On the campaign trail in 2016, Donald Trump wasn’t shy when it came to the issue of debt. As he told Norah O’Donnell of CBS This Morning at the time, “I’m the king of debt. I’m great with debt. Nobody knows debt better than me. I’ve made a fortune by using debt and if things don’t work out I renegotiate the debt. I mean, that’s a smart thing, not a stupid thing.” So how perfect that he would become the president of debt, presiding (like his two predecessors) over what TomDispatch regular Stephanie Savell, co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University, calls America’s “credit-card wars.” Those conflicts, already almost 17 years in the making and still spreading, may, when the costs finally come due, lend a hand in the bankrupting of America and leave those who don’t fit comfortably into the 1% bracket in a ditch somewhere in Trump country.
Perhaps it’s lucky, then, that Americans elected the “king of debt” as their president, since he’s had a whole lot of experience with one other aspect of debt: bankruptcy, when things suddenly start to go bad and those debts begin to truly pile up. After all, our king of debt managed to send his Atlantic City casinos over a cliff into the abyss of bankruptcy in the 1990s, leaving stock and bond holders in just such a ditch and yet somehow emerging with millions of dollars for himself. It was an escape act worthy of Houdini and, rest assured, if anything like it were to happen to this country on his watch, he’d undoubtedly do the same thing, possibly no less successfully. Perhaps beforehand he could give the U.S. military (and the rest of us) a few tips about how to jump ship on those wars before they do in not just Afghans, Pakistanis, Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis, Libyans, and the rest of the targeted crew across the Greater Middle East and Africa, but us, too. In the meantime, let Savell tell you a little about what lies ahead when those credit card bills come due.