The King of Kings

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

This week Donald Trump’s manic grandiosity reached a new pinnacle when he called himself ‘the King of Israel.’ That was after some majestic flip-flopping by the president.  Scared that a recession next year would sink his chances of getting re-elected he and his advisors were musing about cutting the payroll tax, after the Fed – in Trump’s eyes the culprit of all problems – would have implemented more rate cuts, and for the heck of it he also talked about reducing the capital gains tax, something that would do nothing for the economy but enrich Trump and the likes of him a bit more.  In the end, however, the president declared that the economy is incredibly strong and would even be stronger if the Fed had not raised interest rates in the recent past, and that no action was necessary.  After this pirouette Trump turned to gun control and came to a similar conclusion.  Initially he had shown some interest in expanded background checks, but after a 30 minute phone call with the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre Trump said that we already have very strong background checks, and that a new policy would lead to a ‘slippery slope,’ where ‘everything would be taken away.’

Having thus taken care of the home front the president turned his attention to the rest of the world.  Since Denmark was not excited about selling Greenland and its Prime Minister called the idea ‘absurd’ Trump called her ‘nasty’ and cancelled his upcoming state visit, for which the Danish Queen had invited him.  Next he proclaimed that the G7 should become the G8 again by re-admitting Russia, which according to him had been expelled because ‘Putin outsmarted Obama,’ apparently by seizing Crimea and starting a war in Ukraine while Obama was president.  Reflecting on the situation in Kashmir Trump called it ‘very complex,’ because ‘you have your Hindus and you have your Muslims and there you have it.’  Playing into the anti-Semitic trope that Jews are always more loyal to Israel than to the country where they live the president accused Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats of disloyalty to Israel.  With Israel still on his mind Trump called himself ‘the Chosen One’ who had to take on China, and declared that ISIS has been decimated. Secretary of State Pompeo disagreed, and said that ISIS is now stronger in some places than it has ever been before.

To deter asylum seekers and other transients of coming to the southern border the administration announced its intention to hold families with children indefinitely in detention, challenging the ‘Flores rule’ that says such detentions can only last 20 days.  The new policy won’t go into effect in the next 60 days and will undoubtedly face many challenges in court, but the purpose of the announcement was to send the message that ‘we’ll lock you and your children up if you dare coming here.’  To top it off the president gave notice of his plan to end birthright citizenship.

Also this week the news broke that Trump had violated the law when filling out his financial disclosure forms.  In the US he estimated the value of his Scottish golf courses at $165 million and reported that they had generated a profit of $23 million, but in Britain, where he has to pay taxes on these properties, he stated that they carried more debt than their value and earned him only $6.3 million.  Probably none of these numbers is correct and in the US the penalty for this duplicity is five years.

Finally, it became clear that the budget deficit will exceed $1 trillion in 2020, even without the purchase of Greenland and much faster than expected.  Republicans supporting Trump who have always had their mouth full of fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets will have a hard time convincingly falling back on their old positions after Trump has moved from the White House to the Big House.

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