The Donald’s War Cabinet And The Fiscal Doom Loop

The Donald’s War Cabinet And The Fiscal Doom Loop by David Stockman – Contra Corner

Last week the Donald’s incipient trade war got Wall Street’s nerves jangling, but that wasn’t the half of what’s coming.

To wit, Trump has now essentially formed a War Cabinet and signed a Horribus spending bill that is a warrant for fiscal meltdown. Indeed, the two essentially comprise a self-fueling doom loop which means Washington’s descent into fiscal catastrophe is well-nigh unstoppable; it’s all over except for the screaming in the bond pits.

That is, Trump’s new War Cabinet of John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Gina Haspel and Mad Dog Mattis is arguably the most interventionist, militarist, confrontationist and bellicose national security team ever assembled by a sitting President. We cannot think of a single country that has even looked cross-eyed at Washington in recent years where one or all four of them has not threatened to drone, bomb, invade or decapitate its current ruling regime.

That means Imperial Washington’s rampant War Fever owing to the Dem-left declaration of war on Russia and Putin is now about to be drastically intensified by the complete victory of the neocon-right in the Trump Administration. The result will be sharpened confrontation, if not actual outbreak of hostilities, across the full spectrum of adversaries—Iran, Russia, China, Syria and North Korea—-and an escalating tempo of military operations and procurement to implement the policy.

At the same time, the Donald’s pathetic Fake Veto maneuver on Friday cemented the special interest lobbies’ absolute control over domestic appropriations. Of course, Chuckles Schumer and Nancy Pelosi crowed loudly about the $63 billion annual domestic spending increase they got in return for the Donald’s $80 billion defense add-on, but the victory was not partisan; it belonged to the Swamp creatures who suckle the politicians of both parties and own the appropriations committees lock, stock and barrel.

To be sure, upon folding at mid-day from his four-hour’s earlier veto tweet, the Donald promised “never again”, but his reason for signing the most wasteful, pork-ridden appropriations bill of this century tells you all you need to know. To wit,

There are a lot of things I’m unhappy about in this bill. There are a lot of things that we shouldn’t have had in this bill, but we were in a sense forced if we want to build our military,” Trump said. “I said to Congress, I will never sign another bill like this again.”

Au contraire. As long as he lasts in office, the Donald will be signing budget busters far worse than this one because the aggressive foreign policies of his War Cabinet will drive the pace of national security spending dramatically higher than the record $695 billion he signed into law last week; and these “must have” increases for pay, operations, ammo, spare parts, training, readiness and weapons replacement/augmentation will not get through the Congress until the bipartisan porkers have had their fill on the domestic side.

Your editor experienced long ago the toxic fiscal equation which arises when hawks and militarists take control of foreign policy and the defense budget. What you get is a “guns and butter” log-rolling dynamic as defense advocates on the spending committees buy the votes of colleagues whose snouts have penetrated deeply into the domestic pork barrel or whose paymasters inhabit the vast expanse of the health, education and social welfare complex.

That’s what stopped cold the Gipper’s short-lived attack on Big Government after 1981, and why the hawk-dominated GOP has been such a dismal failure on the fiscal front ever since.

But the Trumpite/GOP has brought guns and butter log-rolling to a whole new level of fiscal profligacy. And the overwhelming share of the blame for the resulting Horribus appropriations bill—which will raise spending by $143 billion this year and $2.4 trillion over the next decade—rests squarely with the incumbent member of Trump’s new War Cabinet, SecDef James Mattis.

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David Stockman

David Stockman is the ultimate Washington insider turned iconoclast. He began his career in Washington as a young man and quickly rose through the ranks of the Republican Party to become the Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan. After leaving the White House, Stockman had a 20-year career on Wall Street.