Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Business of Selling Donald Trump’s Presidential Ambition in fifteen minutes!

Keywords or Terms: CBS 60 Minutes program; Aspirant Donald Trump; Tax Plan; Immigration plan; Job Creation Plan;  Corporate taxes; Simple tax code; Reagan-Era trickle down economy; Undocumented Immigrant; Huge Southern Border Walls; China, North Korea; NAFTA; Power of the Presidency; Republican fiscal Policies; Checks and Balances; United Nations; Arab Spring; Latin America; Checks and Balances; and, the Separation of Powers

On Sunday, Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes interviewed Donald Trump, the front-runner for Republican Party nomination in the 2016 Presidential Contest. CBS 60 Minute’s program gave Aspirant Donald Trump a platform to tell the nation about his tax plan; immigration plan; and, jobs' creation plan. In the fifteen minute broadcast, part of  an extended interview, shown on Sunday, September 27, 2015, you came out with either an absurd or unrealistic expectation of the powers of the Office of US Presidency, the place of checks and balances of the three arms of government, and how much the aspirant can actually accomplish in growing the American economy to an extent of outstripping nineteen trillion dollars deficits and debts. You sense a set of complete confusion or an arrogance of disbelief in someone attempting to win the US Presidency with a bravado that can only fool the die-hard; except you believe in the miracle that a US President can actually grow the economy within a span of four or eight years, to outstrip nineteen trillion dollars short falls, good enough to overcome long standing and extended years of deficit spending and federal debt burden.

Here are glimpses of what I deduced from watching the segment of the CBS 60 minute program:

On taxes, Presidential Aspirant Trump’s ideas and conception, spread out in a subsequent infomercial released on Monday, a day after the CBS’s broadcast, while somewhat appealing to the eighty percent of Republican voters who see him as the light in the “darkness” of America’s economy, appears more of a gimmickry. His proposal for a lopsided tax cut for the rich, has been characterized by tax and budget experts as going to cost the nation a hell lot of money.  How is Mr. Trump going to pay for his self-styled simplified tax proposal or system where corporate taxes will be lowered from 35% to 15%; or, manage the shortfalls anticipated from the four individual tax brackets of 25%; 20%; 10% and 0%, that is going to impact the current peak level brackets of 39%. Is the aspirant expecting America to believe that instituting a vastly simpler tax code that drops the tax rate for wealthy Americans is the new solution to the nation’s deficits? Why does the candidate believe that America can suddenly subscribe to another tax code system that is synonymous with the standard Republican fiscal policy of cutting taxes for the rich and hoping it will trickle down to the poor and underprivileged?  Which American household is looking forward to a tax cut so huge, it outclasses those currently proposed by his rivals, including Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush? How does the real estate developer anticipate corralling Republican and Democratic Lawmakers to buy into a once failed Reagan-era trickle-down type tax cut or economy?

A realistic immigration plan would be guided by specified national interest and the means of achieving stability in the population, including prescription of solutions that address the existing number of undocumented immigrants living within America’s border. It need not be inconsistent with the principle of humanness and rule of law. Mr. Trump was further honing his southern border wall building message and how beautiful or probably impressive the wall is going to be; unexpectedly to be paid for by the government of Mexico! Resolution of the logistical problem of deporting eleven or twelve million undocumented immigrants is hardly on the mind of the real estate developer; rather, he continues to regurgitate the somewhat troublesome and racist approach to resolving issue of illegal immigration. History of immigration in America is hardly explained by draconian measures, after all, the nation is, and has always been, one built on immigration. Yet, Mr. Trump’s interest in resolving the issue of undocumented immigrants is to advance outlandish proposal that makes the most anti-immigration Republican cringe at the thought of deporting so many people from America’s commerce, in one swift and clean sweep.

Consider now, albeit Mr. Trump’s proposal to deport eleven to twelve million people, two unwelcome consequences which may be essential for consideration: isolationism and the domino theory.

