Nancy Altman

Senator Raphael Warnock's re-election is a victory for Social Security

Social Security was on the ballot in Georgia’s December 6 run-off election. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock’s re-election is a win for working families. It is a victory for Gold Star families, paralyzed veterans, seniors, and indeed all of Social Security’s over 65 million current beneficiaries and all future beneficiaries.

This article was produced by Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

It is a loss for Republican politicians and their Wall Street donors who are determined to reach into our pockets and steal our hard earned benefits. If Herschel Walker had won, he would have rubber stamped the Republican agenda to cut Social Security’s modest but vital benefits.

Walker proudly campaigned with and took money from Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), the author of a plan that would put Social Security on the chopping block every five years. If Walker had been elected, he would have been a rubber stamp for Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), whose plan would put Social Security on the chopping block every single year.

What cuts do Republicans have in mind? The Republican Study Committee, a group that counts about 75 percent of House Republicans as members, released a detailed plan to cut Social Security in multiple ways: Raising the retirement age to 70 (a 21 percent benefit cut), slashing middle class benefits, and handing billions of dollars of Social Security’s revenue over to Wall Street and private insurance corporations.

Republican politicians in Washington have been clear about how they plan to force those cuts into law—and Walker would have been a rubber stamp for that plan. Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy has announced the Republican plan to take hostage the must-pass debt limit next summer. The ransom to be paid in exchange for their votes? Cuts to our earned Social Security benefits.

Nor is McCarthy only speaking for House Republicans. Senator John Thune (R-SD), number two Senate Republican leader, has echoed McCarthy’s plan to hold the debt limit hostage to Social Security cuts.

It is important to recognize that, as a self-funded program that has no borrowing authority and can only pay benefits if it has sufficient revenue to cover every penny of the cost, Social Security does not add even a penny to the federal debt. It is not contributing a penny to the debt whose limit must be raised to avoid a default by the United States on its obligations. Nevertheless, Republicans in Congress want to cut our earned benefits so badly, they’re willing to risk an economic catastrophe to make it happen.

Fortunately, Senator Warnock won, giving the Democrats a clear majority in the Senate. President Biden and the Democrats he leads have made it clear that they are committed to expanding Social Security, with no cuts, while requiring the wealthiest to begin to pay their fair share. And Senator Warnock himself understands how important our Social Security system is.

He recognizes that Social Security embodies the best of American and religious values—values that Senator Warnock has lived by his entire life. Among those values are that it is our birthright as human beings to have dignity, freedom and independence; that hard work should be rewarded; that we have responsibilities and concern for ourselves, our families, and our neighbors; and that we are all connected, sharing the same risks and benefits.

Social Security is as reliable as it is essential. Through pandemics, wars, and economic recessions, Social Security has always continued to reliably pay monthly benefits, allowing its beneficiaries and their families to pay rent, buy food, and fill life-saving prescriptions.

Senator Warnock understands that Americans of all political backgrounds rely on our earned Social Security benefits, and supports protecting and expanding them. He knows how important Social Security benefits are for the people of Georgia, both now and in the future.

In his two years in the Senate, Warnock has been a champion for seniors. As a member of the Senate Aging Committee, he led the successful fight to cap the cost of insulin for seniors. He was part of the winning vote to finally allow Medicare to negotiate with Big Pharma to lower drug prices.

Now, Georgia voters have re-elected Senator Warnock. Warnock and his Democratic colleagues have a mandate to protect Social Security’s earned benefits. Fortunately, President Biden and Demcrats in Congress have made clear that not only do they oppose cuts, they will not negotiate over debt limit legislation with the Republican terrorists who plan to kidnap it.

To avoid a dangerous and potentially calamitous game of chicken when a default is imminent, Democrats should thwart the kidnappers by raising or eliminating the debt ceiling before the end of this year. That will foil the Republican hostage-taking plans, a plan to force highly unpopular and unwise social cuts that voters in Georgia—and across America—resoundingly rejected in this year’s midterm elections.

Author Bio: Nancy J. Altman is a writing fellow for Economy for All, a project of the Independent Media Institute. She has a 40-year background in the areas of Social Security and private pensions. She is president of Social Security Works and chair of the Strengthen Social Security coalition. She is the author of The Truth About Social Security and The Battle for Social Security and co-author of Social Security Works! and the forthcoming Social Security Works for Everyone!

