Among the many crazy revelations in Bob Woodward’s new book was this disconcerting account of Donald Trump’s proposed solution to reduce the national debt:
Trump, who was the president-elect at the time and had promised to wipe out U.S. debt in eight years, reportedly offered a solution: “Just run the presses — print money.”
Woodward wrote that Cohn then went on to explain how printing more money is thought to lead to inflation and could be catastrophic for the fiscal health of the U.S.
“It was clear that Trump did not understand the way the US government debt cycle balance sheet worked,” Woodward wrote.
It is quite possible that Donald Trump just doesn’t understand basic economics. It is also quite possible that Donald Trump had a different goal in mind, which was to follow the German example that led to the rise of Adolf Hitler.
After World War I ended, Germany was forced to pay war reparations to Great Britain, France, Italy, the United States, and Belgium. The German economy was still in dire shape due to the naval blockade that had existed during wartime and subsequent food shortages. The fledgling German Republic, known as the Weimar Republic, that had replaced the German Empire, was left deeply in debt. To pay all of that debt, the government simply printed more money, leading to a disastrous hyperinflation.
So the printing presses ran, and once they began to run, they were hard to stop. The price increases began to be dizzying. Menus in cafes could not be revised quickly enough. A student at Freiburg University ordered a cup of coffee at a cafe. The price on the menu was 5,000 Marks. He had two cups. When the bill came, it was for 14,000 Marks. “If you want to save money,” he was told, “and you want two cups of coffee, you should order them both at the same time.”
The presses of the Reichsbank could not keep up though they ran through the night. Individual cities and states began to issue their own money. Dr. Havenstein, the president of the Reichsbank, did not get his new suit. A factory worker described payday, which was every day at 11:00 a.m.: “At 11:00 in the morning a siren sounded, and everybody gathered in the factory forecourt, where a five-ton lorry was drawn up loaded brimful with paper money. The chief cashier and his assistants climbed up on top. They read out names and just threw out bundles of notes. As soon as you had caught one you made a dash for the nearest shop and bought just anything that was going.” Teachers, paid at 10:00 a.m., brought their money to the playground, where relatives took the bundles and hurried off with them. Banks closed at 11:00 a.m.; the harried clerks went on strike.
The flight from currency that had begun with the buying of diamonds, gold, country houses, and antiques now extended to minor and almost useless items — bric-a-brac, soap, hairpins. The law-abiding country crumbled into petty thievery. Copper pipes and brass armatures weren’t safe. Gasoline was siphoned from cars. People bought things they didn’t need and used them to barter — a pair of shoes for a shirt, some crockery for coffee. Berlin had a “witches’ Sabbath” atmosphere. Prostitutes of both sexes roamed the streets. Cocaine was the fashionable drug. In the cabarets the newly rich and their foreign friends could dance and spend money. Other reports noted that not all the young people had a bad time. Their parents had taught them to work and save, and that was clearly wrong, so they could spend money, enjoy themselves, and flout the old.
When the 1,000-billion Mark note came out, few bothered to collect the change when they spent it. By November 1923, with one dollar equal to one trillion Marks, the breakdown was complete. The currency had lost meaning.
Hyperinflation devastated the German economy and the German Republic, almost directly leading to a military takeover of the government:
At the end of September of 1923, the German Chancellor declared a state of emergency and put Germany under military rule
Seeing the waning confidence of German workers in the Ruhr and Hitler’s rise to power in the Bavarian region, the German chancellor took decisive action to maintain control of the situation:
On September 26 [Chancellor Stresemann] suspended seven articles of the Weimar constitution, himself declared a State of Emergency…Germany had become a military dictatorship, no less, and by the choice, at that, of a largely Socialist cabinet. The country was divided into seven military districts, with a local military dictator over each. Simultaneously President Ebert announced the end of passive resistance in the Ruhr.
10 years later, Adolf Hitler was named Chancellor, the Enabling Act was signed, and Germany was officially a dictatorship.
