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Friday, April 12, 2024

Donald Trump's Big Con

On the Man Who Stared Into a Solar Eclipse

ROBERT REICH in Robertreich.Substack.Com

I have this recurring fantasy that Trump will disappear, forever.

The total solar eclipse isn’t a perfect analogy because Trump doesn’t shine like the sun, and the moon blocks the sun only temporarily.

But for a few blissful minutes, anyone who happens to be in the path of today’s eclipse will experience an elation more intense than any other celestial experience. Stars will emerge. The universe will be visible. The Earth and all life on it will come into sharper focus. The cosmos will feel complete.

Like all fraudsters, Trump is running out of suckers.

It’s only a matter of time before we experience the same exhilaration when Trump is gone.

And he will be gone. Either he’ll lose the 2024 election or he’ll be sent to jail — or both. 

Or he’ll win and be president for a short time before becoming so blatantly and dangerously unhinged that even Republican lawmakers demand he step down.

Eventually, of course, he will depart the celestial realm altogether, as we all will. (He’ll be 78 in June and doesn’t look like he’s in the best of shape.)

But Trump will also go into total eclipse because con artists are able to keep their cons going only if the cons get larger and more audacious. Trump’s biggest con — his 2024 presidential campaign based on his big lie about the 2020 election — is about as big as a con can get.

His smaller cons aren’t doing well. Anyone who bought into Trump Media’s initial public offering when it peaked at $79.38 a share is now 43 percent poorer. After it went public, Trump Media had to report it lost $58.2 million in 2023 on sales of just $4.1 million. This makes Trump Media almost worthless.

Trump has also been selling copies of the King James Bible for $59.99 each. He’s calling it the “God Bless the USA Bible” and including the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights (both of which are already in the public domain). Apparently, he’s got few buyers.

He’s been hawking gold (chocolate) bars, wines, superhero NFTs, and “Never Surrender” sneakers, for $399 a pair.

None of these cons will do any better than Trump University, Trump Steaks, Trump Plaza, Trump Marina, or the Trump Taj Mahal.

Like all fraudsters, Trump is running out of suckers.

On Saturday night, Trump convinced 117 extraordinarily wealthy people to give him $50 million at a campaign fundraiser at the Palm Beach home of billionaire investor John Paulson. They believe that if Trump becomes president again, he’ll give them another big tax cut.

But the only way to finance another big tax cut without exploding the federal budget deficit would be to cut Social Security and Medicare, which Trump now promises he won’t do. So either Trump’s billionaire backers are being conned or the American people are.

So prepare for Trump’s total eclipse.

© 2021

ROBERT REICH is the Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. His book include: "Aftershock" (2011), "The Work of Nations" (1992), "Beyond Outrage" (2012) and, "Saving Capitalism" (2016). He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, former chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." Reich's newest book is "The Common Good" (2019). He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.