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Republican Leaders Aren't Even Trying to Hide Their Immorality Lately

Republican leaders claim that they are the party of family values. They are not. They also claim that they understand and respect hardworking Americans. They do not.

The Republican elite’s immorality goes well beyond Donald Trump, who has bragged about sexual assault, and has indeed been accused of it by over a dozen women. It goes well beyond Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who was banned from a shopping mall to prevent him from preying on minors, and who has been credibly accused of the behavior for which he was banned.

The immorality and disdain of today’s Republican elites shine through in the policies that they embrace. They are embodied in the Republican budget, in their tax legislation, and in their relentless attacks on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Those Republican policies benefit the ones they truly value – their super-wealthy donors.

Republicans in both chambers of Congress have now passed tax bills, which, when the smoke clears, involve the upward redistribution of income and wealth. As if today’s obscene level of income and wealth inequality weren’t bad enough, Republican elites want to increase it.

Both the Senate and House versions require millions of middle-class Americans to pay more, while requiring the richest of the rich to pay less. In 2027, taxpayers with incomes between $40,000 and $50,000 will, as a group, pay $5.3 billion more in taxes, while those with annual incomes of $1 million or more will pay $5.8 billion less!

Moreover, hardworking Americans will be hurt in other ways. The increase in the deficit caused by the tax scam will automatically trigger $400 billion in cuts to Medicare. And even that isn’t enough for the party of immorality.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) have made it clear what comes next. Rubio recently claimed that we need to change the structure of Medicare and Social Security (code for making huge cuts) because of the deficit. Ryan was even clearer, saying that he is planning to push legislation to “reform” (code for destroy) Medicare and Medicaid because “it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt.”

Republicans have made this bankrupt argument for decades, but it is especially audacious of them to do it at the exact same time that they are planning to add at least $1 trillion to the debt to pay for their tax giveaway to the wealthy. The announced plans to go after Medicare and Medicaid, as well as Social Security, are in addition to the proposed repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, a linchpin to the workability of the law. The Congressional Budget Office has projected that the repeal of that key provision will result in an added 13 million Americans without health care, while millions of others will see their health insurance premiums go up by ten percent or more.

Taking away health care from disabled children and elderly Americans, among many others, in order to give a huge tax handout to billionaires and giant corporations is one of the most immoral policies imaginable. But that’s exactly what the self-proclaimed “moral values party” is proposing to do.

The truth is that Social Security does not add a single penny to the debt. Medicare and Medicaid are far more efficient than their private sector counterparts. Gutting them would make health care costs rise more quickly, not rein them in. It would, however, transfer the costs from the federal government to elderly, impoverished, and disabled Americans who can’t afford them. It would mean the wealthiest among us, who are not paying their fair share now, would pay even less. Like the tax scam, cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid will transfer wealth upward.

Why are Republicans so hypocritical about the debt, constantly using it as an excuse to demand cuts to vital benefits while they happily add one trillion dollars or more to it by giving huge tax cuts to the wealthy? Because they never cared about the debt at all. It’s just a convenient bludgeon for them to use in their decades-long war against Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Indeed, they have opposed these programs ever since they came into existence.

That opposition comes from the fundamental immorality at the heart of the Republican Party. It is a political party united around the principle that only the wealthy have any value. It is a party that has disdain for everyone else. A party that believes hardworking Americans doing backbreaking work at less than subsistence wages are lazy freeloaders.

Republican politicians are usually careful enough to not reveal their true attitude publicly during election seasons. But in unguarded moments, they say what they really mean.

In case the policies are too subtle or opaque, their immorality and their contempt for the rest of us have been made completely transparent by recent public comments from Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA.)

Hatch, in a heated exchange with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), explained why Republicans have failed to renew CHIP, which provides health insurance to poor children. Shockingly, he said: “I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, won’t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything.”

Social Security and Medicare are benefits that are earned, just like Senator Hatch’s government salary. But his comments had to be referencing their beneficiaries. There is no other way to get to trillions of dollars.

