Chomsky Says Trump a ‘Sociopathic Megalomaniac’ Who Made US ‘Singularly Unprepared’ for Pandemic 

Chomsky Says Trump a ‘Sociopathic Megalomaniac’ Who Made US ‘Singularly Unprepared’ for Pandemic

New comments from the renowned academic come after he accused Trump of wanting “to destroy the prospects for all organized human life… in the near future.”

By Andrea Germanos

World-renowned intellectual and author Noam Chomsky called U.S. President Donald Trump a “sociopathic megalomaniac” whose leadership drove the U.S. to become “singularly unprepared” for the coronavirus pandemic.

Chomsky’s fresh criticism of the president came in an interview with Agence France-Presse published Monday.

“The White House,” said Chomsky, “is in the hands of a sociopathic megalomaniac who’s interested in nothing but his own power, electoral prospects.”

Trump “doesn’t care what happens to the country, the world,” though he’s still reliant on “his primary constituency, which is great wealth and corporate power,” Chomsky said.

The administration has “no coordinated plan” for addressing the pandemic, meaning the nation will see “a lot more” deaths from Covid-19 on top of the nearly 100,000 confirmed fatalities that have already occurred, he added.

Setting the stage for the current situation is that Trump kicked off his administration by moving to take apart “the entire pandemic prevention machinery,” including by “canceling programs that were working with Chinese scientists to identify potential viruses,” Chomsky said.

Another contributing factor to the flawed response, said Chomsky, is that the nation is “in the stranglehold of private control,” an example of which is the lack of a national single-payer healthcare system. “It’s the ultimate neoliberal system, actually,” he said.

While Chomsky predicted a recovery from the pandemic will come eventually and “at severe cost,” the same cannot be said of the climate crisis. “There isn’t going to be any recovery from the melting of the polar ice caps and the rising of sea levels,” he warned.

Chomsky’s fresh comments to AFP follow similarly scathing recent rebukes of the Trump administration.

In an interview earlier this month with the Guardian, Chomsky was asked if Trump was “culpable in deaths of Americans.”

“Yes,” responded, “but it’s much worse than that, because the same is true internationally. To try and cover up his criminal attacks against the American people, which have been going on all of this time, he’s flailing about to try and find scapegoats.”

Chomsky also recently took aim at Trump’s policies that are worsening the climate crisis, telling Canada’s National Observer last month that the U.S. president “wants to destroy the prospects for all organized human life. And in the near future. That’s what it means to maximize the use of fossil fuels, to cut regulations that might diminish or restrict that danger.”

But as bad as Trump is, Chomsky noted that the groundwork was laid well before the failed business owner walked into the Oval Office. In an April interview with Democracy Now!, Chomsky said:

Trump is taking a failing, lethal system and turning it into a monstrosity, but the roots were before him. Just think back to the reason why the pandemic occurred in the first place. Drug companies are following capitalist logic. They don’t want to do anything. The neoliberal hammer says the government can’t do anything the way it did in the past. You’re caught in a vise. Then comes along Trump and makes it incomparably worse. But the roots of the crisis are pre-Trump.

The same with the healthcare system. Like we know that—everyone knows—they should know the basic facts. It’s an international scandal: twice the costs of comparable countries, some of the worst outcomes. The costs were recently estimated by a study in The Lancet, one of the world’s leading medical journals. They estimated that the costs, the annual—annual costs to Americans are close to half a trillion dollars and 68,000 lives lost. That’s not so small.

Going forward, Chomsky suggested there are lessons to be learned from the coronavirus crisis.

“One lesson is that it’s another colossal failure of the neoliberal version of capitalism. Massive failure,” Chomsky told Efe last month.

“If we don’t learn that lesson,” he said, “it’s going to recur worse next time.”

