Donald Trump's first budget proposal has arrived in the form of a document titled "A New Foundation For American Greatness," providing us with the seminal work of Trumponomics.
Spoiler alert: It's a disaster.
The budget aims to eliminate the federal deficit within 10 years by enacting unprecedented cuts to social programs and massive tax reform. It also assumes that the economy will grow by 3% going forward, an assumption that economists of all political persuasions are seeing as either arrogantly naive or utterly disingenuous. Larry Summers lost his fucking mind upon reading it, Republicans in the House and Senate - fresh off Trump's butt-fumbled Obamacare repeal attempt - are already moving to distance themselves from it, and even the notoriously liberal Wall Street Journal shit all over it after realizing that the whole thing is predicated on an accounting "trick" that uses revenue to simultaneously pay for Trump's still-vague tax cuts and pay down the deficit.
Essentially the first take is that what the Trump budget lacks in economic logic, it makes up for in amateurish accounting horseshit. In private sector terms, the mix of enormous made-up numbers and wild fiscal projections that beggar belief might be the closest we'll ever get to seeing what it would be like to watch Elon Musk offer guidance as CEO of Citigroup.
But while it bears Trump's imprimatur of bragging incorrectly about how much it's worth, this budget is actually the brainchild of Trump's Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney. And that might be the key factor in its wretchedness.
Mulvaney is a political zealot in a job far-better suited to a quiet political operator. He is also a man who possesses all the charm of a coked-up middle school math teacher who cannot comprehend why he isn't being recognized as the smartest person in the room. A former House member from South Carolina, Mulvaney was a founder of the Freedom Caucus and was perhaps the most consistent and outspoken critic of the Obama administration's economic policies. Mulvaney opposed virtually everything the previous White House attempted to achieve, reflexively looking to shut down the government every time Obama proposed seemingly anything.
In fact, you know this is his budget because taken as a whole, the document is a masterwork in the medium of Obama revenge porn.
No member of Congress better epitomized the partisan priapism of Tea Party conservatism under Obama than Mick Mulvaney. Six years spent watching the Obama presidency not fail seems to have broken something inside of the man. He's like the modern political equivalent of Christopher Walken at the end of "The Deer Hunter." But don't take our word for it, take Mick Mulvaney's.
Standing in the White House briefing room this morning like a human fidget spinner, Mulvaney presented his budget to the press and spent an inordinate amount of time taking pot shots at the previous administration. The ratio of presenting what is good about "Trump's" budget to railing against what Obama did was about 50/50 over the first 10 minutes of Mulvaney's presentation, a fact that tells you all you really need to know about where his head was at while putting this thing together. For an economy already saddled with a tragicomic president and a Treasury Secretary who does not seem to fully grasp what his job is, an OMB director using accounting tricks to enact revenge on his enemies is too much to bear.
Admittedly, Mulvaney will win over many conservative Americans who subscribe to the simplistic notion that you can't keep paying for entitlement programs if you're running a deficit, especially if you're coddling people not to work. But unfortunately for Mulvaney, running the United States federal government is not simplistic. Therefore his point is very fucking dumb.
Entitlement spending is problematic, but even many Republican economists believe that massive slashing to social programs come with at least short-term costs. And when it comes to politics, even Mulvaney was in Congress long enough to realize that the same middle-class GOP voter who rails against his tax dollars paying for "Urban" social programs will start to notice when he's not getting Medicaid anymore.
Using impossible economic growth projections and Trump-level shady accounting as cover for political revenge would be an almost unconscionable example of governmental malpractice if Mulvaney didn't actually believe his own bullshit. But listen to his thoughts on economic growth and try to believe that he isn't a bona fide agent of radical extremist budgeting:
"The 1.9% growth rates that the previous administration assumed towards the end of their administration, and the 1.9% growth rates for the entire 10-year-window that the CBO assumes are something that we simply reject. That is a pessimistic look at what the potential for this country, and for what this country's people, is. We reject that pessimism. So you know what? We should probably have gone in and assume 3.5% or 4% growth, cuz that would be aggressive. 3% is just getting back to normal."
Why not assume 20% growth? Why not cut Social Security and federal highway funding, or move Congress into a WeWork so we can start selling all government buildings for development? That's aggressive.
Partisan rancor has toxified seemingly every aspect of American culture and brought Washington to a standstill. Yet somehow the market surges ever upward and the economy keeps growing. Preserving that growth might be the one thing that Congress could collaborate on - especially since so many of them are still laboring under the dangerous apeshit pipe dream that there's a businessman in the White House - but that would require giving it a workable budget predicated on a fiscal policy that exists in this reality.
Instead, Mick Mulvaney is handing over a budget that he might as well have written in his own excrement while locked away in a Freedom Caucus panic room during the waning days of the Obama administration. All presidential budgets are subject to insane political scrutiny, even when being shepherded along by a likable messenger. But this budget is a partisan travesty that would only be allowed to see the light of day in a White House as mismanaged as this one, and it is being shepherded along by Mick Mulvaney.
And Mick Mulvaney is kind of a total asshole.