For eight years, Barack Obama and the Democrat Party did everything they could to destroy the U.S. economy by putting as much of it as possible under their tutelage. They fascized the health care (ObamaCare) and finance industries (Dodd-Frank) preparatory to formally nationalizing them once they were sufficiently Cloward-Pivenized to leave the ignorant public sufficiently panicked as to embrace that outcome in "DO SOMETHING!!!" fashion. They eroded the labor force, driving upwards of ten million Americans permanently out of it while cooking the unemployment numbers to tout their fake "recovery" narrative. They doubled the national debt and eroded the dollar by monetizing said debt through the Federal Reserve and keeping interest rates so artificially low that no real investors would be nutso enough to buy U.S. government debt whose return is not within a cosmic parsec of its risk. All in service to the myth, being swilled with depressingly increasing enthusiasm by millennials, that capitalism "doesn't work" and that socialism is the path to utopian salvation.
In my considered, informed, and experienced opinion, preventing Obama's 2012 re-election was the Rubicon for reviving America and returning it to its capitalist (among other) roots. The GOP even nominated a skilled and successful businessman who was also a good man, to lead the way back. But too few voters wanted to be blamed for "lynching" the "first black president," and so America's fate was sealed.
By the time 2016 rolled around, it wasn't just the country and the Democrat Party that had been "fundamentally transformed". The GOP, swallowed up in reactionary rage, abandoned conservative ideas and ideals, eschewed more than a dozen good, qualified, experienced candidates in favor of another businessman, this one not so successful and a mobbish, liberalish demagogue as well, who exploited their anger and resentments to erect a personality cult that, thanks to characteristic corruption and stunning incompetence in the Dems' nominating process, somehow managed to ride all the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
To be sure, Donald Trump hasn't maintained the entire Obama status quo. He's called off the greenstremist dogs by (temporarily) withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accords and reining in the EPA. He signed the GOP's corporate tax cut last fall, a measure that was years overdue (though another Democrat president, Bill Clinton, signed a GOP capital gains cut in 1997, so there is precedent for it). He's expected to sign the partial rollback of the aforementioned Dodd-Frank law that cleared the Senate this week (though Bill Clinton also signed GOP welfare reform in 1996, and I don't remember Republicans celebrating him for that).
But....Trump has taken the twenty trillion dollar national debt he inherited and is accelerating its ballooning by virtually locking in the return of trillion-plus dollar annual deficits by also signing instead of vetoing several bloated continuing resolutions, culminating in the $1.3 trillion Omnibus (or "Trumpnibus," as I dubbed it) that overfunds discretionary programs, particularly Democrat priorities like Planned Parenthood, for the remainder of fiscal 2018. He did nothing - not Tweeting, not speaking, not bully-pulpiteering - to push the full repeal of ObamaCare, which had only been the sacred rite of Republicans for seven years running. (If he'd spent as much time, bluster, and spittle on getting ObamaCare torn out "root and branch" as he has fighting the Russiagate probe, might the former have turned out differently?). He's doing zippo about reforming entitlements (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid) that are hanging over the economy like mountains of Damoclean fiscal doom.
Why? Because Donald Trump isn't a conservative, fiscal or otherwise, and doesn't really care about any of these issues, aside from how he can exploit them by mouthing the platitudes he has to to keep his redcaps deceived. He's not a capitalist, he's a businessman. He spent decades (in and around his four bankruptcies) padding his bottom line any way he could. Honest, legitimate transactions as well as taxpayer infusions. On his own as well as using government (e.g. eminent domain abuse) and bribing (predominantly Democrat) politicians to get what he wanted. Good hires and corrupt ones, including breaking immigration laws to import cheap labor. It was, and is, all the same to him.
However, there is one actual, honest-to-goodness issue for which Donald Trump does have a long, passionate baseline of consistent support, and that is protectionism. He calls it "winning and losing," but what it really is is Big Government statism with Big Business as the beneficiary instead of the Marxist Left's crazy quilt of radical, loony groups. In lieu of "soaking the rich" through punitive, confiscatory income taxation, Trump favors soaking American consumers with punitive tariffs (border taxes) on imported goods they want to buy that artificially drive up the cost of those goods for the purpose of forcing them to spend their hard-earned cash as Trump thinks they should. The man who purports to be all about "bringing back American jobs" is delighted to destroy them in import-dependent industries and manufacturing sectors whose costs are driven up by high tariff barriers, to say nothing of foreign manufacturers making their products here with American workers who are incentivized to move their plants, and jobs, elsewhere.
And the man who is being hailed as the "Great Deregulator" is regulating up a storm where international trade is concerned, and is not shy about using "unilateral executive actions" under dubious pretenses to do it:
The Commerce Department announced Wednesday that it will investigate the possibility of using national-security laws to impose steep tariffs on auto imports.
The announcement came after President Trump reportedly asked Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to consider implementing a 25% tariff on auto imports, following through on a protectionist promise he’s made repeatedly since taking office.
“There is evidence suggesting that, for decades, imports from abroad have eroded our domestic auto industry,” Ross said in a statement announcing the probe late Wednesday.
The investigation will explore the effect of tariffs on cars, sport-utility vehicles, and vans, and will “consider whether the decline of domestic automobile and automotive parts production threatens to weaken the internal economy of the United States,” according to the statement.
