Donald Trump

Donald Trump's Policy Feast of Incoherence

Contradictory promises abound, with no explanation of how any of it could work.

|

Donald Trump
Credit: Gage Skidmore / photo on flickr

The reviews of Donald Trump's grand foray into foreign policy agreed on one thing, which is that Trump can't even agree with himself. His Wednesday speech was an exercise in self-contradiction, a feast of incoherence, a walk up the down escalator. 

He pledges to be the best of friends but threatens to abandon alliances. He wants America to shun nation building but create stability. He plans to spend more money but waste less. 

He vows to be consistent but unpredictable. He intends to restore respect, even as people around the world lower their opinion of America a bit more every day he remains in the race. 

How does Trump reconcile his incompatible promises and implausible visions? He doesn't, and he's never tried. Inconsistency is not a defect in the product; it is the product. His supporters don't hold his carefree contradictions against him. Some don't care, and some embrace them. 

The speech also rested on claims that are not actually true—that Iran has violated the nuclear agreement, that the Islamic State is getting rich selling Libyan oil, that he was "totally against" the Iraq War, that President Barack Obama "made (Iran) a great power in the Middle East." It contained his usual array of promises of what he would do as president, unsupported by specifics on how he would do them. 

Factual accuracy and logic are no more important to Trump's followers than to him. They believe what they feel, not what they can prove. They refuse to let reality undermine their firm convictions. They assume that Trump's bold talk and iron resolve will turn every obstacle to dust. 

On foreign policy, Trump indulges popular whims that would have trouble coexisting in the real world: Destroy the Islamic State but avoid getting bogged down in the Middle East. Punish the Chinese on trade but get them to control North Korea. Keep out Muslims while "working very closely with our allies in the Muslim world" to stop terrorism. 

The address is just the latest symptom of his unwillingness to make choices or even acknowledge that choices must be made. He specializes in telling people what they want to hear, even if it doesn't come close to making sense. 

This is the guy who plans to build the most expensive wall in history without asking a dime from the taxpayers—by forcing Mexico to bear the cost. He wants to bring back manufacturing jobs that we've lost, ignoring that most of them disappeared because of advances in technology and improvements in productivity, not foreign competition. 

Trump proposes spending money to rebuild infrastructure, upgrade the military and preserve Social Security just as it is. He would boost federal expenditures by 3 percent of gross domestic product, according to the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. That would boost outlays by more than $500 billion per year. 

Meanwhile, his fiscal plan would slash taxes on both corporate and individual income. These cuts would shrink federal revenue by more than $10 trillion over a decade, the nonpartisan Tax Foundation calculates. 

On top of all this, he told The Washington Post that he would eliminate the entire $19 trillion national debt in just eight years—a claim so ridiculous he soon had to retreat. He said instead that he would merely "reduce" the debt. 

Even that assertion can't be taken seriously. The stark, simple fact is that his budget proposals would do just the opposite—with a vengeance. It is impossible to reduce revenue, increase spending, widen the budget deficit and pay down the debt. Any Wharton School graduate knows as much. 

But Trump also knows what a lot of Americans want to hear, on foreign affairs as well as domestic ones. What they don't want to hear is that making sensible government policies means choosing among painful trade-offs. 

These voters want everything they now get in the way of federal benefits while paying less in taxes. They want the United States to dominate the world and get its way without fail, but they shun any personal sacrifices to achieve those ambitious goals. 

Trump is not one to disabuse them of these pleasant assumptions. If they insist on believing they can have it all, he'll promise to give it to them. 

If he ends up in the White House, they'll be terribly disappointed to learn it was too good to be true. Until then, they'll enjoy the fantasy.

© Copyright 2016 by Creators Syndicate Inc. 

Advertisement

NEXT: How Body Cameras Help Prevent Tragic Police Shootings #DedricColvin

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. People love it because it’s a hot mess. They want to see the whole thing burn. The rest of the world isn’t doing much better. It’s self-destructive. It’s like the Tower of Babel – we’ve made too much progress and now we gotta knock the thing down. The ironic thing is that Trump’s a builder and should be building big beautiful buildings or planes or space ships or something but he just wants to build a stupid wall and people cheer.

