It was odd yesterday to see Donald Trump position himself as a champion of the Special Olympics, when in reality, what the president announced was his opposition to his own proposed budget cuts. A few hours later, he did something eerily similar with regard to the Great Lakes. Cleveland.com reported:
Less than a month after proposing a federal budget that would have cut Great Lakes cleanup money from $300 million to $30 million, President Donald Trump pledged to provide the full $300 million during a campaign rally in Michigan.
During the rally in Grand Rapids, Trump told the audience “We have some breaking news!”
“You ready? Can you handle it?” he asked. “I don’t think you can handle it. I support the Great Lakes. Always have. They are beautiful. They are big, very deep. record deepness, right? And I am going to get, in honor of my friends, full funding of $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which you have been trying to get for over 30 years. So, we will get it done.”
Putting aside the president’s curious interest in the Great Lakes’ “record deepness” – Trump loves describing nearly everything in “record” terms – it’s difficult to say with confidence whether the Republican actually supports full funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Sure, he made that announcement last night, but there’s often no meaningful relationship between the administration’s actions and Trump’s rhetorical boasts.
But even if we accept his words at face value, the rhetoric was kind of bizarre. For three years, Trump has tried to cut Great Lakes restoration. As the Cleveland.com report added, “Over the past two years, Trump proposed a 90 percent cut to the program. During his first year in office, Trump called for eliminating the program.”
Just this month, the White House called for taking $290 million out of the $300 million initiative.
Last night in Michigan, however, Trump bragged that he’s “going to get” the full $300 million, in effect telling supporters, “Good news, everyone, I’ve decided to save you from me.”
As ridiculous as this sounds, the presidential boast is still factually wrong: the program hasn’t been waiting for “over 30 years” for full funding. Just the opposite is true: Congress has ignored Trump’s proposed cuts and fully funded Great Lakes restoration, ignoring the White House’s wishes.
The president didn’t have to bring up any of this, but he appears to have made a conscious decision to deceive his supporters. Even for Trump, it was an absurd display.
Update: The Detroit News had a good report on the Michigan lawmakers who helped change the president’s thinking on this subject.