Speaking to CNBC on Thursday evening, Trump unveiled his plan to deal with the national debt. “I am the king of debt,” he said “I love debt. I love playing with it.” He added, “I would borrow, knowing that if the economy crashed, you could make a deal. And if the economy was good, it was good. So therefore, you can’t lose.”
Trump is essentially arguing that, in the event of economic collapse or the threat of economic collapse, he would persuade America’s creditors to accept less than full payment on our very large national debt. This is, as many people have pointed out, a totally insane idea. “No one on the other side would pick up the phone if the secretary of the U.S. Treasury tried to make that call,” Lou Crandall, chief economist at Wrightson ICAP, told The New York Times. “Why should they? They have a contract.”
But Trump’s thinking makes sense, if you’ve seen the movie Dave, which is about what would happen if a nice, unassuming normal guy who looked exactly like the president became the president after the real president, who was a jerk, went into a coma while fucking his mistress. Dave is typical in the “Normal Guy Becomes President” genre in that it assumes that our problems, which are actually very complicated, are merely made complicated by politicians, who are out-of-touch dolts who only care about themselves. And in Dave, Dave saves a program to help homeless children by getting his accountant buddy Murray to cut $650 million from the budget, which is very easy for them to do, because they are not dumb politicians.
That’s what Trump is proposing here—the idea that solutions that work for businessmen would also work for the United States. Renegotiating debt in the event of bankruptcy is a very normal thing for a businessman to do, especially a businessman like Trump who has undergone many bankruptcies. But if the United States did this, it would probably destroy the economy, because the economy is based on the assumption that lending money to the United States is a smart and safe thing to do.
Donald Trump and Dave are different in that, to paraphrase Jonathan Richman, no one ever called Dave an asshole. But they’re the same in that they think that the United States can solve its problems the way that people solve their problems.