Mother Jones illustration; Shutterstock

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

This post was originally published as part of “The Trump Files”—a collection of telling episodes, strange but true stories, and curious scenes from the life of our current President—on June 13, 2016.

Intelligence and homeland security agencies already get big chunks of the federal budget, but Donald Trump still thinks they need more resources. So in 2000, he proposed that Americans pick up the tab for a bigger national security budget—using lottery tickets.

At the time, Trump was running for the nomination of the Reform Party, the party founded by Ross Perot and later joined by Pat Buchanan and former wrestler Jesse Ventura. In his campaign book, The America We Deserve, Trump complained that the United States wasn’t serious about its spies. “We need to train and employ a lot more of them,” he wrote. “We need to be shelling out a lot more money for what the experts call ‘human intelligence.'”

And where to get that money? The lotto. “I bet if I started a national-defense lottery, with money earmarked for preventing terrorism against U.S. cities, we would take in enough money to hire and train every spy on earth and still have money to spare,” he mused. “Imagine this for a second: The (Trump) National Security Lottery would sell tickets just like in a Powerball Lottery, but dedicate every cent to funding an antiterrorism campaign. Talk about a good reason to buy a lottery ticket.”

Unfortunately, lotteries have a pretty mediocre record of actually raising money for the government agencies they’re supposed to fund. NBC News estimated in 2012 that 72 percent of every Powerball dollar goes somewhere other than a government budget. At that rate, the proceeds from every Powerball ticket ever sold in its 24-year history would, in total, net about $16 billion for new spies—which is what the government already spent on counterterrorism in 2013 alone. (Data that year was leaked, so we can’t see the details of more recent intelligence budgets.) Sad!

 

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate