After a surprise victory on election day, “Donald Trump’s populism is turning out to be entirely fake, a scam sold to working-class voters who are in for a rude awakening,” argues economist Paul Krugman, using Europe’s far-right leaders as a point of reference to expose Trump’s bogus bait-and-switch populism in his NY Times’ Friday Column.
Krugman writes that while hard-liners in Hungary and Poland are horrible authoritarians and racists, they are better than Trump. That’s because they have arguably passed some measures that help their white working class. Trump’s “populism”, however, has already proven to be a complete and utter fraud as evidenced by his cabinet picks.
Krugman starts by examining whether “populist” is even the right label for these groups, since it seems kind of misleading.
“I guess racism can be considered populist in the sense that it represents the views of some non-elite people,” Krugman writes. “But are the other shared features of this movement — addiction to conspiracy theories, indifference to the rule of law, a penchant for punishing critics — really captured by the ‘populist’ label?”‘
The answer is a resounding “no,” but Krugman does continue with some interesting side by side comparisons:
While the European members of this emerging axis of evil are deplorable human beings, they have —at least— offered some real benefits to workers. Hungary’s Fidesz party has provided mortgage relief and pushed down utility prices. Poland’s Law and Justice party has increased child benefits, raised the minimum wage and reduced the retirement age. France’s National Front is running as a defender of that nation’s extensive welfare state — but only for the right people.
Trumpism, however, is different. The campaign rhetoric may have included promises to keep Medicare and Social Security intact and replace Obamacare with something “terrific.” But the emerging policy agenda is anything but populist.
As Krugman notes, all indications are that we’re looking at huge windfalls for billionaires combined with savage cuts in programs that serve not just the poor but also the middle class. And the white working class, which provided much of the 46 percent Trump vote share, is shaping up as the biggest loser.
Trump has not taken office yet, nor has he laid out any specific policy proposals—apart from terrifyingly calling for more nukes—but his cabinet picks show a very clear direction, and it is hardly good for his struggling white working class supporters.
“His pick as budget director and his choice to head Health and Human Services want to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and privatize Medicare,” Krugman reminds. “His choice as labor secretary is a fast-food tycoon who has been a vociferous opponent both of Obamacare and of minimum wage hikes. And House Republicans have already submitted plans for drastic cuts in Social Security, including a sharp rise in the retirement age.”
Krugman also cries bullshit on the notion that Republicans will replace Obamacare with something better.
According to the non-partisan Urban Institute, 30 million Americans — 16 million of them non-Hispanic whites will be left without health insurance if Obamacare is repealed.
Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.) has offered a terrifying solution to dealing with post-Obamacare repeal hellscape, urging Americans to consider putting off a trip to the E.R. to reduce healthcare costs.
“When they do replace it—or if they replace it—it will cover only a fraction as many people as the law they would displace, and they’d be different people — younger, healthier and richer,” Krugman writes.
He added: “In other words, the movement that’s about to take power here isn’t the same as Europe’s far-right movements. It may share their racism and contempt for democracy; but European populism is at least partly real, while Trump’s populism is turning out to be entirely fake, a scam sold to working-class voters who are in for a rude awakening.”
Adding a ton of insult to this grave injury in the making, watch for how Republicans and Trump will somehow shift all the blame to Democrats and Obama. And then there will be the myriad distractions and stunts, trade wars with China, late night tweets, calls for more nukes and scapegoating of minorities and immigrants.
Stand up America! We can’t let Republicans get away with it.