Similarly, Grassley, explaining why the GOP wants to eliminate the estate tax, which only impacts the wealthiest 0.02 percent of Americans, stated: “I think not having the estate tax recognizes the people that are investing, as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.”

Apparently, if working and middle-class Americans didn’t spend money on alcohol, women (who Grassley tellingly refers to as commodities rather than people), or entertainment, they could have $5.49 million to leave to their heirs! And, because Donald Trump has led such a puritanical life, he should be free of paying taxes toward the common good!

Grassley and Hatch’s comments are both woefully out of touch and deeply immoral. But they are not out of step with their party. Ryan frequently talks about “makers and takers.” He has claimed that “we’re going to a majority of takers versus makers in America…They’ll be dependent on the government for their livelihoods [rather] than themselves.”

Ryan insists that Social Security and Medicare, earned benefits that he dismissively calls “safety nets”, are in danger of becoming “a hammock, which lulls able-bodied people into lives of complacency and dependency,” turning them into slothful and lazy “takers.” More crudely and succinctly, former Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) asserted that Social Security is “a milk cow with 310 million tits [sic]!”

These comments reveal the utter contempt Republican politicians have for hardworking Americans. It is ironic that the Republicans who are pushing to eliminate the estate tax apparently do not consider the heirs of billionaires to be “takers” but save that pejorative label for hardworking Americans who have the audacity to claim the Social Security and Medicare benefits they have earned.

Republican politicians speak of economic growth, “saving” Social Security and Medicare, and the need to rein in the deficit. But the truth is clear to anyone who is willing to really look. Today’s GOP is interested only in doing the bidding of their billionaire donors so that they can retain power. It is a party of politicians who, despite their claim to the contrary, are disdainful of hardworking Americans.

The American people did not vote for this morally bankrupt philosophy. None of the candidates in last year’s election ran on gutting Medicare and Medicaid, denying health care to poor children, or providing a massive tax transfer to billionaires. Republicans never do. Instead, they focus on trumped up scandals, personality, and divisiveness.

But next year, they are likely to find that their tax scam (regardless of if it ultimately becomes law) was a step too far — especially if Ryan acts on his plans to follow it with further attacks on Medicare and Medicaid. Voters will be furious, and they will not be distracted from their anger.

Democrats need to channel that anger by promising to govern in the exact opposite way that Republicans have. They should run hard on a pledge to protect and expand Social Security and Medicare. If they do, voters will know that the Democratic Party is the party of family values; they will know that Democrats are the politicians who respect all Americans, even those that happen not to be wealthy.

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The GOP's Tax Cut Bonanza Is a Major Attack on Medicare

Do you trust Paul Ryan to protect your Medicare benefits? How about White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, a former member of the House Freedom Caucus, and like Ryan, a longstanding foe of Medicare?

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the GOP tax bill will instantly trigger $400 billion in automatic cuts to Medicare in the next 10 years, including $25 billion in the first year after enactment alone.

These cuts are the result of a law known as Statutory PAYGO. That law requires an automatic cut in spending when Congress increases the deficit. The tax bill is, in Donald Trump’s words, “a big, beautiful Christmas present”—for Trump’s family and other billionaires. If the Republicans are successful in passing a tax bill that increases the deficit by $1.5 trillion, as they intend, the provisions of PAYGO will be activated.

To be clear: If the tax bill passes the Senate and is signed into law by Trump, nothing more needs to be done to cut Medicare. If the House and Senate do nothing, the cuts take effect immediately after the end of the congressional session and get bigger every passing year. A vote for this tax bill is a vote to cut Medicare.

These Medicare cuts could be waived if a majority of the House and 60 senators vote to do so. But given the Republican hostility to Medicare, together with Social Security and Medicaid, not acting and then blaming an Obama-era law is much more likely. Paul Ryan readily admits that he has been dreaming of cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security since he was a college student “drinking out of kegs.” There’s no way he would pass up such a golden opportunity.

The law gives the White House Office of Management and Budget the exclusive power to determine how to implement the Medicare cuts. The head of that office is Mulvaney, a self-described “right-wing nutjob” and anti-government zealot who shares Ryan’s desire to cut and destroy Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security (along with just about every other non-defense government program). Passing this tax bill gives him the power to decide how to cut Medicare. Given his desire to destroy Medicare, he is likely to implement the most destructive cuts possible.

