Last week, Donald Trump released a draft of his first federal budget and, as John Oliver said in a segment on Sunday’s episode of Last Week Tonight, this means that the has world gotten a glimpse at what it looks like when a “a man who constantly promised that he would run America like a business” takes a stab at the numbers.
The budget, Oliver pointed out, is basically Trump’s “wish list,” what’s known as a “skinny budget” — “which sounds like a line item that Trump might have included in one of his prenups.” Think of it as a “presidential mood board” for a man whose mood can be summed up as “impatient, vain, and horny for malice.”
Aside from a plan to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts entirely, among the most pointlessly cruel items are a proposal to cut the Environment Protection Agency’s budget by 31%, as well as a 28% cut to the State Department — agencies that make up just 0.2% and 1.4% of the federal budget, respectively. “So you don’t cut those as a cost-saving measure,” Oliver said. “You do it as a ‘fuck you.’ It is the budgetary equivalent of inviting Mitt Romney out to dinner at Jean Georges before not offering him a cabinet position.”
The most eye-popping item is a $54 billion increase in defense spending, while many other agencies are at risk of losing most if not all of their funding. Oliver cut to a clip of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer running through the list of departments and services that are on the chopping block, commenting, “It is sort of fitting that the list of budget cuts scroll by like the end credits for America. Thanks for helping us out, agriculture department! Hope you find a gig with the next country that rises from our ashes!”
The budget is unlikely to pass in its current form, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t pay attention to what’s in it, if only to see where the president’s priorities lie. And while we may be familiar with Trump accomplices like Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, the budget also reveals a lot about a lesser-known Trump appointee, South Carolina Congressman Mick Mulvaney, now the Director of the Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney’s been making the rounds on TV news programs and giving briefings at the White House to defend the Machiavellian budget document as a crucial stepping stone on the path to freedom.
But, as Oliver noted, it can’t be an easy task to sift through Trump’s garbled statements during the campaign and since his inauguration in order to put together a budget that makes any kind of sense. Oliver tries his best to find logic in some of the items in the budget, like a proposed $1.4 billion increase for the National Nuclear Security Administration — while the Department of Energy’s budget is at risk of losing $1.7 billion. “To be honest,” Oliver said, “I can’t be certain, because I don’t speak fluent toddler psychopath.”