Sunday, December 4, 2016

Fear Not the Trump Presidency

Back in the late summer of 2007 when the Democrat and Republican primaries were on the distant horizon, I met with an old political ally from New Mexico. He was in Chicago for a conference and we agreed to meet over coffee to catch up with one another and discuss the current political climate.

We noshed on bagels and drank coffee at The Corner Bakery, interestingly, in the shadow of the Trump Tower, then under construction. We prognosticated over which candidates would win each parties respective 2008 nominations. Disagreement centered over who would win the Dems nomination. My friend thought that Hillary had that one all sewn up. I opined that much of the American public were tired of the Clinton's and the Bush's and that it would be someone other than dear Hillary.

Fast Forward to 2016. That Clinton / Bush fatigue still ailed the American voter. Hence we have the election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States. Despite the high anxiety over his election, we should not fear his ascendency to the oval office.

The Economy

Remember the rallying cry voiced by James Carville, back in 1998? "It's the economy stupid". Yes it is, indeed. With economic growth sputtering at an anemic 1.2% growth and 95 million Americans off the job rolls, rest assured this will be the new administrations number one priority.

Working with a Republican House and Senate there is a reasonable expectation that there will be Individual Tax Reform that will put a little more jingle in American pockets. The brackets should be spread more. At present, it only takes an adjusted gross income of approximately $15,000 and an individual is placed in the 15% marginal income tax bracket. That should change.

Corporate Tax rates will go down making companies more competitive in the global economy. More funds should be available for Research and Development as well as business expansion. Reduction of the tax rates could result in more on-shoring--where companies bring back more manufacturing functions.

Trade deals made during the previous administrations could come under closer scrutiny and revised to make them more fair and beneficial to the United States.

The President-elect made it quite clear in his acceptance speech that he intends to help the American cities. With the right team and proper policies, there could be a greater increase in Urban Enterprise. Something sorely needed in much of Americas decaying urban core. 

His big time Infrastructure package will only help the economy over the long run. What will be needed in other areas of the government budget will be corresponding cuts to help balance the numbers out.


President-Elect Trump has already assembled a top flight team to insure the security of all Americans. As more administration slots are filled, the country should rest easy that competent people will be posted to insure tranquility throughout the land.

Count on the border wall to be built and enforcement of current immigration laws. Now it might not be a concrete wall all along the border as that would be unfeasible in certain terrain. Rather, a combination of electronic surveillance, fencing, and the concrete border wall will secure the border.

Immigration reform is coming. The President-elect has already announced his intention of expelling those that have moved into the country illegally and have criminal records. No one begrudges any one wishing to build a better life for their families by immigrating to the United States, just do it legally. It remains to be seen what will happen to the many "law-abiding" undocumented that have moved here over the past decades. One thing is for sure, there will be increased business for the Abogados specializing in immigration law.

Health Care

Obamacare is destined for the medical receptacle. His appointment of Representative Tom Price as the Health and Human Services Secretary shows that he is serious about improving the best health care system in the world without the burden of the ACA mandates and impediments to great health care. What may come of it is a more free market based system that allows Americans with greater choices and competitive prices. At the minimum, expect health insurance products to go down in price.

As a by-product of free market medicine, American's veterans will see dramatic improvement in their care. It is possible that a Veteran Med Card, whereby a Vet can seek health care services by visiting any medical provider he/she chooses, may become a reality.

President-Elect Trump has sketched out his top priorities in the first 100 days. Should he be able to get many of the proposals through the U.S. Congress, it is possible that our country can move from diminished expectations to heightened opportunities. Not much to fear in that.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Boehner's Budget Boner

US House Speaker John Boehner's broadside against many of the partners in the old Reagan coalition, was shameful.  To publicly lambast the fiscal conservatives who opposed the freshly minted Bipartisan Budget Control Act was an action that is lacking in genuine leadership.  Boehner should be removed as Speaker when the new Congress sits in 2015.

Don't worry, the Republicans should retain the house after the 2014 mid-terms.  The politics percolating under the surface point in that direction.  Set aside for the moment that tactically, passing the two year Budget accord was good politically.  It gets over the Republican fear of government shut-down.  But whatever Republican staff negotiated this deal ought not sit at the negotiating table ever again.

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 removes $65 billion from the sequestration cuts negotiated in the previous 2011 Budget Control Act.  Additionally, it proposes tax increases in three areas:
  • Airline travel ($5 per passenger).
  • Increases insurance premiums that companies with private pension plans pay into the federal government's Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation.
  • Increases "user fees" of customs services.
And No, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), I didn't read the entire legislation.  All I needed to do is read the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) abstract as well as your own House Budget Committee summary document.  With all due respect, Mr. Ryan, it is piss-poor legislation that the US Senate is on the verge of approving.

The House of Representatives is an equal branch of the US Government and to get any legislation passed, it must go through the House.  This is a big stick and wielded properly, more should have been gotten out of the negotiations.  The cuts that were made in this legislation were very minimal.  They include:
  • Caps on Discretionary spending.
  • Elimination of some government waste.
  • Targeting of Corporate Welfare. More specifically Energy Company graft.
  • Government Pension Reform.
A better deal could nave been struck.  For instance, how about holding out for elimination of discretionary spending for the three "E's", Energy, Education, and Environmental Protection Agency?? This is where the current administration uses the "Chicago Way" to pay off their supporters and cronies.  Think Solyndra, XL Pipeline, and Common Core.

Additionally, how about a little government reorganization?  Like folding the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) under the auspices of the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation).  Redundancy is one of the biggest areas of waste in government.

Pushing back against the Socialist Democrats and exercising the power of the purse is much better than capitulation, which this agreement seems to be.

Back to the Speaker.  In January of 2015, Boehner must go.  Who should be the new Speaker of the House.  He or She shouldn't come from that body. In fact bringing in an outsider to harness the divergent opinions of its members into a cohesive message is much preferable. Have them serve a two-year stint as Speaker. There is no constitutional requirement that the Speaker needs to come from the house.  Who, then?  I place in nomination the following individuals:

  1. Herman Cain.  The former candidate for the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination would articulate a vision for prosperity.  A former CEO could competently run the operation.  He clearly has the stature and leadership qualities that the Republicans need.
  2. Sarah Palin.  The former Governor of Alaska and running mate of 2008 Republican candidate for President, John McCain, would be an excellent choice.  She would certainly give the Socialist Democrats fits and at the same time effectively run the House.
  3. Steve Forbes.  The CEO of Forbes Media, LLC would make an excellent speaker.  He could certainly lead the Republicans as a former candidate for the Republican nomination for President in 1996 and 2000.  A business executive with solid media experience would keep the Republicans well messaged and on task.
While John Boehner has served his district and the country admirably, it is time for new leadership to combat the onslaught of tyranny the current administration and its tax and spend friends quietly put in place.