Donald Trump at CPAC 2014: We can solve all our problems by getting filthy rich
There are various theories about why Donald Trump has become a CPAC fixture. I think he just plain loves it there. He enjoys getting up there on the stage and machine-gunning his thoughts at the audience. He made a point of showing that he didn’t need a teleprompter or notes. He might not have needed anything except the complimentary copy of USA Today left in his hotel room that morning.
Trump’s style lacks the intense focus of the more carefully prepared orations, and that’s what makes him fun. The sensation is best captured with a string of topics and quick hits, like so:
THE DEFICIT: I have to tell you that our country is in serious, serious trouble. We owe $17 trillion in debt. No one even heard the expression “trillion” a few years ago.
CHINA: They just devalued their currency – what they’re really doing is saying, we’re really ripping you big league, no one’s ever done it better than us, but we’re going to do it again. Our leadership is so pathetic that they’re doing it again. They’re smart. They don’t respect stupid people.
PUTIN AND UKRAINE: You look at what he’s doing with President Obama, he’s toying with him. When he goes in and takes Crimea, he’s taking the heart and soul, because that’s where all the money is… that’s the area with the wealth. That means the rest of Ukraine will fall, and it will fall fairly quickly.
IRAQ: Iran has already taken over, essentially, Iraq. It’s amazing. When we went over there, I assumed we were taking the oil… to the victor belongs the spoils. You know who’s taking the oil now? Iran.
UNEMPLOYMENT: Official unemployment of 6-7 percent is probably 21-22 percent in real numbers. If you stop looking for a job, they consider you employed. [Editorial note: that might be the best one-sentence summary of the problem with our headline unemployment statistic I've ever heard.]
OBAMA’S JOB APPROVAL RATINGS: We’re getting into Jimmy Carter territory. I lived in that time. It was not a good time.
OBAMACARE: We either have laws, or we don’t.
THE CPAC AUDIENCE: The people in this room are people who want to see this country be great again.
It should be noted that, even though he beats the stuffing out of China during every speech, Trump says the Chinese bankers who rent office space from him consider him a fantastic landlord.
Trump’s grand solution to all of America’s problems is to get so filthy, stinking rich that they don’t matter any more. “I want to make this country so strong, so rich, so powerful – we have so much energy, so much money under out feet, we don’t have to take away people’s Social Security and Medicare,” he said. “The way you solve all of these problems is tremendous wealth, tremendous job creation, strengthen our military… make America strong again, make America great again, we have such unbelievable potential, we have to use it.”
He makes it sound so easy. I don’t think it’s possible to solve the $100 trillion Social Security and Medicare liability problem without developing a process to turn grapes into diamonds, but he’s got a point that prosperous nations under a light tax burden have a way of generating enough revenue to deal with problems that look intractable when they’re broke. Wealth can be expressed in terms of options – the wealthy individual or nation has many choices, while the impoverished or indebted have few.
We’re certainly not doing ourselves any favors by making the nation less wealthy than it could be, or dealing with other world powers from a position of self-imposed weakness. Is there enough suppressed and mis-managed productivity in the American economy to grow our way out of the grinding social and fiscal problems of the past half-decade? It would be great to put ourselves to the test and find out for sure.