Hey, Mr. President, where is the money going to come from for that $54 billion increase in the defense budget?
“The money is going to come from a revved-up economy,” Mr. Trump said on Fox and Friends when asked where he would find the budget cuts. “I mean, you look at the kind of numbers we’re doing, we were probably GDP of a little more than 1%. And if I can get that up to three, maybe more, we have a whole different ballgame.”
His words were the latest example of the president offering a conflicting point of view from a member of his cabinet. On Monday, his director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, said nondefense agencies were being asked to find cuts to offset the boost to defense.
What do you think the strategy is here? Or is there one? I mean, this business of Trump directly contradicting something his staff says—or vice versa—has happened way too often to be a coincidence. Is it designed to confuse everyone so that nobody knows what to protest? Or is it just incompetence? Or is it a clever strategy of always saying the least objectionable thing possible whenever he’s on a TV show watched by his base?
I suppose the smart money is on incompetence. Occam’s Razor and all that. But I’m going with the third option. I think Trump lets his staff dole out bad news, which will show up at the New York Times, but personally presents the same news in the best possible light whenever he’s on friendly TV turf. He won’t be questioned about it, and his base will be reassured that everything is fine. If the eggheads all get into a tizzy over this on their blogs and newspaper columns, who cares?
In any case, what’s really amazing is how much nonsense Trump was able to pack into two sentences:
- He is directly contradicting the statement of his OMB director less than 24 hours before.
- He can’t increase the defense budget by $54 billion anyway, since that would violate the Budget Control Act.
- His plan to get real GDP growth up to 3 percent is a ridiculous fantasy.
Impressive! No wonder he’s so good on Twitter.