danieldwilliam: (machievelli)
[personal profile] danieldwilliam
Some quick throughts on Trumps first 100 days proposals. He should strike fast before House Republicans remember that they hate him.

http://www.npr.org/2016/11/09/501451368/here-is-what-donald-trump-wants-to-do-in-his-first-100-days



* FIRST, propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress;

I don't think I have a huge problem with term limits for members of Congress. I'm not for it but it's not awful.

* SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health);

Clearly Trump wants to reduce the size of the US federal government. Not sure I'm for this (although see below on regulations) but if you're going to do that then a hiring freeze is probably the most humane way of doing it. I expect the citizens of the USA will miss the services that are under resourced at some point. Only one way to find out.

* THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated;

I'm in favour of the regulatory reduction initiative. Having dealt with US federal reguations for nearly two years they are verging on impossible to understand let alone comply with. Only large businesses with specialist departments can hope to fully understand and comply with them. Everytime anything bad happens they add another regulation. Many of them are purposeless, other than to make every single organisation prove in advance that they are not using one of several thousand unsavory practices. Cutting the number of regulations and with it the number of federal employees and private sector employee dancing round them would be a good thing.

It should be noted that large incumbents favour complex regulations which act as a barrier to entry for their competitors. That's why they pay lobbiest to make sure they exist.

Also, it would let the next Democratic president in 2020 re-write them from the bottom up.

* FOURTH, a 5 year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service;

* FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government;

* SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.


I don't think I have a problem with restrictions on lobbying although good luck getting that through a Congress that is heavily influenced by lobbyiests. I think this is where the wheels might start to come off Trump's wagon as Congress refuses to vote against Congress not being bribed.

On the same day, I will begin taking the following 7 actions to protect American workers:

* FIRST, I will announce my intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205

I'm in favour of free trade agreements and I don't think protectionism works. Also not sure how he's going to get a renegotiation of NAFTA through a Congress which is still accepting lobbying money from companies who are doing well out of NAFTA. More fundamentally, the jobs that were moved to Mexico under NAFTA won't come back. They are either done cheaply in Mexico by Mexicans or cheaply in the US by robots.

* SECOND, I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership

I know less about TPP then I ought. I think it's probably not a hugely great trade deal.

* THIRD, I will direct my Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator

I wonder how the Chinese will respond to being labled a currency manipulator. Probably not favourably. What does the US need from China? What can China make the US want from it?

* FOURTH, I will direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately
A committtment to do all that can be done, because clearly what has been missing from US politics is that not enough people cared about the US.

* FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars' worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.


* SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward

* SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America's water and environmental infrastructure

Long term I think these three energy and climate change initiatives are a very, very bad idea but in the short term I expect they will boost production of energy reserves a bit, but there is a limit to the amount of production you can increase before the price tanks. Personally I shall look forward to cheaper energy and a reduction in the global influence of Russia and Saudi Arabia but I'm less keen on drowning 100 million Bangladeshies or Florida.


Additionally, on the first day, I will take the following five actions to restore security and the constitutional rule of law:

* FIRST, cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama

He has a little list, he has a little list.


* SECOND, begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States

This is probably the biggest prize of the 2016 Presidential election. I wonder how long Democrats in the Senate can stall this appointment. Probably not two years.

* THIRD, cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities

This will probably suck - not sure how he's going to enforce it with fewer federal employees.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sanctuary_city

* FOURTH, begin removing the more than 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won't take them back

This will also suck for the people affected.

* FIFTH, suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.

This will not make America easy to do business with. Or go on holiday to. And I expect other countries will retaliate and do business with someone else instead.

Next, I will work with Congress to introduce the following broader legislative measures and fight for their passage within the first 100 days of my Administration:

Middle Class Tax Relief And Simplification Act. An economic plan designed to grow the economy 4% per year and create at least 25 million new jobs through massive tax reduction and simplification, in combination with trade reform, regulatory relief, and lifting the restrictions on American energy. The largest tax reductions are for the middle class. A middle-class family with 2 children will get a 35% tax cut. The current number of brackets will be reduced from 7 to 3, and tax forms will likewise be greatly simplified. The business rate will be lowered from 35 to 15 percent, and the trillions of dollars of American corporate money overseas can now be brought back at a 10 percent rate.

A tax cut for the middle classes would be no bad thing - if it was balanced by a tax increase for the rich. Which it won't be. So unless the Laffer curve is perfectly understood and perfectly poised this means a reduction in Federal tax receipts. Is the dollar still the reserve currency of world? Does the US still want it to be? (It's worth about 2% lower interest rates.)

The US corporate tax rate is pretty high. I expect left-leaning well off states (eg California) will replace the federal tax with local taxes. Their services won't be de-funded. Poor (Republican leaning states) will have less federal money to spend and less option to raise their own taxes. So this is basically a shift in wealth to rich liberal states from poor conservative states.