  2. I can see what your saying… Carrie `s st0rry is great, on monday I bought themselves a BMW 5-series from bringing in $7500 this – four weeks past and-a little over, ten k lass month . with-out a doubt this is the easiest work Ive ever done . I actually started six months/ago and pretty much immediately began to bring home at least $80, p/h . browse this site…UO2…..

    ======= http://www.Report20.com

    1. Wait, wait… If you’re working FROM home, how can you “bring home” 80$ p/h? OTOH, “themselves” is a cute way to refer to (I assume) your gf and her mom.

  3. “How does he reconcile his incompatible promises?”

    Does he need to? His voters aren’t insisting on it.

    And the more contradictory promises he makes, the better the chances that he’ll keep some of them.

    1. That is the genius of Trump. He is what you want him to be.

      1. He is what you want him to be.

        When did he die?

      2. Hope and ‘UUUGE change, Baby!

      3. Like Obama.

      4. Obama got elected that way, why not Trump? Trump may not be quite as left-wing as Obama, but left-wing enough that the Dems can live with him. Bernie and Hillary are out there promising free shit to the elites, Trump’s promising free shit to the masses, who’s going to get more voters?

  4. Deep Thought: Mother Nature has got to be one of the worse misnomers. A mother (ideally) nurtures and cares for you. Growing a garden has taught me nature is nothing but a giant fight club, and cucumbers are winning it. They strangled my water melon and cantaloupe. The winter squash crowded out my sweet peppers. Without human intervention none of these plants would exist/survive. Environmental Gaia worshippers have got it exactly backwards. Humans are the most benign force on the earth.

    1. A child is more likely to be killed by its mother than by anyone else (I’m talking post-birth statistics here). So, ‘Mother Nature’ is apt. Also, plant species around today are here because they out-competed the others. So of course they’re going to have compeditive strategies against other plants. Latly, did you do anything to separate these plots? I have a mental image of your garden plants staging a nihgt-time murder raid on the other tribes of plants.

      1. We are doing square foot gardening in some backyard planters (2 4×8 cedar boxes). It’s amazing how fast creeping plants grow and how aggressive they fight for prime sunlight. Even though the boxes are in direct sunlight the plants still fight to move south.

        1. My mom has been gardening for half a century and she’d probably recommend a book called “carrots love tomatoes”. It tells you which plants are mutually beneficial together and which ones aren’t

            1. Great book. I have found that the right pairings of plants is absolutely critical. Some will compete detrimentally both on the surface for sunlight, below for water and nutrients. Some will actual complement each other.

        2. Let your creeping plants hang down onto the ground where Old Crule Stepmother Nature intended ’em to be. How high are your boxes?

  5. Feast of Incoherence

    Nice band name.

    More seriously, He vows to be consistent but unpredictable is poor criticism, taken out of context.

    1. Is it possible to be consistently unpredictable? ^_-

  6. These voters want everything they now get in the way of federal benefits while paying less in taxes.

    That’s not just Trump voters, that’s basically all voters.

  7. Raising spending and lowering taxes is of course not much of a deficit reduction solution. I think his clumsy attempt to bridge that gap he’s creating is that he’s reducing the trade deficit and that’s just as good, which given how moronic all his competitors are on trade, he’s successfully managing to sell to the public. It’s not like Hillary Clinton is going to correct Trump by pointing out that running a trade deficit is exactly what a rich country should do, or that you run a trade deficit with your local supermarket every week and that doesn’t mean they’re raping you. Nah, Clinton has her own trade-illiterate base to pander to.

    1. Raising spending and lowering taxes is of course not much of a deficit reduction solution.

      Depends on how much spending is raised and whether by “lowering taxes” one means lowering rates or lowering revenue, which aren’t necessarily the same things.

      1. True – but Trump’s lower rates are dramatic enough of a decrease the the GDP growth would have to be off the charts to yield a revenue increase. If you take the numbers in this article to be accurate, any stimulative effect they create would have to sum to 9% GDP growth for the entire spending + tax + dynamic effect package to be deficit neutral.

    2. by pointing out that running a trade deficit is exactly what a rich country should do,

      To support its banks.

  8. It is impossible to reduce revenue, increase spending, widen the budget deficit and pay down the debt.

    I don’t think this statement is correct. When did The Donald say he was going to “widen the budget deficit”?

    Anyway, the US government has lots of assets it could sell, and I hear that the Chinese and Saudis would like to trade their dollars for real assets. So it could reduce revenue, increase spending, and pay down the debt.

