‘In the service of whim’ & to promote illusions: Authorities Scramble to Make Yurugu Trump’s False Assertions Real

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From [HERE] The great election-eve middle-class tax cut began not as a factual proposal, but as a false promise.

When President Trump abruptly told reporters over the weekend that middle-income Americans would receive a 10 percent tax cut before the midterm elections, neither officials on Capitol Hill nor in his administration knew anything about such a tax cut. The White House released no substantive information. And although cutting taxes requires legislation, Congress is not scheduled to be back in session until after the Nov. 6 elections.

Yet Washington’s bureaucratic machinery whirred into action nonetheless — working to produce a policy that could be seen as supporting Trump’s whim.

One such option now under discussion by administration officials is a symbolic nonbinding “resolution” designed to signal to voters ahead of the elections that if Republicans hold their congressional majorities they might pass a future 10 percent tax cut for the middle class. And House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) said Tuesday that he would work with the White House and the Treasury Department to develop a plan “over the coming weeks.”

The mystery tax cut is only the latest instance of the federal government scrambling to reverse-engineer policies to meet Trump’s sudden public promises — or to search for evidence buttressing his conspiracy theories and falsehoods.

The Pentagon leaped into action to both hold a military parade and launch a “Space Force” on the president’s whims. The Commerce Department moved to create a plan for auto tariffs after Trump angrily threatened to impose them. And just this week, Vice President Pence, the Department of Homeland Security and the White House all rushed to try to back up Trump’s unsupported claim that “unknown Middle Easterners” were part of a migrant caravan in Central America — only to have the president admit late Tuesday that there was no proof at all.

“Virtually no one on the planet has the kind of power that a president of the United States has to scramble bureaucracies in the service of whim,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. “Whatever Donald Trump wakes up and thinks about, or whatever comes to mind in the middle of a speech, actually has the reality in that it is actionable in some odd sense.”

Consider Trump’s ongoing commentary this week about the caravan of Central American migrants traveling toward the U.S. border with Mexico.

The president tweeted an unsubstantiated warning Monday morning that “criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in,” and later repeated it. His claim received extensive news coverage, but administration agencies did not immediately provide information supporting it.

By the day’s end, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters Trump “absolutely” has evidence that there are Middle Easterners in the caravan — but she cited only a statistic that each day 10 suspected or known terrorists try to enter the United States illegally.

Though Trump’s claim was not about suspected terrorists specifically, he and his administration seemed to imply — again with no evidence — that his hypothetical “Middle Easterners” may have intentions to commit terrorism.

Pence sought to back up his boss’s claim, saying Tuesday morning in a Washington Post Live interview that it is “inconceivable that there are not people of Middle Eastern descent in a crowd of more than 7,000 people advancing toward our border.”

But just hours later, Trump admitted to reporters during an Oval Office event that he has no evidence to support the claim about the caravan.

“There’s no proof of anything,” Trump said, “but there could very well be.” [MORE]