Thursday, August 31, 2017

Trump's Big CON: "He's So Pretty", Hurricane Harvey Edition (AKA Trump is a Psycho-Narcissistic Con Man (CONt., Part 12))

UPDATE III: "Late Tuesday night, the White House press office sent out photos of President Trump visiting Texas to see the floods unleashed by Hurricane Harvey. In each photo, the president was wearing a white hat that read “USA” in blue letters. On Sunday, the White House put out photos of Trump monitoring the storm and the floods from Camp David, wearing a similar hat — this one in red, with white letters.

You, too, can wear one of these hats. They are, apparently, the “official USA 45th presidential hat.” They’re sold exclusively online by Trump’s reelection campaign, and they cost $40 each.

The president, in other words, was decked out in campaign gear while representing the people of the United States during a massive natural disaster. And the U.S. government made sure everyone saw him wearing it.

Trump may not have violated a regulation in doing so, but there is a difference between what is technically legal and what is ethically right. . .

Unfortunately, financial conflicts of interest dominate this White House. As many of his businesses started to falter along with his approval ratings, Trump has spent 75 days at Trump-branded properties he still owns and earns profits from, properties that have advertised potential access to him in their brochures. . .

This is an administration that has placed an emphasis on Trump family businesses all along. . .

Given how often the presidency overlaps with Trump’s personal interests, it should come as no surprise that the president and the White House are showcasing apparel sold exclusively on his campaign website. This administration is in the business of Trump, and it’s business as usual."

Read the Washington Post, How President Trump turned hurricane relief into product placement for campaign swag.

UPDATE  II:  "Little of [the] high-minded rhetoric [that past presidents showed when visiting places after disasters] was on display when President Trump visited Texas on Tuesday to discuss the devastation from Hurricane Harvey. Trump, who ran on a promise of being a different kind of president, once again kept that promise.

He made virtually no mention of the storm’s victims, and there was no indication he met with any. He didn’t call for donations or volunteers. He didn’t mourn the dead.

Instead, Trump marveled at the size of Harvey ('it’s epic, what happened'), gushed about the crowd that had gathered to see him ('what a turnout'), offered hyperbole about the recovery effort (it will be 'something very special'), and thanked his FEMA administrator ('a man who has really become very famous on television over the last couple of days').

At one point he told a crowd in Corpus Christi — some carrying Trump regalia and chanting 'U.S.A., U.S.A.' — that 'we are here to take care of you, it’s going well.' And he added later that 'Texas can handle anything.'

But that was about as empathetic as he got. There was no call to action, no sweeping reassurance that his administration — and indeed, the nation — had adopted the storm victims’ struggle as its own. All told, it felt a bit like a political rally, as The Washington Post’s Jenna Johnson reported.

An array of political observers and others said Trump’s message was weak and tone deaf considering the immense scale of Harvey’s destruction."

Read the Washington Post, Trump and Harvey: ‘There was something missing’ from what the president said.

UPDATE: After tragedy, "Trump's default is not to wait and see how a situation shakes out or to be excessively cautious; it's to try to take credit and to politicize it."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s default response to tragedy: Politicize, promote and provoke.

My Mr. President, what a big hurricane you had!

The hurricane was 'epic' & 'historic', so 'his' rebuilding effort could be heroic "something very special."

And while you are waiting, no need to donate to relief efforts, his white "USA" caps "are being sold on his campaign website for $40."

Read the Washington Post, Even in visiting hurricane-ravaged Texas, Trump keeps the focus on himself.

And pay no attention to The Donald's proposed "budget calling for cuts to some of the federal government’s most consequential efforts to prepare states and local communities and help them recover from catastrophic events such as Harvey."

Trump's Big CON: No Balanced Budget, CONt'

UPDATE IV:  "President Trump on Wednesday delivered an address on his 'principles' for a tax plan in Springfield, Mo., though he provided few details. He also shifted from extolling how well the economy is doing to language that suggested the United States was suffering terribly. As usual, some of the president’s  facts and figures were a bit fishy, so here’s a roundup of 10 of his claims."

Read the Washington Post, Fact-checking President Trump’s speech on his tax plan, which shows that his claims were grossly mislead and/or false.

UPDATE III:  "Hurricane Harvey has devastated Texas. Now board your windows, evacuate the low ground and watch the damage it is poised to unleash on the nation’s finances.

Harvey makes landfall in Washington as soon as next week, when President Trump is expected to ask for what could be tens of billions of dollars in storm relief. And paying for storm recovery — probably with few offsetting spending cuts — will be but the first blow to fiscal discipline in what looks to be a particularly active, and calamitous, spending season.

After Harvey comes the debt ceiling, and there are rumblings that the vote to raise the limit could actually be used to increase spending. (In the past, such votes were used by fiscal hawks to cut spending.) At the same time come negotiations to fund the government for fiscal year 2018, and indications are that lawmakers will try to avoid a shutdown with a short-term spending deal that will include a Pentagon slush fund worth tens of billions of dollars.

Then, still forming over the Treasury Department is a fiscal Category 4: Trump and Republicans have given clear signs they are moving away from tax reform (a simplification of the tax code that doesn’t necessarily reduce revenue) toward all-out tax cuts, financed by deficit spending.

