On Morning Joe Tuesday, the panel discussed President Donald Trump's upcoming address that evening to a joint-session of Congress. The speech expected to cover his latest budget proposal, including a $54 billion increase in defense spending from which the panel deduced that the Commander-in-Chief "does not sound like a peace-time president."
"That is a tremendous amount of money to spend on ramping up the military," New York Times political reporter Jeremy Peters said. "$54 billion. That does not to me sound like a peace-time president." Co-host Mika Brezinski looked to hype Trump as erratic and said, "When you hear it in its totality from a president who undermines judiciary, president who flouts First Amendment and calls the news media ‘fake news,’ and now is talking about winning wars, I have to tell you, it feels ominous."
"I don't think it's an exaggeration at this point. I'm hoping we get more measured tones tonight," she added.
Agreeing with Brezinski, Washington Post national political reporter Robert Costa took a nuanced stance. "What's he going to say with this upcoming report on the Islamic State? He's asked top military officials in the country to prepare a report on how to confront Islamic state," he said. "This comes as he's asking for $54 billion in military spending and after Steve Bannon, his chief strategist, as we all know talks in pretty big terms about the west and Judeo-Christian values. Is Trump going to adopt a military plan that follows in a path that's not nonintervention something he said in his campaign?"
Toward the end of the discussion Brezinski said, "Putting his money where his mouth is, talk about winning wars, are we going to war? With who?"
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In sharp contrast to the morning show panel, Arizona Senator John McCain and Texas Representative Mac Thornberry voiced their concerns that the Trump administration was not increasing defense spending enough following the deep cuts of the Obama years.
"While we cannot repair all of the damage done by these cuts in a single year, we can and should do more than this level of funding will allow," Thornberry said in a statement. "We cannot make repairing and rebuilding our military conditional on fixing our budget problems or on cutting other spending. We owe it to the men and women who serrve and to the American people to protect our nation's security under all circumstances."
McCain chided the President's $603 billion defense budget and said, "With a world on fire, America cannot secure peace through strength with just 3 percent more than President Obama’s budget.”
"In other words, President Trump intends to submit a defense budget that is a mere 3 percent above President Obama’s defense budget, which has left our military underfunded, undersized, and unready to confront threats to our national security,” McCain added.
Both McCain and Thornberry proposed $37 billion more than Trump wants allocated for defense.
Here is the February 28th exchange:
6:05:30 AM- 6:13:06 AM [7 min., 14 sec.]
MARK HALPERIN: There's a Rubik’s Cube of what he can do to get different support from different factions. Bob put it on the toughest part of the cube right now: is there a way to simultaneously unite Republican party who is divided on defense spending and how quick the Affordable Care Act needs to be repealed and try to reach out to Democrats?
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Mika, right now the people that he's been going before are not really that popular. The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll yesterday, and we're going to be showing some of these numbers throughout the day, you look at Donald Trump he's 43-47 upside down. That's better than the Republican Party, better than the Democratic Party, much better than Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi. So Donald Trump for the first time since president, Paul Ryan 34, 45, Trump 43, 47. Republican Party 35, 43, Democratic Party 30, 46, which is the number really stuck out to me. Usually if you're in the minority those go up. Mitch McConnell upside down, Nancy Pelosi upside down as well. Donald Trump as he goes in will know he's the most popular politician in that chamber. We'll see if it provides him that touch of graciousness we thought was missing in the inaugural address.
MIKA BREZINSKI: Certainly pushing money doing in different directions. One inspiring way of doing that is to say we don't win wars anymore, which was the headline of the next story. President Trump outlined major shift in priorities, he wants to win wars. $54 billion swing toward defense spending offsetting with equivalent cuts and leaping with the discretionary budget more than a trillion dollars unchanged. The president justified the move while speaking to a group of governors at the White House yesterday.
[PLAYS CLIP OF HIGHLIGHT FROM GOVERNORS MEETING]
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We have to win. We have to start winning wars again. I have to say when I was young in high school and college, everybody used to say we never lost a war. We never lost a war, you remember. And now we never win a war. We never win. And we don't fight to win. It's either win or don't fight it at all.
SCARBOROUGH: I think most people would want the second part of that, don't fight it at all.
BREZINSKI: I think we want to avoid war, I guess. I don't know. Where are we going here?
SCARBOROUGH: The art of war, the greatest general, wins without ever fighting a war. You're right, including Donald Trump who talked about during his entire campaign the fact we fought too many wars and we needed to bring American troops home.
JEREMY PETERS: That's right. He campaigned on no more stupid wars. Of course, I would imagine there are -- we're not going to get into stupid wars, we're only going to get into smart wars.
BREZINSKI: Sounds like they want to go to war. There's an emphasis on winning.
PETERS: That is a tremendous amount of money to spend on ramping up the military. $54 billion. That does not to me sound like a peace-time president.
SCARBOROUGH: Just for the record, for our men and women in uniform that might be discouraged, just for the record I want to say most of the war we've fought, most of the military we've done have been successes over your lifetime, young kids. We hit Grenada.
HALPERIN: Decisive victory.
SCARBOROUGH: Decisive victory. Go USA! Our Falklands. Then Panama. Remember Noriega had the sword and said you'll be ensnarled in the jungles; this is going to be -- people were saying Panama was Spanish for Vietnam. We went in. Our military get Noriega and he's been sitting in a jail in Miami since in a couple days. The greatest coalition since World War II, an extraordinary military success. You can talk about the politics of it. The second as tragic as it was, our military troops fought through it all and by 2009 any military history will tell you 2009, 2010 our military stabilized a situation completely under chaos the year before. Afghanistan, what was our goal in Afghanistan? It wasn't to take over Afghanistan. It was to go over and break up Al Qaeda's network. We did. Osama bin Laden is dead and the network was shattered in a million pieces. So you look at military operations, it's not to go seize oil and plant a flag and sing "We Are the Champions." It's you lay out military objectives, you give those objectives to your troops. Time and time again over the past quarter century, our men and women in uniform have done exactly what their civilian commanders have asked them to do in an extraordinary way.
BREZINSKI: I would that's what the commander in chief ought to honor before saying anything about an impending war, which at this point you would think we’d want to avoid on every level given where we've been. When you hear it in its totality from a president who undermines judiciary, president who flouts first amendment and calls the news media ‘fake news,’ and now is talking about winning wars, I have to tell you, it feels ominous. I don't think it's an exaggeration at this point. I'm hoping we get more measured tones tonight.
SCARBOROUGH: That's why tonight is so important. It's so important, Robert, that he moves past his fights with the independent judiciary, he moves past his fights with the press, he moves past these other fights, you could say with Hollywood actresses and everybody, and takes the high road and says this is what we've done and this is our vision moving forward.
ROBERT COSTA: I think Mika's point about foreign policy is critical. What's he going to say with this upcoming report on the Islamic State? He's asked top military officials in the country to prepare a report on how to confront Islamic state. This comes as he's asking for $54 billion in military spending and after Steve Bannon, his chief strategist, as we all know talks in pretty big terms about the west and Judeo-Christian values. Is Trump going to adopt a military plan that follows in a path that's not nonintervention something he said in his campaign?
PETERS: Something you hear from Trump, Sean Spicer, everyone in the White House, it's not accidental. Trump is keeping his promises.
BREZINSKI: Putting his money where his mouth is, talk about winning wars, are we going to war? With who?
PETERS: They are talking about everything from nominating somebody like Gorsuch to defunding Planned Parenthood, promises they made to conservative base of voters that got behind Donald Trump. They want to make sure those people know Trump hasn’t forgotten them.