It's shocking, I tell you, shocking that some millionaires and billionaires would brazenly lie and cheat in a corrupt nationwide scheme to rig the entrance procedures of top colleges.
As recently reported, these self-entitled elites were gaming the system in order to weasel their undeserving children into prestigious schools, displacing more-qualified students. Where do these privileged grown-ups get the idea that truth and integrity don't matter, that they can just make up facts and bend any rules for their personal advantage?
For one answer, look no further than the Economic Report of the President, which was released at the same time the college admissions scandal was making the news. Rather than real analyses, these annual forecasts by the White House's handpicked economists have become political documents puffing up a president's record. But even by partisan public relations standards, Trump's report is shamelessly grandiose, replete with flagrant fabrications of facts and pretensions that his failed trickle-down policies are record-setting successes.
In particular, the president's voodoo economists tried to pass off his 2017 trillion-dollar corporate tax break as a mighty engine of growth for the working class. Speaking in the ecstatic tongue of voodoo sorcerers, the Trumpsters insist that their massive tax giveaway is producing a surge in corporate investment that — abracadabra! — creates jobs and pay hikes. Only ... there's been no investment surge. Corporate chieftains simply pocketed Trump's handout.
When the verbal lies of economic scoundrels aren't working, they resort to charts that convert lies into a visual appearance of progress. The Trump report has a dandy chart of deception with a baseline showing slow growth under President Barack Obama and a bright line streaking dramatically higher to show phenomenal growth when proposals such as Trump's bold infrastructure plan are enacted. Of course, the chart would be more convincing if Trump were to have actually proposed such a plan and were aggressively pushing it through Congress. But he's made no such effort, so the chart is a double fraud — or, as economist Paul Krugman calls it, "voodoo squared."
But even a White House report that's a pack of lies can reveal some awful truths.
First, the White House Council of Economic Advisers has issued a national forecast that exposes its members as the Council of Presidential Butt-Kissers. Essentially hailing Trump as genius on a stick, the sycophantish advisers tell us that his amazing set of economic policies will achieve solid growth and prosperity for the people in perpetuity. In fact, though, he's only been able to get a couple of his policies enacted, and most aren't even being considered — which is why serious policymakers are paying zero attention to this fantastical document. Indeed, some student interns who worked on the report mocked it by slipping in the names of such comic superheroes as Batman, Captain America and Spider-Man, citing them for helping prepare it!
However, on second glance, the report details a radical right-wing deregulation agenda that Trump & Company are quietly but determinedly pushing under the ruse of stimulating economic growth. For example, it calls for eliminating minimum safety and educational standards for operators of child care centers. Huh? Yes, the Trump laissez-faire ideologues declare that such regulations to protect children can "increase the cost of obtaining care, thus serving as a disincentive (for parents) to work." Yeah, just shoo the little tykes into unregulated corporate hog pens so Mom and Dad can work minimum wage jobs, thus boosting corporate profits all around ... and then call it progress.
Meanwhile, the president's economists also admit that the only way they can get America's economic growth above a dismal 2 percent a year is for Congress to make two big changes:
1. Roll back labor rules that protect America's workers from corporate exploitation. 2. Pass another round of even deeper tax cuts for corporations and billionaires, as the 2017 cuts didn't work.
Do they think we have sucker wrappers around our heads? Trump's economic report is not written by superheroes like Batman, but by Goofy, Dracula and Scrooge. When top leaders lie so blatantly for their own gain, we can't be surprised that other narcissists will take it as moral permission to do the same.
Populist author, public speaker and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes "The Hightower Lowdown," a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America's ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at HightowerLowdown.org.