President Donald Trump attempted to position himself as a hero to Michigan voters as he vowed to allocate funds for a Great Lakes restoration program — just days after he called for a 90% cut to the project in his federal budget proposal.
“I support the Great Lakes, always have,” Trump said during his speech at a campaign rally Thursday in Grand Rapids. “They’re beautiful. They’re big. Very deep. Record deepness.”
He told the crowd: “I’m going to get, in honor of my friends, full funding of $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which you’ve been trying to get for 30 years.”
In fact, Trump two weeks ago in his budget proposal called for slashing the program’s $300 million funding by massive $270 million. The money is to be used on projects to restore wetlands and improve water quality in and around the five Great Lakes.
Trump also called for decimating funds for the program in 2017 and 2018, but funding was saved both years by Congress, which would likely do so in the next budget as well. President Barack Obama supported funding for the program each year since it was established in 2010.
Yet Trump tried to portray himself at the Midwestern rally as the savior of the program.
Trump needs Michigan voters in the next presidential election. He eked out a 10,700-vote victory (a .23 percentage-point margin) over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton last time in the state. His popularity is sinking in the state as autoworkers lose jobs and farmers struggle against crippling tariffs brought on by Trump’s trade wars.
Donald Trump Jr. also crowed on Twitter about his dad’s sudden championing of the Great Lakes.
Twitter wags had some very definite opinions about the Michigan ploy.
(One other thing: The Great Lakes do not have “record deepness” — not in the world and not in the U.S., where Crater Lake is the deepest.)