Nick Hubble – Capital and Conflict (United Kingdom) –
I’m a huge fan of Donald Trump. His career in reality TV continues to go from strength to strength.
To be honest, I don’t know if that’s entirely true. I’ve never watched his TV shows. Not even Miss Universe. And I’ve never watched any of his speeches either. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen more than five seconds’ worth of Trump at a time in my life.
Perhaps that’s why I like the guy. I see his policies, not his haircut and bumbling speeches. And those policies have been pretty decent for the most part.
That’s why today’s Trump-dedicated news cycle is focusing on the much anticipated release of the Trump Fake News Awards. Ten days ago the president of the United States promised to release awards for the best fake news stories of last year. He loves to expose the mainstream media’s many bungles, especially when they involve him.
What makes this interesting is that he has both the Democrats and the Republicans running scared. In speeches anticipating the awards, politicians from across the spectrum are comparing him to Joseph Stalin, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
They all used the same phrases as Trump in their speeches, such as “fake news” and “enemy of the people”. Which makes Trump evil for using those same words. Given the lack of evidence of collusion, he’s evil by association instead.
Now Trump may well be evil. But his ability to ping the mainstream media on fake news is pretty damn good. He’s gotten a bundle of reporters suspended and fired, including three resignations from CNN over a single story! Assuming the president is behind his tweets, this is an extraordinary achievement. Most s of state need to use the law to crack down on the media. Trump just fires off a few tweets.
But the media is on the offensive this morning to counter the coming awards. They’ve jumped on the results of his medical exam. CNN is reporting how Trump suspiciously grew one inch since his previous medical examinations. And the news organisation’s medical analyst declared the president has heart disease and will have a heart attack in the next 3-5 years because he is borderline obese.
Can you imagine what would happen if the same analysis was published on Hillary Clinton?
In the midst of the media furore, Trump’s policies are proceeding rather nicely. Let’s take a look at some.
Trump’s achievements will change the world
Tax reform used to be an impossibility in the US. Every politician aimed to reform the tax code. And then failed because the task was so herculean.
Trump got it done. Even his fat-shaming enemy CNN reported that 90% of workers are likely to see more money hit their bank account as a result of the reforms.
But the biggest change is on the corporate income tax rate. Trump lowered it from one of the highest rates in the world to the average level of European rates. And the results are in.
Apple is planning to pay $38 billion in tax this year as part of a Trump repatriation deal. That’s more than the bottom 50% of American taxpayers paid in 2014 and more than the total 1947 government spending (unadjusted for inflation).
But Trump’s victory on this goes deeper. Democrats are worried the drop in corporate tax rates will add an average of $140 billion a year to the deficit over ten years. His plan to change the tax system was ridiculed because companies would not bring their cash back into the country, thereby avoiding taxes. Which means Apple alone has dented Democrats’ claims by about a quarter financially by proving them wrong. When other companies follow, they’ll look really stupid.
Not only that, but Bloomberg is reporting the iPhone maker will give employees a $2,500 bonus thanks to the changes in tax law. And it’ll spend $30 billion on a technical support campus and data centres, creating 20,000 new jobs in the US with the repatriated cash from the Trump deal.
It’s early days, but the tax deal appears to be working extraordinarily well. So well that other countries including Britain and Australia are considering lowering their corporate tax rates too.
Trump’s favourite indicator of his success is the stockmarket. You’ve heard about stocks surging. But did you know forecasted earnings per share are too? They’re up 3% since Trump’s tax reform passed.
If company earnings are expected to surge, then a surging stockmarket logically follows. For a while, and to some extent.
What about regulation? The number of new rules issued under Trump has tumbled to less than a quarter of his predecessors. And many regulations have been rolled back, cancelled or shelved.
Trump’s upcoming battles
What about Trump’s plans for next year? Those could follow in the footsteps of his successes so far.
Take for example the drama about the border wall with Mexico. Democrats argue it won’t work. But Trump has his trap ready.
A wall was built in El Paso, Texas, by the George W Bush administration years ago. The New York Post reports “the number of deportable illegal immigrants located by the US Border Patrol plummeted by more than 89 percent over the five-year period during which the controversial new fence was built, according to Homeland Security data […]”.
And crime rates adjusted nicely too:
Before 2010, federal data show the border city was mired in violent crime and drug smuggling, thanks in large part to illicit activities spilling over from the Mexican side. Once the fence went up, however, things changed almost overnight. El Paso since then has consistently topped rankings for cities of 500,000 residents or more with low crime rates, based on FBI-collected statistics. The turnaround even caught the attention of former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and other Obama administration officials, who touted it as one of the nation’s safest cities while citing the beefed-up border security there.
Of course people are just going around the wall, so the whole exercise is for naught. It’s redirecting problems around El Paso. But Trump has prepared another snare for democrats and their supporters in the media when the time comes to argue about the wall. He’ll be on the right side of the “facts”.
In foreign policy, Trump’s blustering and bizarre claims are working brilliantly too.
Korea will be fielding a unified team at the Winter Olympics in Seoul after the US and North Korea agreed to freeze their planned weapon tests and military exercises. Without his initial bluster, the US would’ve held no bargaining chip to back down on.
The mistaken missile scares in Hawaii and Japan the last few days showed the need to deal with the North Korean threat at some point. People do not want to live in a world where North Korea can threaten them with annihilation. Especially when you’re relying on the government for a warning.
So voters will look to a leader who promises to stop Korea’s ambitions. And Trump is taking a far harder line than his predecessors or competitors. It seems to be working, as pathetic as the actual war of words may be between him and Kim Jong-un.
The anti-trade policies of China, the EU, Canada and Mexico are now in the news thanks to Trump threatening to match them. The president is making a show of protectionism to expose the protectionists. The drama over Boeing and Airbus made people realise how protectionist Europe is.
And the Russian collusion narrative has highlighted just how much the Clintons colluded with Russia over the years. In fact, it’s exposed extraordinary levels of corruption and misbehaviour right across US politics going back decades. The only person not to be a politician going back years is… Donald Trump.
Every week news stories come out of Sweden highlighting the trouble the country is having with refugees and immigrants. Today it’s another hand grenade thrown at a police station. Trump was ridiculed for pointing this issue out back when it was beginning. But elections in Europe are consistently bolstering the wanna-be Trumps there. They’re following in his footsteps. Which is proven to work.
Today an anti-immigration standoff between Austria and Germany is in the news. If you think Austria is some racist or nationalist country, I beg to differ. My mum housed four refugees, drove them to the supermarket and taught them German for free. These days she grumpily points anyone of Middle Eastern appearance out to me when I visit her in the Austrian mountains. Experiencing the difficulties of immigration changes you.
Trump’s policies are changing the world. They’ve made tax reform possible. They’ve made nationalism politically possible. They’ve rejigged the rules of global trade. They’ve exposed the nature of politics and the media.
And they’re very entertaining to watch.
Unfortunately, all this entertainment will eventually come to a disappointing end. Crises happen. And Trump will be assigned the blame in some way. Probably fairly.
They’ll call it the Trump Dump.
Until next time,
Capital & Conflict