Tag Archives: Donald Trump

Public Credits Trump for Good Economy

This, if anything, will blunt the Blue Wave.

More than two-thirds of Americans credit President Donald Trump for the country’s healthy economy, a new poll has revealed.

The CBS News poll, which was released on Sunday, shows a sharp partisan divide, with Republicans more likely to give the president positive reviews while Democrats and Independents are not as complimentary.

According to the survey, 35 per cent of Americans say Trump’s policies are ‘a great deal’ responsible for the economy.

Around the same number – 33 per cent – say the president’s policies are ‘somewhat’ responsible.

Trump Promises to Help ZTE

Wha?

US President Donald Trump has said he wants to help save ZTE, one of China’s biggest telecoms companies.

The firm has suspended operations after the commerce department last month banned US companies from selling it components for seven years.

[…]

ZTE pleaded guilty to making illegal shipments to Iran and North Korea.

US commentators say the tone of the tweet is a dramatic shift for Mr Trump, who has consistently accused China of stealing US jobs.

The concession to Beijing comes ahead of high-level trade talks later this week in Washington aimed at resolving an escalating trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

[…]

In March 2017 ZTE admitted to violating US sanctions by illegally shipping American technology to Iran and Korea and was fined $1.1bn (£800m).

The current export ban was imposed last month after the company allegedly failed to comply with its agreement, lying about the punishment of employees involved in skirting the sanctions.

While the story cites the upcoming trade talks as a possible explanation for Trump’s actions, I have to think that the upcoming summit with North Korea is also in play. While ZTE is clearly breaking the rules, there are bigger issues at play.

Trump is one of the few presidents we have seen who works with everything on the table all the time. He’s willing to move things around that are seemingly unrelated in order to find a way to move his agenda forward.

Trump Pulls Out of Iran Deal

Excellent!

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump plans to follow through on his campaign threat to pull out of the landmark nuclear accord with Iran, according to two people familiar with his thinking, dealing a profound blow to U.S. allies and potentially deepening the president’s isolation on the world stage.

It wasn’t immediately clear which sanctions that were lifted under the deal might be quickly reimposed, said the people, who were not authorized to speak publicly. Trump has several options, and a limited move could leave him more room to potentially stay in the deal after all if other members agree to toughen it.

Take notice of the incredible bias in the AP story. Trump is following through on a campaign “threat” instead of a “promise.” He is dealing a “profound blow to U.S. allies” but no mention of our enemies. That’s just the first paragraph!

Progress In North Korea

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. You have to give props when props are due. Here you go:

In West Bend last weekend, there was a brat fry for the benefit of veterans of the Korean War. More than 5.7 million Americans served in the Korean War — 33,739 were killed in battle. Another 20,507 died in service during the war and 103,284 were wounded. Today, less than half of the Americans who served in the Korean War are still alive.

Given that it has been almost 65 years since that bloody war ground to a halt in a cease fire agreement, many of those Korean War veterans had likely given up hope of ever seeing the war actually end. Last week, Kim Jong Un, the grandson of North Korean tyrant Kim Il Sung, who launched the bloody war in 1950, shook hands with South Korea’s President, Moon Jae-in, and then stepped into South Korea to begin a historic summit that may lead to a lasting peace between the sibling nations.

That handshake did not come about by accident. It was the result of a multifaceted foreign policy effort by President Donald Trump. For all of his faults, Trump’s foreign policy has proven to be sophisticated and effective. He has advanced the interests of peace on the Korean peninsula further than any of his predecessors.

The likelihood of a lasting peace, much less the complete denuclearization of North Korea, is still slim. Kim Jong Un is a third generation dictator who is equal parts evil and crazy. His interests are rooted in his own power — not the welfare of the North Korean people or the world. In order for peace to be sustainable, Kim’s self-interest will have to be appeased and Trump will have to twist Ronald Reagan’s famous maxim to, “don’t trust and verify.”