    1. Eh. Yes, the government owns too much property, especially real estate (42% of the total land area of the country or something ridiculous like that), and it is probably prudent to sell some of it.

      The problem with selling assets is that it’s a one-time fix for structural budget problems and, while the government is awash in money from the sales, they tend to ignore the structural problems or even make them worse.

      Also, the US government’s deficit is so large that selling its real estate in a way that would actually have some meaningful impact on the deficit while not collapsing prices by creating an enormous glut in the marketplace would be a trick.

      1. Trump has already gone on record saying that he wants to sell almost all nonessential federal land and open up resource development. The revenue from privatizing and developing on that land will go a very long way towards not only reducing the scope of the government but also repairing much of the structural problems that currently exist. Not to mention the pressure it will relieve vis a vis the tensions with ranchers and other citizens in the west.

  9. I don’t really believe that the typical voter cares about promises and policies and whether they contradict or even make sense. They want their candidate to understand their problems and promise to address them. Trump has done what most every successful politician has done: promise each voter what each voter wants.

    We’ve had eight years of “Hope and Change” and “Change you Can Believe In”. These are essentially the same promises as Trump’s, just much more vague. They convinced Obama’s supporters that he would do what they hoped he would do and that he would change the world into the kind of place they wanted.

    Furthermore, most of the promises made by presidential candidates cannot be kept by the executive alone. They require buy in from congress and the possibly approval from the judiciary. So, I don’t understand why Chapman got his panties in a wad over Trump’s apparent contradictions. I think that Chapman just doesn’t like Trump and so distrusts him in a similar way to the trust that Trump supports have that makes them believe him. It’s not rational. It’s never rational.

  10. “””He pledges to be the best of friends but threatens to abandon alliances.””‘

    That is not contradictory, you can have best friends and not have formal alliances. Especially one sided military alliances that allow your so -called friend to not pay their own way

    “””He wants America to shun nation building but create stability. “”
    Has the author even looked at the results of US nation building, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc. None are stable.

    1. Yeah, we sure built the hell out o’ the countries you named. I’d hate to see what we do when we actually set out to destroy a country.

  11. Replace’ ‘Trump’ with ‘Obama’ and the article works just as well.

  12. “On top of all this, he told The Washington Post that he would eliminate the entire $19 trillion national debt in just eight years?a claim so ridiculous he soon had to retreat.”

    Is it so ridiculous? I reckon *technically* it can be done. For starters, the US economy is $17 trillion. Soooo, if you take 10-15% of it and commit it to the debt, you can achieve wipe out. I’m just playing pure math here.

    If there’s one country in the world that can do it, it’s the good ole USA. Question is, is there the will and the want to do it?

    1. You’re talking about $2.375 trillion per year for 8 years. Total revenue for 2016 is estimated to be about $3.5 trillion. You’re talking about increasing revenue by over 40%, plus raising enough to cover the deficit.

      Pretty ridiculous.

      1. I was looking at it in %, but yeh, your way…

        I still think it can be done!

        JUST DO IT!

        /Whoosh.

        1. That is, % of total GDP. Meaning, set aside 10% of GDP for debt.

          I know it’s a bit of a stretch, but as I noted, just doing straight maths.

          1. …that’s not how GDP works. It’s not a bucket of money that can be directed one way or the other.

    2. You’re using Liberal/Progressive Math. Stop it. This is the same math that says if you take away all the money from American Billionaires we can all be Millionaires.

  13. I bought brand new white Ferrari by working ONline work. five month ago i hear from my friend that she is working some online jobb and making more then $85/hr i can’t beleive. But when i start this job i have to believed her Now i am also making $85/hr if you want to try. Check Here….

    ===== http://www.WorkProspects.com

  14. How is this different than any other candidate this season?
    Hillary, Bernie, Cruz, Kasich, and Trump all spout empty policy geared toward attracting the votes of idiots who like to live in a fantasy world.

    Why are Reason writers holding Trump to a standard that none of his opponents meet either? I am loathe to defend Trump, but he is in no way unique in the incoherence on the stump.

  15. Start making more money weekly. This is a valuable part time work for everyone. The best part work from comfort of your house and get paid from $100-$2k each week.Start today and have your first cash at the end of this week. For more details Check this link??

