Opinion by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Recently, President Temer has been spending 95 percent of this time finding ways to convince members of Congress not to allow the STF to try him for corruption. One of these ways was to throw about US$1 billion at Congressmen’s pet projects, money Brazil cannot afford if it is to balance its budget.
Another way was to ensure the support of the agribusiness lobby by agreeing to let them resume deforestation at will — after all, agribusiness is the only part of the Brazilian economy that’s even close to growth mode, and there aren’t many tree huggers in Congress.
Another 4.9 percent of his time was figuring out how he could raise many billions of dollars in taxes needed to balance the budget without angering all the special interest groups that now support him. He came up with increasing taxes on gasoline, diesel and ethanol fuels by fifteen percent, which means that car and truck owners will suffer most of the burden. Temer says the people will understand.
The remaining 0.1 percent of his time he used to select a new Minister of Culture, and sashay down to Rio to ceremoniously install the newbie in office, because the newbie is a Carioca and Rio, once the seat of Brazilian culture, is miffed about having lost its hegemony to São Paulo.
While here, Temer decided to throw a bone to Rio’s signature “cultural” event: Carnival. He told the newbie that his ministry should definitely support Carnival as Culture, and he should soon, tin cup in hand, mosey over to the Minister of Finance, and ask for some loose change.
As all Cariocas know, Mayor Crivella recently cut the subsidy given LIESA by fifty percent, restoring it to its 2015 level (R$12 million) rather than continuing the outlandish 2016 figure of R$24 million. LIESA, comprising a gang of miscreants who run Rio’s numbers racket, had squawked raucously about having to cancel Carnival.
Temer, long used to dealing with a different gang of criminals (the three hundred Scoundrels in Congress whose votes he is shamelessly courting) evidently heard their squawks and decided to encourage them, if only rhetorically—he’s not actually promising any funds will be granted.
Temer apparently thinks the federal government should siphon off taxpayer money into the pockets of gangsters so there can be Carnival parades. He does not think that federal taxpayer money should go to the bankrupt State of Rio, where all essential public services (sanitation, schools, hospitals, police) are in meltdown.
What kind of President thinks “panem et circenses” (cheap food and entertainment) is the best way to govern Brazil?
The Curmudgeon had hoped that, after Dilma’s impeachment, Temer would be able to govern Brazil and accomplish something worthwhile. Sadly, Temer has shown himself to be as venal and shameless as Lula, and is clearly incapable of governing a serious country.