BALTIMORE – In his talks with Democrat leaders on Wednesday, POTUS apparently lost his temper. He slammed his hand down on the table and walked out.
The subject was money – $5.7 billion, to be precise – the money requested to build a wall along America’s southern border.
Money is more than “just money.” It’s time – our time. It’s our lives. It’s how we keep score in life.
On the evidence of the scoreboard, we’re losing.
In the theories of democratic government are some of the wildest, most extravagant, and least accurate claims in modern mythology.
The general idea is that the best and brightest – or at least not the dullest and most venal – are elected by the masses to represent them in the nation’s capital.
There, with their thinking caps on and their hearts attuned to the needs of “The People,” they do such things as will improve the commonweal.
More specifically, these people – including Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell… and
Donald J. Trump himself – are charged with tending the nation’s money, remembering that every penny they spend must be squeezed from some poor taxpayer’s time and the sweat of his brow.
“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law,” sayeth the Constitution. Thus, in solemn deceit, do the people’s representatives bend to their duties.
Chiselers, Cronies, and Zombies
Alas, by inattention, delusion, and self-dealing (buying votes with other people’s money), time got away from them. Since 1969 – a half-century ago – no administration has been able to balance the federal budget (the alleged “surplus” of the Clinton years was an accounting fraud).
Federal debt has gone in only one direction: up. Year after year. Republicans after Democrats.
This spending, including $21 trillion of time borrowed from the future, has supported a vast blob of chiselers, cronies, zombies, and meddlers, aka the Swamp.
Which is why it seemed like the ill-wind known as Donald J. Trump might actually blow somebody some good, by drying out some of the deepest and greasiest pools in the Washington metropolitan area.
Congress can argue, bluff, and bluster. Ultimately, it’s the chief executive who has to sign off. And as custodian of the public welfare, he might simply have said “no” to the Swamp.
Presented with an out-of-balance budget – one plumped up with billions in giveaways and bribes, and dripping with lobbyists’ payoffs and slimy crony deals – he might have refused to sign, sending it back to Congress.
“Come back when you get your numbers straightened out,” is all he needed to say. “If I tried to run my hotels like that,” he might have added, “I’d go broke.”
But the whole system rests on self-dealing and conflicts of interest. Every bit of public munificence comes at the expense of private time. Politicians gain power by spending money, not by saving it… And they can only get the money to spend by preying on the people whose time they are meant to protect.
Honest politicians, if there were any, would cut spending and limit their own power – not expand it.
Era of Failed Dreams
What a delight it would have been to see Mr. Trump on TV on Tuesday night… not proposing to spend $5 billion on a wall… but to save $985 billion (the projected Fiscal Year 2019 deficit)!
How we would have loved to see the looks on their greedy faces – Pelosi, Schumer, McConnell… and all the rest of them.
And maybe reporters could have asked the “man on the street” in Washington, as politicians fought over which agencies to close and which lobbyists to stiff.
Cameramen could have captured the long faces of the hustlers, connivers, and other parasites… as suddenly, the feds had to cut spending to bring it in line with revenues.
Our hearts swell with hope and delight just imagining it. Elected to drain the Swamp… what a hoot it would have been to see Donald J. Trump actually try to do it!
That would be a fight worth having! That would be worth interrupting prime time television and shutting down the government! Not just for a few weeks… but for months.
Alas, it is all a hopeless fantasy. We live in an era of failed dreams… the internet revolution… productivity-boosting technology… central bankers guiding the economy to growth and stability – all washed up.
And now… Donald J. Trump, champion of disruption, promising to right the wrongs of a corrupt, swampy system; he got to Washington and almost immediately slithered into the fetid water.
And here, we look at the score.
In 2016, the nation earned a total of $18.6 trillion (GDP). By the end of last year, marking two years of the Trump presidency, that number had grown to $19.4 trillion – a total gain of $800 billion in earnings.
But during that period, the U.S. national debt increased by $2 trillion. (A pace that was even faster than during the preceding eight Obama years).
In other words, if Mr. Trump were to leave office tomorrow, he would leave the nation $1.2 trillion poorer than it was when he arrived.
For the last two years, the U.S. government was firmly under the thumb of Mr. Trump and his party – who controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House.
And therein lies the whole tawdry story of Wall Street and Washington. The markets and the economy are pumped up with debt. And no one wants it to stop.
If not Trump, who? If not with control of both houses of Congress, how? If not when the economy was posting such “beautiful” numbers, when?
The only president who might have stopped the drift towards bankruptcy and chaos turned out to be a Swamp Man.