Still, we are closer to peace than we have been for three generations and the world has Trump to thank for that. The secret to Trump’s foreign policy is no secret at all. He has returned to the more muscular foreign policy of “peace through strength” that underpinned the foreign policy of many previous administrations.

The first thing Trump did when entering office was make it clear that the days of American appeasement of North Korea were over. Strong, occasionally reckless, rhetoric sent the message that Trump was not of the same mold as his most recent predecessors.

Then Trump backed up his rhetoric with very stiff sanctions against North Korea. While North Korea is no stranger to sanctions, this time it was different. Through a combination of threats and praise, Trump convinced China to get on board with the sanctions. China is North Korea’s largest trading partner, by far, and ally in the Korean War.

Once the sanctions were in place, Trump extended his potent mix of threats and complimentary gestures to Kim. Trump began working toward high level negotiations and backed it up by sending the soon-tobe Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, to meet Kim. In the bast couple of weeks, Kim has committed to cease nuclear tests, dismantle a nuclear facility, met with South Korean President Moon, and indicated that he wants a permanent peace. Trump is tentatively scheduled to meet with Kim next month.

Incidentally, while Pompeo was furthering the peace process in North Korea through diplomacy as the secretary of state nominee, Wisconsin’s Sen. Tammy Baldwin voted against his confirmation saying that she feared Pompeo would not be diplomatic enough.

Underlying the entire process is the fact that nobody doubts that Trump is willing to back up his threats. No doubt the strikes by the United States against chemical weapons facilities in Syria, despite the admonitions of the Russians and Assad, got Kim’s attention. If Trump is willing and able to act with such precision against Syria, there is no doubt that he would be able to strike North Korea. And with China softening its defense of Kim in order to protect its economic interests, Kim is more isolated than ever.

The North Korean problem has been the world’s Gordian Knot for more than half a century. Trump might be about to cut it.

Mueller Raids Trump’s Lawyer’s Office

This is outrageous.

Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz warned Monday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s decision to raid President Trump’s personal lawyer’s office is an assault on the privileged lawyer-client relationship.

Dershowitz said on Fox News that he believes the decision to raid Michael Cohen’s office would be a sign that Mueller is trying to turn Cohen against Trump.

“This may be an attempt to squeeze Cohen,” he said. “He’s the lawyer, he’s the guy who knows all the facts about Donald Trump, and to get him to turn against his client.”

 “This is a very dangerous day today for lawyer-client relations,” he added.

Dershowitz, who has drawn the ire of Democrats for defending Trump, said Mueller’s move is also dangerous because it gives the FBI the option of deciding what information seized from Cohen to pursue.

“I tell [clients] on my word of honor that what you tell me is sacrosanct,” he said. “And now they say, just based on probable cause … they can burst into the office, grab all the computers, and then give it to another FBI agent and say, ‘You’re the firewall. We want you now to read all these confidential communications, tell us which ones we can get and which ones we can’t get.'”

Trump Ratchets Up Trade War

STOP IT!

“In light of China’s unfair retaliation, I have instructed the [United States Trade Representative] to consider whether $100 billion of additional tariffs would be appropriate,” the president said in a statement.

Earlier this week, the United States announced new tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods, claiming that China is stealing US intellectual property. China responded within hours by announcing $50 billion worth of tariffs on US goods.

The moves follow US tariffs that were imposed earlier this year on Chinese steel and aluminum, which also prompted retaliatory measures from China.

Trump’s announcement late Thursday that his administration could target another $100 billion of Chinese goods rattled markets and drew criticism from businesses and from within his own party.

Tariffs do nothing by wreck parts of the economy and retard the invisible hand of capitalism.

Trump Threatens to Veto Omnibus Spending Bill

Good.

(CNN)President Donald Trump threatened Friday to veto the $1.3 trillion spending bill passed by Congress, citing concerns that the legislation does not include a solution for recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program or sufficient funding for a border wall.

