Economist Jeffrey Sachs Accuses Trump of ‘Thuggery’ at Vatican Gathering

Jeffrey Sachs of the Earth Institute, Columbia university speaks during a press conference on the sidelines of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) annual board of governors meeting in Manila on May 3, 2012. AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/GettyImages)
TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty

ROME — Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs went on a tirade against President Donald Trump at a Vatican meeting Wednesday, insisting that his reelection would be “absolutely dangerous.”

Mr. Sachs said the Trump administration has bullied other nations into supporting its policies, reported Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register.

“It’s pure politics top to bottom which has nothing to do with anything meritorious other than the idea of temporary advantage in some geopolitical contests and contexts,” said the left-wing economist.

Trump’s unilateral actions are “thuggery, a complete violation of every international rule,” said Sachs, a supporter of presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. “This is truly what we are facing. I’m sorry to say it, it’s my country and I’m not very happy to say it, but it’s an imperial power in decline and it’s a dangerous country right now and it will be absolutely dangerous if Trump wins re-election.”

The Vatican has a close, ongoing relationship with Jeffrey Sachs, one the world’s foremost proponents of population control, and brought him to Rome as a “special invitee” for the pan-Amazon Synod of Bishops last fall.

In his 2008 book Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet, Sachs argued for legalizing abortion as a cost-effective way to eliminate “unwanted children” when contraception fails.

Abortion, he wrote, is a “lower-risk and lower-cost option” than having unwanted children born into the world.

The “legalization of abortion reduces a country’s total fertility rate significantly, by as much as half a child on average,” he wrote approvingly, while criticizing America’s “Mexico City Policy,” which denies funding to NGOs that perform or promote abortions.

Particularly in Africa, Sachs wrote, abortion should be legalized and family planning programs made to “cater to adolescents as well as to married households.”

Sachs was also the lead architect of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals and pleaded for countries to include “sexual and reproductive health” and “reproductive rights” in the scheme, after they were initially left out, which eventually led to their inclusion over and against objections from the Holy See and the United States.

Sachs wrote that the Cairo Plan of Action, which called for universal access to reproductive healthcare including abortion, was “one of the most important Millennium Promises,” noting that “population policy is integral to the overall challenge of sustainable development.”

Sachs also ushered in the Sustainable Development Goals when the Millennium Development Goals expired at the end of 2015. The U.N. agenda encapsulates “17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets,” some of which directly contradict the Catholic Church’s core beliefs regarding human life.

“We are committed to ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education,” the agenda declares, in reference to contraception and abortion.

In Wednesday’s address, Mr. Sachs also accused the Trump administration of threatening multilateralism by operating with “complete lawlessness,” while blocking “every multilateral initiative” since 2017.

Multilateralism is not under threat in most of the world, Sachs said, but it is “under threat because of the United States.”

Under Trump, the U.S. has been “dismantling the international system,” Sachs warned, while urging his hearers to stand up to the “relentless U.S. daily pressure on multilateralism.”

In recent years, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences has fostered a special relationship with the Democrat party in the United States, frequently inviting its representatives to speak at its assemblies.

In 2015, the Pontifical Academy had eleven U.S. speakers for a Vatican workshop on climate change and the role of local governments, all of whom were members of the Democrat party.

Ten mayors of American cities along with California Governor Jerry Brown were invited by the Vatican to address the event, but no Republicans were present.

The ten U.S. mayors attending the event were Bill de Blasio of New York, Charlie Hales of Portland (OR), Marty Walsh of Boston, Ed Murray of Seattle, Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans, Betsy Hodges of Minneapolis, Matt Appelbaum of Boulder, William Bell of Birmingham, Sam Liccardo of San José, and Ed Lee of San Francisco.

Governor Jerry Brown, who as a young man considered becoming a priest and spent time in a Jesuit seminary, now opposes the Church on multiple matters, including abortion, gay marriage, and a host of LGBTQ issues.

“This unprecedented gathering of global leaders is a wake-up call to face up to the common threats of climate change and human exploitation,” Brown stated.

On that occasion, the Vatican also tapped Jeffrey Sachs to help organize the workshop, who said at the time that Pope Francis was “extremely excited about Mayor de Blasio coming.”

In 2016, the Pontifical Academy invited Bernie Sanders to speak to its members, an invitation Sanders attributed to the close alignment of his political message with that of Pope Francis.

“I think the Vatican has been aware of the fact that, in many respects, the pope’s views and my views are very much related,” Sanders told the Washington Post.

“He has talked in an almost unprecedented way about the need to address income and wealth inequality, poverty and to combat the greed that we’re seeing all over this world, which is doing so much harm to so many people,” he said.

The pope “does not believe in trickle-down economic theory, he does not believe, as many of my more conservative colleagues believe, that if we give more tax breaks to the rich, and we deregulate Wall Street, and deregulate industry, that somehow all of the benefits about the regulation will filter on down to ordinary people,” Sanders said in a separate interview in February 2016.

“That is a direct critique of conservative politics, and of course he’s going to be attacked for that,” Sanders said.

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