Source: Chomsky Says Trump a ‘Sociopathic Megalomaniac’ Who Made US ‘Singularly Unprepared’ for Pandemic | Common Dreams News

 

 

GOP ‘Plot to Gut Social Security Behind Closed Doors’ Gains Steam in Senate Covid-19 Talks 

GOP ‘Plot to Gut Social Security Behind Closed Doors’ Gains Steam in Senate Covid-19 Talks

“With seniors most at risk from Covid-19, we need to be increasing Social Security’s modest benefits, not creating secret commissions to cut them.”

by Jake Johnson

A proposal by Sen. Mitt Romney to establish congressional committees with the specific goal of crafting legislative “solutions” for America’s federal trust fund programs has reportedly resurfaced in GOP talks over the next Covid-19 stimulus package, sparking alarm among progressive advocates who warn the Utah Republican’s bill is nothing but a stealth attack on Social Security and Medicare.

Politico‘s Burgess Everett reported Wednesday that Romney’s TRUST Act, first introduced last October with the backing of a bipartisan group of senators, “is getting a positive reception from Senate Republicans” in coronavirus relief discussions, which are still in their early stages. The legislation, Everett noted, “could become part of the mix” for the next Covid-19 stimulus as Republicans once again claim to be concerned about the growing budget deficit.

Max Richtman, president and CEO of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM), told Common Dreams in an interview that he is not at all surprised to see Romney’s bill crop up again and said it should be diligently opposed.

“Obviously this is a way to push in cuts Social Security and Medicare without leaving fingerprints.”
—Max Richtman, National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare

NCPSSM vocally condemned the TRUST Act when it was unveiled last year, warning that—if passed—the measure “would likely result in cuts to the earned benefits of seniors, people with disabilities, and survivors.”

Richtman noted that in a House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee roundtable discussion this week, the idea of establishing commissions to study possible changes to Social Security—though not Romney’s bill specifically—was floated by GOP members, an indication that the New Deal-era program is very much on the minds, and potentially in the crosshairs, of Republican lawmakers.

“Social Security is the piggy bank that Republicans seem to go to whenever it dawns on them that we’ve gotta do something about the debt,” Richtman said, “notwithstanding the fact that they passed a huge tax cut that added trillions to the debt and benefited mostly wealthy individuals and corporations.”

Speaking to Politico this week, two Republican congressmen—Reps. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and Steve Womack (R-Ark.)—cited the coronavirus pandemic’s possible effects on Social Security to call for a commission to study the program and recommend reforms. Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.), meanwhile, is pushing for an expansion of benefits funded by lifting the payroll tax cap, which would make wealthier Americans pay more.

“I don’t know when we’re going to decide to take up the issue,” said Womack. “I hope and I pray that it’s not when we have no other real options other than something draconian like big cuts.”

Richtman warned that in the near future the public is likely “going to start hearing more and more” GOP proposals to cut Social Security under the guise of “entitlement reform” as the party suddenly rediscovers its concern for the mounting deficit.

“Obviously this is a way to push in cuts to Social Security and Medicare without leaving fingerprints, or not many fingerprints,” Richtman said of the TRUST Act.

Romney’s legislation—which currently has 10 Senate co-sponsors, including five Democrats—would give the Treasury Department 45 days to present Congress with a report on the federal government’s “endangered” trust funds. Congress would then establish one “rescue committee” per trust fund with a “mandate to draft legislation that restores solvency and otherwise improves each trust fund program.”

“If a Rescue Committee reports a qualifying bill for its trust fund program, it would receive expedited consideration in both chambers,” according to a summary of Romney’s bill. “While 60 votes would be required to invoke cloture for final passage in the Senate, only a simple majority would be needed for the motion to proceed, which would be privileged.”

“If Republicans cared about the American people, especially seniors, they’d be passing legislation to get PPE to essential workers, help the unemployed, and rush assistance to the nursing homes that are turning into death traps.”
—Alex Lawson, Social Security Works

The Utah Republican’s role as lead sponsor of the TRUST Act was sufficient reason for activists to raise serious concerns about the bill’s intentions when it was first unveiled last year.

During his 2012 presidential run, Romney proposed raising the Social Security retirement age and privatizing Medicare. Romney’s running mate, former House Speaker Paul Ryan, was long considered the poster child for Republican efforts to gut what’s left of America’s social safety net.

Romney’s bill was endorsed by former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson and former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, the leaders of the notorious Obama-era commission that—among other sweeping changes—recommended raising Social Security’s eligibility age and slashing benefits.

“The last thing seniors need is for Mitt Romney to get his hands on Social Security,” Richtman said in October.

