Over the weekend, Donald Trump claimed that conservatives in California are so upset about so-called “sanctuary cities” that the right has launched “riots.” During a brief Q&A with reporters at the White House yesterday, a reporter asked where, exactly, these riots are taking place.
“Take a look,” he replied, adding, “It is rioting in some cases.”
It was odd to see a sitting president point to American riots that apparently exist only in his imagination, but that wasn’t the strangest exchange with reporters. The Republican also said over the weekend that he and congressional Republicans are working “around the clock” on a new tax cut, which he suggested we’d see no later than Nov. 1, despite the fact that Congress is effectively out of session. Yesterday, Trump tried to explain what he’s talking about.
Q: You said “lower tax cuts.” You said that you wanted tax cuts by November 1st. Congress isn’t even in session. How is that possible?
TRUMP: No, we’re going to be passing – no, no. We’re putting in a resolution sometime in the next week, or week and a half, two weeks.
Q: A resolution where?
TRUMP: We’re going to put in – we’re giving a middle-income tax reduction of about 10 percent. We’re doing it now for middle-income people. This is not for business; this is for middle. That’s on top of the tax decrease that we’ve already given them.
Q: Are you signing an executive order for that?
TRUMP: No. No. No. I’m going through Congress.
Q: But Congress isn’t in session, though.
Despite the fact that all of this was borderline incoherent – I’m not sure what he thinks a “resolution” is – the president repeated the vow at a rally in Texas last night, boasting that the chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee has been working on a new tax cut “for a few months,” and the proposal is “going to be put in next week.”
None of this makes a lick of sense. No one in Congress has any idea what this is about – even White House officials are reportedly “mystified” – and since Capitol Hill will be largely empty next week, there won’t be anyone around to unveil a new multi-billion-dollar tax proposal.
But while it may be tempting to simply point and laugh at Trump’s bizarre confusion, there are a couple of substantive angles to this.
The first is that there’s a growing realization, even inside the Oval Office, that Trump’s original tax cuts were a political dud, which has apparently led the president to believe it’s time to make up new ones before Election Day.
As the Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell explained overnight, “The Republican tax cut is a big, fat failure. It has achieved none of the things that Republicans promised it would. It didn’t reduce deficits. It didn’t target the middle class. And it didn’t win goodwill with voters.”
The second angle to keep in mind is that, with just two weeks remaining before the congressional midterm elections, Trump’s closing message is based almost entirely on brazen lies.
The president is making up tax cuts. He’s making up “riots.” He’s making up racist conspiracy theories. He’s making up health care policies. He’s making up voter fraud. He’s making up a $110 billion arms deal, which in his mind will create 500,000, 600,000, or a million jobs.
With the pressure on and early voting underway, Donald Trump has decided reality is an opponent that needs to be defeated.