Statutory PAYGO is a law that never should have been passed. It makes it much easier for Congress to force cuts to vital programs like Medicare by passing unrelated bills which then need to be offset. But that said, just like the similarly misguided debt limit that Republicans regularly use for hostage taking, it is the law of the land.

That means every House member who voted for the tax bill voted for a massive cut to Medicare. Every senator who votes for the Senate counterpart will be responsible as well. The American people must hold them accountable for it.

That accountability starts by putting relentless pressure on senators ahead of their vote on the bill, which is scheduled for the week after Thanksgiving. Now is the time to hold huge protests outside the offices of Republican senators, demanding that they vote no on a bill that would gut Medicare to pay for an unconscionable tax giveaway to the wealthy. If senators are making any public appearances such as marching in a Thanksgiving parade, they need to be faced with a large and angry crowd.

The tax bill is one enormous attack on our health. It takes away the ability of those with large health care costs to deduct those costs from their taxes. It repeals the part of the Affordable Care Act that seeks to make health insurance affordable. The consequence of that is $185 billion less in health insurance subsidies and $179 billion in Medicaid cuts. All so Republicans can shower huge tax giveaways on their wealthy donors. And those tax giveaways trigger automatic cuts to Medicare.

The Republicans are trying to enact this assault on our health care as rapidly as possible while the American people are distracted by the holiday season. When health care premiums go up, when Medicare gets cut, and when Medicaid gets cut, they will blame Obamacare—even though that is a shameless lie.

We cannot let them get away with this. Defeating this anti-health monster is essential. Since last January, Trump and his congressional allies have engaged in a nonstop war—a war on seniors, on people with disabilities, on children with pre-existing conditions, on everyone but the plutocrats.

The plutocrats have the money. But we have the numbers. If we stand together and continue to resist, we will win.

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Trump’s War on Dreamers and Other Immigrants Is a Frontal Attack on Everyone's Economic Safety Net

Donald Trump reportedly will announce on Tuesday that he will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the legal protection accorded to 800,000 young people, known as “Dreamers,” who have lived in the United States since they were children. Dreamers are contributing members of society who grew up here but happened to be born in another country to mothers who moved here without the proper papers.

So much for not being punished for the sins of our parents. And for not being arbitrary and capricious in our public policy. Two siblings, a year apart in age, could face very different circumstances simply because the younger one was born inside the United States and the older one outside. One would be, thanks to our Constitution, an American citizen, with all the rights and privileges citizenship grants. The other could be a demonized “other,” subject to the whims of Trump.

The United States is the home of both siblings, just as much as it is for everyone else who grew up here. President Obama appropriately coaxed Dreamers out of the shadows on the promise that their government wouldn’t come along and exile them from their homes. They trusted their government. By doing so, not only are the Dreamers now in jeopardy, but so are other members of their families.

Trump’s action is part of his larger war on immigrants. He recently suggested changing the immigration laws so that the number of people immigrating to the United States would be cut in half. He has defamed immigrants by asserting that they are criminals – even though immigrants have lower crime rates than native-born Americans. He has unleashed the power of the federal government to hunt down and deport people on the flimsiest of excuses, often separating mothers from children in the process.

His attitude toward immigrants is ignorant, stupid, and immoral. Trump is showing himself to be cruel and callous. His cavalier announcement that he would wait until after the holiday weekend to announce what he plans for the Dreamers and their families perfectly exemplifies his cruel and callous indifference to causing fear and worry.

But his policies are more than cruel and callous. They are destructive of our country in general and of our Social Security system, in particular.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the brilliant composer, lyricist, and performer, explained it in a succinct and catchy fashion, in a line from his hit musical Hamilton: “Immigrants, we get the job done!” Immigrants, in general, and the Dreamers, specifically, are members of the armed forces, firefighters, doctors, nurses, teachers, and other contributing members of our society.

Take, for example, Tomas Pendola, a high school chemistry teacher who came to this country at age 10. Now aged 25, he is one of about 20,000 Dreamers teaching in our schools. If they are deported, hundreds of thousands of our nation’s children will lose their teachers.

