Trump ends first year with Govt budget failure | Sunday Observer

Trump ends first year with Govt budget failure

Showman United States President Donald Trump completed a year in office yesterday thoroughly bogged down in the very ‘Washington Swamp’ he had promised to ‘drain’. Trump, who had spent his entire election campaign ranting against the mainstream political Establishment in Washington, DC, and promising to topple it, finds he has to begin his second year in office without a federal Budget and unable to mobilise his own ruling Republican Party to get it passed in the US Senate.

Travellers to the US need not worry – indications are that the US embassy visa service is unlikely to slow down although at least some other units may not be open. In any case, foreign visitors to the US are declining - down by 4 per cent last year from 2016. The Government Budget proposal for 2018 has to be passed by the 100-member Senate where the ruling Republicans have just a two-member majority.

But there are some Republican senators who are refusing to support for ideological reasons such as the enormous budget deficit which to their neo-liberal minds is not ‘good fiscal balancing’. And the Republican leaders cannot win over enough opposition Democrat Senate votes because the ruling party is refusing to provide in their budget for the retention of key aspects of the subsidized health care package so critical for millions of poor Americans – many of whom are in Democrat vote banks.

Those few pro-Trump news industry majors like Fox TV and the National Enquirer magazine praised his 12 months in office with suitably vague eulogies that glossed over his many administrative failures and praised his sole achievement of a tax reform bill. But, the bulk of the mainstream US media slammed Trump by listing out his legislative failures, thousands of false claims and accusations against political rivals and even foreign countries, the rise in racist and sexist hate crimes in his country, and the fact that his is the first American Presidency to be under multiple investigations for serious crimes and misdemeanours in its very first year.

Meanwhile, in West Asia, Turkey has upped its role in the Syrian conflict by its aerial strikes against Syrian Kurdish rebels now dominant on the Turkish border after they, with US help, drove out the Daesh Sunni-fascist rebel movement known in English as the (so-called) Islamic State of Iraq and The Levant (ISIL). Turkey is naturally worried that if the Syrian Kurds consolidate their autonomy from the Syrian government, they would use their combat experience and capability to help the large Turkish Kurd minority currently fighting for either more autonomy from Ankara or outright secession and re-union with their fellow Kurds in both Syria and Iraq.

In South Asia, Myanmar seems to be poised to agree with Bangladesh to take back nearly a million Rohingya Burmese Muslims now in refugee camps in Bangladesh after anti-Muslim riots by Burmese and ‘ethnic cleansing’ operations by the Myanmar army. Monitoring human rights groups, however, doubt whether the two-year time table for repatriation offered by Myanmar is enough time create conditions for returning Rohingya to feel secure once again in their homeland.

And Germany has announced a suspension of military supplies to states directly involved in the Yemeni civil war. This will curtail weapons and ordnance supply sales to Saudi Arabia which currently is directly intervening militarily against the (Shia) Houthi rebel movement that is momentarily in ascendency in its fight to topple the Yemen regime.

Since the Saudis are directly intervening, they get subjected to the German embargo but Iran, which is indirectly supporting the Houthi rebels is not affected by the embargo. The United Nations has repeatedly called on the Saudis to halt their largely indiscriminate bombing of regions of Yemen under Houthi control.

In the Koreas, North Korea has been given the green light by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to participate in the Winter Olympics to be hosted in South Korea next month. While South Koreans are naturally quite excited over this token ‘re-unification’ of divided Korea, most analysts warn that such goodwill gestures by Pyongyang could simply be a tactic to soften world opinion and divert from a focus on North Korea’s nuclear arms build-up.

Even as the US federal government came to a standstill due to the Budget failure by the ruling Republicans, Christian fundamentalist Vice President Mike Pence flew out on a mini-tour of Israel and America’s closest allies among Arab states, Jordan and Egypt. Most analysts acknowledge that Pence, with nothing to offer from Washington towards furthering peace in that volatile region, was merely attempting to reap some cheap domestic political benefits in the aftermath of Washington’s recent official recognition of politically divided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city.

When President announced that radical shift in US foreign policy on Jerusalem in Deccember, much of the world condemned Washington for further complicating the situation in Palestine-Israel purely to consolidate support among America’s large, mainly ethnic White, fundamentalist Christian vote bank, a key constituency of the Republican Party.

No matter that the US recognition of Jerusalem as solely Israel’s capital city is already resulting in further forcible expulsion of Jerusalem’s dwindling original Arab population – a slow genocide if anything. The Republican Party is more concerned with retaining the so-called ‘Conservative Christian’ vote in this mid-term Congress election year. With support from many non-White constituencies declining due to reviving White racism in US politics, the Republicans have little choice but to cling to whatever remaining vote banks they s till have.

What the US opinion polls show is a nation more divided than ever after a year of Trump-led Republicanism. Given the news media’s focus on the US President’s buffoonery and showmanship, many fail to realise that most of the President’s actual deeds only become a reality due to the backing of the ruling Republican Party.

Indeed, many US commentators are now roundly accusing the Republican Party of putting party before country by glossing over the divisive and racist style of the Trump presidency and its many failures – and worse, possible misdemeanours such as conspiring with geo-political enemy Russia.

The Republican Party, once known for its hawkish policies that spread US imperial power across the globe – much to the detriment of other peoples and states – has spent the past year in defending and sustaining an American President who has done much to diminish US global influence and even further arouse not just anti-US political hostility but also much derision in world public opinion.

The fact that Donald Trump has a barely 37 per cent popularity in American opinion polls – the lowest ever for any US presidency in its first year – only pushes Republicans to further bury their heads in the sands of White supremacism, conservatism, and individualistic, socially uncaring right-wing capitalism.

When Trump referred to (predominantly Black populated) Haiti and collectively to African countries as ‘shit-holes’ the Republican leadership failed to reject that racist crudity even though governments throughout Africa and the Caribbean were outraged and wanted retraction. That retraction is yet to come as a substantial minority of old-fashioned White Americans remains adamantly in support of Trump. An unwavering 31 per cent supportive constituency in America is enough at voting constituency level in the states to ensure that Republicans retain the seats they currently hold in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The opposition Democratic Party meanwhile continues to hope that substantial minority votes in key urban voting districts will be enough to swing at a few more House seats in their direction and, narrowly win them the couple of more seats they need to win a majority in the Senate.

To most Trump critics, however, the US President second year in office will be one in which the on-going FBI probe into his ‘collusion’ with Russia in subverting the US election system will come to a head. Either a lack of evidence will enable the Republicans to continue to prop up a bumbling but partially popular President or, the final proof wil expose what could be the worst ever political scandal to hit the country that still claims to ‘lead’ the (so-called) ‘free world’.