The IRS are pretty brutal as a revenue operation - giving them less meat to eat would be no bad thing.

I wonder what the impact of the reduction in repatriation taxes will be on the US economy. It ought to provoke a round of dividends leading to increased consumption but I think the marginal propensity to consume of most corporate shareholders is low.


End The Offshoring Act. Establishes tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. tax-free.

Again, I'm still broadly in favour of free trade and I can see a retalitory trade war brewing as well as higher prices. Still the buggy whips will be both tremendous and American.


American Energy & Infrastructure Act. Leverages public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years. It is revenue neutral.

The US could badly do with some energy and other infrastructure. Not sure how the necessary energy infrastructure works with protection for fossil fuels as lots of the needed infrastructure is needed to transport cheaper wind energy from the Great Plains to the coast. $1 trillion is likely to be about half or one third what is needed.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/trump-and-clinton-both-want-to-fix-infrastructure-but-that-doesnt-mean-theyll-succeed/

Despite the pledge that this is revenue neutral I think he'll struggle to get this through Congress.

School Choice And Education Opportunity Act. Redirects education dollars to give parents the right to send their kid to the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school of their choice. Ends common core, brings education supervision to local communities. It expands vocational and technical education, and make 2 and 4-year college more affordable.

This sounds like an internal market in education. I'm sceptical about that working well.

Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act. Fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with Health Savings Accounts, the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines, and lets states manage Medicaid funds. Reforms will also include cutting the red tape at the FDA: there are over 4,000 drugs awaiting approval, and we especially want to speed the approval of life-saving medications.

As advertised. I wonder if the blue-collar workers who benefit from Obamacare will notice it when it is repealled and if so what they will do about it at the House elections in 2018.

Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act. Allows Americans to deduct childcare and elder care from their taxes, incentivizes employers to provide on-side childcare services, and creates tax-free Dependent Care Savings Accounts for both young and elderly dependents, with matching contributions for low-income families.

Working Family Tax Credits I think.

End Illegal Immigration Act Fully-funds the construction of a wall on our southern border with the full understanding that the country Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall; establishes a 2-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a 5-year mandatory minimum for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions or two or more prior deportations; also reforms visa rules to enhance penalties for overstaying and to ensure open jobs are offered to American workers first.

Mexico will pay, ha, ha, ha.

Mexico will unleash a horde of South American illegal immigrants and Mexican drug gangs before it pays a red peso.


Restoring Community Safety Act. Reduces surging crime, drugs and violence by creating a Task Force On Violent Crime and increasing funding for programs that train and assist local police; increases resources for federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to dismantle criminal gangs and put violent offenders behind bars.

The wrong solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

Restoring National Security Act. Rebuilds our military by eliminating the defense sequester and expanding military investment; provides Veterans with the ability to receive public VA treatment or attend the private doctor of their choice; protects our vital infrastructure from cyber-attack; establishes new screening procedures for immigration to ensure those who are admitted to our country support our people and our values

Personally delighted but more generally I'm pretty sure the marginal beneift from defence dollars in the US is pretty limited. Also, the reduction in regulation on federal procurement could probably save the US government a good few percent of their defence budget.

Clean up Corruption in Washington Act. Enacts new ethics reforms to Drain the Swamp and reduce the corrupting influence of special interests on our politics.

Necessary but difficult.

Date: 2016-11-10 11:30 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zenicurean.livejournal.com
I believe Congressional term limits are comparatively unlikely to materialise.

The currency thing is... interesting, and it may lead to a lot of diplomatic acrimony. Trump's basic conceit throughout the election has been that China is still intentionally bringing down its currency in order to boost its exports. But these days the reality is much more complex (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/01/business/dealbook/china-trump-yuan-devaluation.html) and the Trump interpretation, while popular, appears to be out of date (https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/02/25/i-dont-mean-to-alarm-anyone-about-china-but/). I don't think he'll drop it without some drama, though, given his consistent ill feelings about China.

I'm very worried about his protectionist instincts. Among other things, I think low-income Americans would suffer disproportionately if there was a tariff war. Unfortunately, trade was one of the topics is where Trump's message resonated the most with voters. The dream of repatriating manufacturing jobs from the far-away countries of Robot and Microprocessor isn't terribly realistic but it's clearly very, very compelling to many, many voters. If he proceeds like a conventional politician, then he needs to make good on at least some of his promises. I think he could do a fair bit of damage with just executive orders alone and in somewhat short order.

