Trump - A Year Plus In

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Posted on : 3/09/2018 04:39:00 PM | By : Dann | In : , , ,

Here we are a year and several weeks into the Trump Presidency.  It seems like a good time to account for where we seem to be going.

I could probably write a couple pages on each of the topics below.  To keep this from getting too tedious, I'm only going to keep it as brief as possible.  If there is a part of a topic where you, dear reader, are inclined to say "except.....", please assume that I am not suggesting that successes (or failures) are being offered as without flaw (or completely flawed).

Where are we experiencing progress - 

Judicial Appointments - Mr. Trump has largely been appointing men and women of experience, probity, and temperament to apply the Constitution as written.  The US Constitution was written to think expansively of individual liberty and restrictively towards the size and scope of the federal government.  His appointments mostly are pointed in the correct direction.

Tax Cuts for the Middle Class - The recently passed tax cuts appear to be largely aimed at folks that are not rich.  The updated tax laws apparently will increase the total tax burden on the folks at the top of the income scale by limiting SALT deductions.  Those are reasonable changes.

Cutting the Corporate Tax Rate - Our corporate income tax rate was one of the highest in the world.  It discouraged companies from bringing overseas profits home.  It discouraged overseas companies from investing in facilities and jobs in America.  That is no longer the case with positive results, thus far.

Reductions in Regulations - Just as we are Taxed Enough Already, we are similarly regulated enough already.  While there are areas where new regulation might be useful, there are far more areas where existing regulations are numerous and counterproductive.

Trade/Treaties - I support free trade.  I believe that our general trend towards engaging in free trade agreements has largely served to improve conditions in the United States while also benefiting our trading partners.  At the same time, I also believe in fair trade.  It is hard for American workers to compete in a global marketplace where other nations do not have the same level of environmental and employment regulations.  Persuading our trading partners to embrace worker and environmental protections should be a part of crafting effective trade agreements.

The Economy - I am generally of the opinion that a President's actions take months and years to impact the economy.  I am generally of the opinion that government policy has less impact on the economy than some people imagine.

But you have to admit that the US economy came busting loose starting in November/December of 2016.  Mr. Trump wasn't even in office and things were improving.  Why?

Because we knew that we would not have to face another 8 years of an administration that could not express a limit as to how much government should collect in taxes, how much government should spend, and how much government should regulate.

Couple what Mr. Trump's administration is not taxing/spending/regulating with their other actions and I am hopeful for our economic future.

But not everything is rosy...see below.

Beating the ISIS/ISIL "Caliphate" - ISIS was in control of regions of Iraq and Syria before Mr. Trump assumed the Presidency.  Our military had been supporting local efforts to undermine ISIS for years without much measurable progress.  Within 10 months of taking office, ISIS no longer controlled cities in Syria or Iraq.  The US military can accomplish a great deal worth accomplishing when they are unfettered by overly restrictive rules of engagement.

Foreign Policy/Diplomacy - Right at the start, I want to point out that Nikki Haley is precisely the sort of person that we need at the United Nations.  She fearlessly highlights abusive and despotic regimes with precision and passion.

It is also useful to note that our belligerent administration has caused Iran to cease harassing our ships in the Persian Gulf.  It has motivated North Korea to begin a rapprochement with South Korea without conditioning that action on meeting with the U.S.  Neighbors should talk without the US having to be at the table.  This is what diplomatic progress looks like.

We could also include the change in attitude in the Middle East following our recognition of Israel's capital of Jerusalem as their legitimate capital.  There is a growing recognition that the PA has little interest in a negotiated solution.  As such, the world is moving past their concerns and forcing them to re-evaluate their perspective.

As with every diplomatic issue, events will unfold over time.  History may well render this reading as overly optimistic.  One year in and things appear pointed in the right direction.

Cabinet Appointments - From Jim Mattis to John Kelly, Rex Tillerson, Ben Carson, and Betsy DeVos, the cabinet seems to be staffed by people that are capable and competent.  Mr. Trump appears to be listening to those people...at least some of the time.

Immigration - While a bit of a mixed bag, we have seen some progress in this area.  The Obama administration's DACA program was illegal.  Only Congress can establish our immigration standards.  By terminating the DACA program, Mr. Trump has put the proverbial ball back where it belongs; in Congress.  I'm generally supportive of giving the DACA kids a legal path to residency.  Citizenship begins at a US embassy or consulate.  Not by jumping a fence or overstaying a legitimate visa.

