Donald Trump may not have done much else, but he’s definitely developed a style—throw out a story, no matter how ridiculous, and count on the base to believe it anyway. This technique gets a new test this week as Trump not only launches Ridiculous Infrastructure Plan 2.0, but introduces a budget whose chances of passing are less than one in it’s $4 trillion cost.
Readers should file both documents under the genre of “science fiction.” The budget is dead on arrival because presidential budgets are always dead on arrival, and the infrastructure plan appears to be dead on arrival because of a larger crisis facing the party.
The crisis of the moment isn’t located along the Trump-Nunes axis of attempting to invert the justice system for fun and profit. Instead it’s the immediate result of the the Republican tax bill, other than giving all Americans that “I’ve got an extra buck and a half in my pocket” swagger. The tax gift to corporations and billionaires scooped money out of the budget by the double handful, creating a fresh trillion or so of debt for the country. And against that backdrop, Republicans just agreed to increase spending, so they could brag about what they’ve done for the military. It’s enough to make fiscal conservatives scream. If there were any.
So now Trump is left peddling an infrastructure plan in which $1.8 trillion out of $2 trillion comes from … somewhere. And the remaining $200 million comes from … somewhere else. Neither of those somewheres is at all defined and neither of them is likely to be discovered in Congress. Already Rand Paul is defending his vote against the spending bill not because the treasury was emptied by hollowing it out for billionaires, but because the budget didn’t include enough cuts of Medicare and Social Security, and Paul Ryan seems ready to rediscover the Randian religion, now that it’s more convenient.
Unable to agree on a budget, unable to find any remaining crumbs to create a real infrastructure plan, unable to agree on anything other than that average people really should be made to suffer, Republicans are struggling to come up with a solid approach to the coming elections.
A source close to the White House tells me that with an eye to getting Republicans excited about voting for Republicans in midterms, the president this year will be looking for “unexpected cultural flashpoints” — like the NFL and kneeling — that he can latch onto in person and on Twitter.
The Republican plan for the fall is literally looking for ways to divide the nation … for the win.
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