US President Donald Trump unveiled on Monday his new budget plan, which is expected to add over one trillion dollars to the federal deficit.
The proposal calls for a large increase in defense spending, while slashing money allocated to other programs. For example, the much-talked about border wall with Mexico will get five billion more than a program to fight the nation’s opioid crisis.
RT spoke to former CIA officer Phillip Giraldi who thinks the US President has misplaced priorities.
RT: Does this military spending increase come as a surprise? How important is beefing up the military to Trump’s policy program?
Phillip Giraldi: I think that everyone expected that Trump’s budget would increase the money to the military. But I think people were surprised by how much he is increasing the money for the military because the US honestly is not threatened anywhere in the world. And the thought of the military having more money doesn’t make sense. And also the social programs would be cut to pay for the military, which will cause some political problems for Mr. Trump.
RT: Trump says the US military is “depleted” but the US already spends far more on defense than any other country in the world. How can that be?
PG: That is one of the mysteries. The US spends more than the next eight countries on the military and it spends far more than any other — far more than Russia, or China, or any other country. So, it is a bit of a mystery why Mr. Trump believes that the military is weak. It seems to me that he is getting bad advice from his generals, most particularly General Mattis at the defense department and I think that is causing the problem.
I think Trump has been convinced by the generals that are in his administration that these money is needed by the military to keep America safe. That is an opinion that I think is false. And I think that Donald Trump can probably not be convinced on this, unless there is an economic crash like there was in 2008 which will mean that there won’t be any money to give to the military.
The Budget Agreement today is so important for our great Military. It ends the dangerous sequester and gives Secretary Mattis what he needs to keep America Great. Republicans and Democrats must support our troops and support this Bill!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 7, 2018
RT: At the beginning of his presidency Trump promised Mexico would pay for the border wall and now it’s got a larger chunk of the budget than is being spent to fight the opioid crisis. Can Trump live up to his campaign promises?
PG: It is clear that Trump cannot live up to his campaign promises. Because he did promise that Mexico would pay for the wall. And he did promise that there would be money for health issues like the opioid crisis. In fact, he has promised that quite recently. So the fact is that even though the US unlike other countries can print all the money it wants, there is still a limit in terms of how much money is in the system to support these things. And paying so much for the military means that other things will not be supported.
RT: The plan would add trillions to the budget deficit. How long can the US continue running up such huge debts?
PG: The fact that America can print money means that it is luckier than most countries, which can’t print money. So, as long as the dollar is the reserve currency for the world, they could continue to print money. But many countries in the world are now tired of using dollars and are talking of shifting to other currencies. That would be the end of the US running a big deficit.
When Trump ran for president, he was talking about the debt and the deficit. But now he seems to have been convinced by the speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who is someone who believes that deficits don’t matter. Somehow he has been convinced by these people that the deficit doesn’t matter. I think that is a mistake and we will see how that plays out but Paul Ryan obviously is giving the president bad advice.
RT: How will the decrease in money spent at home go down with the voting public, especially with mid-term congressional elections coming up later this year? Could this hurt the Republicans?
PG: I think it will definitely hurt the Republicans. People like me, my age, who are dependent on social security and Medicare, do not get a lot of money from these things. But these are sums of money so that people have some healthcare and they have the ability to live and not be poor. When you take away these things, people like me would be voting for someone else other than the Republicans, I think there will be a lot of people voting for not necessarily Democrats, but for candidates who are talking about this and are angry about it.