“Donald Trump! Ah, God, he sounds like a windbag to me,” said “free money” infomercial king Mathew Lesko in an extensive interview with The Daily Caller when asked whether he sees any parallels between himself and the world’s premiere self-promoting billionaire.
“But he’s certainly making a lot more money than I’ll ever make.”
Lesko makes his money by selling information to ordinary Americans about how they can get “free money” from the government. Always sporting his trademark question mark suit — whether he’s hawking his goods or dining at the elite Congressional Country Club where he is a member — Lesko promotes his brand very much in the tradition of The Donald.
He even admits that much of his success has come from acting “like a fool on TV.” As for his books, he says he basically plagiarizes them from government documents.
“I do plagiarize,” Lesko explained.
“I mean, I flunked English in college so I’m not a literary genius you know. My first book I went to the [Government Printing Office]. I found this big book called ‘The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance.’”
“Nothing of the government is copyrighted,” he continued.
“So I really just cut and paste it. Nobody really wants my 1,000 pages. So I cut it down to about 200 pages and just had the important stuff and sent it to Penguin Viking. They published it, and I didn’t write a lick. Act like a fool on TV and sold a couple of million books. You know, that was great. “
It goes without saying that Lesko has a few critics.
“People try to beat me up, you know, ‘because I’m proposing welfare’ or something,” Lesko said.
“Welfare is going to be there [no matter] what the hell I do.”
Lesko went on to argue that his work actually helps perfect our democracy.
“This is a democracy, we all should know about [the free money available],” Lesko said. “If you’re eligible, then you should know about it. If we decide not to have the program, then let’s get rid of the damn thing.”
But Lesko says that our government officials aren’t particularly good at eliminating programs.
“We can’t get rid of stuff,” he explained. “You know, we have programs to solve problems but we don’t get rid of the old programs when we don’t have problems anymore.”
“We always talk about budget cuts and everybody [says], ‘oh, I’m against waste, fraud and abuse’ and they elect them and nothing happens,” he added, saying that his business does well no matter whether Republicans or Democrats are in charge of the government.
“I’ve been following this stuff for 30 years. It grows no matter who’s in town. And the piper’s coming now.”
Lesko acknowledges that much of the free money the government gives way isn’t going to the very needy.
“Only about — the latest data I’ve seen — like 12 percent of the money that is given out goes to low-income people,” he said. “Eighty, ninety percent is not really going to the poor.”
“The interesting thing about the money that is set aside for lower income is what lower income is,” he explained at another point.
“I mean, when I grew up I thought if you were poor and on those kind of programs, you know, you were living on the street or something. … Like food stamps — though they don’t call it food stamps anymore — that’s a family making $24,000. So you could be working full time at Wal-Mart and still be eligible for them.”
Asked whether he would help President Obama give away the government’s money if he was asked to serve as Treasury Department secretary for the only man in America more proficient at Lesko’s job than Lesko, he said with a laugh: “I don’t think they need help!”