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Tim Campbell

My friend Jim Hightower, the rabble-rousing former Texas agriculture commissioner and the brains behind the progressive "Hightower Lowdown," has long been warning how the American people are being duped by the Trump administration.

While the mainstream media and especially cable TV news have been preoccupied with Donald Trump's asinine tweets, his administration is laying waste to policies that for decades have helped and served the average American.

From Trump's perspective, services like schools, parks, health care, collective bargaining, buses and environmental protections are nothing more than welfare.

"As we've witnessed again and again, his presidential policies (incarcerating terrified refugee toddlers, pushing a trillion-dollar tax giveaway for the superrich, etc.) routinely reject the public interest and the people's will," he wrote in a recent issue of the Lowdown.

While a few of Trump's forays into taking away from the middle class have been documented by the media — the environmental atrocities committed during Scott Pruitt's reign as EPA administrator, for instance — most of the destruction has received scant attention.

Many wildlife preserves and national parks, all of which belong to every American, have been reduced and opened to private developers and oil interests by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, endangering tourism, fishing and hunting. The goal has been to protect private business interests and their short-term profits rather than protect lands, rare scenery and natural wonders for the long term.

While the need for public housing is larger than ever, the Trump administration has slashed budgets for maintenance and construction, not to mention that Housing Secretary Ben Carson has proposed tripling the rents paid by the lowest-income residents, Hightower pointed out.

One of the biggest travesties has been the muzzling of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, part of the Dodd-Frank legislation aimed at preventing Wall Street crashes and the financial industry's unfair practices that harm consumers. Trump's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, a shill for the payday loan cabal, has quickly pulled the bureau's teeth in his role as acting dirrector of the CFPB. Meanwhile, treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has weakened regulations that require large campaign donors to reveal their names, ensuring that yet more "dark money" can flow into federal elections.

"And on and on every day, purposefully removing public policies and structures that are useful and desirable for the people while rewiring rule after rule to force the public's interests to give way to the monetary interests of corporate exploiters, polluters, defrauders and plutocrats," Hightower charged.

That's why many have come to believe that the tweets and irrational behavior are just a show to keep attention away from what's really going on to damage American government.

Dave Zweifel is editor emeritus of The Capital Times. dzweifel@madison.com608-252-6410 and on Twitter @DaveZweifel.  

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