Isolationism is ingrained in the nationalistic epithet of deporting all those undocumented immigrants in America. Unfortunately, the aggressive approach as advanced by aspirant Trump will force many Latin American countries to retaliate in ways never before seen in North America and Southern American relationship. Count on many American Companies and citizens being kicked out of many Southern American countries, count on many countries in that hemisphere pursuing protective polices, political, social and economic, including those specifically designed to defeat any American hegemony in that continent. You imagine NAFTA is a job killer, just wait for the deportation of twelve million people!

Reasonably expected, is alliance among South American countries to undermine the real reason for deporting their citizens: illegal immigration. As often is the case with radical ideas in resolving simple problems, America must expect encompassing criticisms from nations in Europe, Asia and Africa. Affected countries will make a case to United Nations, defending the old desire to move the United Nations headquarters from New York, since America is no longer a welcoming environment to do business for foreign governments, companies and entities. Thus, deportation and building a wall of infamy would be denounced and used by other countries to defend expansion of anti-American propaganda and pursuing additional foreign policies hitherto absent in America’s relationship with the world. How does America deal with the ‘double-face’ approach of encouraging European countries to open their borders to new refugees from Middle East and Africa, while it is set to ship out undocumented immigrants within her borders and building a “beautiful” fence to keep them out, according to aspirant Trump’s call?

Russia is already expanding its power of influence directly in the Middle-East, especially with the power vacuum created by early withdrawal of America’s troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. It is further working through the difficulties of keeping Assad of Syria in power and managing the consequences of the Arab Spring; while America is feisty dealing with harnessing the success of fighting an unwinnable war in Afghanistan, fighting ISIS and international terrorism, and addressing multiple domestic problems without bursting the bank. To deport all the undocumented immigrants within America’s border would not only deal a huge blow on bilateral relations with Southern American countries, it will create an avenue for criticisms of the American ideal of societal openness; and probably, afford for additional sympathetic alliance in the Arab World against America’s interest, especially in fighting international terrorism. Instituting this isolationist policy is to create room for return of Russia’s influence in Southern America. This time unfortunately, hardly will it be limited to Cuba; but also, other Latin American countries like Venezuela, that are sympathetic to the Marxist doctrine and more.

Interestingly, China is already the largest holder of America’s debt and fiduciary notes. Starting an economic war with the Chinese is hardly a wise choice. However, this is what Mr. Trump is proposing in his CBS’s 60 Minute interview. Rightly or wrongly, the real estate developer believes that China has been playing fast and loose balls with its currency exchange regime and trade surpluses arrangement; and thus, it is time for some reconciliation or outright economic war. How is “President Trump” going to reconcile his economic war with China with his compulsion for Chinese Government to take control or cap a lead on North Korea’s excesses in testing nuclear weapons and furthering aggression in the Korean Peninsula? Can he not visualize that an unnecessary economic war with China will degenerate further the already tense relationship between the two countries and impact America’s influence in Asia minor, including resolving long standing conflict between Japan and China over the island in South China sea?

On growing American jobs, Mr. Trump, once again is going to compel American Companies doing business overseas to bring back their jobs or face a huge penalty. Further, he is going to get rid of NAFTA and associated national obligations under the treaty, because he is all about “fair trade” not “free trade”. “President Trump” is repealing "OBAMACARE” and introducing a Universal Health Care System that is going to "take care of everyone", because his new health care law is going to create so much competition between health insurance companies and allow many Americans to save money, while at the same time expanding America’s economy without “much competition” from the outside economies. To put it Donald Trump’s way: “We are going to be rich” as a nation, no other country would ever dare to challenge us, because “we are going to build a better military finer than the finest we have in the world as we speak!

Less the more than 80% of Republicans polled as supporting Mr. Trump’s candidacy be taken in by his rather optimistic and bar-none approach to getting into fights with constituencies that do not share his projections and optimism, it is important to call the aspirant’s attention to the realities of American Politics. John Boehner, the Speaker of US House of Representatives just resigned under great pressure from special interest group(s) within the Republican Party, the Tea Party and the so-called “Hell No” caucus in the House of Representatives. The pressure of managing legislature to go along with party dispensations on bills has, and will always remain challenging; the same pressures are applied to the occupant of the White House; and no one in the executive branch of government will tell you it is as easy as it is made to look on television, press conferences and newspapers, once in government. In the words of the US Speaker: “Some legislators are making promises of what they know cannot be accomplished through the legislative process; including over-turning OBAMACARE and defunding Planned Parenthood.” Former Republican Senate Majority Leader, Trent Lott, lauded Mr. Boehner’s sacrifice of stepping down from power for the good of the party and the institution of the House of Representatives. The realities of dealing with the checks and balances of government make it difficult for anyone in the pinnacle of the three branches of government to do as he pleases. This is how the forefathers envisaged it and this is how it will remain until hell freezes over.

There is a popular misconception from those who have not had the privilege of holding public office or serving as a public servant; that all it takes is leadership to achieve success in national politics. That with leadership alone, you can persuade people to do things your own way. While this may be true in managing private enterprises when you are a Chief Executive Officer, this is not necessarily so in local and national politics. Many who have served in public offices will tell you about how erroneous and naive this misconception truly is. With numerous constituencies a US President attends to, it takes more than leadership; and hardly is there much wiggle room to use monetary influence and the power of the office to successfully achieve your ambition for the nation and your party.

To be successful as the President of the United States, to be able to grow the economy to outstrip the huge deficit as contemplated by aspirant Trump, it is going to take more than personal achievement in companies’ board rooms and the bravado of telling people, because I said so. Forget the position of making money so much that you will be able to expand health care to everyone. The machination of various characters in and outside of politics, long standing congressional ethos and traditions, and a constant weight of demands from multiple constituencies, limit the powers of the US Presidency. 

Because of the doctrine of Checks and Balances and the separation of powers among the three branches of government, executives, legislative and judicial, it is often difficult to compel one branch of government to do what the other wants. The US President can cajoled the legislature, can lobby party leaders and lawmakers; however, he cannot force votes to achieve his dreams on the floors of both Chambers of Congress, all the time. The President might even have the fair fortune of moving a bill through US Congress successfully with the help of his party leadership and congressional members; however, he cannot force the lawmakers to fund the provisions of the bill. While it is easier to issue directives from the executive branch of government, the Hodge-podge process of law making makes the process a long and arduous one; and often times, the nastiness and brutality of the process, not to consider the crudity of some tenets of lawmaking, ensure that nothing is ever going to be achieved overnight as is expected in the private business sector. It just does not happen that way! Our forefathers have made it so, that our Republic only functions through consensus. Without consensus, a President is as “dumb” as a door knob! A President needs the consent of the people to govern as well as the corporation of lawmakers to pass a bill that he can sign into a law. Issuing out executive orders may save some faces, however, the criticisms that follow, in some cases, are not worth the initial effort or trouble.

Finally, although no one is saying Mr. Trump cannot become a good President with his strong business background; however, it is going to take more than the wheeling and dealing in business suites or boardrooms to pass bills into laws and to implement and fund the provisions of the bills. While Mr. Trump continues to stress that he can work easily with politicians because he has always worked with them, seems more like a face-saver or day dream at this time. There is a difference between you financing a politician’s campaign or donating to his political ambition and actually working with him or her once in office as a member of the august body of United States Congress. A US President’s interest cannot always be of equal importance for all legislators in his party, not to talk of every member in US Congress. Legislators have priorities for their constituencies and often aggressively, if not selectively, defend their turf or rail against the US President over polices, even when he is attempting to accomplish a proposal that is in the interest of all. Counter insurgence within one’s party's legislators as well as proclivity have been known to derail good intentions; both in US Congress and the White House. Often, the challenges of dealing with disagreements on policy directions with members of US Congress have always kept the US President on pins and needles. If in doubt, call up President Barack Obama! Support for a US Presidential aspirant is not the same as providing leadership when in office as the United States President. Overestimation of US Congressional leaders’ willingness to negotiate because of voters’ likability of one’s personality does not readily translate to easy governance. Too often, a candidate has come to the office of the Presidency assuming things are going to be done his own way, work out the way he had planned or pre-conceived while running for the office, only to find out that things are not always the way they seem, once in office. This is just the gospel truth, nothing more.
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