It’s time we admitted that the president and his enablers are masters of a magician’s most successful trick — misdirection. They intentionally create distractions with one hand while with the other they make policies that harm those who voted for them.

Although they claim the current tax bill will help the middle class, it will do the opposite. It rewards their rich donors by slashing their taxes and, to make up for that loss of revenue, will cut education funding, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, admitted there would have to be major cuts in those “entitlement” programs to make up for the deficit. We all know they’re not entitlement programs, except that we’re entitled to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid because we’ve contributed to them in every paycheck we’ve received.

The GOP effort at misdirection regarding welfare programs was summed up by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, when, according to a Dec. 1 Newsweek article, he said, “liberal programs for the poor are wasting Americans’ money.” Actually, data on 2017 government spending shows the Agriculture Department’s budget, which funds the food stamp program, takes only 1 percent of the entire budget. In contrast, defense spending takes 54 percent, more than any other budget expense.

Yet Sen. Hatch and other Republicans have no problem raising the bloated Defense Department budget every time they get a chance. They don’t tell us it has proven to be filled with inefficiency, waste and overpayments, often to companies that have defrauded us. They sure won’t admit that lobbyists for defense contractors spend millions to buy their votes and they happily and consistently give those contractors whatever they want.

A perfect example is what Vice President Dick Cheney did to help start the war in Iraq. Our intelligence community agreed there was no proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, but Cheney convinced the American public and many lawmakers that it did. What a coincidence that one of the biggest contractors during and after that war was Halliburton, the company Cheney headed as CEO before he ran as George W. Bush’s vice president. Halliburton also contributed heavily to their campaign. In return, it received contracts that cost $31 billion of taxpayer money.

The article, “Waste, Greed, and Fraud: The Business that Makes the World’s Greatest Army” in the Feb. 6, 2016, issue of the Harvard Political Review states, “In the years following the 9/11 attacks, the United States and its allies have fought a continuous war on terror. The taxpayer tab for the war totals about $5 trillion, or $16,000 per person.” I bet nobody’s heard that from a Republican lawmaker.

I also bet no Fox News viewer ever heard that, under President Barack Obama, the deficit was cut by two-thirds, more jobs were created than were lost in the Great Recession, the housing, auto and banking industries were saved and the stock market started its climb to break all previous records. Instead, Fox hosts talked constantly about Benghazi and Hillary Clinton’s emails — misdirection at its finest.

They do the same with the topics of guns, abortion and immigration because it works every time. Remember when Obama first ran for president and the National Rifle Association claimed he’d take away our guns? There’s a meme with a photo of the inside of a gigantic warehouse. The caption reads, “Where all the guns are stored that Obama confiscated.” The warehouse is empty.

But people ran out and bought guns like crazy and the firearm and ammunition manufacturers that fund the NRA laughed all the way to the bank. Misdirection and lying has worked very well for the GOP’s biggest donors.

Republicans say, “If they ban guns, only the bad guys will have guns,” but refuse to admit that if abortions are banned, women will still have them, except they’ll be performed by unqualified practitioners and could result in killing the mother.

Republicans have full control of all three branches of government, but have not done the one thing that would end most illegal immigration, such as passing a law requiring a high fine or imprisonment of every employer who hires an illegal. They won’t do that because it would hurt some of their biggest donors who want cheap labor and workers who can’t complain about working conditions. And here in Wisconsin, anti-immigration Gov. Scott Walker is spending taxpayer money to recruit people from other states because he says we don’t have enough workers. It’d be funny if it weren’t so ridiculous.

You have to give them credit. They’re really good at magic and tricking the voters. It’s just too bad the magic show is costing us so much.

Pat Nash has lived in the Baraboo area, off and on, for more than 30 years. Contact her at patnash5149@gmail.com.