Trump’s decision to end DACA puts our communities at risk. It also damages our economy. Trump’s action will cost the economy hundreds of billions of dollars in lost GDP. It will also hit Social Security’s financing, making it harder to expand, and not cut, our earned benefits.

Immigration is a net plus for Social Security’s financing. Because immigrants are generally younger, they contribute currently and do not draw benefits until far into the future. Ironically, undocumented workers contribute even more. They are prohibited from receiving Social Security, even when they can prove that they have contributed and so earned those benefits, just like the rest of us. The Social Security Administration has estimated that undocumented workers pay billions of dollars to Social Security each year, but earn no benefits as a result of those contributions.

If Trump has his way and cuts immigration in half, Social Security will lose $2.4 trillion over the next 75 years. In contrast, if immigration were doubled, Social Security would gain around $5 trillion over the next 75 years. The increased revenue that would flow to Social Security as the result of increased immigration would be about two and half times the cost of switching to the more accurate Consumer Price Index for the Elderly, so that benefits don’t erode. That projected increased revenue is about seventeen times the cost of restoring benefits to students between the ages of 18 and 22, whose working parents have died or become disabled. It is more than four times the cost of recognizing the invaluable role of family caregivers by providing Social Security wage credits to stay-at-home parents and other family caregivers. Indeed, it is substantially more than the cost of giving all current and future beneficiaries a five percent increase starting today!

The right policy, reflecting both the values and the self-interest of the country, is to expand immigration while bringing undocumented immigrants out from the shadows. But Trump is pursuing just the opposite. And the reason is not hard to see.

In order to keep all of us from uniting against him and his billionaire cronies, who refuse to pay their fair share towards the common good, he seeks to get us to fight with one another. In magic, it is called misdirection: Don’t look at all the upward redistribution of wealth; focus, instead, on our different heritages, religions, beliefs, and other qualities that set us apart from one another. President Franklin Roosevelt understood this tactic well. In a speech defending Social Security, he eloquently reminded us, “It is an old strategy of tyrants to delude their victims into fighting their battles for them.”

Let us not let ourselves be so deluded. Let’s join together to fight against Trump’s divisive tactics and policies. Let’s join together and fight for policies that unite us, including the expansion of Social Security. A good place to start paying for that expansion is by increasing immigration and inviting Dreamers and others living in the shadows to come into the sunshine and join our great nation that reminds us, every time we look at our money, that out of many, we are one.

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Gutting Obamacare: Opening Salvo in the Republican War on Seniors, Middle-Aged and Poor Americans

If Republican elites in Congress were honest about their agenda, no senior would ever vote Republican.

While Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans campaigned on undoing the Affordable Care Act, no one ran on undermining Medicare or Medicaid. No one ran on undermining the health security of seniors. But the so-called repeal and replacement of the ACA would do just that.

Let’s start with Medicare. Seniors aged 65 and over, as well as people with serious disabilities, rely on Medicare for their basic health insurance. That program will be seriously weakened if the Republican plan to gut the ACA is enacted. It is estimated that Medicare’s revenue will drop by $346 billion. The Republican bill to repeal the ACA drains Medicare to gives tax breaks to wealthy Americans and corporations. In fact, even before Republicans pass a so-called “tax reform bill,” this bill’s giveaway amounts to a whopping $525 billion tax break for the wealthiest among us.

For those who have been paying attention, this weakening of Medicare is not surprising. In fact, it is just the first step in the eventual dismantling of this vital program, which Speaker Paul Ryan has been advocating for years. Consistent with that goal, as soon as the election ended, Ryan announced his intention to voucherize Medicare. He falsely claimed that Republicans had to “address” [code for dismantle] Medicare, saying, “because of Obamacare, Medicare is going broke.”

That is an enormous lie. The ACA strengthened Medicare’s finances. It is the Republican bill that would weaken Medicare. The next step will be undoing Medicare, by replacing its guaranteed insurance with vouchers. In that way, Republicans will shift Medicare’s costs from the government balance sheet to the shoulders of seniors, who will be on their own.