“I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded,”
Trump is doing a huge favor to Congressional Republicans here by attempting to take the DACA issue away from the Democrats before November while also reinvigorating support for borer security. I don’t have any grand illusions that the final product won’t be as heavy with spending and pork as this bill, but that’s what happens when the Senate has stupid filibuster rules.

Trump Imposes Tariffs on China

I don’t like this move.

The US plans to impose tariffs on up to $60bn (£42.5bn) in Chinese imports and limit the country’s investment in the US in retaliation for years of alleged intellectual property theft.

The White House said the actions were necessary to counter unfair competition from China’s state-led economy.

It said years of talks had failed to produce change. China said it was ready to retaliate with “necessary measures”.

Beijing also said it would “fight to the end” in any trade war with the US.

Tillerson Sacked

Ouch. Sacked by a tweet.

US President Donald Trump has sacked Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, replacing him with the director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo.

Thanking Mr Tillerson for his service on Twitter, Mr Trump said the new state secretary would do “a fantastic job”.

Mr Tillerson, a former chief executive of ExxonMobil, was only appointed to the job just over a year ago.

The president also nominated Gina Haspel to become the first woman director of the CIA.

In general, this is a positive move. Tillerson was ineffective as SOS. But it isn’t too much to ask that the President pick up the phone and do it in person.

Trump Floats Tariffs

Bad idea.

Mr Trump tweeted that the US had been “decimated by unfair trade and bad policy”. He said steel imports would face a 25% tariff, and aluminium 10%.

However, critics argue that the tariffs would fail to protect American jobs and would ultimately put up prices for consumers.

Mr Trump’s announcement hit US markets, with the Dow Jones index closing down 1.7%.

Allow Mr. Friedman to explain:

Sasse Responds to President’s Anti-2nd Amendment Blatherings

Boom.

“Strong leaders don’t automatically agree with the last thing that was said to them. We have the Second Amendment and due process of law for a reason,” Ben Sasse, a Republican senator from Nebraska, said in a statement. “We’re not ditching any Constitutional protections simply because the last person the President talked to today doesn’t like them.”

Trump’s Middle East Policy

Since we were remembering Obama’s Middle East Policy, what about Trump’s?

Such absurd New York real estate boasting aside, in his first year in office, Trump has taken a number of truly radical steps. In December, he promised to meet a longstanding Israel wish: moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He has also challenged the Palestinians frontally, closing the spigot of funds the U.S. provides to the UN under the rubric of refugee assistance.

Neither move is likely to advance a “peace process” that has been moribund almost from birth. Both have spurred condemnation worldwide. But neither move has sparked the kind of conflagration on the Arab street that was predicted by so many experts.

Indeed, both moves might even be called Reaganesque. By staking out firm positions, stating obvious truths and aligning the U.S. more closely with the only democracy in the region, the Trump administration is forcing all the players in the region to reconsider stale positions that have brought them nothing but sporadic violent collisions with Israel for half a century.

[…]

If Reagan-like boldness can be detected in some of Trump’s statecraft, so can Obama-like fecklessness, or worse. In dealing with Iranian imperial ambitions, Trump has been talking loudly and carrying the smallest of sticks.

Trump came into office pledging to tear up the Iranian nuclear deal and set new “red lines” on Iranian behavior. But when push came to shove, he has let the Iranians do the shoving while allies of the U.S. have been pushed around.

The most dramatic case in point concerns treatment of our longstanding ally, the Kurds. This past October, less than two days after Trump blasted the Iranian revolutionary guard’s Quds Force as the “corrupt personal terror” militia of Iran’s supreme leader, and then promised to “work with our allies to counter the (Iranian) regime’s destabilizing activity and support for terrorist proxies in the region,” the United States did precisely the opposite of what he pledged.

The U.S. stood by as Iraqi troops, aided by the very same Quds Force Trump had just promised to resist, conquered the Kurdish-held oil-rich city of Kirkuk, the nucleus of a future independent Kurdistan. This betrayal of an ally was not preordained. It was also not an irony but the opposite of irony if one considers that during the presidential campaign Trump jumbled the Quds with Kurds and was unable to say which was which.

