This Is No Way To Run A Country
This is no way to run a country. It has already damaged us greatly and, if it continues, it will not end well. You simply can not run a country when one party’s whole approach to government is simply to negate what the other party does. The motivating factor behind almost everything that Republicans have stood for since the Gingrich era in the mid-1990s is to erase anything that Democrats might accomplish. Their sole “positive” policy is tax cuts for the rich. And this approach has reached its apotheosis with Trump.
Every new administration changes policy on regulatory issues. These days, that regulatory battleground occurs in policies related to healthcare, the financial industry, the environment, and labor. The Bush administration pursued regulatory rollbacks of Clinton-era policies. Obama rolled back Bush policies. Using the Congressional Review Act, Congress rolled back many of Obama’s most recent agency rules. And all of these changes have important impacts on real people and businesses, making it all but impossible for companies and individuals to plan for the long-term.
In addition, huge swings in the tax code have a similar effect. Clinton’s tax hikes were replaced by Bush’s massive tax giveaway. Portions of that tax cut were reinstated under Obama. And now Trump is looking to cut taxes even more. How can anyone do any kind of long-term tax or retirement planning with this kind of yo-yoing of the taxes to be paid, unless, of course, you are poor and then you know not much will really change no matter what happens to the tax code. Obama gave us the ACA, providing an opportunity for someone like me to become a part-time consultant and to have the time to write this blog with the assurance I will have affordable health care. Now Trump and the Republicans are throwing those plans into disarray as they threaten to repeal and/or sabotage Obamacare.
It’s almost as bad in foreign policy. As I have written, Bush backed out of our agreement with the North Koreans, leading to the nuclear crisis we have today. The whole pretext for invading Iraq, the presence of weapons of mass destruction was a lie. The deal to disarm and invest in Libya ends with the US-backed NATO overthrow of its government. We spend years negotiating the TPP under both Bush and Obama only to have Trump withdraw. We spent even more years negotiating the Paris Climate Agreement only to have Trump withdraw. We spent years negotiating the JCPOA with our allies and now Trump is threatening to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal and set up another nuclear crisis similar to North Korea in the coming years. Everyone agrees that NAFTA needs updating but Trump again seems inclined to either withdraw unilaterally or have the current talks fail so he can use that as an excuse to withdraw. That would probably decimate the Mexican economy and drive a new wave of economic migrants to the US and give Trump more fodder to complain about illegal immigration and the need to build a big, beautiful wall.
With this kind of record, it is hardly surprising that neither our allies nor our enemies can trust us any longer. And so our position as leader of the free world is weakening every day. China is surging in Southeast Asia as we abdicate our role there and is becoming a fast-rising global power. And Trump himself is doing all he can to enable Putin and Russia. Meanwhile, the Western Alliance becomes more fragile and relies on the Germans and the French for real leadership.
One of the biggest criticisms of American capitalism is that it has no long-term thinking. CEOs and management are so focused on the next quarterly report that they lose sight of the long term goals and opportunities for the firm. We will no longer be the leaders in 21st century technologies due to our climate change denial and lack of forward thinking. We are no longer on the leading edge in solar panel and wind turbine technology. We are in the process of becoming just another player battery storage and electric car technology.
As the Chris Matthews Hardball ad says, “I’m as fond of a political fight as the next guy, but are we going to get to some decisions, or just keep fighting?” Without any long-term political strategy or corporate thinking, combined with the refusal for subsequent administrations to honor the foreign and large domestic policy agreements of prior ones, our influence, economy, and power will only continue to wane.
Originally published at tidalsoundings.blogspot.com on October 17, 2017.