Medicaid is another program vital to seniors and people with disabilities. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has found that at least 70 percent of seniors will need long-term care at some point. Medicaid currently pays for the long-term care of more than 60 percent of nursing home residents.

The GOP’s bill, if enacted, will place caps on Medicaid spending, again shifting costs away from the federal balance sheet and to the balance sheets of states and individuals. If that is enacted, seniors needing long term care and their families may find themselves out of luck, since nursing home care is extremely expensive. It is estimated that the typical annual cost of a semi-private room in a nursing home is $80,300. Very few families can afford that huge cost on their own.

And the impact on seniors not yet 65, and so, not yet on Medicare, will be the harshest of all. They will have more difficulty obtaining insurance and will face higher health care costs if this legislation is enacted and implemented.

(Editor's note: As Vox reported in its Tuesday analysis, "In general, the impact of the Republican bill would be particularly severe for older individuals, ages 55 to 64. Their costs [of annual premiums] would increase by $5,269 if the bill went into effect today and by $6,971 in 2020. Individuals with income below 250 percent of the federal poverty line would see their costs increase by $2,945 today and by $4,061 in 2020.")

In addition to slowing the cost of health care generally, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) limited the amount that insurance companies could charge seniors for healthcare. Upon repeal, insurance companies will be free to implement the ageist policy that charges even healthy seniors five times more for no reason other than their age. Not only that, the bill reduces what services insurance is required to cover. The result: people will be paying far more money for much worse coverage. This will be devastating for people in their fifties and early sixties, who aren’t yet eligible for Medicare.

The truth is that all of these cuts are entirely unnecessary. In fact, Medicare should be expanded to cover all of us. Medicare and Medicaid are more efficient than private insurance. Other nations are able to provide health care as a right, at a fraction of the cost with better health outcomes. We should be building on the successes of Medicare and Medicaid and the cost savings measures of the ACA. But instead, Republicans in Congress want to take us backwards.

Their reasons? Ideology, power, and greed. By proving that government can play a positive role in people’s lives, and provide wage and health insurance better and more efficiently than the private sector, Medicare and Medicaid, together with Social Security, disprove the GOP’s radical anti-government philosophy. Who would benefit from a nation without Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or the ACA? Wealthy donors.

While the top one percent has most of the nation’s wealth, we still are a nation of one person, one vote. Seniors and their families have the numbers to defeat this attack. But it will demand that all of us make our voices heard.

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Did Donald Trump Cheat on Social Security and Medicare Taxes, Paying Less Than Minimum Wage Workers?

In 1995, did billionaire Donald Trump pay less for Social Security and Medicare than minimum wage workers paid? Has he paid less in every subsequent year? If he did, he probably cheated.

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Important Assumptions About Trump: What He Says Will Likely Be False; What He Does May Very Well Not Be in the Interest of the Country

Now that a majority of electors have cast their ballots in favor of Donald Trump, he will have the lawful powers of the presidency, as prescribed in the Constitution and the laws of the United States. Legal authority is not equivalent, however, to political legitimacy, moral authority, or entitlement to civic respect.

Trump’s legal authority will give him the power to issue executive orders and repeal existing ones. If he signs bills passed by Congress, those enactments ― however stupid or destructive they may be — will be the law of the land, unless the courts find them unconstitutional. Similarly, Trump will be the Commander in Chief of the armed forces, because the Constitution confers that power on the holder of the office. As a result, as long as Trump’s actions are consistent with law, opponents can and should publicize the costs and hazards of those actions, but will lose if they mount legal challenges.

Though Trump has legal legitimacy, he totally lacks political legitimacy. He seized power through a cumulative set of actions that thoroughly undermine the integrity of the election outcome. These illegitimate actions include voter suppression engineered by the Republican Party; highly inappropriate and outrageous interventions in the election by the Director of the FBI; persistent demonizing and intimidation of a free press; and, most egregious, a deliberate attempt (openly encouraged by Trump himself) by a hostile foreign government to influence the election in his favor. Taken together, these actions fatally undercut the political legitimacy of Trump’s presidency.