Social Security Works, a progressive advocacy group, warned in a tweet on Wednesday that the TRUST Act is “a plot to gut Social Security behind closed doors.” The group told Common Dreams that it is closely monitoring Senate talks and actions related Romney’s bill.

Alex Lawson, executive director of Social Security Works, said in an emailed statement to Common Dreams that “at a time when current Republican policy is to let seniors die of Covid-19 by the tens of thousands without lifting a finger to help, it is beyond shameful that Mitt Romney’s focus is to rob those same older Americans of their earned Social Security and Medicare benefits.”

“Romney’s TRUST Act would create a fast-track, closed door commission to cut Social Security and Medicare,” Lawson said. “If Republicans cared about the American people, especially seniors, they’d be passing legislation to get PPE to essential workers, help the unemployed, and rush assistance to the nursing homes that are turning into death traps.”

“Instead,” Lawson added, “they are focused on using this pandemic as an excuse to gut our most popular and effective government programs.”

Source: GOP ‘Plot to Gut Social Security Behind Closed Doors’ Gains Steam in Senate Covid-19 Talks | Common Dreams News

 

 

 

The Trump Administration’s “Monstrous Idea”: Direct Payments in Exchange for Cuts to Social Security Benefits 

The Trump Administration’s “Monstrous Idea”: Direct Payments in Exchange for Cuts to Social Security Benefits

“Donald Trump and his administration will stop at nothing to cut Social Security.”

byJake Johnson

Suddenly concerned about the growing national debt now that corporations have secured access to trillions of dollars in Covid-19 bailout funds with little oversight, Trump administration officials are reportedly considering several proposals purportedly aimed at reducing government spending—including a pair of plans that would provide Americans with cash payments in exchange for delays or cuts to their Social Security benefits.

“Social Security is an earned insurance benefit. It is not a piggy bank. This plan, and any plan that raids Social Security, is a moral abomination.”
—Alex Lawson, Social Security Works

In addition to weighing a push for automatic federal spending cuts that would take effect once the economy rebounds from the coronavirus crisis, Washington Post reported Sunday that top White House economic officials are “exploring a proposal floated by two conservative scholars that would allow Americans to choose to receive checks of up to $5,000 in exchange for a delay of their Social Security benefits.”

Senior administration officials have also “discussed the ‘Eagle Plan,’ a 29-page memo that called for an overhaul of federal retirement programs in exchange for upfront payments to some workers,”  according to the Post. “The proposal calls for giving Americans $10,000 upfront in exchange for curbing their federal retirement benefits, such as Social Security.”

The “Eagle Plan” was crafted by a State Department official close to President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who forwarded the proposal to the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Art Laffer, a conservative economist and Trump adviser, told the Post that he supports the proposal.

Alex Lawson, executive director of advocacy group Social Security Works, said in a statement Monday that the plan would “force people to choose: Go hungry today or work until you die.”

“The Trump administration is obsessed with using the coronavirus crisis to undermine our Social Security system,” said Lawson. “Social Security is an earned insurance benefit. It is not a piggy bank. This plan, and any plan that raids Social Security, is a moral abomination. Instead of trying to steal the earned benefits of desperate people, the government should be sending $2,000 a month to everyone in America, as Democrats in Congress have proposed.” 

Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman, indicated that Trump is opposed to the ideas laid out in the “Eagle Plan”—which he described as “ludicrous on its face”—but the Post reported that the president has not reviewed the proposal.

After vowing during his 2016 presidential run to shield Social Security and Medicare from cuts, Trump has proposed slashing both programs in his annual budget blueprints. Trump also said during an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January that he would consider cuts to Social Security and Medicare if reelected in November.

Amid a global pandemic that has left more than 30 million people in the U.S. jobless, Trump’s top economic stimulus idea has been cutting the payroll tax, which funds Social Security and Medicare. The president said during a Fox News town hall last week that he would not sign any future Covid-19 stimulus package that does not include a payroll tax cut.

“Donald Trump and his administration will stop at nothing to cut Social Security,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Source: The Trump Administration’s “Monstrous Idea”: Direct Payments in Exchange for Cuts to Social Security Benefits | Common Dreams News