    Clik This Link inYour Browser
    ? ? ? ? http://www.ReportMax90.com

  16. I bought brand new white Ferrari by working ONline work. five month ago i hear from my friend that she is working some online jobb and making more then $85/hr i can’t beleive. But when i start this job i have to believed her Now i am also making $85/hr if you want to try. Check Here….

    ===== http://www.reportmax90.com

  17. I know this is a Steve Chapman article, so not exactly a triumph of coherent thinking but c’mon.

    He pledges to be the best of friends but threatens to abandon alliances.

    Unless he’s talking about being best friends with the same country whom he plans to abandon, that’s not contradictory. Some alliances should be abandoned and others should be promoted. There’s no contradiction there.

    He wants America to shun nation building but create stability.

    How in the fuck is that contradictory Chapman?

    He plans to spend more money but waste less.

    Not a contradiction.

    He vows to be consistent but unpredictable.

    So these non-arguments go on for a while. Another Chapman article.

    1. Re: Free Society,

      How in the fuck is that contradictory Chapman?

      Well, if he had said ‘Promote Stability’, that could mean merely giving advice, or opening trade. But ‘creation’ entails either transformation or conjuring up ex nihilo. Either way, that sounds like nation-building to me.

      1. So it’s a semantic game of ‘promote’ versus ‘create’? I could just as easily argue that ‘promoting stability sounds like nation-building’ to me. It stands to reason that if in the same breath that he is denouncing “nation-building”, he is also advocating the “creation of stability”, then nation-building probably isn’t exactly what he’s advocating. A trained philosopher ought to be able to pick up on that without inserting any selective hearing or mental gymnastics into his meaning.

  18. I dislike Trump with every fiber of my being. Trump is a clown and I doubt that he very bright. That being said I too am a non-interventionist. I also don’t believe unnecessary entanglements; therefore I would get out of NATO and the UN. As far trade is concerned I am in favor of free but fair trade. Fair being the key word. But be clear that countries that used unfair trade practices, made threats against us or used State sponsered cyber bullying would not trade with us at all. Our national interest should only revolve around the North American continent. If Europe wants to keep poking the bear then let them be eaten. But before we worry about the rest of the world we need to clean our own house and that means getting rid of the corruption in America.

    1. The key to understanding your comment is knowing what you mean by “us”. Is “us” something other than the total domination of the planetary economy by a small elite, backed by the most expensive military that planet has ever known? And are “they” the ones who are forcing their European allies to back a suicidal policy of demonizing Russia, when it makes perfect sense on every level for them to be productive allies?

  19. Factual accuracy and logic are no more important to Trump’s followers than to him. They believe what they feel, not what they can prove.

    You mean they’re being irrational? Just go ahead and say it, because it is true after all: They’re completely irrational.

    1. No more irrational than Hillary followers, or Bernie followers, or Cruz followers. Or frankly, Obama supporters.

      It is very tiresome to read article after article blaming/mocking/criticizing Trump and his supporters for everything that is currently wrong with our political arena. The whole system is effed up, and jeebus-forgive-me, Trump’s factual accuracy and logic is a good step above where Bernie is at.

      1. Can you provide an example of that?

  20. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you also give it away for free. I love seeing Websites that understand the value of providing a Quality Content for free.
    You can check more at; dns server not responding

  21. $89 an hour! Seriously I don’t know why more people haven’t tried this, I work two shifts, 2 hours in the day and 2 in the evening?And i get surly a chek of $1260……0 whats awesome is Im working from home so I get more time with my kids.
    Here is what i did
    ?????? http://www.worknow88.com

  22. RE: Donald Trump’s Policy Feast of Incoherence
    Contradictory promises abound, with no explanation of how any of it could work.

    What?
    Trump the Grump is incoherent?
    He’s no more incoherent than Heil Hitlery or Comrade Sanders.
    But then, who in their right mind wants a presidential candidate that is coherent, logical and has common sense?
    Employing those attributes would only result in making sense.
    Emotions are much better than reasoned arguments.
    Just ask any republican or democrat.

