Donald Trump is not a bus kind of guy. The president is a private plane kind of guy. Or a helicopter kind of guy. Remember the kiddie rides he gave out like corn dogs at the Iowa State Fair?
That’s why Wednesday’s spectacle of a “BUS4HIRE” convoy carrying nearly all 100 United States Senators to the White House for a “classified briefing” on the North Korea predicament was positively ironic. The most powerful legislators in the world (filibuster and cloture rules) bused over to 1600 like a group of middle-schoolers on their Washington trip. Must have brought back some nice memories.
But beyond the whimsical nature of Trump’s goofy stunt to distract focus from his looming 100th day in office, the bus travel was also a metaphor for the public relations ride he’s been taking people on for a long time ― in the direction of bankruptcy. Including the first 100.
Before we move on, let’s look at the dictionary definitions of “bankrupt”:
1) Anyone unable to pay his or her debts. 2) A person who lacks a certain quality or has failed completely in some way.
We already know of Trump’s four business bankruptcies from his years prior to running for office. They are well-documented.
We already know of Trump’s moral bankruptcies in terms of his previous acts of sexual assault against women - and bragging about those acts. They are well-documented. Actually, recorded.
We already know of Trump’s honesty bankruptcies for many years, and continuing through today. The Pulitzer Prize-winning Politi-Fact rates 17 percent of the president’s statements as true. Seventeen percent.
So back to the buses on Wednesday. It was yet another bait and switch. U.S. Senators didn’t need to come to the White House. In fact, the 435 members of the House were given the briefing by the administration back on Capitol Hill. The whole thing was pure PR. GOP Senator Bob Corker muttered to cameras afterward: “It was an okay briefing.” Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), a combat veteran and member of the Armed Services Committee, elaborated:
“I seriously felt like I could have gotten all that information by reading a newspaper. I did not see any new information coming out of that briefing at all. It felt more like a dog and pony show to me than anything else... I guess they successfully accomplished putting 100 people on three busses and tying up traffic in Washington, D.C. to get us over there for a briefing.”
There was no new overarching strategy coming from the administration that is substantially different from the previous administration. Nor new information. Outside of possible P.R. value, the “classified briefing” was a bust.
This is the pattern of Trump’s first hundred days. Big, beautiful promises, and then boarding as many as can get on the bus toward failure. Toward bankruptcy - either figuratively or literally.
Even after being elected, Trump vowed universal health care coverage:
“Everybody’s gotta be covered... I am going to take care of everybody... everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now... [The uninsured person is] gonna be taken care of... The government’s gonna pay for it but we’re gonna save so much money on the other side.”
Not only has that promise gone bankrupt, Trump couldn’t even get his own party to agree on the wrongheaded health care bill he put forth. It didn’t even make it to a floor vote in the House. So Trump was bankrupt on his guarantees to provide coverage for all Americans. And he was also bankrupt on his promise to base voters that he would repeal the Affordable Care Act.
This is the pattern of Trump’s first hundred days. Big, beautiful promises, and then boarding as many as can get on the bus toward failure.
Trump’s travel ban was bankrupt in terms of its stated underlying strategy, as the countries the administration targeted have not been the causes of terrorism in America. It has also turned out to be legally bankrupt, as the courts have blocked both the initial ban and the revised ban. The bus keeps plowing forward. Sort of like in ‘Speed’. Lots of innocent people trapped on board by a madman and they can’t de-bus until the guy manipulating the whole escapade is either tricked or eliminated. I, for one, would rather have Sandy Bullock in the White House than the bus charter-in-chief.
And on the same day that Trump’s bus fleet reality show was playing out in the capital, the administration released its “tax reform plan” that the president had promised last week. It was one page. Double spaced. Bereft of any detail. Bankrupt of information. CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin summed it up: “It’s not a plan. It’s a piece of paper. I’m surprised it didn’t come on a napkin at this point.”
Thus, another smoke screen, released just hours before Day #100. But beyond the stunning lack of substance in the faux “plan,” even what Trump is suggesting could lead to massive additional debt for the country. The conservative-leading Tax Foundation estimated that Trump’s proposed individual and corporate cuts would cost the country $4-6 trillion in revenue.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin assured Americans that the tax cuts would pay for themselves, but no one’s really buying that stale old argument. Even former Congressional Budget Office Director and Republican adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, warned folks not to fall for it:
“I want a plan that’s focused on growth as much as anyone. But these tax cuts are not going to pay for themselves. If you believe that, you’re kidding yourself.”
Trump, the self-professed “king of debt,” once said that he would “renegotiate the debt” America owes its creditors. Therefore, it’s not really surprising that the president doesn’t seem to care whether his proposed tax cuts would drive us in a direction toward bankruptcy. The campaign was long, and he told Americans what he’d do if he got hold of the wheel.
Donald Trump got crushed in the popular vote by 2.9 million ballots. Yet he won the Electoral College by 74 votes, forcing all of us to travel down this scary path together. While it’s true that 100 days is just a marker, there’s no telling how many more bankrupt ideas will be imprudently pushed by this president. The wheels on the bus go round and round.