Of a piece with this passivity is Trump’s response to the Syrian use of chemical weapons. Readers will recall that while serving Chinese President Xi Jinping “the most beautiful chocolate cake” in Mar-a-Lago back in April, Trump informed his guest that a fusillade of 59 American cruise missiles had just been launched toward a Syrian airbase in retaliation for a poison gas attack on a rebel-held town in Idlib province.

SOTU Reaction

What did you think (if you watched it)?

Overall, I thought it was good. Positive, while digging into some critical issues. Big on ideas. Small on specifics. Too long.

Women Marching

That, my friends, is some Grade A trolling.

President Trump has weighed in on the Women’s March with a tweet that is certain to rile the tens of thousands of fired-up protesters marching against him across the country.

As processions of pink, ‘pussy’ hats and illustrations asking for him to be impeached made their way through the nation’s many cities, Trump ignored their complaints about him and said: ‘Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March.

‘Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months.

“Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!’

Trump v. Bannon

Meh.

The president disavowed Mr Bannon after he was quoted in a new book describing a meeting between Mr Trump’s son and a group of Russians as “treasonous”.

The Russians had offered Donald Trump Jr damaging information on Hillary Clinton at the June 2016 meeting.

Mr Bannon’s quote appears in a new book by journalist Michael Wolff.

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind,” Mr Trump said in a statement on Wednesday.

I’m finding it difficult to get exercised over this latest dust up. First, it’s a pissing match between two world-class liars. Second, up until five minutes ago, the Left told us that Bannon was a white nationalist liar bent on the destruction of America. Today he is apparently the noble whistle-blower. I can’t keep up on who I’m supposed to hate or not. Third, if there’s anything we have learned about Bannon, it’s that he is unswerving in his support for Bannon. He is cashing the ultimate “insider” check with his “tell all.” And the media is helping him get richer.

I’m going to go back to worrying about Trump’s big button. That was funnier.

Trump’s conservative record

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here you go:

The closing of one year and opening of the next offers the opportunity to reflect and re-evaluate one’s preconceptions and biases. As a conservative who opposed President Donald Trump, I must admit that I have been very favorably surprised by his first year in office.

My reasons for opposing candidate Trump were simple, if heart wrenching. He is a man with a history of wretched character who rode a dangerous populist wave to the White House while shouting some empty conservative rhetoric. My worry was, and continues to be, that Trump will govern as a big-government populist and tear apart the conservative movement in the process. That may still come to be, but his accomplishments during his first year in office would be the envy of any would-be conservative president. For that, he deserves praise and thanks.

The most recent accomplishment was the monumental tax reform bill that Trump signed into law a couple of weeks ago. With the help of the Republican Congress, Trump has slashed the corporate tax rate to slightly below the worldwide average, cut and simplified the income tax for individuals, moved the U.S. to a territorial tax system, cut taxes for other businesses, eliminated the alternative minimum tax for businesses and scaled back the alternative minimum tax for individuals. Any one of those would have been a conservative victory.

That’s not all. The tax bill also repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate, which imposed an unconstitutional tax penalty for people who chose to not purchase health insurance. This was a key pillar that underpinned Obamacare and was a flash point in every debate about repealing Obamacare, but it passed in the tax bill with barely a protest.

Also in the tax bill was the opening of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to energy development. This has been a goal for 30 years and it was finally done with barely a whimper of protest.

The passage of the tax reform law alone, with all of its provisions, would have been considered a massive accomplishment for any conservative president. That was merely the capstone of Trump’s tremendous year.

Trump and the Republican-led Senate set a record for appointing conservative federal judges. The most important was the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, but he also appointed 18 other federal judges in his first year. Given how liberals challenge every piece of conservative legislation in federal court, filling the federal judiciary to a constitutionally conservative judges is critical to any long term reform.

