Monday, February 10, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

Broke his debt promise, again.

Trump officially released his administration's budget plan today. By its own extremely optimistic projections, which include "savings" by not declaring future wars, it will increase the budget deficit by $3.4 trillion over the next three years. This is on top of the $3 trillion Trump has already added to the national debt. 

Budget deficits aren't inherently bad, but they're politically unpopular. Trump campaigned in 2016 on a pledge to not only not borrow money to fund the government, but to pay down the existing deficit in eight years. This isn't even mathematically possible, and it's not clear if anyone took him seriously, but Trump clearly expected people to believe him. As then-candidate Trump told the Washington Post in 2016:

TRUMP: We’re a debtor nation. We’ve got to get rid of — I talked about bubble. We’ve got to get rid of the $19 trillion in debt. 
WP: How long would that take? 
TRUMP:  I think I could do it fairly quickly, because of the fact the numbers... 
WP: What’s fairly quickly? 
TRUMP:  Well, I would say over a period of eight years.

Trump's proposal was essentially laughed out of the room by Senate Republicans. Framing it as a kindness to Trump, to spare him the "animosity" that a public examination of the proposal would generate, Senate Finance Committee chair Mike Enzi (R-WY) told reporters he wouldn't even hold a hearing on it. "I want to encourage people... not to waste any time searching out the president's budget cuts," he said.

Why does this matter?

  • Politicians who make campaign promises should at least pretend to try to keep them.