He also lacks the moral authority normally associated with the Presidency. Trump’s deficiencies of character undercut any notion that he deserves moral or civic respect. His deep flaws have been on full exhibit before, during, and after the election campaign. These character failures are revealed in his blatant and persistent lies; the scapegoating of vulnerable groups; eight years as a birther; a disgusting history as a sexual predator and racist; and conflicts of financial interest so wide and deep that he will be impeachable on day one of his presidency.

How should Americans treat a president who has bare legal legitimacy but lacks both political legitimacy and moral authority? Some say that all Americans should wait and see how he performs in the job, and that other leaders should work with him where common interests can be found. They argue that, for the good of the country, we should put the election behind us and treat Trump with political and moral respect — that is, that we should strive to normalize his presidency.

We respectfully but emphatically disagree. It would be a grave error to ignore his political illegitimacy and lack of moral authority. Other elected officials, the media, and the citizenry at large have no obligation to afford him the slightest political respect. Rather, the next four years should be a time of resistance and outright obstructionism. Opponents of Trump should be at least as aggressive in challenging the political legitimacy and moral authority of his presidency as Republicans were in disrespecting President Obama, whose political legitimacy and moral authority were beyond reproach.

What concrete presumptions flow from the political and moral illegitimacy of Trump’s presidency? Here are four:

  • Everything Trump speaks, writes, tweets, or otherwise expresses should be presumed false, unless there is reliable (to the listener) evidence that it is true. He has lied so often and so blatantly, and his followers have so persistently rejected the idea of objective truth, that no responsible citizen should believe a word he says unless it can be independently verified. The press will be acting irresponsibly unless it covers him according to this principle.

  • Trump should never be presumed to be acting in the best interests of the United States. His actions with respect to his business interests and his family’s wealth suggest that his highest loyalties are to those personal concerns, and his loyalty to the nation is completely secondary. His encouragement of the Russian cyberattack on the election is just the most extreme example of his loyalty to himself over loyalty to his country. Every move he makes should therefore be presumed to represent a conflict of interest, unless he can demonstrate that no conflict exists.

  • The wealthy donors and others he appoints to office should be presumed incompetent and riddled with interest conflicts until proven otherwise. His emphasis on a cult of personal loyalty, insensitivity to conflicts of interest, alliances with bigots, and willingness to appoint people wholly ignorant of, and indeed hostile to, the tasks associated with a particular office, mean that the burden of proof should always be on Trump to demonstrate the competence and honesty of his appointees. Unlike what routinely occurs in a normal presidency, Senators should give absolutely no deference to his choices. Indeed, nominees requiring confirmation should be questioned at length and scrutinized with care, in order to expose their flaws. Confirmation of nominees should be slowed down and blocked in every procedural way possible.

  • Trump’s substantive judgments should be presumed ignorant, and, at times, dangerous. His unwillingness to educate himself about crucial details of national security and domestic policy, or to surround himself with expert and trustworthy advisors, means that every substantive judgment he makes is highly likely to be flawed.

Democratic leaders should take every opportunity to act in accordance with these presumptions. Common inter-branch traditions and norms of civility should be laid aside for the duration of the Trump regime. For example, Senate Democrats should never provide unanimous consent, including to allow Trump’s incompetent and financially conflicted nominees to be confirmed prior to January 20. Democrats should force votes at every turn and use the filibuster aggressively, as Republicans did during the Obama years. The goal should be to prevent the smooth flow of Senate action in order to stall Trump’s illegitimate agenda as much as possible.

On January 20, Democrats should boycott Trump’s inauguration. As befits a lying president, Democrats should be quick to shout “You lie!” when Trump addresses joint sessions, just as Republicans shouted at President Obama. When Trump praises Vladimir Putin or Russia in formal addresses, Democrats should rise and chant “Puppet! Puppet!” In short, Democrats should learn the lesson Republicans have taught them: Don’t bring boxing gloves to a knife fight.

At noon on January 20, 2017, we will have a new president. The office of the presidency deserves respect, but the new occupant has relied on illegitimate means to seize power, and he deserves moral contempt. Polling reveals that these concerns are widespread among the electorate. Two thirds of Democrats want to see resistance, and well fewer than half — just 38 percent ― of the entire electorate believe Trump to be minimally qualified for the presidency. Democratic leaders should take notice and act accordingly.

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