Once Again, Trump Dissents From His Own Policy

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


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.

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

Dear Reader,

This feels like the most important fundraising drive since I've been CEO of Mother Jones, with staggeringly high stakes and so much uncertainty. In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," I try to unpack the reality we all face and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support Mother Jones’ nonprofit journalism: We need to raise $400,000 to help cover the vital reporting projects we have planned, and right now is no time to pull back.

Monika Bauerlein, CEO, Mother Jones

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate