By Ray Richardson
What do we want, and what will we get, from a President Trump?
Although some voted for him simply because he was not Hillary Clinton, I suspect that most supporters chose to see in him what they wanted to believe that he will accomplish. That includes his most general, and sweeping, promise to drain the swamp.
What does “swamp” mean to you? Congressional inaction? Government that favors insiders?
Of course, we won’t really know until after his inauguration, but that doesn’t stop us from trying to read the tea leaves now to interpret his future actions, both from what he is saying now and from his appointments to leadership positions.
Here’s my best shot. Please take into account that I am writing this two weeks before you read it, so you may know immediately if I have missed the mark.
First, he has decided not to build a “big, beautiful wall” between the U.S. and Mexico. He has acknowledged that some of it will amount to a fence. In any case, we never believed Mexico would pay for it, so he will have to ask Congress to pay for it, and it is unclear if it will.
As for the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, they will not be deported, at least for now, Trump says, except for those who have committed crimes.
Trump is no longer interested in prosecuting Hillary Clinton, even though his post-election rallies still show people chanting to lock her up.
He may be less interested in waterboarding now that he has heard from his new secretary of defense that there may be a better way to obtain information from captured terrorists.
As for climate change, Trump’s position in the campaign was that it’s a hoax perpetuated by China. After the campaign he said he is open to the ideas of others, but then he appointed an ally of the fossil fuel industry as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
His promise to end the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement can be accomplished by Trump acting alone, so we should assume he will do that. However, renegotiating existing trade deals will require the agreement of others who may not cooperate.
Trump’s most important promise was to produce more and better jobs, which was his rationale in cracking down on trade deals that send jobs overseas for cheaper labor. However, Trump, and many of his appointees, have sent work overseas, so there will have to be a change in incentives to keep jobs here, such as by taxation policy.
In any case, one of the reasons many jobs have been lost is due to greatly increased productivity. Productivity in coal mining has increased tenfold since World War II and by nearly that in steel. Cheap natural gas from fracking is killing coal. So coal and steel jobs will never return.
Oddly, after stating that, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me,” he has appointed three former generals to key posts: National Security Advisor, Department of Defense and Homeland Security. Will this make him more, or less, aggressive in foreign affairs?
Many of his other appointments appear to be millionaires and billionaires who profited by the increased productivity and the shipping of jobs overseas. Three with Goldman Sachs backgrounds have been appointed or are advisors. That’s the same Goldman Sachs that gave large speaking fees to Hillary that Trump roundly criticized. They understand the system. Will they now use their knowledge to create more and better jobs?
We should all want Trump to succeed in producing more and better jobs. I wish him well.
Ray Richardson is a former state lawmaker who currently serves as Hancock County attorney. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.