I notice that Trump has been relatively quiet about the overall shape and form of his intended foreign and military policy. It's another sphere where I'm kind of terrified what he might come up with given his past pronouncements. I'm worried that his European and Russian strategies will lack coherence. And I'm worried that, being a foreign policy neophyte, he will appoint a Secretary of State, a National Security Advisor, and so on more on the basis of the candidates' early commitment to Trump himself, rather than on the basis of any actual foreign policy expertise.
Edited Date: 2016-11-10 11:34 pm (UTC)

Date: 2016-11-11 10:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] danieldwilliam.livejournal.com
I agree with you about Congressional term limits.

If I'm in Congress why would I vote to fire myself. More cyncically, if I'm a rich person and I've paid to have a tame Congressperson elected why would I want to have to go to the trouble of finding another and breaking them in.

I agree with you about the Chinese currency too. China seems to have been steadily letting the yuan appreciate. It's probably still a bit under valued but perhaps no more so than the German Euro. But it's a nice bit of narrative to throw out. "Hostile government does unfair thing and American's suffer unjustly - why won't your government do something about it?" it sounds true and it sounds potent and it sounds like something that a strong honest leader could sort out if he wanted to. The fact that it used to be true a bit just makes it better.

Also agree on the protectionism. He seem to be a good old fashioned protectionist nativist. There's almost somethning of the Know Nothing about him. And again relocating jobs is great rhetoric. "It's easy, just tell the foreigners they can't sell things to the USA and our corporations will have to move the job back here." It's difficult to actually do because often the technology that is being used abroad (the factory system) isn't hard to reproduce and whilst you might be able to put tariffs on inport to the US one can't unilaterally put tariffs on trade between Bangladesh and the UK, so you might be able to direct a bit of domestic consumption towards domestic production but that doesn't help you much with exports or the impact of the price increases. Then you get the counter measures and then robots do the job instead of poor Bangladeshis.

I am very worried about his European / Russian policy. I fear he'll throw the Baltics under the bus and Europe will end up in a low intensity war with Russia. Unlikely but not impossible and very very bad if it happens. And once again it's going to be poor boys from Alabama and Flint, Michigan who end up being sent over to sort it out.

Date: 2016-11-11 02:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theweaselking.livejournal.com

If I'm in Congress why would I vote to fire myself. More cyncically, if I'm a rich person and I've paid to have a tame Congressperson elected why would I want to have to go to the trouble of finding another and breaking them in.


Also, given how short congressional terms are, you're often just getting good at the job and starting to be genuinely effective at it when you'd be hitting your term limit.

One of the only things I agree with Mitch McConnell on is "we already have term limits, they're called 'elections'".

Date: 2016-11-11 03:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] danieldwilliam.livejournal.com
Yeah - I'm largely with Mitch McConnel on this.

It's less easy in practice to get rid of an elected representative even with a primary system than in theory but I personally tend to the view that experience in the role is valuable and the opportunities for abusing a long term in office are less than, say governor or a president, so I'm okay with no term limits.

That said, making Congress fight term limits at the same time as fighting lobbying reform might be a good plan.

Date: 2016-11-12 08:15 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zenicurean.livejournal.com
I wrote a huge post about my attempts to suss out Trump's foreign thinking. Aaaaand then LJ ate it. But to summarise a few of my views in bullet points,

1) On the campaign trail Trump most often described the world in terms of what looks a little like an amateur version of Layneian off-shore balancing. However, he was prone to contradiction and would often jump from that position to very different ones. (For instance, his whole "take the oil" thing, which arguably constitutes precisely the sort of morally disastrous, financially expensive military adventure that off-shore balancing advocates would normally strive to avoid.) I believe this is a reflection of Trump's fundamental inexperience.

2) If Trump wishes for a grand bargain with Russia, he should be prepared for a lengthy and difficult process. Russia is likely to test the waters soon after Trump's inauguration, so he needs to have his ducks in a row rather quickly. Relatedly, to avoid miscalculation on both sides, Trump should temper his readiness to negotiate with a strong affirmation of US support for its European allies.

3) Some of his key foreign policy ideas would actually be workable if they were handled appropriately and adroitly. Unfortunately Trump has repeatedly undermined these ideas through incoherence, heavy-handedness or irresponsibility. This again seems to reflect Trump's fundamental unfamiliarity with foreign policy, and underscores the need for a competent foreign policy team.

4) Many of Trump's campaign pronouncements described a fantabulous alternate reality in which the United States can do major things, and then nobody actually reacts to those things in any real way. This is painfully manifest in pretty much everything Trump has said about China. This general lack of dynamism and nuance could have been a mere campaign posture, but might just as well be another thing that reflects Trump's basic inexperience with how the world works.

5) Trump generally undervalues American alliances, which is arguably compatible with off-shore balancing ideas, but also a dramatically different conception of US national interest than that shared by most of the US foreign policy establishment at large. I think this will mean not only foreign troubles -- US allies generally do not conceive of their relationships to the US in the reductionist way Trump has publicly described those relationships -- but it also means that Trump will have a certain level of resistance from the State Department.
Edited Date: 2016-11-12 08:20 pm (UTC)

Date: 2016-11-14 02:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] danieldwilliam.livejournal.com
That is very intereting. Thank you for sharing.

