I recall a poem from a life time ago: “The optimist fell ten stories, and from each window bar, he yelled to the folks inside, doing alright so far.” That’s how I think Donald Trump supporters view America today.
Ask most of them why, despite all the failed promises and other things (see below) that no Democratic administration could get away with, they still support this president, and invariably the response is directed at how your stock or retirement portfolio is doing. Second is Trump’s two appointments to the Supreme Court and loading the lower federal courts with young conservatives. After that, nothing else matters.
No question that unemployment is at record lows, but it was on the downswing before Barack Obama left office, a president who inherited the worst economy since the Great Depression. Budget deficits, partially caused to stimulate the economy, were also diminishing. The Republican tax cuts of 2017 fueled an already strong economy, created more consumer spending, but despite the controversial supply side/trickledown theory of bringing in more revenue, it has resulted in a substantial shortfall creating trillion dollar deficits again and adding to the national debt.
Does anyone remember one of Trump’s 2016 campaign promises that he would reduce the deficits and pay off the national debt in eight years? Trump just signed the 2020 budget, which will be short a trillion dollars, but he promises to cut spending after 2020, not now when for sure he is in office. What happened to the days of Republicans and their mantra of the “tax and spend” liberals, when deficits mattered? Could it be that what happened is that deficits only mattered when Democrats occupied the White House? Considering Trump had both Houses to do something about it and didn’t, there is no one else to blame.
Another campaign promise Trump made, a big one, was to repeal and replace Obamacare with something much better, and to retain the requirement that insurers cover preexisting conditions. The Republicans failed twice to repeal and replace Obamacare. The second time everyone remembers the late Senator John McCain’s thumbs down no vote. Trump and other Republicans still blame McCain for the failed attempt despite two other Republicans voting against a replacement bill because of the flaws in it. And no Republican has yet to explain how an insurance company can survive financially covering preexisting conditions without the hated mandate, that everyone had to buy insurance to prevent only the sick from having coverage.
Trump supported the retention of the preexisting conditions provision until he didn’t. Recently a federal judge in a Texas lawsuit in federal court tossed the requirement, which Trump supported, reasoning that with the mandate eliminated in the 2017 tax bill, the rest of the law couldn’t stand. This ruling is on hold pending appeal, but if it is upheld, a lot of people will no longer be eligible for health insurance coverage, and young adults up to the age of 26 will also lose protection they get presently from their parents’ policies. That said, you can at least take heart knowing that Trump has promised to deal with the health insurance issue after 2020. It’s up to the voters to decide if his promise is credible.
The one promise Trump made that pretty much had universal support was his commitment to fixing our crumbling infrastructure. How many remember a decade or so ago when a bridge in Minneapolis collapsed? How many vehicles are either detoured or slowed down because of crumbling highways and bridges? Our trains operate with antiquated equipment, some waterlines are more than a hundred years old, sewers overflow in heavy rain, airports lack the latest technology, and countless other infrastructure teeters from age and inattention because of lack of money.
A couple of months ago it finally looked promising that there would be bipartisan support for an infrastructure bill. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met with Trump at the White House, and it appeared they had reached an agreement in principle. Pelosi and Schumer were scheduled to meet with Trump again three weeks later with the particulars of a legislative framework.
When the two leaders showed up, Trump didn’t even sit down. He tore into Pelosi for the House’s investigations into components of the Robert Mueller report, and then with the waiting media, continued his attacks. Meanwhile the American people came up short because of Trump’s temper tantrum. As the old saying goes, bad news doesn’t improve with age, and the longer the problem is ignored we can expect more catastrophic events and deaths.
Meanwhile, Americans should be comforted that Trump’s promise to find peace between Israel and the Palestinians will happen because he has brought nepotism to new heights with putting Jared Kushner, the young, inexperienced son-in-law in charge of making it happen. Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear treaty, a country that doesn’t have the bomb, but speaks in terms of being in love with one of the most oppressive dictators on the planet who does have the bomb---Kim Jong Un of North Korea.
At least we can sleep at night knowing our stock portfolios are currently at record highs and no icebergs ahead as we party the night away.