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In Trump’s Budget, Both Epic Betrayal And Mathematical Fraud

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In Trump’s Budget, Both Epic Betrayal And Mathematical Fraud


Elect a fraudster to the presidency — remember Trump University and the Trump Foundation? — and he will soon deliver a fraudulent budget. What makes this presidential fraud’s first budget so special is its perpetration of egregious trickery on more than one level, simultaneously.

Aside from defense spending, the Trump budget violates nearly every programmatic promise he made to voters last year. And adding insult to real injuries, he pretends to fulfill his promise to balance the budget with fake numbers.

 Not only are the numbers phony, but they represent the most audacious mathematical con game in a federal budget that anyone in Washington can remember. It is phonier than the phony budgets cooked up during the Reagan era, when the president’s own budget director eventually confessed, “None of us really understands what’s going on with all these numbers.”

Trump’s numbers aren’t really so hard to understand. They’re just hard to believe. First, he projects an average three percent growth in gross domestic product over the next decade, which no sane economist of either party considers possible, let alone likely. Then he estimates that this economic spurt will produce $2 trillion in federal revenues — and he counts those trillions twice in the same budget. It’s hard to believe but true: The same $2 trillion is supposed to offset the Trump tax cuts that mostly benefit the wealthiest taxpayers, and to balance the budget over the next ten years.

 Hillary Clinton peppered her Wellesley College commencement address Friday with barbs aimed at her rival in last year's presidential election, criticizing President Donald Trump's budget proposal as a mean-spirited "con." The former Democratic presidential nominee never mentioned Trump by name even as she lashed out at his proposed budget as "an attack of unimaginable cruelty on the most vulnerable among us." She said during her speech at her alma mater that the spending proposal fails to address critical issues such as opioid addiction and climate change.

So Trump is pretending that his tax cuts will produce revenue growth instead of revenue deficits. And he is claiming that his pretend $2 trillion will somehow fill up a $4 trillion hole. When reporters pointed out that this doesn’t add up as economics or arithmetic, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney amazingly affirmed that he had set down this double counting of trillions of dollars “on purpose.” He went on to claim that the budget would work out anyway because its other calculations are so “conservative.”

 Meanwhile, the details of Trump’s budget show in black-and-white just how coldly he swindled the voters who believed him last year.

 At the big rallies where he basked in their adulation, Trump’s supporters heard him promise, again and again, that he would “save Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, without cuts.” They heard him angrily accuse other Republican candidates of wanting to cut those popular, vital, and successful programs. They heard him vow to “solve the student loan crisis,” which was hurting their kids, because they “should not be asked to pay more on their loans than they can afford and the debt should not be an albatross around their necks for the rest of their lives.” They heard him guarantee, in the most emotional terms, that their narcotics-addicted families, friends and neighbors, would receive “the top treatment” necessary to “get better.” They heard him swear to expand Medicaid treatment in communities ravaged by opioid addiction. And they wildly applauded when he described a trillion-dollar infrastructure program to rebuild the nation and create millions of high-wage jobs.

According to his budget –grandly titled “A New Foundation For American Greatness” — those speeches were all hyperbole or, to put it less politely, a pack of lies.

There is in that document no sign of a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan, just the mindless observation that “simply providing more federal funding for infrastructure is not the solution.” There is no expansion of treatment slots for opioid addiction, just massive cutbacks in all drug treatment and prevention programs. There is no solution to the student-loan crisis, just the elimination of the entire federally subsidized student-loan program and the public service loan forgiveness program, which will make life worse for millions of young Americans. There is no plan to protect Social Security or Medicaid, just nearly a trillion dollars in reductions in Medicaid funding that will cut off health care for at least 14 million low-income Americans, including children, and a steep cut in Social Security disability programs.

Of course there are mammoth tax cuts for the wealthiest fraction of one percent at the plutocratic top, the same people whose loopholes Trump was once so sternly determined to close.