In the area of federal regulations, where Trump has far more unilateral authority, he has made incredibly aggressive and sweeping conservative reforms. Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency has been sharply pulled back into its constitutional cage, as have the Education Department, Health and Human Services, Federal Communications Commission, and many other regulatory agencies. Thousands of individual regulations have been repealed or reprioritized with the overriding objective of getting the federal government out of people’s lives.

Among those regulatory reforms were the FCC’s repeal of President Obama’s 2015 Net Neutrality regulation, which imposed stringent regulations on internet service providers in favor of Big Media and others. Also, Trump’s administration broke loose the intentional regulatory roadblocks of the Obama administration by approving projects like the Keystone Pipeline.

Trump held firm on his campaign promises to honor our veterans. The Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act improved backlogs at VA facilities while other legislation improved overall access to healthcare and expanded educational opportunities for veterans.

In foreign affairs, Trump has reoriented our nation’s policies under the “America First” banner. Far from being the isolationist posture that many feared, Trump’s foreign policy is engaging and muscular. Trump has returned the U.S. to a more realpolitik foreign policy where our nation will act energetically to support our national interests and expects other nations to do the same.

To that end, Trump rightly pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Accords and Trans-Pacific Partnership – both of which were designed to benefit other nations at the expense of America. Trump has taken a less appeasing stance toward tyrannical regimes in North Korea and Iran. He is finally fulfilling the rhetorical promises of his predecessors of both parties by moving America’s Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. Trump also decertified the treacherous Iran deal where Obama gave Iran a path to nuclear arms and billions of dollars to get there in exchange for empty promises of peace.

Perhaps most impressive, if woefully downplayed by much of the media, was the defeat of the Islamic State. Under Obama, who called them the “JV team,” IS rose to power conquering a huge territory in Iraq and Syria. IS exported terrorism to the world while murdering Christians, Jews and anyone else in their reach who did not subscribe to their cruel ideology. Trump allowed the military the latitude to act without tactical permission from political agents in Washington and supported our allies in Iraq and elsewhere to act aggressively. The result is that after years of growing and spreading, IS has been largely defeated and pushed completely out of Iraq.

It would be easy to lament what could have been had a traditional conservative won the Republican primary, but debating alternative futures is the realm of fiction authors. Trump’s record of conservative reforms is impressive as it stands. Let us hope that he can maintain pace and direction of reform in 2018.

Trump Fires Entire HIV/AIDS Council

Shock!

President Donald Trump reportedly fired the sixteen remaining members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA) Wednesday via a letter FedExed from the White House.

According to Newsweek, the mass dismissal arrives months after six members from PACHA resigned in June and penned an open letter to Trump, saying that his administration was promoting legislation that would harm those living with HIV.

Of course, you have to read all the way down to the last paragraph to learn this:

However, as Newsweek noted, the move by an administrator to “purge” PACHA is not unprecedented as the Obama administration also eliminated all of former President George W. Bush’s appointees in the same way once he assumed power.

Sooooo… what’s the issue?

President Obama Pushes for Trillion Dollar Infrastructure Effort

Oh, It’s President Trump’s idea? Well, okay then. Still no.

West Palm Beach, Florida (CNN)President Donald Trump, looking ahead to a critical election year where his record will be on the ballot alongside Republican lawmakers, plans a major push on infrastructure in January, aides said this week.

[…]

Despite promising a $1 trillion infrastructure bill during the campaign, Trump’s plan is shaping up differently. A White House official said on Tuesday the current proposal — set to be unveiled in the middle of January — would propose spending at least $200 billion on infrastructure projects over the next decade, with the hopes of spurring an additional $800 billion in state and local funding.
Some Democrats and business groups have said that $200 billion is too low. But the White House official characterized the figure as a floor, not a ceiling, and said Trump is willing to spend more federal dollars if it means getting a package through Congress.

Byron York: Trump’s Productive First Year

Indeed.

