Inauguration Day is a great tradition in America, when we mark the peaceful transfer of power that is a hallmark of our democracy. In that spirit, we congratulate the new president and wish him well.
That said, we intend to do our part to hold Donald Trump and his administration up to close scrutiny. Based on the troubling things the incoming president has said, and already done, concerning social issues of great concern to the Jewish community — health care, poverty, civil rights, gender equality and the environment, to name a few — there is much that needs careful watching.
Trump had plenty of Jewish voters, and we are pleased he has made support for Israel a cornerstone of his foreign policy. But we want to see reasonable diplomacy reign, and not Twitter-fueled chaos from the Oval Office.
On the domestic side, Trump’s Cabinet appointments do not inspire confidence.
Education Secretary designate Betsy DeVos has devoted her career to undermining public schools, and this week told senators schools should keep guns on hand in case a grizzly bear shows up. Ben Carson’s only related qualification for heading Housing and Urban Development is that he once lived in urban housing. EPA director designate Scott Pruitt is an avowed enemy of environmental regulation, while Heath and Human Services secretary designate Tom Price has expressed eagerness to repeal the Affordable Care Act as soon as possible.
Repealing Obamacare is a touted priority of this new administration, yet no plan has been put forward to replace it. Such action would lead to disaster. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported this week that such a repeal would swell the deficit by $353 billion and leave 32 million Americans uninsured over the next decade. Jewish family service agencies across the country are deeply concerned for their clients, as our story this week describes.
If Torah commands us to feed the hungry and clothe the naked, then we cannot allow government to shred the social safety net.
If Torah prohibits waste and natural destruction (bal tashchit), then we cannot allow government to gut environmental regulations, as Trump has promised.
On Jan. 21, millions of Americans will march to express their concerns. Many Jews will be marching, too, among them Robert Bank, president of American Jewish World Service, who said, “We will put the new U.S. administration and Congress on notice that we are definitely walking toward justice.”
We lend our voice of support to the marchers. President Trump, keep our country great.