Bob Woodward brags that he has written books on the last nine presidents. In his latest book on Trump, “Fear: Trump in the White House,” it shows. Because it is obvious in the book that the scared old man confused his Trump notes with his Obama notes.
Woodward is no longer the spry young man of 29 he was at the time of Watergate. Before the spring returns, he will be 76. Many people today are working as productively as ever into their 80s and even 90s. I personally work with several of them.
But in his book on President Trump, Woodward himself makes some very feeble mistakes, which he accuses the younger President Trump of making.
Woodward writes in a stylized format purporting to recount word-for-word conversations between Trump and his executive staff and other White House insiders. That includes the very first conversation between Trump and Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn. (Trump ultimately appointed Cohn as his first chief of the Economic Policy Council, the position now held by Larry Kudlow.)
Cohn has stated strongly Woodward’s portrayal of his first meeting with Trump is inaccurate. The conversation Woodward recounts in the book is, on its face, not believable — reading like a Washington Post editorial rather than a real conversation held in the Oval Office.
Woodward also has some of his facts wrong. For example, he alleges Trump had promised while campaigning in 2016 that he would wipe out the national debt in eight years. But Trump never made that promise, which would have been totally unbelievable.
The national debt is $21 trillion, more than the entire GDP of the United States in 2016, which was $18.7 trillion. Woodward, in making this allegation, was confusing the national debt, which was accumulated over the entire 242-year history of the United States, with the annual deficit.
That is why no one in Washington has ever made a proposal to pay off the entire national debt in eight years. Every year, the Republican chairman of the House Budget Committee issues a budget proposal that would eliminate the annual deficit within 10 years. In confusing the national debt with the annual deficit, Woodward was making a schoolchild’s mistake.
Even worse, Woodward alleges in the book Trump’s solution for America’s debt/deficit problem was “Just run the presses – print money.” Woodward reports Cohn then schooled Trump, speaking to him in the meeting as though he were an idiot.
Woodward writes, “‘You don’t get to do it that way,’ Cohn said. ‘We have huge deficits and they matter.’” Woodward adds, “Cohn was astounded at Trump’s lack of basic understanding. He tried to explain. If you as the federal government borrow money through issuing bonds, you are increasing the U.S. deficit.”
But contrary to Woodward’s claim, issuing bonds does not increase deficits. It raises the money to finance them. Spending money in excess of taxes increases the deficit. That takes an act of Congress.
It is not believable that Woodward attended this meeting in any way, or that any of the participants reviewed any transcript Woodward created and signed off on the exact wording of the supposed conversation. Woodward says all those attending the meeting were Cohn, Trump, son-in-law Jared Kushner, policy adviser Steve Bannon, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Woodward’s phrasings supposedly conveying the conversation are not their words, as Woodward would lead the reader to believe.
Simply put, Woodward’s book is a scam, just like his book about President Reagan, where Woodward alleged that he snuck into the hospital room of Reagan CIA Director Bill Casey, who was in a coma after suffering a stroke.
Woodward alleged that before Casey’s death soon thereafter, Casey awoke from his coma while Woodward was in the hospital room, enabling Woodward to conduct Casey’s final interview while he was there about Reagan’s Iran-Contra scandal. Woodward’s book on Trump is as much a work of carefully-crafted fiction as Woodward’s supposed interview with a nearly-dead Bill Casey.
Just as curious is Woodward’s allegation that Trump’s supposed notion of addressing the debt by “just printing more money” illustrated “a lack of basic understanding about how federal debt works.” But whose lack of basic understanding would that be? Trump’s? Or Woodward’s?
Because “just printing more money” to finance the debt was exactly federal policy under President Obama’s “stimulus” and the “Yellen/Obama Quantitative Easing Plan.” During those Obama years, his federal government financed massive increases in government spending by purchasing $4 trillion in assets with $4 trillion in cash digitally created out of thin air, effectively massively increasing the money supply. He was lucky not to have recreated the double-digit inflation of the 1970s right there.
Woodward doesn’t understand any of that, because in his blind eye Obama could do no wrong, and Trump could do no right. That is why I say Woodward must have confused his Trump notes with his Obama notes. (839 words).
Peter Ferrara, senior policy adviser to the National Tax Limitation Foundation, teaches Growth Economics at Kings College in New York. He served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and as Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States under President George H.W. Bush.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.