I appreciate the desire to move towards a merit-based immigration system.  I also think we need to re-balance our immigration quota system to make it fairer for people in more populous countries.  (A special hint for those in need, that means that we'd have more legal immigrants from Mexico and fewer from some European nations.)

We need to discuss positive changes to our immigration system.  But at the core of that discussion needs to be the twin principles that our representatives in Congress get to determine the conditions of immigration and that respecting US immigration laws is a pre-requisite for eventually becoming a US citizen.

Where things are off the rails:

Immigration -  This issue can get just flat divisive.  Normal folks just want to know that the government is reviewing potential immigrants to filter out criminals.  I know too many people that have followed US immigration laws to become valued and productive US citizens to want that process to be shut down.

Mr. Trump's insistence on shutting down immigration from south of our southern border while simultaneously signaling that people from Norway would be welcome gives the appearance of racism in public policy.  Given his history, this is probably something more than "appearance".  And it is a deeply disturbing distraction from the process of negotiating sane changes to our nation's immigration policies.

TWITTER! and other acts of randomness -  There just isn't enough space to list all of the weird "ideas" coming out of the White House these days.

There was his idea for a military parade like the one he saw in France.  I will bet that the number of folks serving in the military that would be willing to trade a long, holiday weekend with the chance to practice drill for a couple of months before participating in a general cluster of a parade could be safely contained in a public restroom.  A very small public restroom.

The most recent weirdness was Mr. Trump's praise for Xi Jinping effectively declaring himself China's "president for life".  Mr. Trump suggested that he'd have to try that sometime soon.  Ummm...no.  Just....no.

And as a final example, there was his approval of eliminating due process considerations when seizing guns from people deemed a threat.  Has he never read the Constitution?  On second thought, don't answer that.

We will all have another group of bizarre proclamations to discuss by this time next week.  Fixing that problem will not be easy.

Constant brinksmanship and randomness - While some of his "tactics" have yielded positive results, his other tactics are downright ghastly.  Challenging North Korea was sound.  The use of diminutions like "rocket man" and discussions about who has a bigger red button ought to be beyond discussion.  The man has impulse control issues on a staggering scale.

Again, fixing that problem will not be easy.

The Economy - This was originally rolled into the Twitter and Randomness above, but it rates its own entry.  Now we are going to engage in a trade/tariff war?  Has the man never heard of Smoot-Hawley?  Is he unfamiliar with American history?

I am all for fair trade, but that support ends when it morphs into outright protectionism.  I predict that this "trade war" will not end well for anyone if it continues unchecked.

Racism/Sexism -

My outline for this section used the phrase "whiff of racial animus", but that is a poisonous use of euphemism.  Donald Trump may not be actively racist in the vein of the Klan or other such groups.  His comments in the wake of events in Charlottesville, VA may only represent his being habitually and/or reflexively racist.

The racism is there either way.  His history as a New York landlord also suggests that he is as committed to classifying people based on their race as any left-wing activist engaged identity politics.

His denigration of women from claiming to grab 'em by the pussy....we're going euphemism free here....or cheating on his wife with a porn star are easy indications of how he perceives women's roles in our modern society.

I have no desire to have either perspective as a part of our national leadership.

What are the alternatives?

A Republican could certainly enter the primary against Mr. Trump.  As I didn't vote for Mr. Trump in either the primary or the general in 2016, I'm certainly willing to look at alternatives.

The Democrats could run a viable candidate for a change.  Had they done so in 2016, I believe that Mr. Trump would have been significantly less likely to win.

What would a "viable" Democrat look like?  Not Hillary Clinton.  Not Bernie Sanders.  Not Elizabeth Warren.  They need to find someone willing to supporter lower tax rates and a simpler tax code.  This prospective candidate needs to appreciate the sterling benefits of free markets.  They need to support simplifying and modernizing government regulations.  They should support a position of American strength on the global stage...diplomatic, economic, and military...to support oppressed people that are denied their individual human rights.  They should be focused on broad-scale public policies aimed at blue-collar voters.  They need to abandon the left's obsession with identity politics.

If the Democrats run a candidate that displays most of those qualities, then they might well get my vote.

If they don't, then at the least we will have a President that is guaranteed to have at least one success every day as soon as they get out of bed.  They will not be Hillary Clinton.