Trump, who came to power promising to eliminate the $20 trillion debt, or at least to cut it in half, is poised to oversee an exponential increase in that debt. Republicans, who came to power with demands that Washington tackle the debt problem, could wind up doing at least as much damage to the nation’s finances as the Democrats did.

Rising are the floodwaters of hypocrisy. Surging is the tide of amnesia. Blowing are the gales of profligacy. . .

[Past storms have already saturated the ground and weakened the roots of fiscal responsibility.]

First, a Harvey recovery bill without the spending 'offsets' so many Republicans demanded of previous bills. Then, a debt-limit increase, possibly secured with promises to spend more money on defense (which would buy GOP votes) and domestic priorities (for Democratic votes). Next, a spending deal that busts previously agreed budget caps by allowing an extra $70 billion or so for an 'Overseas Contingency Operations' slush fund. Eventually, a reckless tax cut doesn’t seem so crazy — particularly with midterm elections looming and no accomplishments to show.

When it rains, it pours."
 Read the Washington Post, Republicans slip into a ‘predictable spiral’.

UPDATE II: There are many ways to call the Republi-CON bluffs.

Certainly in the short term it will hurt.

But it's the only way to prove to reasonable voters that they are being CON'ed. (It's a waste of time to try to reason with diehard Republi-CONs.)

Read the Washington Post, Trump has over-promised to his base. That makes a terrible outcome more likely.

UPDATE:  "It’s finally time to stop believing Republicans when they say they’re the party of balanced budgets.

For eight years, Republicans warned the American public that we were hurtling toward certain fiscal doom. President Barack Obama’s oversight of the deficit was leaving 'America’s future in the balance,' the Republican National Committee said in 2011. A year later, Senator Mitch McConnell said the federal debt was 'the nation’s most serious long-term problem.' The debt was 'killing our economy,' according to John Boehner in 2013, when he was the House speaker.

President Trump, ostensibly the party’s standard-bearer, made it clear Thursday that he’s not very concerned about the national debt. In a series of tweets, he blamed Mr. McConnell and Speaker Paul D. Ryan for their handling of legislation to raise the debt ceiling, something Republicans argued for years had to be paired with spending cuts. 'Could have been so easy — now a mess!' the president said.

He’s right. It is a mess. But it’s not a mess Mr. McConnell and Mr. Ryan created this summer. It’s a mess Republicans laid the groundwork for over eight years of impeding a presidency and an economy because of their professed desire for fiscal restraint.

In early 2016, the R.N.C. was still warning about 'an unsustainable path toward crippling debt' after President Obama released his final budget. Mr. Trump got in on the game during the campaign, blaming Mr. Obama for leaving the country buried under a “mountain of debt.”

But once in office, Mr. Trump put forward some broad outlines for a tax reform package, signaling that he wants a variety of large cuts, regardless of whether they increase the deficit.

The Trump administration claimed that the proposed tax cuts would pay for themselves through faster economic growth. But past experience hasn’t borne that out, and it seems nearly impossible to find an economist who thinks it’s a viable theory.

None of this takes into account Mr. Trump’s plans for spending. In his first budget, he increased funding for the military and his border wall while still promising to eliminate the deficit in 10 years. Once again, economic growth was offered as the magic elixir, though the Congressional Budget Office thinks otherwise.

On cue, Mr. Ryan said President Trump’s budget was 'right on target' even as he released a statement about it that criticized Mr. Obama’s “bloated budgets that never balance.”

This about-face is not new for the party of financial responsibility. President Ronald Reagan promised to balance the federal budget and then, while in office, pushed through tax cuts and military spending that more than doubled the national debt. President George W. Bush promised to pay down the debt only to sign tax cuts and defense increases that doubled it. Republicans have a pattern of caring deeply about government finances while out of power and then forgetting those concerns when they’re in control. . .

[T]he Democrats should call the Republicans’ bluff and demand the limit be abolished altogether. Republicans have shown their hand: They don’t care about the deficit or the debt. Democrats should point that out and push for an end to brinkmanship over the country’s finances." [Emphasis added.]

Read The New York Times, Republicans Learn to Love Debt.

Bravo, bravo!!  I've been suggesting Democrats should call the Republi-CON bluffs on many issues, for many years.

It's not just The Donald, the Republi-CON Budget CON has been going on for years and years.

"President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are courting an economic catastrophe with a standoff over how to raise the debt limit.

Unless Trump and Congress pass a law raising the U.S. debt limit — a legal cap on how much the U.S. government is allowed to borrow — the Treasury Department will soon run out of money to pay its bills, triggering a first-in-modern-U.S.-history default that threatens to turn the world economy on its head. A default would crack the world’s faith in the United States’ ability to pay its bills and repay its loans, and that faith serves as the underpinning of the entire global financial system. . .

The overriding belief in Washington and on Wall Street is that a default is highly unlikely. But there's still a chance it could happen. Greg Valliere of Horizon Investments puts the odds at 5 percent. Given what's at stake, that's not comforting.

Read the Washington Post, With the debt ceiling, President Trump is playing with fire.