Assume that tax reform passes and is signed into law. If in, say, 2014, a Republican, of either the conservative or moderate variety, predicted that in 2017 a newly-elected GOP president and Congress would —

  1. Cut corporate and individual taxes.
  2. Repeal the Obamacare individual mandate.
  3. Appoint a highly-respected conservative to the Supreme Court.
  4. Appoint a one-year record number of judges to the circuit courts.
  5. Get rid of reams of unnecessary regulations.
  6. Destroy ISIS.
  7. Approve pipeline projects and new oil drilling.
 — then a lot of Republicans would probably have cheered. Loudly.

Trump acts on Obamacare

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Here you go:

President Trump, frustrated with Congress’ failure to repeal Obamacare, has begun to take unilateral action to reintroduce market forces into the health insurance market and pick at the pillars of Obamacare. His actions are a great first step.

Before getting into the specifics of Trump’s actions, we must note that the continued concentration of power in the presidency is abhorrent and an existential threat to liberty. That concentration has been progressing for decades, but greatly accelerated during the President Obama’s terms. Whereby Obama bragged about governing with a “phone and a pen,” Trump is exercising that same arbitrary authority. And while Trump’s most recent orders are good policy, the same power can and will be used for bad policy and worse. The fact remains that so much arbitrary power — the power over the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans and trillions of dollars — should never be concentrated in the pen of one person.

Obama used that arbitrary authority to implement Obamacare and make changes to our health care insurance market — sometimes in ways not legal. Trump is using that same arbitrary authority to make different changes to our health care insurance market.

Trump’s first executive order was a series of directives to various cabinet agencies and tweaks to find ways to allow more health insurance options and more flexibility in the health insurance market. The first directive was to the Labor Department to find ways to allow small businesses and individuals to collectively buy insurance through association health plans.

Allowing small businesses and individuals to group together — particularly if they are allowed to do so across state lines — would allow them to gain more purchasing power, better rates and in some circumstances, alleviate them of many of Obamacare’s regulations by shifting their plans under federal regulation instead of state regulations.

The second thing Trump’s order did was to allow people to buy more kinds of short-term health insurance plans. Obama limited these plans to 90 days, but allowing people to by plans for up to a year provides much more flexibility to people between jobs or open enrollment periods.

The third thing Trump’s order did was allow employers more ways to give employees tax-free money to pay for health care expenses elsewhere. In the past, some employers that did not provide health insurance could instead give their employees money to buy insurance on the individual market through a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA). Obamacare forbade this accommodation and Trump’s order allows it again.

These series of changes are all positive and allow for more flexibility and competition in the health insurance market. It was Trump’s second action, however, that really undercut Obamacare. When the Obamacare law was written, the lawmakers knew that it would dramatically increase the cost of health care insurance. It sought to address that by shifting costs to the taxpayers in two primary ways. The first way was to give subsidies to people buying Obamacare policies if they couldn’t afford it through a tax credit.

The second way was to mandate that the insurance companies providing Obamacare policies cut what they charge health care providers — even if those cuts results in a loss to the insurance company. This was done with the understanding that the taxpayers would pick up the losses of the health insurance companies, but the Obamacare law never appropriated any money for such subsidies. Lawmakers at the time were justifiably fearful of being accused of subsidizing the profits of big health insurance companies, so they did not appropriate the money. President Obama picked up the ball and began illegally giving the health insurance companies subsidies to prop up their profits beginning in 2014.

Trump is ending this illegal practice. Ironically, all Trump is doing is following the law as written. The result is that the insurance companies are still required by law to keep their billings lower — sometimes below costs — but they will not get a check from the taxpayers to cover those losses. They will be forced to either pass those costs on to policy holders through massive premium increases, or exit the Obamacare exchanges. The structural flaws of Obamacare will no longer be covered up with billions of taxpayer dollars illegally funneled to insurance companies.

Obamacare has already failed America. Trump is just trying to mitigate and hopefully reverse some of the damage.