Welcome to POTUS Said What?!, a weekly roundup of Trump’s most asinine and ineloquent sound bytes and our effort to understand WTF he’s even talking about.
This week, Trump couldn’t stop insulting the people of Puerto Rico, made bizarre excuses for why the Republican healthcare bill ate dirt, unconvincingly told us he wouldn’t benefit from tax reforms that literally help only rich people, and still couldn’t shut up about the NFL.
WTF? Here Trump would be talking about Puerto Rico, an American territory in the Caribbean, where there are 3.4 million American citizens without power, food, or drinking water. After spending the early part of this week claiming that his shameful response to the disaster was due to geography, critics took him to task for being cruel in the midst of a humanitarian crisis. Eventually, somebody informed Trump about things called airplanes, and also, you know, boats. Those boats are governed by something called the Jones Act which requires US-owned and operated ships to be used when transporting goods between American ports. All he needed to do was lift it and let the goods on said boats in, which he agreed to do (eventually) — but only for 10 days. Just for a little game of comparison here, experts are estimating that the island could be without amenities for months. This 10-day “kindness” (we’re being way too generous here) from Trump is chump change if you think about what the American government could be providing.
WTF? We just love a president who goes on and on about how many "ships are out there right now" but also admits that he's more concerned about the shippers. Donald Trump isn’t known for his mighty bouts of empathy, so it should be no surprise that he would put the business interests of the shipping industry ahead of a humanitarian effort, despite the fact that a U.S. territory is facing its worst natural disaster in modern history. Perhaps what’s surprising is that he actually said this all out loud. But who are we kidding?
“We have the votes, but reconciliation is a disaster. But as you know, it ends on Friday. So we don’t have enough time, because we have one senator who’s a ‘yes’ vote, a great person, but he’s in the hospital. And he’s a ‘yes’ vote. So we can’t do it by Friday.”
WTF? Pundits spent the whole week trying to figure out which Senator was in the hospital holding up a vote because there was no senator in the hospital holding up a vote. Was he referring to Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran, who is recovering from an illness at home? Did he not know that Arizona Senator John McCain, who’s receiving treatment for brain cancer, was both on the Hill and voting against the bill? Or did he mistakenly think that Representative Steve Scalise, who’s spent 15 weeks recovering from a gunshot wound, was a Senator?
Regardless, it didn’t matter, because Republicans didn’t actually have the healthcare votes to move forward with the Graham-Cassidy bill with or without this imaginary senator. Equally awkward is that reconciliation, which allows Republicans to vote on major budgetary legislation with a simple 51-vote majority, should be a disaster for Democrats, the minority party in the chamber, not Republicans. But again, details.
WTF? In terms of other domestic messiness, Trump and the Republicans just started hawking the tax reform bill that they pretend is going to help middle class Americans by slashing the top tax rate for the highest earners and the biggest businesses (mhmmmmm). And given the fact ol’ Don still hasn’t shown us his damn tax returns, there are about a bazillion ways that the tax reforms the GOP’s proposing could help Trump and the shady house of cards that he calls his business “empire.”
—Trump wants to lower business tax rates, most notably slicing the 35% corporate tax rate down to 20% creating a 25% tax rate for “pass-through” businesses (which currently tax people based on their individual tax bracket).
—He’s supporting the removal of something called the estate tax, which only affects properties worth for than $5.49 million per year. (We don’t know about you, but we don’t have gold-encrusted penthouse lying around anywhere. Who does this affect? The literal one percent.)
—He’s also looking to ax something called the Alternative Minimum Tax, the job of which is to make sure wealthy Americans like Trump himself don’t use tax loopholes to avoid paying taxes in the first place. Remember the $38.5 million Trump paid in 2005 taxes after those returns were leaked? Well, $31 million of that was because of the AMT.
But okay, we totally trust the rich dude with everything to lose on this one. Sounds legit.
“I have so many friends that are owners and they're in a box. I've spoken to a couple of them and they say, 'We are in a situation where we have to do something.' I think they're afraid of their players, you want to know the truth.”
WTF? Trump wants us to believe that a bunch of mega-millionaires and billionaires who literally own the teams are afraid of their at-will, contracted employees? Really?
This is Trumpism at its greatest. He’s covering his but after that unnecessary 14-tweet storm last weekend which led several NFL owners who’d actually donated to his inaugural campaign to link arms with their players and in some cases even kneel. This includes million-dollar Trump donor and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Trump loves nothing more than casting powerful men as victims, only this time these guys didn't go along.
Lily Herman is a contributing editor at Refinery29. Her work has been featured in Teen Vogue, Glamour, Allure, TIME, Newsweek, Fast Company, and Mashable. Follow her on Twitter.