Opinion: New fronts keep appearing in Trump’s war on state
When it comes to President Trump’s resentment of California because it swings so heavily against him, nothing seems to matter much: Even when he’s being impeached and mocked by NATO prime ministers, he keeps coming up with new fronts in his seemingly endless war on California.
He has long seemed to want this state to have dirtier air than it’s earned via decades of tough smog controls. He has blamed California for creating fuel for its frequent wildfires by not cleaning forest floors — even though most of those forest floors are on federal lands controlled by his appointees. He has tried to cut federal grants to police departments if they don’t cooperate completely with federal immigration authorities.
Those disputes have now raged for years, Trump sometimes seeming bored with them, perhaps because of his notoriously short attention span.
So to keep things interesting, it seems as if every month or so, The Donald tries to create yet another front in his long-running effort to crimp the Golden State. Sometimes these efforts are not specifically aimed at California: they just happen to affect California more than anyplace else.
So it is most recently with his plan to keep hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans from getting federal food stamp benefits, announced in December. In this case, Trump the so-called populist wants to cut off food aid to recipients aged 18 to 49 who don’t have dependents. Previous rules still in effect allow such folks who don’t work at least 20 hours a week to get food stamps for only three months in any three-year period.
But many recipients still can get more food stamps via waivers. Now the Trump-controlled Agriculture Department starting in April will forbid waiver availability in cities and counties with unemployment rates under 6 percent, communities easy to find when the national unemployment rate is well under 4 percent.
Nationwide, this rule change will deprive 688,000 persons of much of their food supply. About one-third of them are Californians, living in a state where the unemployment rate is consistently below national levels. Which means this crackdown targets California more than anyplace else.
Then there’s the new Trump plan to encourage new oil drilling on federal lands around the state, including some bordering the Carrizo Plain National Monument in San Luis Obispo County and near Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
This move came just after Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a state executive order cutting back both oil drilling and hydraulic fracking on private and state-owned lands as part of California’s continuing move toward being less dependent on oil and other fossil fuels.
Because the federal government controls nearly 46 percent of all land in California, and a far higher percentage of undeveloped California lands, there’s a strong possibility Trump’s administration can make his plan stick, effectively negating anything Newsom might do on this front.
And then there’s Trump’s continuing criticism of how California handles its ubiquitous problem with homelessness, which sees well over 130,000 persons without shelter most nights in virtually all parts of the state.
Trump could mitigate the problem if he liked by simply having his appointees issue about 50,000 congressionally authorized Section 8 housing vouchers which county officials could then hand out to homeless individuals and families.
Said Newsom, “Mr. President, don’t demagogue this issue. Do the right damn thing.”
But Trump, who has known he could do this ever since he began blasting California homelessness after seeing some sidewalk tent camps while on a fund-raising jaunt around the state last fall, has preferred to hector California rather than act to help homeless persons, many of them recent arrivals from other states. Some, in fact, are sent here by courts in their home states which frequently hand out bus tickets to California instead of jail sentences for minor crimes.
It adds up to a picture of a President uninterested in helping California solve problems so long as he can make it a verbal whipping boy, even if few of his threats so far have become reality.
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Email Thomas Elias at firstname.lastname@example.org. His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, visit www.californiafocus.net.