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See what happens when you pull his string too many times?


Donald Trump loves to brag about his business acumen. He loves to tell anyone who'll listen -- and many who'd rather not -- how he learned all about doing business from the ground up in his father's real-estate business (he always leaves out the never-renting-to-black-people part) and how he topped off his already-masterful knowledge of doing business good by attending the Wharton School of Business and Finance at the University of Pennsylvania. Greatest business school ever, where he was the greatest business student ever.

Somewhere in there while he was becoming the smartest businessman in the world, you might think he'd have learned what the national debt is, and what the stock market is. But as he demonstrated in his big interview with Sean Hannity the other day, Donald Trump doesn't understand the first thing about that thing he is better at than all the other things:

Let's just take a close look at how Donald Trump thinks a large dollar amount in one thing (the national debt) is related to a large dollar amount in a completely different, unrelated thing (the stock market):

The country -- we took it over and owed over 20 trillion. As you know the last eight years, they borrowed more than it did in the whole history of our country. So they borrowed more than $10 trillion, right? And yet, we picked up 5.2 trillion just in the stock market. Possibly picked up the whole thing in terms of the first nine months, in terms of value. So you could say, in one sense, we’re really increasing values. And maybe in a sense we’re reducing debt.

We'll leave aside the distinction between winning an election and "taking a country over," which for any normal president would be a gaffe that would be good for at least a week of late-night monologues, but with Trump, is just another of his routine sweaty fumbling attempts to unhook the brassiere of the English language. Let us simply gaze in awe at the perfect Trumpian illogic of the thing and wonder how in his mighty brain he could ever think that a net gain in the stock market offsets the national debt. Does he think the stock market is a thing that pays all its profits into the US Treasury? It's not altogether outside the realm of possibility, since Trump's business ventures are all privately held, and the one time he did run a company that sold stock, he drove it straight into the ground while he got rich. Maybe since he ended up with a tidy profit, he thought the US Government ate the losses, not investors.

Needless to say, the Bidniss Press has been busy explainering that no, stock market increases don't reduce the national debt. The New York Times charmed us by calling Trump's statement "puzzling." PolitiFact tried to see if there were any knock-on effects of a rising stock market that would reduce the national debt, and decided, nah, not even if you're claiming a strong market results in more revenue for the government, and besides, that growth trend started under Barack Obama, who should get credit for it. Over at Business Insider, Josh Barro noted that while Trump was wrong about stock market gains actually eliminating the national debt, Trump may at least be misapplying the logic of real-estate financing to government debt:

I assume he thinks it's like a real-estate investment: If you have a $50 million mortgage on a building, and its value rises from $80 million to $100 million, you have deleveraged without paying your debt down at all.

Barro goes on to explain that if that's what Trump was thinking, he's wrong, because the stock market is very volatile, and only a dummy would assume a rally will last forever, and the United States is not a skyscraper.

Barro may have a point, and Trump may be thinking like a real estate developer (and as we all know, God is one of those). Or maybe he's just a dumbshit who has no idea what he's talking about, as this reminiscence about one of Trump's professors at Wharton informs us. Frank DiPrima was a good friend of Wharton prof William T. Kelley, who had to contend with Trump in the last two years of Trump's time at the business school. Kelley, who died six years ago before the thought of President Donald Trump could have killed him, was fond of sharing his impressions of young Donald with DiPrima even though Kelley only knew him as a student, and later as an annoying celebrity:

Professor Kelley told me 100 times over three decades that “Donald Trump was the dumbest goddam student I ever had.” I remember his emphasis and inflection -- it went like this -- “Donald Trump was the dumbest goddam student I ever had.” Dr. Kelley told me this after Trump had become a celebrity but long before he was considered a political figure. Dr. Kelley often referred to Trump’s arrogance when he told of this -- that Trump came to Wharton thinking he already knew everything.

That seems perfectly reasonable. When are we going to see a bunch of wingnut bloggers demanding Trump release his Wharton transcripts, anyway? What do we really know about this man? Did anyone vet him?

[Josh Marshall on Twitter / NYT / Politifact / Business Insider/ Daily Kos]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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