a scheduled cut in fees on federally backed mortgage loans.

The planned fee reduction, announced earlier in January, was expected to save about $500 a year for as many as 1 million first-time or low- to middle-income homebuyers who seek a mortgage loan backed by the Federal Housing Administration. The National Association of Realtors estimates that up to 40,000 people could decide not to buy this year as a result.

For those who go ahead with, the higher fees on FHA loans will make homebuyers more likely to sign up for a traditional bank mortgage. The banksters make more money off their own loans, so they have to be happy that the Trump administration took time out in its first moments of power to steer business their way.

People's Action policy director Liz Ryan Murray called the suspended fee cut "a windfall for Wall Street." But you can be sure it won't be the last given that, at last count, six veterans of Goldman Sachs are in line for senior positions in the Trump administration.

THE REPUBLICANS have been vowing to repeal Obamacare for so long that it was no surprise when Trump's first executive order concerned how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) interprets the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But it was a telling sign of what's to come to see what Trump and Co. went after first.

For one, the order instructs HHS to give states more autonomy in administering aspects of the ACA. That's a green light for Republican governors and legislatures to take a hatchet to the Medicaid health care program for the poor.

The significant expansion of Medicaid was one of the most positive aspects of the ACA, which in many other ways gave the private insurance industry exactly what it wanted. Trump's order is a signal that his administration will make sure health care becomes more expensive and less accessible for the poor.

Trump also ordered HHS to grant more hardship exemptions for the ACA's "individual mandate," which requires people not covered by insurance from an employer or Medicare and Medicaid to buy policies from a private provider or pay a tax penalty.

This is at the core of popular discontent with the ACA: The individual mandate requires people to buy expensive policies with high deductibles and not enough coverage. But another way of putting it is that the ACA doesn't do enough to control the cost or quality of the policies sold by private insurers.

If Trump really wanted to help people suffering under the new system, he could instruct the HHS to be more strict toward insurance company price-gouging or opting out of the state-level exchanges if the money isn't good enough.

Don't hold your breath waiting on that.

APPARENTLY, SOMEBODY'S finger was poised over the enter key as Trump took the oath of office. As the New York Times reported, "it didn't take long" after the ceremony before a report titled "Advancing LGBT Workplace Rights" was disappeared from the Labor Department's website.

Over at WhiteHouse.gov, a web page on the effects of climate change and how to confront it vanished. In its place was "An America First Energy Plan" that, among other things, declared: "For too long, we've been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry. President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule."

Here at SW, we're dedicated to eliminating unnecessary words from presidential statements that obscure their real meaning. So our translation of that last sentences is: "President Trump is committed to eliminating the Climate and the Waters of the U.S."

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