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President Trump’s generational warfare continues, as he repeatedly prioritizes cheap political wins today over the massive costs they will impose tomorrow.
Consider, first and foremost, all the ways he’s trashing the planet.
In pandering to his base last year, the president announced plans to pull out of the Paris climate accord, which would have required the United States to sharply reduce its carbon footprint by 2025. He likewise canceled NASA's carbon-monitoring research programs and disappearedonce-publicly-available government information about climate change. In rolling back environmental regulations, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency will make the air and water dirtier and expose more Americans to toxic chemicals and coal ash waste.
Who will bear the costs of a warming planet, of the intensifying hurricanes and droughts and migratory crises that will ensue? Who will bear the cost of chemicals in our drinking water and more pollutants in our air?
Why, of course, millennials, our children and those who will come after us.
Or think about Trump’s unfunded tax cut, which
, at its core, is a huge intergenerational transfer of wealth toward the old and away from the young.
It offers the biggest benefits to high earners, who are disproportionately older workers since earnings peak around age 50
. And despite the administration’s laughable claims that the tax law will pay for itself through added growth, every single independent budgetary model finds that it will massively swell the debt. The Congressional Budget Office estimates it will increase our federal debt by about $1.9 trillion
over the next decade.
Who will be stuck paying that tab, through some combination of higher taxes and reduced government services?
You guessed it: millennials, our children and those who will come after us.
Other regulatory changes cheat the young to profit their elders. Amid the flurry of Trump tweets and porn-star scandals, many of those changes have received scant attention.
With virtually no coverage, for instance, Trump’s Education Department announced on Friday it would once again delay a rule that would force colleges to disclose how their alumni fare in the job market. This makes it more difficult for students to make informed decisions about what kinds of vocational programs, particularly at marketing-savvy for-profit schools, will help them land a job.
Who will be left with mountains of student-loan debt, after chasing degrees and certificates that turn out to be worthless?
Not to sound like a broken record, but millennials, our children and those who will come after us.
Trump has proved himself intent on wrecking our planet, our national creditworthiness and our chance at a more functional higher-education system.
Now, to the detriment of future generations, he’s tarnishing Brand America itself.
In spring 2017, Pew Research Center surveyed residents of 37 countries about their views on the United States. It found that, in almost every country, our image had deteriorated. In fact, in more than half of the countries surveyed, positive views of the United States experienced double-digit drops from a year earlier.
And those results are from relatively early
in Trump’s tenure.
Since then, he has thrown tantrums on the international stage, alienating and aggravating our military allies, both at the Group of Seven gathering and now almost daily on Twitter. He has publicly pandered to Presidents Vladimir Putin
of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan
of Turkey, as well as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and other thugs, dictators and human rights violators.
He praises as “very talented” North Korea’s totalitarian leader Kim Jong Un
, who starves and imprisons millions of his people and has murdered members of his own family.
But the greatest damage to our international image likely comes from the stomach-churning cruelty that this erstwhile “nation of immigrants” is now inflicting upon asylum-seeking families at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Photos of weeping toddlers and stories of babies being ripped from their mothers’ breasts are now zipping around the world, putting the lie to any past statements that U.S. officials had made about Americans’ concern for international human rights. The United Nations’ high commissioner for human rights has personally condemned the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents, calling it “unconscionable” and “abuse.”
Trump and his administration are traumatizing thousands of innocent children, leaving emotional scars that may never heal. On a broader scale, Trump is also destroying any good will the United States has built
in the international community over the decades, as well as any standing we had to encourage less enlightened states to behave better.
Once again, it will be millennials, our children and future generations who must live with the consequences.
Catherine Rampell is an opinion columnist at The Washington Post. She frequently covers economics, public policy, politics and culture, with a special emphasis on data-driven journalism. Before joining The Post, she wrote about economics and theater for the New York Times. Follow