[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] D [/yt_dropcap]onald Trump is very proud of the fact that, as a business man, he knows how to negotiate and make deals. But the crucial logical question is this: how well does he know what he is negotiating?
Were we to attempt to answer that question judging by the first 100 days in office, we’d soon discover an abundance of sheer incompetence. Evan business leaders are beginning to acknowledge as much. Trump himself has declared recently that he didn’t think the job would be so hard. That’s a narcissist’s mode of acknowledging ignorance and incompetence, not to speak of corruption.
E.g., the administration has scrambled to come up with the outline of a tax plan that’s more or less the same as the one that has been on Trump’s website for months now: cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 to 15 percent, slashing individual tax rates across the board, and expanding the standard deduction, big-league. This attempt to create the illusion of progress is a longtime Trump tactic.
Trump’s “The Art of the Deal” brags about how he supposedly tricked Holiday Inn into going into business with him on a casino by having construction crews dig holes and fill them up, making it look as if he was already building it when he wasn’t. But assuming that worked then – maybe they thought it was a good deal except for the fact that Trump’s workers seemed so inept? – it can’t now.
That’s because you can’t threaten to go it alone in government, as you can in business. Trump can work on his tax plan as much as he likes, but he still can’t pass it without Congress. And, whether or not he has noticed, they have their own ideas, which they’re not going to give up just because he made a big to-do about having some of his own. That has been pretty clear when it comes to health care, where Trump knows so little about his own plan that he doesn’t realize he has been trying to get Republicans who think it’s too stingy to agree with Republicans who think it isn’t stingy enough.
This also applies to taxation. The big question there is whether Republicans want to try to permanently reduce tax rates a little or temporarily reduce them a lot. That’s due to the rules for what’s known as budget reconciliation. Republicans can pass a bill with 51 votes rather than the 60 it takes to break a filibuster – a bar they can’t clear – if, and only if, their bill doesn’t add to the deficit after a decade. Trump, though, has proposed a corporate tax cut that’s too big to pay for and too long-lasting to work with the reconciliation rules. Indeed, the scorekeepers at the Joint Committee on Taxation say that even a three-year corporate tax cut would cost money outside the 10-year budget window. Trump, in other words, has started with a nonstarter. To put that into a twitter sentence: “Bad, bad, bad.”
Also, Trump has so far failed to fill the spots of undersecretaries and assistant secretaries, those who do the actual work of making policy. He seems to want to leave them empty. Again, using a twit: “simpler that way, and cheaper.” Even if he had, though, Trump still wouldn’t understand those policies well enough himself to be able to horse-trade their way through Congress. Which, of course, assumes that Trump does in fact know how to make deals. The evidence suggests otherwise.
In conclusion, there is a new normal in town and it is incompetence exacerbated by corruption together with the inability to perceive them. Far from having a “republic of virtue” the way the ancient Greek understood it, what we have presently is a “republic of incompetence and corruption” otherwise known as “the big swamp.” Only truth can save us now. If we have done away with it too, then the game called democracy is pretty much over and done with.
Note: this column has previously appeared in Ovi magazine
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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] I [/yt_dropcap]f there’s an economic idea that Donald Trump and his economic advisers continually reiterate it is that slashing taxes inevitably leads to economic growth. Let’s see how true this idea is.
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[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] C [/yt_dropcap]NN has recetnly reported that President Trump’s latest anti-media attacks “are beneath the dignity of the office of the President.” In an interview with Time magazine, Trump insulted CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon and criticized MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. He also called CBS late-night host Stephen Colbert a “no-talent guy.”
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