During his rally Thursday night in Grand Rapids, Michigan, President Donald Trump made some unintentionally humorous comments about the Great Lakes while announcing he intends to fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative — something his administration has repeatedly proposed gutting.
“We have some breaking news!” Trump said. “I don’t think you can handle it.”
I support the Great Lakes. Always have. They are beautiful. They are big, very deep. Record deepness, right? And I am going to get, in honor of my friends, full funding of $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which you have been trying to get for over 30 years. So, we will get it done.
TRUMP: "I support the Great Lakes. Always have. They are beautiful. They are big. Very deep. Record deepness, right?" pic.twitter.com/GCSXHp5RdG— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 28, 2019
It is not the case, however, that Trump has “always” been a supporter of the Great Lakes. In fact, less than a month ago, his administration proposed a budget that would’ve reduced funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, from $300 million to just $30 million. So the president’s announcement on Thursday amounted to a repudiation of his own budget.
Deep cuts to the Restoration Initiative have been included in each of Trump’s budget proposals, as Cleveland.com explains:
Since entering the White House, all the yearly budgets that Trump has presented to Congress suggested cuts to the program, but Congress has overruled Trump by giving the program $300 million each year. Over the past two years, Trump proposed a 90 percent cut to the program. During his first year in office, Trump called for eliminating the program.
Understandably, Democratic members of Congress who have fought successfully to save the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative were unimpressed with Trump’s comments in Grand Rapids. In a statement, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) said, “As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, which approves funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, I would have never allowed Trump’s gutting of GLRI to make it through Congress without a fight. The GLRI is critical for containing invasive species such as Asian Carp, and for restoring the Great Lakes economic and ecological vitality. The program has enjoyed broad bipartisan support, which put his proposal even more out of touch with the mainstream. It’s an insult to the 30 million people who rely on the Great Lakes that he would even put such a disastrous proposal on the table.”
It’s also not the case that the Great Lakes embody “record deepness.” The deepest lake in the world is Lake Baikal in Russia, and the deepest lakes in the United States are Crater Lake in Oregon and Lake Tahoe in California. An unofficial Lake Superior Twitter account responded to Trump’s comments by acknowledging this reality.
I hate to admit this, but... no, not record deepness. Not in the world or in the United States.— Lake Superior (@LakeSuperior) March 29, 2019
Trump has a history of contradicting his own budget proposals
Trump — who also made false, unintentionally funny comments about wind energy during his speech in Michigan — reversed course on the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative hours after he suddenly reversed course on an elimination of federal funding for the Special Olympics as part of his administration’s proposed budget.
Before he took off for his speech in Michigan, Trump told reporters, “I heard about [the proposed cuts] this morning. I have overridden my people. We’re funding the Special Olympics.’’
Trump’s comments came two days after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos struggled mightily to defend the proposal during a hearing.
There may be a bit of method to Trump’s seeming madness. On Friday morning, Axios’s Mike Allen reported that administration officials “past and present have told us that Trump savors news coverage that shows him acting unilaterally. ... Even — one source said especially — when it involved like overriding members of his own administration.”