Only a politician who  assumes his supporters will never figure out how he scammed them would attempt such an epic betrayal. And perhaps that is the worst insult of all.

Joe Conason

A highly experienced journalist, author and editor, Joe Conason is the editor-in-chief of The National Memo, founded in July 2011. He was formerly the executive editor of the New York Observer, where he wrote a popular political column for many years. His columns are distributed by Creators Syndicate and his reporting and writing have appeared in many publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Nation, and Harpers. Since November 2006, he has served as editor of The Investigative Fund, a nonprofit journalism center, where he has assigned and edited dozens of award-winning articles and broadcasts. He is also the author of two New York Times bestselling books, The Hunting of the President (St. Martins Press, 2000) and Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth (St. Martins Press, 2003). Currently he is working on a new book about former President Bill Clinton's life and work since leaving the White House in 2001. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, including MSNBC's Morning Joe, and lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

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  1. insbuysrv May 27, 2017

    The Trump supporters don’t want to examine the math or Trump’s broken promises they just want to blame our problems on Muslims, migrants, liberals and Obama while they wear their red “Make America Great Again” baseball caps. Logic has no place in their discussions.

    1. TZToronto May 27, 2017

      Scapegoats are always available for those who are dissatisfied with their lives.

    2. queenbee May 27, 2017

      I totally agree!

  2. sigrid28 May 27, 2017

    At this juncture, the voters in Trump’s impoverished, information-challenged base are like a battered spouse, locked into their devotion to a beloved television icon and at the same time bracing for the next punch in the face. Like a battered spouse, perhaps a woman with children who cannot believe her luck to be married to a charismatic celebrity, they cannot yet believe that someone they love with such undying devotion means to hurt them and the children they have had together. Trump’s glamour as a television star blinds them, so that they value loyalty to him above their own safety or the well-being of their children. In many ways, it is like a full-blown, soap-operatic infatuation.

    So these love-struck Trump voters cling to Republican reassurances that congress will take the sting out of this damnable budget. They assume that the AHCA will be amended by congress to do less harm. They assume that everyone in Washington is out there cleaning up after their television icon to make him look good and to help him get away with his lovable bad-boy pranks. Trump’s followers imagine that by demonstrating their undying love for their Abuser-in-chief they can save themselves and their children from the consequences of his destructive behavior and his perverse ideology. Nothing will disabuse them of this idea until it is too late.

    1. dbtheonly May 27, 2017

      It’s kinda too late already.

      1. Janetcmccullers May 28, 2017

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  3. Dapper Dan May 27, 2017

    I’m assuming Trump failed math bigly when he went to school. These numbers might work at Trump U but they certainly won’t work in the real world. Once a conman always a conman

  4. A. D. Reed May 27, 2017

    One doesn’t have to think hard to understand why Trump loves “the poorly educated.” Not only is he one of them himself, but he relies on their ignorance and — let’s face it — stupidity to accept his ignorance and stupidity as something good. He has suffered from delusions of adequacy his entire life, and they imagine (is that the right word for people who cannot do so?), like him, that they know what they’re talking about.

    I don’t remember the term for those who are too stupid to realize they’re stupid, but it applies to his followers and their leader.

  5. plc97477 May 27, 2017

    Sorry, but if you are going to believe a known liar then you are going to get taken.

  6. TZToronto May 27, 2017

    When the jobs in the coal mines don’t materialize and health care becomes unavailable or completely unaffordabTrump’s followers may begin to realize that they’ve been fleeced–bit I doubt it. Instead, they’ll believe Trump when he tries to say that he inherited a disaster from President Obama–much worse than he anticipated–and that it may take another six or seven years to fix it. His followers will believe him and will curse the name of Obama and–oh, and then there are the emails and. Of course. Benghazi.

    1. dbtheonly May 27, 2017

      Hey TZ,

      Trump takes the golf cart while the rest of the G-7 are walking. Trump abruptly cancels hie June 1 rally in Iowa. Trump confuses Islamic and Islamist terrorism.