Isn't "economic security" a leftist term? Congruent with the assertion that paying higher and higher taxes is somehow "patriotic," as Joe Biden and others used to tout? The Trump/Ross rationale for jacking up border taxes on so core a product as automobiles, coming on the heels of recent salvos against steel, aluminum, washing machines, and other items, fairly reeks of it. It rests on the, yes, authoritarian assumption that Americans who prefer foreign cars are somehow "traitors" and "obligated" to only "buy American," and should therefore be compelled by the state to do so. Never mind how many of the parts that go into "American" cars are actually imported from elsewhere, quite possibly because they're of better quality and lower cost, in service to making those cars better and more affordable. No, you must buy worse, more expensive cars because Donald Trump says so. American companies must be "protected" from the overseas competition that alone can spur them to greater competitiveness. The U.S. economy must be frozen in time like dinosaur DNA in amber. The Great Protector will make your choices for you, because he knows best.
How is this "national security" bulldribble any different than his predecessor doing the exact same thing in the context of "fighting global warming" or "universal health care"? The rationales and narratives may differ, but socialism is socialism, even with a "national" face. And very few outside the Trump cult are buying it:
American allies have pushed back on the national-security justification for the aggressive pursuit of tariffs, accusing the Trump administration of violating the very international free-trade norms the U.S. led the way in establishing.
The auto industry is also expected to oppose the recent move, given the market uncertainty that would likely result.
“The U.S. auto industry is thriving and growing,” John Bozzella, chief executive of the Global Automakers Group, which represents foreign-based producers in the U.S., told the Wall Street Journal. “This path leads inevitably to fewer choices and higher prices for cars and trucks in America.”
"Fixing" - or, rather, breaking - what isn't broken, in other words.
And the dissatisfaction extends to cuckolded 'Pubbies on Capitol Hill, whose sotto voce grumbling is getting louder:
Congressional Republicans on Thursday slammed Donald Trump on account of his latest target for tariffs — automobile imports....
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch called the latest move "deeply misguided." In March, congressional Republicans had a similar response to the president's announcement of the sweeping steel and aluminum tariffs of 25% and 10%, respectively, condemning the move, but taking little action to prevent their implementation aside from issuing press releases and urging the president to reconsider....
“There’s no rational person that could think that we have a national security issue with auto manufacturing,” Tennessee Republican Bob Corker told reporters of the decision on Thursday afternoon. “It’s an abuse of that authority. It’s very blatant.”
Corker recalled Trump’s recent tweet directed to American auto workers which hinted at the decision, and argued that the tariffs seemed designed for political reasons. Corker expressed doubts about the largely unchecked authorities granted by Section 232, noting that is was codified in 1962.
“This whole thing feels like it’s getting out of hand to me,” said Corker. “It feels like everything’s becoming transactional.” The retiring Republican argued that Trump’s trade team is headed down a dangerous path which could compel other countries to arbitrarily impose hefty tariffs on American products in response to the administration’s actions. Asked whether Congress had ceded too much trade authority to the executive branch, Corker answered, “We did cede it years ago, unfortunately, and probably we should be clawing some of it back.”
Gee, it's almost as if a Big Labor Democrat infiltrated the Republican Party, hijacked its presidential nomination, lucked into the presidency, and is imposing Dick Gephardt's anti-trade agenda under a GOP label, isn't it?
The worst of it is, there's not much that can be done about this. Hill Pachyderms don't have the stones to actually challenge Trump on his anti-trade abuses legislatively, or they'd already be doing so - indeed, if they were capable of challenging him, they'd have put their foot down in Cleveland two years ago and denied him their nomination in the first place. And while the Democrats' tribalist hatred of Trump knows no bounds, they're scarcely any less hostile to foreign trade than he is - and the GOP forfeited its logrolling leverage in the Trumpnibus disaster in any case.
And so, the whirlwind will be reaped, and probably sooner rather than later:
China, Japan and the European Union condemned Thursday the Trump administration's decision to launch an investigation into whether tariffs are needed on imports of vehicles and automotive parts into the United States....
Japan's minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshige Seko, said Japan, which accounts for about 40 percent of U.S. vehicle imports, will continue to remind U.S. officials that any trade measures must conform to the rules of the World Trade Organization.
If such a measure is taken, "it would be an extremely far-reaching trade sanction that would put the global market into turmoil," Seko said. "We are extremely concerned."
Germany's association of industry groups said auto tariffs would be a "provocation" and "another nasty blow to our economic relations" with the United States. The EU executive said it would be against the rules of global trade.
In Beijing, Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters that abusing national security provisions would "undermine the multilateral trade system and disrupt the order of international trade."
"China will pay close attention to the progress of the U.S. investigation, conduct a comprehensive assessment of the possible impact and firmly defend our legitimate rights and interests," Gao told reporters at a news conference.
Sounds like a multi-front trade war to me. The last one we suffered didn't turn out too well for us or any other nation. It's more commonly known as "the Great Depression," and led to a rather large shooting war a few years later that you might have heard about. That tends to be the consequence of paternalistic statists throwing their authoritarian weight around where it doesn't belong.
With these simmering recessionary conflicts lumped in with "unexpectedly" (funny how that Obama-era adverb has been making a comeback of late) rising jobless claims, soaring mortgage interest rates, and skyrocketing gasoline prices, and where the economy is in the business cycle, a near-term economic downturn looks increasingly likely. Watching President Autarky navigate that public relations maelstrom, dragging the capsizing GOP deservedly to the bottom with him to the needless benefit of the party of "Democratic" socialism should be....entertaining, at least, from a "see, we told you so" point of view.