My take away from watching his foreign policy pronouncements was that he seemed to be expecting a static or even complaisant counter-party - that the USA could act and that the countries affected either wouldn't act or would act in a way that suited the USA and not their own priorities.

Date: 2016-11-15 02:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zenicurean.livejournal.com
That's actually a better way of putting it, I think, than mine. Trump has long touted his supposed ability to obtain quick and successful resolutions on complex stuff based on little more than the abstract idea that Trump's a good, strong negotiator. It reflects a comparatively amateur conception of diplomacy. The voting public didn't have a problem with that -- in general, US voters care surprisingly little about foreign policy -- but now Trump has to actually deliver and I'm worried it'll be a fiasco.

Here and there his odd approach might even produce results, but not in the way he's advertised. One of the good Trump ideas I mentioned is the notion of re-balancing NATO financial commitments. That's a long-standing American concern. Robert Gates called for it. Obama called for it. And in fairness, Europe shouldering its fair share of defence spending would allow the USA to reallocate some of the money that goes into European defence, allow the Europeans more ability to project power on their own terms, and sort out a long-term irritant. I don't believe the trade-off in terms of US leverage over Europe would be in any way decisive, either. So from the point of view of US national interest, that's something arguably worth pressing for.

But of course Candidate Trump picked the exact moment when EU defence arrangements are in disarray (both over Brexit and differences in Russia policy) to suggest that NATO is "obsolete" and that US NATO commitments are in his view contingent. That's astonishing. Combine that with his public hankering for a grand Russian bargain, and it's no wonder NATO has gone into public damage control mode (http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/opinions_137635.htm) while allies try to suss out (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/13/eu-leaders-to-meet-with-aim-of-forging-common-response-to-trump-boris-johnson) what Trump's actually all about and how to deal with it.

If Trump's intent is to terrify (http://www.dw.com/en/eu-ministers-keep-calm-and-improve-defense-capabilities/a-36393563) allies into taking on more defence spending, he may in fact yet succeed. But he'll have piddled away valuable political capital to do it. Trump might have wanted to reserve a lot of those chips for that Russian bargain of his, because I suspect that plan only works advantageously if its negative impact on NATO cohesion is minimised by deft diplomacy and credible American reassurances to European friends.

And there are worrying signs that Trump's White House being deft or credible about any foreign policy issue could be too tall an order.
Edited Date: 2016-11-15 03:08 pm (UTC)

Date: 2016-11-17 01:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] danieldwilliam.livejournal.com
Particularly on the NATO point I heard an interview with a past NATO senior official who said that NATO members were slowly but surely increasing their contributions towards the 2% of GDP target anyway.

And the loss of political capital for the US is not trivial I think. When the USA stops representing the aspiration to a prosperous future for ordinary people and a bulwark against tyranny then why listen more attentively to what the US has to say on anything.

Date: 2016-11-20 12:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zenicurean.livejournal.com
I was reading this (http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/11/09/china-just-won-the-u-s-election-trump-victory/) opinion piece on China and I noticed that it touches on this point of moral substance. The soft power aspect will probably come up in discussions about Europe eventually, too.

The funny thing is that I think a measured, careful detente with Russia, pursued from a position of firmness and with an eye to minimising the inevitable feather-ruffling in Europe, has many attractions from a US point of view. But if that NATO expenditures thing is accurate, then rather than signalling that he would like to build Western consensus, Trump might be poised to strike a body blow to NATO cohesion for basically no clear benefit.

Date: 2016-11-12 08:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zenicurean.livejournal.com
It also bears noting that I rather agree with your characterisation of Trump as having the air of the Know Nothing movement about him. What he will do about immigration looks to be very ugly (http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/11/trump-news-transition-team-filled-with-hardline-anti-immigration-advocates.html) indeed.

Date: 2016-11-14 02:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] danieldwilliam.livejournal.com

The rounding up of illegal immigrants sounds unpleasant enough. I worry also about many entirely legal immigrants or even US citizens who get falsely accused of being illegal immigrants. I also worry about the attitude of the police and immigration authorities and people "helping" the police. I can see many people being shot during immigration round ups.

Date: 2016-11-15 02:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] zenicurean.livejournal.com
Yeah. I would generally share those concerns.

Bush Jr. deported something to the tune of two million people in eight years. Obama deported two and a half million in eight years. Mostly these were people with criminal records. If we go by Trump's statements on 60 Minutes he plans to deport a minimum of two to three million people, and possibly many more. And I think he meant that he'd try to do this during the next four years.

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