It’s time to Break It Down!
It’s 2017 and the dawn of the Trump era is upon us. That, in and of itself, means different things to different people. Of course, I’m mindful that the New Year arrived Sunday of this week, so while I am picking a contemporary topic, I promise to keep it brief.
Trump partisans argue their hero will be good for business, that he will put an end to stifling regulations that not only make it more difficult to do business in the first place, but that cause manufacturers and businesses to inflate prices to offset/cover the resulting cost of doing business, that he will lower corporate taxes and reduce the overall number of tax brackets to three, and of course his number one campaign promise, “Make America Great Again (MAGA)…among other things (such as build a wall at the Southern Border).
Many of the rest of Americans, including individuals who voted for Hillary (some would contend she had very few fans), those who voted for the Libertarian, Green Party, or Independent candidates, or those who simply opted out of voting, regardless of the reason, are prone to see the situation somewhat differently. Most of the people who actually bothered to vote did so out of abundant concerns about both Mr. Trump’s visible character traits, as well as most of the policy prescriptions he promised, or depending upon one’s point of view, threatened, to implement.
The list is long, and includes the following as a representative few:
- Repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare)
- Build a wall at the Southern Border of the United States (Mexico); make Mexico pay for it
- Temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States
- Bring manufacturing jobs back
- Impose tariffs on goods made in China and Mexico
- Renegotiate or withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
- Renegotiate the Iran Nuclear Deal
- Leave Social Security in tact
- Cut taxes
- ‘Bomb’ and/or ‘take the oil’ from ISIS
One thing that causes concern for many is not just what he claimed he would do, but that over the course of the campaign, he took so many positions that he subsequently reversed, abandoned, or outright denied. In effect, they came to view Mr. Trump as a well-heeled charlatan. Unarguably, Trump has managed to navigate the universe that is the business world and find success. Nevertheless, his methods on the campaign trail clearly revealed his charlatan-like tendencies.
And it was not just Mr. Trump. His surrogates and supporters were called upon almost daily to react to his hyperbole, his reversals, and his flatly wrong assertions and assignations. Inexplicably, most of them were as oily and unreliable as he when it came to addressing the issues with which their candidate had played so fast and loose. They deflected, dissembled, and when necessary joined the big guy in positing the flimsiest of denials. Mostly, they simply changed the subject, or spoke of some historical moment or action they deemed a viable equivalent.
It is fair to say that a deep and wide chasm has emerged, and divides our political hemispheres. This very vexing habit, which Trump supporters see as no big deal, or more pointedly, usually no deal at all, strikes the folks on the other side of the chasm as one gigantic deal-breaker after another. Moving forward, this poses issues that should concern all of us.
Back to the voters, 62 million of whom voted for Trump, 65 million of whom voted for Clinton. Let me be clear, this is not an anti Electoral College spiel. It is the system we use until it’s not. As of now, it is, so Mr. Trump assumes the Office of the Presidency at noon January 20th. Having said that, let’s put to rest the idea, and the argument in some corners, that Donald Trump has a compelling, or any other kind of mandate. He does not. What he does have is a Republican majority in both Houses of Congress, somewhat like President Obama had in 2009. As I recall, Republicans then not only didn’t believe Mr. Obama had a mandate, irregardless of the fact that in addition to both Houses of Congress having Democratic majorities, he also won the Electoral College AND the popular vote. Still, on Inauguration Day, at least 15 members of the GOP leadership met that evening and committed to oppose every initiative Mr. Obama proffered. This was a tact they employed virtually without fail. They did this for 8 years…which means all the way up to now.
This is a critical piece of information because as Mr. Trump and First Daughter, Ivanka, are headed to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (Washington, DC), at least when he is not at 721 Fifth Avenue in New York (also known as Trump Tower), his adoring fandom has alternately urged and excoriated those among us who are skeptics to give Trump a chance. Or, as some say, the election is over, get over it. Yes, ironically, these are some of the same people who spent the last 3,033 days denigrating, demonizing, and denouncing President Obama. I am so motivated to get on board with that request…or excoriation. Whatever. Not!
There are 20 million people who now have health insurance who did not have insurance prior to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. To paraphrase Vice President Biden, that’s a big eff’n deal. And yes, there are problems with the program. However, let us not lose the lessons as we consider the narrative. Key lesson points include, the program:
- Added tens of millions of Americans to health insurance rolls
- Eliminated the pre-existing conditions standard
- Allows children to stay on their parent’s policies until they reach age 26
- Resulted in subsidizing most premiums
- Created more paying customers for insurers
- Slowed the increase in healthcare costs
- Amassed more plusses than minuses
I say all that to underscore the fact that even though the GOP members of Congress have spent years attacking Obamacare, and have voted more than 50 times in an effort to repeal the program, they have still not crafted a plan to seamlessly replace the program. One might think for something the President-Elect has named one of his top priorities, and for a program Congress has devoted so much time and energy trying to rescind, given all the ways in which it has insinuated itself into the lives of so many Americans, there would be a grand or other design to replace it. There is not. For all but the pathological Obama haters, this is acutely problematic.
There are similarly weighted issues with a number of Mr. Trump’s other MAGA priorities. Among them, building a wall and “Making” Mexico pay for it, which the Mexican President has repeatedly said will not happen, to adding tariffs to trade pacts with China, which most experts conclude would ignite a trade war, to ending Obamacare, which many in Coal Country now admit (despite having voted for Trump), they rely upon to offset the cost of care for the diseases they contracted while working in the mines. The list goes on.
So while one side is getting its euphoric swag on in eager anticipation of the much ballyhoo’d Trump Reign, the other busies itself citing a seemingly endless litany of reasons why this was an epic bad idea. The chasm is firmly, if not irrevocably, in place. Certainly, there are factors you may want to consider…”2017 is here: Before We Completely Turn the Page!”
I’m done; holla back!
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