GUEST COLUMN: Trahant Reports

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mark trahant.jpgPresidential Debate season begins on

Aug. 6

What do you do with sixteen

candi­dates? It’s a thorny problem for Republi­cans. Why’s

that? Because right now one of those candidates, Donald Trump, is

loud enough to drown out all the other “major” candidates.

Wouldn’t it be fun if the nomina­tion

contest was more like a basketball tournament? Then top-seeded Donald

Trump would battle 16th seed Ohio Gov. John Kasich a battle of ideas.

Or how about dropping the bunch in the jungle Naked and Afraid. We

could even start voting and eliminate a candidate every week, until

it’s just the Republican versus a Democrat.

Enough. Back to the chaos. And Don­ald

Trump.

As The Washington Post put it on July

26: “For yet another week, Trump talk dominated the Sunday morning

political shows, with several devoting roundtable discussions to his

disruption of the GOP presidential primary and at least two of his

GOP rivals using their clashes with him in recent days as a means of

secur­ing interviews on the shows — during which they continued

to clash with him.”

On Aug. 6 in Cleveland the first debate

is set, an opportunity to raise serious issues. As if. It’s more

likely that it will be Trump versus the other nine candidates tossing

one liners back and forth.

Of course American Indian and Alaska

Native issues don’t get attention this early anyway. Usually that

hap­pens late in the campaigns, during the general election, when

a position paper is released that outlines the candidate’s official

policy. That’s too bad. It would be good to press candidates from

both parties about how they see treaties, the federal-Indian

relationship, and the management of federal programs that serve

Native Americans.

Then again it’s pretty clear where

most stand. The Tea Party wing of the Republicans – Trump, Marco

Rubio, Scott Walker, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul – would

dramatically cut fed­eral spending. Paul has even called for the

elimination of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and drastic cuts at the

Indian Health Service. If any of this happened, the Sequester would

be the Good Old Days.

Even a self-described serious

candi­date, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, suggests its time to

reshape government. A few days ago in Tallahassee, he said that as

governor he used a hiring freeze to shrink state government. He

sug­gested the same approach would work in Washington where only

one employee could be hired for every three who retire or leave

government service. Bush also said it ought to be easier to fire

federal employees. “There are a lot of exemplary employees in the

federal government, but they’re treated no better than the bad

ones,” he said. “The bad ones are al­most impossible to

effectively discipline or remove.”

Candidate Kasich was chairman of the

House Budget Committee when President Bill Clinton declared the “era

of big government is over.” That suited Kasich then. And now. One

proposal at the time was to “reinvent” the Bureau of Indian

Affairs with a block grant program. “The reinvented Bureau of

In­dian Affairs would provide block grants, rather than engaging

in the direct provi­sion of services or the direct supervision of

tribal activities,” the House proposal said. This “would reduce

the central of­fice operations of the BIA by 50 percent and

eliminate funding for the Navajo and western Oklahoma area offices.

It would eliminate technical assistance of Indian enterprises,

through which tech­nical assistance for economic enterprises is

provided by contracts with the private sector or with other Federal

agencies.” Congress would have ended direct loans and reduce loan

guarantees.

The Republicans running for presi­dent

all share contempt for the Afford­able Care Act (and most don’t

know that would include the provisions of the Indian Health Care

Improvement Act.) All are also supportive of more develop­ment,

such as the Keystone XL pipeline, and generally dismissive of any

action to limit climate change.

I don’t know. I’m still partial to

a Naked and Afraid competition.

Mark Trahant is an independent

journal­ist and a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. For

up-to-the-minute posts, download the free Trahant Reports app for

your smart phone or tablet.