  23. my co-worker’s aunt makes $84 an hour on the computer . She has been fired from work for nine months but last month her pay was $19262 just working on the computer for a few hours. learn this here now

    ??? http://www.ReportMax90.com

    1. Does she pay income tax? What about medical coverage, retirement, and other bennies?

  24. Can’t get Mexicans to fund the Wall? He got the MSM to fund his campaign.

  25. I wouldn’t vote for a republican at gunpoint, but for the last nine months or more have watched Reason writers pissing on The Don when:
    a. He is the least disgusting, most honest and best-informed of the nationalsocialist gang (maybe Nick wants to put in a word for Lying Ted?)
    b. The Don is the ONLY candidate for God’s Own Party who admitted on camera that he likes libertarians. Here he is, about to be stabbed by his buddies, and Reason feels compelled to fritter away any chance of the guy endorsing our party when the spaghetti hits the fan and he is railroaded by the soft machine.
    It just seems moronically suicidal, even granting that Steve is just a clueless scribbler for the looter press.

    1. Reason is more interested in certain social signaling because cocktail parties, etc. Constantly emitting ‘Trump is bad!’ signals allows them to ingratiate themselves with their perceived betters in the journalistic pyramid.

    2. Cute. So it’s only social signally to be against a guy who’s own actions prove the vapidity of his supposed ‘like’ of Libertarians. The fact you call Cruz ‘Lying Ted’ in the middle of a full-throated defense of Donny Boy is pretty telling guy.

  26. “He wants to bring back manufacturing jobs that we’ve lost, ignoring that most of them disappeared because of advances in technology and improvements in productivity, not foreign competition. ”

    That’s a statement I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. Are you old-line Republicans really so afraid of Trump that you’ll make a perfectly literate… journalist destroy his credibility to such a point?

  27. I am making $89/hour working from home. I never thought that it was legitimate but my best friend is earning $10 thousand a month by working online, that was really surprising for me, she recommended me to try it. just try it out on the following website.

    ??? http://www.NetNote70.com

  28. I quit myy office job and now I am getting paid 56 Dollars hourly. How? I work-over internet! My old work was making me miserable, so I was to try-something different. 1 years after…I can say my life is changed completely for the better! Check it out what i do…UI2

    ========== http://www.reportmax90.com

  29. The real takeaway is political parties have discovered that having a record actually hurts their candidates chances at being elected President. Thus the parties don’t necessarily want the most qualified person or a person who has ideas. They want a puppet or, at best, a faceman.

    If you don’t have a record, people only have your words to go on and they’ll likely pick the one’s that confirm their biases. In the absence of evidence all you need is a personality and to make as many claims as possible, no matter how outrageous, as long as the group you hang out to dry is:

    A) Not going to support you anyway

    B) Is a small, relatively unpopular group

    Those are obviously just the big topic headers, there are smaller bits you could break those two groups into, but ultimately this is the same playbook tyrants have used throughout history.

  30. Now, when it’s too damn late to do anything about it, Steve opens his eyes and ears and confronts reality.
    Well, he’s published his Mea Culpa, so his sheets are unsoiled.

  31. before I saw the bank draft which had said $9426 , I didnt believe that…my… brother woz like actualy earning money part-time at there labtop. . there uncles cousin has done this 4 less than fifteen months and by now repaid the dept on there place and got a great new Mini Cooper . read the full info here …

    Clik This Link inYour Browser??

    ? ? ? ? http://www.SelfCash10.com

  32. til I saw the draft which was of $6881 , I didnt believe that my mother in law had been realy taking home money part-time on their laptop. . there best friend has done this 4 only twelve months and at present took care of the mortgage on there condo and got a top of the range Subaru Impreza . Learn More ….

    Click This Link inYour Browser….

    ?????? http://www.Reportmax20.com

  33. I’ve made $76,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student.I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money.It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it.

    Open This LinkFor More InFormation..

    ??????? http://www.selfcash10.com

  34. before I looked at the draft saying $9453 , I have faith that my mother in law woz like truley erning money part time at there computar. . there mums best friend haz done this 4 less than 14 months and just repayed the dept on their apartment and purchased a brand new Honda . read here …..

    Please click the link below
    ==========
    http://www.selfcash10.com

  35. I am making $89/hour working from home. I never thought that it was legitimate but my best friend is earning $10 thousand a month by working online, that was really surprising for me, she recommended me to try it. just try it out on the following website.
    ============ http://www.Path50.com

  36. I’ve made $76,000 so far this year working online and I’m a full time student.I’m using an online business opportunity I heard about and I’ve made such great money.It’s really user friendly and I’m just so happy that I found out about it.

    Open This LinkFor More InFormation..

    ??????? http://www.Centernet40.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.