Skip to navigationSkip to content

John Oliver uses Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal” to explain why people will hate his budget

John Oliver HBO Last Week Tonight
Screenshot from HBO
“You can’t con people, at least not for long.”
By Zheping Huang
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Among the most eye-catching aspects of US president Donald Trump’s first budget, released last week, is a proposed $54 billion annual increase in defense spending—which will be paid for by cuts to agencies that he deems pointless.

“The list of cuts scroll by like the ending credits to America,” said comedian John Oliver on yesterday’s (March 19) episode of Last Week Tonight.

“Thanks for helping us out, agriculture department,” Oliver said of the department which will see its funding cut by 21% in 2018. “Hope you find a gig with the next country that rises from our ashes.”

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said he went through Trump’s campaign speeches and interviews in order to put together the budget, which Oliver mocked as a “highly scientific process.”

Oliver said that it’s nearly impossible to turn Trump’s words into real numbers, citing for example the proposed $1.4 billion boost in funding for nuclear weapons. For that, Oliver tried to read into what Trump said during a campaign event in June.

“Frankly, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has built up their military again and again and again. Their military is much stronger. He’s doing nuclear, we’re not doing anything. Our nuclear is old and tired and his nuclear is tippy-top from what I hear,” Trump said during the speech.

Oliver translated that as: “Let’s trickle dickle some money bunnies into our boom-boom budget we are aiming for tippy top people.”

Non-defense federal funding is already at its lowest level to GDP in over five decades, Oliver noted, and that’s what makes Trump’s cuts, including an 28% cut at the State Department, so frightening.

The biggest losers in Trump’s budget are also only responsible for a tiny share of federal spending. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency currently accounts for only 0.2% of total funding, but its budget will be reduced by as much as 30%.

“You don’t cut those agencies as a cost-saving measure,” said Oliver. “You do it as a fuck you.”

Trump supporters, too, will wind up getting burned by some of the cuts. Many of Trump’s voters will no longer have flights in their cities, as Trump vowed to scrap decades-old federal subsidies for rural airports, Oliver said, citing the New York Times.

Trump voters, said Oliver, hate liberals for making fun of them for living in ”flyover states,” but “this budget will literally turn them into flyover country because there won’t be an airport there anymore.”

Oliver said Trump should know that his supporters will get angry if the budget is passed, given what he said in his biography The Art of the Deal:

📬 Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee).

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.