This is brought to you by the party of fiscal responsibility. Yes, the Republicans have yet another problem with their budget. That two trillion dollar error of counting it twice? It probably doesn’t even exist in the first place.
If you managed to wade through the Russia developments and Trump’s bizarre public behavior and his sometimes humiliating behavior overseas to pay attention to his budget, congratulations. You probably recall the fuss over the two trillion dollar math error in the budget, in which the Trump budget uses assumed faster economic growth to the tune of two trillion dollars twice, once to pay for tax cuts and again to balance the budget. Yes, trillion. This is like if you took your income for the month and used 60% of for living expenses for the month and then turned around and factored in that same 60% as savings. It’s “fairytale” math, as Chuck Schumer said of the Trump budget.
But it might be even worse than using that same money twice. According to analysis from Ben Casselman, Kathryn Casteel and Anna Maria Barry-Jester at Five Thirty Eight Friday morning, that two trillion might not even exist at all.
“Somewhat lost in the back-and-forth, however, is the fact that the double-counted $2 trillion probably doesn’t exist in the first place,” they write. “The administration argues that cutting taxes will spur faster economic growth, which will mean Americans will earn more money and therefore pay more in taxes. The problem is that pretty much no serious economist thinks Trump’s plan would raise enough money to pay for itself. Even conservative economists at the Tax Foundation last year estimated that the tax plan Trump proposed during the campaign would cost at least $2.6 trillion after factoring in economic growth. (Trump’s most recent plan, a one-page outline released last month, didn’t contain enough details for economists to calculate its cost.) The problem with Trump’s budget math, in other words, goes beyond simple arithmetic; the economics of the plan don’t work, either.”
Ok, so imagine that 60% you double-budgeted for both living expenses and savings is based on a dream job you haven’t even interviewed for yet, and don’t have the qualifications for. Maybe you’re going to be a famous music star. Yes, budget off of that even though you can’t sing or play an instrument. That’s the kind of thinking running the White House.
Whit House budget director Mick Mulvaney said during a press conference of the original counting twice error, “I’m aware of the criticisms and would simply come back and say there’s other places where we were probably overly conservative in our accounting. We stand by the numbers.”
And Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin called the incredible math error a problem that could be refined, “This is a preliminary document that will be refined.” In other words, they’ll fix it in post.
The money isn’t even there, and it was counted twice. How exactly is that going to be refined?
Now that your head is spinning and you’re concerned about the general competence of pretty much all of Trump’s people, watch Stephen Colbert on the two trillion dollar math error:
The real problem here is that Republicans can’t justify their pie in the sky theory that tax cuts for the rich generate enough growth to justify them let alone trickle down, but they want tax cuts for the rich and so they just keep reworking the math. They call this the pro-taxpayer budget. But it’s really just another con game.
Only this time, it’s so unserious they aren’t even really trying anymore. They spent $4 trillion that possibly didn’t exist in the first place. That’s how they justified their budget. This is basically massive borrowing based on lying in huge ways about your income.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.