Making policy out of Trump speeches is harder than it sounds
President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget is unlikely to pass Congress in its current form, but it nevertheless provides a blueprint for this administration’s priorities and preferences. So on this week’s episode of Last Week Tonight, host John Oliver closely analyzed both the budget’s proposals and the press statements about it by White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney (“whose name, when spoken in my accent, sounds like what you’d call a random Irish person if you were trying to get him to fight you”). The key takeaway from both is that the White House wants to massively increase the military’s budget, and pay for it by cutting every other department.
“It is sort of fitting that the list of budget cuts scroll by like the end credits for America,” Oliver said. “Thanks for helping us out, Agriculture Department! Hope you find a gig with the next country that rises from our ashes.”
Mulvaney told the press that he constructed the budget by analyzing all of Trump’s past public statements and campaign speeches to get a sense of his policy preferences. That sounds reasonable enough until you remember that not all of Trump’s speeches are entirely coherent. For example, Oliver found a Trump speech on military spending in which he said, “You gotta make the country rich again and strong again so that you can afford military and all of the other things.”
“I don’t know what that was,” Oliver said. “To be honest, it sounds like the audiobook of A Farewell to Arms broadcast by an iPhone submerged in hot coffee. But apparently, Mulvaney heard ‘increase defense spending by $54 billion,’ because that’s what he’s proposing.”
Watch the clip above.
The full episode of Last Week Tonight is streaming on HBO Go.