Trump’s kick-ass rhetoric would surely provoke reaction in Congress, but what sort of action? Well, it would not convert Republicans to his signature policies like building a wall on the Mexican border or imposing tariffs on imports of over 30 percent. Most GOP leaders oppose such policies for sound reasons.
Take the wall. Over 30 million tourists visit the U.S. annually, with about half-million of those remaining here despite expired visas – a number greater than the number of persons crossing the border without documents. Congress knows this. It also knows that 1- our neighbor to the south is the second richest economy in Latin America, and 2 – most of us favor maintaining friendly relations with Mexico, including Hispanics, who make up 18 percent of the U.S. population.
Trump’s blanket, harsh, and inaccurate criticisms of Mexicans, Somali refugees, Muslims, Black Lives protestors and other segments of the population, have ignited not only anger and division, but hate speech and conflict. He has made little attempt to counter even extreme reactions. Only at times, under pressure, he has disavowed his neo-Nazi and Klu Klux Klan supporters. But only at times. In a CNN interview in May, Trump would not condemn anti-Semitic death threats made against a journalist by some neo-Nazi supporters acting in defense of the “Glorious Leader”. Instead, Trump commented that the article written by the target of the threats was ‘inaccurate’.
Trump does not see defense of human rights as central to U.S. foreign policy. In a July interview with the NY Times, he commented that the U.S. is not in a position to preach about the subject, implying that protection of human rights may conflict with ensuring law and order here. A rupture with our traditional allies is expected by China, Russia and other autocratic regimes, who look hopefully to Trump’s disavowal of costly U.S. military commitments. North Korea is banking that under a Trump presidency, it would be able to annex South Korea unhindered. Rejoiced the official press: “Who knew that the slogan ‘Yankee Go Home’ would come true like this?” China similarly hopes for relief from criticism of its human rights record and greater freedom to pursue its plans for territorial expansion. Asian and European allies are worried.
At home, Trump’s domestic policies would bring greater power and profit for U.S. companies; this in turn, he claims, would create good jobs. Really? Recent history says no. Since 2000, profits of corporations have tripled and worker productivity has increased 30%, but real hourly wages remain lower than in 1972. Employment is only up 9 percent. Inequality is at record highs. The bottom 80 percent owns only 5 percent of total wealth not including homes, while the top 1 percent as eight times as much (42 percent) or 742 times the average wealth of a household in the bottom 80 percent.
Any increase in wages would depend solely on employers. “It’s very hard if you have a free enterprise system to do anything” about what firms pay, as Trump remarked last September on Face the Nation. Trump opposes legislation that would increase workers’ ability to negotiate collectively for better wages and benefits. He is not in favor of a higher minimum wage. He would end Obamacare and with it the requirement that large employers provide a minimum health care coverage for their fulltime employees. You get the picture.
Trump’s tax cuts would favor the wealthy, with only modest reductions for the middle class. And a drop in federal spending would put more pressure on the states, forcing them to cut services or raise taxes. Trump plans to hand over student loan programs to banks. He would repeal the Dodd-Frank legislation intended to prevent another financial crisis, arguing that the new regulations stifle banks. Ask yourself: Is it really advisable to allow the same risky financial investments that nearly collapsed the world economy in 2008?
Trump’s belief in the private sector would likely mean that federal contracts with private firms would rise, despite the fact that these contracts have time and again been shown to be more costly than relying on federal employees. For many years now, more has been spent on federal contracts than on federal employees.
Moody’s, an international business corporation known for its bond rating services, has given Trump’s overall economic plan a failing grade, warning of a diminished US economy and recession under his policies. Clinton’s plan, on the other hand, would strengthen the economy and create more jobs, its report states.
The president through his executive office determines the leadership of over 5,000 federal offices. He commands the military and has great influence in Congress. Would you feel more secure both economically and physically under Trump? I know I wouldn’t.
» Marianne Hill, Ph.D., was senior economist at the University Research Center where she did the economic forecast for Mississippi until her retirement in 2013.
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