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Tax Cuts?

February 23, 2017

Businessmen tend not to be expert economists, so when Donald Trump campaigned on a  pledge of tax cuts, we who were born to the Supply-side Economics movement were skeptical. Supply-siders, Larry Kudlow and Steve Moore, made appearances on behalf of candidate Trump.  But, when key appointments were made, Kudlow and Moore were not among those chosen to fashion economic policy.

Yesterday, CNBC reported that Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin,

said the administration is “primarily focused on a middle income tax cut and a simplification for business.” Most independent analyses have estimated that Trump’s tax plan will benefit wealthy people much more than the middle class, and in November Mnuchin told CNBC that he wanted “no absolute tax cut for the upper class,” something Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., dubbed the “Mnuchin rule.”

There are a lot of “players” shaping tax policy in a Trump Administration and to get a good sense of what a good “Supply-side” tax policy should be, we have posted free access to Raymond Keating’s course on Supply-side Economics at http://www.mooc3.com

Take a look! We’ll keep access free until March 19.

 

Marco Rubio fails the Millennials

February 22, 2017

Republican Town Hall meetings this week have been boisterous affairs with members of Congress confronted by angry constituents. Some that were televised indicate a large number of older citizens, all calling for continuation of Obamacare

Absent are the vaunted “Millennials” who are predicted to dominate future American politics. They are reported not to be active in politics, not to vote in off-year elections and even most Presidential elections.

Who can blame them? Those gray-haired complainers have supported a system of entitlements that has given comfort to their old age.  The most recent, Prescription Medicine subsidies, was imposed by President George W. Bush as he faced re-election in 2004.

Medicare was instituted by Lyndon Johnson in 1965 among his many Great Society pledges and Social Security by Franklin Roosevelt.

The current generation of Millennials are now burdened by Entitlements that assure they will not enjoy ease of retirement enjoyed by the many complainers at these Republican town hall meetings.

Shame of these elder citizens for burdening a younger generation with compulsory payments from payroll. No wonder the Millennials don’t vote, the system is rigged against them.

What is curious is why Marco Rubio or some other younger politician doesn’t seize on this injustice and call for reforms. Surely a percentage of Social Security taxes could be assigned to IRA retirement accounts!  When next President Trump needs a vote in the U.S. Senate, Rubio could demand concessions for younger Americans.

Lincoln vs. Trump

February 21, 2017

Upon election as our sixteenth President, Abraham Lincoln was not prepared for the confrontation at Ft. Sumter.

Here is David H. Donald summary of that time in his 1995 book titled “Lincoln.”

“The Senate had yet to confirm even his private secretary….None of his cabinet officers had been approved. His Secretary of State -designate had not yet agreed to serve, and Salmon P.  Chase had not even been informed of his nomination.  Lincoln needed all the help he could get because, as he freely admitted later, when he became President ‘he was entirely ignorant not only of the duties, but of the manner of doing the business’ in the executive office. He tried to do everything himself. There was no one to teach him rules and procedure, and he made egregious mistakes.”

Thus far, the difference between Lincoln, our sixteenth President, and Donald Trump, our forty-fifth President, is this: President Trump is not aware that he is more ignorant than President Lincoln. A classic entrepreneur, deal-maker, and gifted promoter, President Trump never served in government, has no concept of what it means to govern, and is engaged in running the U.S. government like his personal business.

What was for Lincoln a learning experience that compelled him to deal with reality, President Donald Trump has no concept of what he doesn’t know and assumes the next deal is just over the horizon.

Poop Picker in Chief

February 20, 2017

Taking care of elephants is a difficult job, but somebody has to do it, and it seems that Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence, is designated to do President Trump’s picking up.

At the Munich Security Conference this week, the Vice President assured our European allies of the Trump administration’s support of NATO. Of course, as a candidate, Donald Trump raised more questions about NATO’s viability than how much each nation is contributing to a defense system established in 1949.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, American presidents did little to adjust to a new balance of power. James Baker, as Secretary of State in the W. H. Bush Administration, struggled to maintain contact with former Soviet leaders. President Clinton seemed disinterested in developing new defense systems that addressed cooperation with former Soviet satellite nations, and President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama did not commission a review of NATO operations.

To President Trump’s credit, he suggested that the “trigger” of military action against any country that attacked one NATO member was highly risky and committed the United States to engage in retaliatory actions for which it may not be prepared. But, that was the extent of the President’s policy, or suggested policy toward NATO.

Other NATO members heard his remarks, however, and became more than curious about what exactly American policy is.  Since there is no system in place to formulate foreign and defense policy, the Vice President is tasked as the chief poop picker upper.

From goofy notions of US/Russian relations, to unverified claims of  massive illegal voting and complaints of “fake news” to lack of focus in placing Trump appointees in key positions throughout the U.S. government, our businessman/President is running the American government like a business.

How long this will go on before this Administration crashes in flames is only a matter of time–or of military actions that distract the American people form a government out of control.

