The Republican spending bill throws conservative fiscal principles – whatever remains of them – into the wind
Once upon a time, conservatives said they hated Barack Obama because of his budget deficits. They said he was destroying America and its future, which made them very angry indeed. They were so mad about all those Obama debts that they invented a new party, and named it after the revolutionaries who opposed a nasty British king.
The Tea Party was a collection of strange people, including one candidate who promised she wasn’t a witch. But the strangest thing happened after Obama moved out of the White House, and an orange man moved in. That was when conservatives all across America decided they didn’t actually hate debt and deficits after all.
That was just one of the many ways Donald Trump made everyone happy in America all over again. Another one was the stock market, which sometimes goes up and sometimes goes down. Everyone was happy when it went up, and nobody talked about it when it went down.
Donald Trump knows a lot about debt because he has created so much of it himself. He’s like a grand wizard of debt because he has magically escaped from several dark boxes of it. He also knows a few grand wizard types and thinks they are some very fine people.
Grand Wizard Trump first learned his magic debt spells when he built a palace called the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. He called it the eighth wonder of the world, and it certainly was wonderful how the business went bankrupt a year after it opened. Five other Trump palaces went bankrupt the next year, but he waved his wand and everything turned out fine. For him.
How did he escape from all that debt? “On occasion,” he told Hillary Clinton on television, “we used certain laws that are there.” That certainly put her in her place.
Normal people find it hard to borrow money or run businesses after so many bankruptcies. But they don’t know the magic spells that Trump knows, and they don’t have a TV show that makes any buffoon look like a real businessman. They also don’t have Russian wizard friends who buy lots of their property at ridiculously high prices because that’s how they do something they call “laundry”.
Now we all know that cleanliness is next to godliness, which is why our sparklingly clean president could say such godly things at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.
“As long as we are true to America’s founding and the example that all of these great founders have set, we can all be heroes to everybody and they can be heroes to us,” said the man who heroically gave $130,000 to his friend Stormy Daniels so she could concentrate on her movie career.
Trump was very happy to be talking at the prayer breakfast. Not because of the praying or the breakfasting, but because his best friend from TV was going to be there. “Will be heading over shortly to make remarks at The National Prayer Breakfast in Washington,” he tweeted. “Great religious and political leaders, and many friends, including TV producer Mark Burnett of our wonderful 14 season Apprentice triumph, will be there. Looking forward to seeing all!”
Even the prayer people were happy to set aside their morals. They know that Trump’s kind of magical thinking is precisely what the world needs right now, otherwise everybody would get very upset at the way the planet is warming, the threat of nuclear war, and the global refugee crisis. Right now we obviously need the kind of leader who is completely ignorant about the consequences, and just lives in the moment.
Because if we don’t live in the here and now, we might start thinking about all those Trump-sized debts that will land after a corporate tax cut that blew apart the federal budget and a spending deal that now promises to do the same.
Fortunately we live in a time when Republicans have learned from his leadership and abandoned all their old ways of thinking, which they used to call principles.
Mick Mulvaney counts the coins that are left in Trump’s budget office and he used to be worried about things like debt. But that was in the olden times, when he was trying to get confirmed for this current job, one year ago.
“Our gross national debt has increased to almost $20tn. That number is so large as to defy description,” he told senators. “I believe, as a matter of principle, that the debt is a problem that must be addressed sooner, rather than later.”
Mulvaney is so old-fashioned he called Obama’s budget in 2011 “a joke” for adding to the national debt about the same amount as Trump’s tax cuts. “It’s hard to explain how detached from reality this is, to think that the country can spend another $1.6tn when it doesn’t have the means,” he told Politico.
We all need to learn to love that old Trump magic. At the opening of his newest palace in Washington DC, just before his Russian friends helped him move into the White House, Trump used his wizarding powers of prediction to tell us what today would look like. (You knew it would look great, right?)
“Today is a metaphor for what we can accomplish for this country,” he said about a hotel that would become watering hole for foreign countries looking to line his pockets. “My job is to look at undeveloped spaces and imagine what they could be,” he explained. “These are spaces that have no hope, no future … We have so many things we can do for our country.”
And he was right. Nobody but Trump could have imagined that Republicans would vote for a trillion-dollar monster after so many years fighting a religious war against Obama for precisely the same thing. Nobody but Trump could have sold the idea of debt so well to the very people who said they hated it.
This was truly an undeveloped space in American politics, and it took a visionary like Trump to make it real. Let’s hope they all live happily ever after.
- Richard Wolffe is a Guardian columnist
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