      Sounds like serious health problems to me.

      Whatja think?

      1. TZToronto May 27, 2017

        Could be. It could also be a bit of lightheadness–really. Better to ride than faint. I had that problem in Colombia (similar age), but it passed. No golf cart available. Or he could be sick and out of shape.

        1. dbtheonly May 27, 2017

          I didn’t think they were that hush up. But out of shape, sure. Don’t want to look unsteady on your feet in front of all those cameras,

          But it’s the cancelled rally that got me thinking.

          I guess we can wait to see if he blows off the traditional Memorial Day ceremonies. But I’m thinking there’s something wrong.

          Thanks for getting back to me.

        2. Sand_Cat June 4, 2017

          We all know he’s mentally ill.

    2. Dominick Vila June 3, 2017

      I’ll be surprised if Trump’s inability to deliver on job creation, GDP and economic growth, and reducing the debt will have any impact on his popularity with those who support him because they hated to see a black man in the Oval Office, those who reject the notion of a female President, those who want Walls and deportations, and those who are convinced that Trump’s childish behavior during his recent visit to Europe was a sign of strength. Not to men his decision to renege on our commitment to the Paris Climate Accord. For 40% of our population, Trump is doing exactly what they want him to do. They love his cliches, his arrogance, his bullying, and even his ignorance. The reasons they support has nothing to do with economic or job growth.

  7. PrecipitousDrop May 28, 2017

    Every article about Trump’s budget overlooks the millions of jobs it will kill. During ACA, rural hospitals and clinics expanded to serve more patients. Those newer patients will be the first to lose health coverage. Cutting Medicaid will end additional funds for rural clinic and hospital operations, putting over 200,000 RNs, LPNs, phlebotomists, and other med techs back on the street in Iowa alone.
    These are good paying jobs, the kind that allow a single parent to support two kids without resorting to supplemental aid.
    Maybe they can move to West Virginia and learn to shovel coal.

  8. Aaron_of_Portsmouth May 30, 2017

    The fraudulent Trump creates a fraudulent university, proclaims in his usual imperious manner all sorts of fraudulent promises, while still concocting lies to make the fraudulent seem above board. Even the staff and his relatives have begun to ape his fraudulent mannerisms.
    All this, and a fraudulent campaign rife with lies and denigration of his opponents speaks volumes of an epic failure as a human being so many Americans decided should lead the nation. Have so many in America stooped so low in their standards of behavior as to approve of this monumental example of depravity and a base nature as to find Donald palatable and worthy of continued support?

    Even without the full details of his Russian connections and those of his mobster-like associates state side, Donald daily presents to the world what it’s like to shun morality and eschew development of a noble and upright character, and going to Saudi Arabia and to the Vatican won’t absolve him in the least. He is unfit morally speaking to embrace Christianity, and he certainly wouldn’t be able to uphold the stricter standards required to be a “decent” Muslim(jihadists aren’t Muslim, by the way—only in name).

    So, what other allegiance can Donald claim to cling to besides himself, and a godlessness that would have made Genghis Khan and Attila the Hun appear as saints??

  9. Dominick Vila June 3, 2017

    The Trump budget is a reflection of far right mentality, and the goals they are pursuing. It should not surprise anyone. With the exception of budget increases on Defense, at a time when the USA spends more and has more military firepower than the next 20 developed countries combined; and the massive transfer of wealth to corporate America and the wealthiest members of our society at the expense of our most vulnerable citizens, is consistent with what the GOP has been advocating for decades. The only difference is that they now control the WH, both chambers of Congress, a SCOTUS that leans right, most Governorships, and most state legislatures. The only obstacle to the implementation of Trump’s draconian budget is the fact that many Republican elected officials are concerned over the backlash this budget would have on their re-election chances if implemented as submitted.

    1. PrecipitousDrop June 3, 2017

      I like the sound of that, Dom.
      Let’s make it so.


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