Opinion: Trump budget an exercise in stupidity

We spend more on our military than the next eight countries combined, even though five of those next seven countries are strong U.S. allies such as Britain and France. We spend three times as much as China and nine times as much as Russia. In fact, just the increases in military spending requested by the Trump administration -- $30 billion for the current fiscal year, and $54 billion next year -- swamp Russia's total annual military budget of $66 billion.

"There's no question this is a hard-power budget," brags Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. "It is not a soft-power budget.  This is a hard-power budget.  And that was done intentionally.  The president very clearly wants to send a message to our allies and our potential adversaries that this is a strong-power administration.  So you have seen money move from soft-power programs, such as foreign aid, into more hard-power programs.  That's what our allies can expect, that's what our adversaries can expect, that's what the president wanted us to relay."

It is hard to fully express the stupidity of that kind of talk, or how badly it will come across to the rest of the world. The helping hand that the United States once extended to the rest of the world is being turned into an angry fist waved in the air by an idiot. Efforts to lead by example, to build cooperation and friendship, to persuade and negotiate, are being abandoned in exchange for crude threats and bluster.

As Defense Secretary James Mattis warned back when he still wore a general's uniform, “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition."

At a press briefing Thursday, a reporter reminded Mulvaney that the world faces its largest humanitarian crisis since World War II, with 20 million people in just four countries facing starvation or famine. With the United States, the richest nation in the world, slashing its foreign aid budget, the reporter asked, "Are you worried that some of the most vulnerable people on Earth will suffer as a result?"

Not one little bit.

"We're absolutely reducing funding to the U.N. and to the various foreign aid programs, including those run by the U.N. and other agencies," Mulvaney replied coldly. "That should come as a surprise to no one who watched the campaign.  The president said specifically hundreds of time -- you covered him -- I'm going to spend less money on people overseas and more money on people back home.  And that's exactly what we're doing with this budget."

Except of course that's not what they're doing. They're decidedly NOT spending the money on people here back home, they're spending it to help make the psychologically frail man in the White House feel more manly about himself.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.

Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.

With the largest team in the state, the AJC reports what’s really going on with your tax dollars and your elected officials. Subscribe today. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.

Your subscription to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.

About the Author

Jay Bookman
Jay Bookman
Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.
X