On March 23, 1933, the newly elected members of the German Parliament (the Reichstag) met in the Kroll Opera House in Berlin to consider passing Hitler’s Enabling Act. It was officially called the ‘Law for Removing the Distress of the People and the Reich.’ If passed, it would effectively mean the end of democracy in Germany and establish the legal dictatorship of Adolf Hitler.
On the day of the vote, Nazi storm troopers gathered in a show of force around the opera house chanting,”Full powers – or else! We want the bill – or fire and murder!!” They also stood inside in the hallways, and even lined the aisles where the vote would take place, glaring menacingly at anyone who might oppose Hitler’s will.
The vote was taken – 441 for, only 84, the Social Democrats, against. The Nazis leapt to their feet clapping, stamping and shouting, then broke into the Nazi anthem, the Hörst Wessel song.
They achieved what Hitler had wanted for years – to tear down the German Democratic Republic legally and end democracy, thus paving the way for a complete Nazi takeover of Germany.
Now, of course, it could be seen as a stretch to think that Donald Trump had German history in mind when he proposed his solution of “Just run the presses — print money”. However, there are several other rather disturbing similarities between Germany’s history and Trump’s policies.
The Nazis took passports away from Jews:
On October 5, 1938, the Reich Ministry of the Interior invalidates all German passports held by Jews. Jews must surrender their old passports, which will become valid only after the letter “J” has been stamped on them.
The Trump administration is presently taking passports away from Hispanic Americans:
Some U.S. citizens are being stripped of their passports, with their citizenship called into question, according to a startling new report.
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that a growing number of individuals with birth certificates showing they were born in the U.S. are being denied passports, accused of using fraudulent birth certificates. In some cases, these individuals are sent to immigration detention centers and entered into deportation proceedings, while others are blocked from re-entering the U.S. after their passports have been suddenly revoked.
The common thread amongst those facing such accusations? They are Hispanic, and were largely born near the Texas-Mexico border.
The Nazis attacked the free press in much the same way as Trump has done:
Thane Rosenbaum, an expert on the holocaust and Nazi Germany, wants us to be careful not to use hyperbole when we compare Adolf Hitler’s Germany to President Donald Trump’s United States. But even though he’s extra careful, he still notices some “disturbing parallels” between the tactics used by both leaders — especially when it comes to their attacks on the press.
It’s no secret by now that Trump loves to dismiss stories critical of his demeanor or administration as “fake news” — but what you may not have known is that the “fake news” attack echoes one of Hitler’s favorite insults: “lugenpresse,” a word which translates roughly to “lying press.”
In an exclusive video op-ed for Mic, Rosenbaum explains the history of the “lying press” insult, how the insult helped Hitler rise to power and how Trump is damaging liberal democracy by echoing Hitler’s attacks on a free press.
Some of Hitler’s first acts as Chancellor were to pull out of as many international treaties as he could:
BERLIN, Oct. 14, 1933 (UP) – Germany, angry and steeling herself to any consequences, announced today her withdrawal from the League of Nations and the World Disarmament Conference.
As were some of Trump’s first actions as President:
There are several more similarities that have been noted by others.
A human rights group inspired by Anne Frank has drawn comparisons between Donald Trump’s America and Adolf Hitler’s Germany.
The Anne Frank Centre for Mutual Respect warned of “alarming parallels” between the President and the Nazi leader, likening the present-day US to the “escalating steps of oppression” that led to Holocaust in the 1930s and 1940s.
Both men “bluffed” their way into power, confounding an establishment that did not know what to do but normalise them, according to author Ron Rosenbaum.
The Adolf Hitler biographer said he had refused to compare Mr Trump to the Nazi leader during the campaign period for fear of trivialising genocide, but after the election things changed.
Of course, it is possible that this is all just a coincidence. If so, then the only other conclusion that can be drawn from Donald Trump’s solution to reducing the national debt (printing money and causing massive hyperinflation) is that he is just a complete idiot. That conclusion is not exactly reassuring, either.