Posts Tagged ‘Trump Presidency’

Timothy Snyder on the 1930s playbook

February 16, 2017

There is a playbook from the 1930s that some people in the presidential administration are following.  This includes picking a minority in your country, associate it with a global threat and use the notion of a global struggle as a way to create national solidarity while neglecting the nation’s actual problems.

This is a quote from an article by historian Timothy Snyder for Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Life with Trump

December 3, 2016

president-donald-trumpI’m not a good predictor of the future, but I’ll risk some predictions about the Trump administration.

I don’t think Donald Trump is a new Hitler, despite his manifest contempt for legal and Constitutional limitations.  Rather I see a  Trump administration as another step downward on a path the USA already is on.

In terms of policy, I don’t see a great difference between him and Vice-President Mike Pence, Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or House Speaker Paul Ryan.   The objection of mainstream Republicans to Trump was more an objection to his vulgarity and offensive behavior rather than to his policy positions.

Nor, for that matter, do I see any great difference between establishment Republicans and establishment Democrats on the issues that concern me most—war and peace, civil liberties and Wall Street dominance.

I do think the working-class and middle-class people who voted for Trump will be disappointed.

Specifically, I am willing to bet anybody a reasonable amount that the following will be true four years after Trump is sworn in on January 20, 2017.

  • There will be fewer American manufacturing jobs.
  • The annual trade deficit will be greater than it is now.
  • The federal budget deficit will be greater than it is now.
  • The upper 1 percent, upper 0.1 percent and upper 0.01 percent will have a greater share of the national income than they do now.
  • The wages of American workers, measured in inflation-adjusted terms, will be less.

I think there will be fewer unauthorized immigrants in the United States than there are now, but this is part of a trend that has already begun.

Winners during a Trump administration will include:

  • The Trump Organization.
  • Creditors of The Trump Organization.
  • Wall Street.
  • The CIA, NSA and other intelligence organizations.
  • The Pentagon
  • Government contractors, especially military contractors.
  • The fossil fuel industry
  • The National Rifle Association
  • Torturers and war criminals
  • Abusive police officers.

Losers during a Trump administration will include:

  • Public schools
  • Higher education
  • Protesters (except for armed right-wing militias)
  • Whistle-blowers
  • Dissident journalists
  • Labor unions and wage-earners generally
  • Climate scientists and researchers of all kinds
  • Planned Parenthood and its clients
  • Immigrants
  • Muslims
  • Welfare recipients

The main good thing I hope to see in a Trump administration is a less confrontational policy toward Russia.   My great fear of a Clinton administration was the increased and very real possibility of nuclear war.   This possibility will not be zero under Trump, but I think it will be less than it would have been under Clinton.

Other good things I hope to see in a Trump administration is a refusal to sign bad trade treaties and an effort to renegotiate existing trade treaties.   NAFTA, the TPP and the like are not free trade treaties; they are corporate wish lists enacted into international law.  In today’s world, believers in democracy need to defend national sovereignty, because none of the international institutions are democratic.

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Can Trump make U.S. industry great again?

December 1, 2016

Donald Trump in his campaign promised to reverse the decline of American manufacturing.

Can he do it?  I’m willing to be pleasantly surprised, but I don’t think so.

President-elect Trump’s proposed economic policies are the same as what most Republicans and many Democrats have been advocating for 30 years or more—lower taxes, less regulation, fewer public services.

None of these things has stopped the increase in U.S. trade deficits or the increase in economic insecurity of American workers.

Trump did speak against the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, promised to renegotiate other trade agreements and threatened to impose punishing tariffs on China and Mexico in retaliation for their unfair trade policies.

I myself am in favor of rejecting the TPP and renegotiating trade treaties.  This would be a step forward.  But it would take more than this to rebuild the hollowed-out U.S. manufacturing economy.

China, Japan, South Korea and most nations with flourishing industrial economies use trade policy as a means of strengthening their economies.

Their leaders, like Alexander Hamilton in the early days of the United States, seek to build up their nations’ “infant industries” under those industries are strong enough to stand on their own feet.

When foreign companies seek to sell these nations their products, their governments demand that the foreign companies not only set up factories in their countries, but that they employ native workers and transfer their industrial know-how to the host countries.  The USA does nothing like this.

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What would a Trump presidency be like?

September 23, 2016

presidentdonaldtrump3

I’m coming to realize Donald Trump has a good chance of being elected President.  He at least promises to make things better.  Even though his ideas are mostly bad, a majority of voters may prefer him to the status quo.

If elected, he would face the opposition of Congress, the courts, the federal bureaucracy and the establishment press.  But precedents set by Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and their predecessors give the President considerable power to wage war, selectively enforce the law and suspend Constitutional rights in the name of fighting terror.

President Trump would have unilateral authority to put the USA on nuclear alert, ban immigration from majority-Muslim countries and order the Justice Department to give priority to certain offenses, and certain targets.

The Iran nuclear agreement was an agreement to suspend United Nations sanctions against Iran, and that is a done deal.  But President Trump would have authority to step up American sanctions against Iran, giving Iranian hard-liners an excuse to resume development of nuclear weapons capability.

Trump proposes tax cuts tilted toward the upper brackets, to which a Republican Congress probably would be sympathetic.

He proposes abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration, which they might not go along with.  But as President, he would have the power to render the EPA and FDA ineffective through policy and appointments.

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