Trusting Trump

I remember Trump on the campaign trail telling us his version of health care would be better and cheaper. That’s not what we’re getting and I’m fairly sure it was, even then, an empty promise. What’s currently in the works is tax cuts for the wealthiest to be paid for by making health insurance less affordable for low and moderate income families — and to gradually pull the rug out from under them year after year until they cannot afford to be sick.

It seems that our billionaires need to have more profits and our poor families should just shut up and die off … survival of the fittest (in this case, the greediest) and all that.

As the first President in modern history to keep his tax returns secret, I can’t help but think he’s lying about something else as well. With four bankruptcies, it seems to me that he may not have made anywhere near as much money as he claims. What I do know is that, while his Mar-a-Lago Resort grosses about $50 million a year, its overhead is so high that it barely makes a profit.

While politically allied with the Christian right and Conservatives, Trump doesn’t have a history of supporting any cause but his own wealth and notoriety. It is quite clear to me that what he cares about is spinning events so that people think he’s wearing a white hat while taking money he doesn’t really need from people who really do need it.

His bankruptcies were all about scamming his contractors and subcontractors. He’s a master of the shell game where money flows out of one business that’s designed to go bankrupt and into another business that’s making money so that he can dump his debt on the hard-working people that actually did the work to create his wealth. In a moral society, this would be seen as cheating, maybe even stealing, but in our society — or at least Trump’s loyal part of our society — it’s “a good deal.”

And we have the United States President managing his cabinet like a troop of actors rather than actually soliciting their opinions on issues or supporting them in their assigned tasks. I watched in disbelief as The Donald delivered a long speech to his cabinet — and the media — followed by short but sweet scripted sound bites all around the table praising his leadership while this beleaguered group again failed to gain consensus or get anything done. He didn’t solicit any input but praise. This media-mad micromanagement has scared off qualified candidates from positions under his cabinet so that the administration is having a difficult time staffing up … and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few deserters at the top level if these antics continue.

His leadership has been appallingly bad. He undercuts his Press Secretary, Secretary of State, and Chief of Staff almost daily and he’s so erratic and paranoid that the White House is clearly dysfunctional and shows every indication of staying that way as long as The Donald is in office.

I find our President’s behavior both bizarre and self-destructive. Yes, he’s entitled to fire the man investigating Russia’s interference in our elections. Yet neither he nor his henchmen are interested in finding out what actually happened! They aren’t curious how and why Russia attacked the United States on the internet. Their sole concern is that none of them are suspected of being involved.

This, tied with significant financial dealings with Russians, forces me to wonder at this lack of outrage or curiosity about a real and successful attack on the minds and attitudes of U.S. voters in the days just before our national election … and a concern for what might happen in future elections as Russia gains political muscle over every congressperson and senator up for re-election. Or, worse yet, vested interests within the United States using the same tricks to influence the electoral process.

There are lists out there compiling Trump’s lies and White House staffers are at a loss how to explain his bizarre late night tweets and diatribes.

But all this is a sideshow.

The real movement, the unspoken movement, is to tax the poor and middle classes and to move more and more wealth to the already wealthy. This is what Ronnie Reagan did to “Make America Great Again.” The money flowed away from workers but also away from America. We live in an international economy and Trump’s protectionist plans are no longer viable and haven’t been viable for two or three decades.

Furthermore, for people to invest in a high-tech, high-wage modern plant in the United States rather than a low-tech, low-wage plant in the Third World, they need some assurances that taxes and regulations will be fairly stable over the long haul rather than subject to wild swings as the two parties switch in and out of power. They need a robust infrastructure including institutions supporting the education required by a highly automated factory, affordable raw materials and power, cheap and reliable transportation, and financial backing that is also steady. Lacking the assurances of stability, most prudent investors will, I think, swallow the tariffs and wait for American political stability rather than invest heavily in American manufacturing. Thus, I predict a stagnant economy.

As I see it, the bulk of investment will continue to stay low-tech and be centered in low-wage countries. Indonesian workers will spend their wages locally and out-of-work Americans won’t have much money to spend. Thus, because of polarized politics as well as a greedy financial elite, I see a lose-lose scenario until we overcome this extreme partisanship. The money will be in fewer and fewer hands and the rest of us will either take lower wages and benefits or be left out of the job market entirely. Meanwhile, American companies will have American names and American directors but foreign raw materials and foreign workers and the American consumer will have less money to spend.

I don’t think Trump is in it for the long hall. Like his show and his businesses, he’s in it to make a “good deal,” pulling in as much profit as possible in as short a time as reasonable and then leaving the people who actually did the work in the lurch.

I think blue collar Trumpites will find themselves left with empty promises, empty pockets, and a whole lot of egg on their faces. As workers in New York and New Jersey found out the hard way, if you follow the money it isn’t difficult to understand the scam.

Republicans may start to realize that they’re making the biggest mistakes of their careers in following through on their incessant — and rightly successful — campaign against Obamacare. Why Obamacare is so bad is the aversion to government control of it, even though this works well in every other modern industrial country. The irony of Obamacare is that it’s a Republican agenda hidden inside a Democratic bill. As long as profit rather than treatment is our highest priority, we, the American people, will contend with each other over who pays our medical bills. At the least, health care ought to be treated as a utility or a monopoly. The “health insurance” industry has grown from almost nothing during the Clinton administration to monstrous conglomerates controlling almost everything — including their own profit.

I, too, hate Obamacare. But if you don’t go toe-to-toe with the unbridled greed of healthcare tycoons, what we’ll have is a dysfunctional system, no matter what Congress does to it.

If it were up to me, I’d go back to the simple family doctor and/or nurse practitioner and have the billionaires provide free major medical care. They can afford it and it just might make them feel good about themselves.

Finally, if lying to Congress about a blow job outside the Oval Office was an impeachable offense, it shouldn’t take much for a coalition of Democrats and disgusted Republicans to get the goods on Trump. I just wonder if Mike Pence would do any better. I don’t suppose he could do much worse.

©David N. Dodson, July 2017

Categories Miscellaneous

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