 

 

“Our Father”

February 19, 2017

Yesterday, Melania Trump gave a short speech to a crowd of supporters of her husband, President Donald Trump, by reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

That was an extraordinary and important act that we need to understand in the context of what has happened to society and culture in America and Western Europe.

I was fortunate in 1987 to be working for the President of Germany’s Catholic University, a public institution in a country that supports religion with direct subsidies. “Separation of Church and State” is not  practiced, religion is celebrated in public ways not experienced in the United States, all the while culture in Western Europe sheds its Christian heritage.

One  of my duties back then was to travel to some of the soon to be liberated countries of Eastern Europe where I encountered a vibrant expression of Christian faith. I concluded that the farther we went away from the centers of the West the greater was the expression of Christian faith.

One of my good friends, former Cong. Bob Shaffer has had an abiding desire to become Ambassador to Ukraine because his mother was Ukrainian. Bob once observed how impressed he was by the religious life of the Ukrainian people. I too had experienced that and Melania Trump’s pious act brought all of that home to me.

Many years ago when I was a child attending a Lutheran parish school, my days began with the Lord’s prayer, songs of praise and later in the day those acts were repeated in what we called “Matins.” Only when I went to public school and university did I realize how precious were those days and how important was  the Lord’s Prayer to my daily life.

That is the meaning of Melania’s pious recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at a political rally in Melbourne, Florida on Saturday, February 19.  Follow the commentary on that act in order to better understand how far we in America have travelled away from the Christian roots of our culture.

John Bolton and AEI

February 18, 2017

The name of John Bolton, Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, has been mentioned as a possible successor to National Security Advisor, Mike Flynn.

Bolton, was former Ambassador to the United Nations in the George W. Bush Administration and is considered a serious national security analyst.  On closer inspection, Bolton is not a serious analyst. He is a polemicist, scribbling diatribes whenever the occasion permits. He has published two books, one a 500-plus commentary on his experience as UN Ambassador and another a 48 page diatribe against Barack Obama.

One wonders if the Neoconservative war faction housed at AEI could come up with a more substantial candidate for NSC Advisor, but Bolton has his uses. He is seen frequently on Fox News–which President Trump watches–and he is a gifted purveyor of a forceful, imperial, American foreign policy.

Recently, in addition  to goofy pronouncements on Russian-American relations, President Trump has expressed concern about ISIS and vowed to destroy it. That has unsettled some because when campaigning for President only Donald Trump and Rand Paul spoke out against a militaristic foreign policy.

If going to war in the Middle East becomes part of a Trump Doctrine, John Bolton is his man.  Of course, after we invest more men and arms in fighting a radical version of Islam, what of the remainder of American foreign policy?  Do we prepare for war in Ukraine? Attack the hated mullahs in Iran, or, perhaps, tackle North Korea with a first strike?

The latter policy was recommended by none other than Jeb Bush and has been frequently mentioned in AEI and Fox News circles.

What might have been a time of consolidation of power, upgrading our military capabilities and thinking about American national security appears now to be on track to revive the failed imperial policies of President George W. Bush.

That will be good for business at AEI and for the war faction within the GOP.

Of course, as the end of four years of military engagements, the American people may once again become weary of war and throw the Trump Administration to the dogs that even now are barking out calls for Impeachment.

 

 

 

Trump–Not Blackmailed

February 17, 2017

On February 16, I remarked on “goofy statements by President Trump about Russia and Vladimir Putin” that have aroused speculation that the President is being blackmailed by Russian intelligence.

The President’s Thursday press conference pretty much laid that suspicion to rest. The President forcefully and convincingly declared that he had no businesses in Russia, no Russian contacts, and spoke to Putin twice and only when Putin called him.

That still leaves the criticism that President Trump’s expressed policy toward Russia is goofy.

That being the case, what is the reason?

On February 14, I have remarked upon the President’s mistaken assumption that government can be run like a business, or that foreign relations can be shaped by personal relations. And I have worried that his rush to meet with heads of state from Japan, Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom could lead to serious blunders.

The President’s inattention to managing a government, as opposed to running government like a business, is dangerous when we reflect uponn Watergate legislation that constrains the appointment process of political nominees in reporting and investigation requirements.  They can slow approval of key sub-cabinet appointments in the Departments of government by six to twelve months.

Most businessmen do not understand that the permanent bureaucracy works for the interests of the bureaucracy, and not the President’s men. And the longer the permanent bureaucrats are left to themselves, the greater is the decline of Presidential control of government.

In order to govern, a President must immediately appoint and move to install all the men necessary, in every key Department of every agency of government.

Secretary of State Tillerson’s first day of greeting “his” State Department officers seemed to establish a rapport between Tillerson and the Foreign Service. Anyone who believes that–especially Secretary Tillerson–needs to go into a training program led by former Reagan Administration appointees who had to wage war with these fine “officers.”

President Trump is now on travel to North Charleston, South Carolina to visit a Boeing manufacturing plant and from there to a political rally in Melbourne, Florida.

He should be in the White House reading policy reports and interviewing a range of former political appointees who are known for their knowledge, experience and combative commitment to conservative Presidents.