October 30, 2016

My Response to Trump’s Contract with America

Donald Trump recently released his Contract with America during a 45 minute speech in Gettysburg.? Several people have made the comment that if you can’t stand either candidate, vote for the one who’s policies you agree with.? Additionally, his senior advisors billed this as his “closing argument”, so it seems like this is a good speech that everyone would agree would outline the policy points most important to Donald Trump.? Therefore, I’ve spent quite a while evaluating it.? I welcome comments, responses, etc.? However, if you do respond, please provide a well reasoned argument for why you disagree, and please site sources for things that you state as facts.? I’ve tried to provide lots of sources below as well.? Note that they are all shortened links in an effort to keep this readable.? When you click on them they will take you to the actual source.

The First 15 Minutes?A Rant

First of all, if you watched the video (http://bit.ly/2ehBCJ1), you’ll notice the first 15 minutes are spent bashing the women who have accused him of sexual assault and saying that the election was rigged, as well as saying that the media which catapulted him into relevance during the primary is evil and against him.? These things are not included on the website, didn’t seem to be tele-prompted, and appeared to be off script.? Therefore, I will ignore them.? If you’d like to discuss these items, please post separately on my wall so we can keep this focused on policy proposals.? I’m working from this official version found here: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/donald-j.-trump-delivers-groundbreaking-contract-for-the-american-vote1

What’s Missing

Secondly, what’s not included.? After the Christian right has spent significant energy focusing on how pro-life Donald is supposed to be, it was rather glaring that there wasn’t a single reference to the pro-life movement, abortion, or women’s rights (aside from bashing the women in the actual speech).? Additionally, after making lots of noise about freedom of religion, embracing Evangelicals, giving pastors a voice, changing the IRS restriction of backing candidates, etc?this is also nowhere to be found.? Finally, I don’t see anything about a strategy for dismantling ISIS, ending the war in Syria, addressing nuclear weapons in North Korea or Iran, or dealing with Russia (here’s a bunch of Republicans concerned about that: http://bit.ly/2eZN3Ue).? Of particular concern, he thinks he knows more about ISIS than the generals?really?? He also doesn’t discuss gun policy or treatment of minorities.

The Meat

Having stated all this, let’s get to what is included.? I’ve used his same headers and numbering scheme in an effort to make it easier for you, the reader, to follow along.? My hope is that you can review this side by side with his contract available at https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/donald-j.-trump-delivers-groundbreaking-contract-for-the-american-vote1.? As an overall statement though, this is A LOT of things to claim Trump is going to accomplish day 1.? The 100 day list is more imaginable, but I’m pretty sure this day 1 list would be impossible to actually achieve even if it was a good idea.

While we like to hear presidents talk about what they will do their first day in office, I think it would be exercising wisdom to spend at least a few days getting settled, getting briefed on things that perhaps he hadn’t heard while campaigning, and developing some of the new relationships, foreign and domestic, that will be essential for the next 4 years to support?the level of changes he wishes to make.? Looking at this day 1 list, he’d tick off over a dozen countries before he even moved his furniture into Pennsylvania Ave.? Not exactly a great way to start your new job.

6 Measures to Cleanup Corruption

I’ve provided very little coverage to this section, because while I understand term limits, excess restrictions, and lobbying area issues, these feel like miniscule issues compared to the things that are at the top of mind for our citizens today: jobs, terrorism, war in the middle east, freedom of speech, immigration, abortion, etc. (http://pewrsr.ch/29rzDBW)

  1. Term limits – Term limits have been widely debated as to their benefit and efficacy.? On the plus side, they force people to not be lifetime Congressmen/women.? On the downside you’re constantly dealing with a new batch of freshman congressmen who tend to be trying to make their mark and do crazy things.? Just look at Ted Cruz for an example.
  2. Hiring freeze – Hiring freezes in most industries tend to be a colossal headache.? They also lead to people not firing crummy employees because they know they can’t be replaced.? Too simple of a solution. Here’s a GAO report on the topic: http://www.gao.gov/products/FPCD-82-21
  3. 2 for 1 restrictions – This is a nice simplistic idea.? However, this will likely lead to people scrapping out of date no longer enforced restrictions in order to make the new ones they want.? Furthermore, if there’s a new restriction that we should have, why should it be held hostage while we wait to find two to get rid of?
  4. (Also 5 and 6). These all seem like decent ideas.? I’m not sure how significant these issues really are though compared to other issues we’re facing.

Protecting American Workers

These items are very significant, very emotionally charged, and critical to get right, because messing them up could cause disastrous effects for years to come.

I want to specifically address the whole concept broadly of protecting American workers.? For those who haven’t studied Macroeconomics, it’s a 3 credit course in college, so I’m not going to attempt to cover it all here except at a very high level.? In general open macroeconomics teaches that we all get the best goods and services at the lowest cost if we all do what we are best and most efficient at.? For instance, the US is very good at service and at coming up with new inventions.? The Chinese are currently very efficient at manufacturing cheap throw-away products.? So, at a high level, the concept is we should invent the cheap products and let China manufacture them.? If instead we manufacture them, because this isn’t an area of our efficiency, it will cost the world more.

An example (fictitious) may be helpful.? Say in the US we can manufacture a pencil and sell it for 5 cents per pencil.? However, in China, due to their currency manipulation, lower wages, government subsidies for exports, etc. the cost once it arrives on our shores is 1 cent per pencil.? This means that if the American company tries to sell pencils, they can’t compete and the Chinese manufacturer ends up selling more pencils.? This is what it means when we say that jobs were “shipped overseas”.? Alternately, the American company may have moved their manufacturing to China.? Either way, you the consumer, can now get a pencil for one cent.? Now, say we label China a currency manipulator and maybe do something else to end their “trading abuses” and now our companies can compete fairly for selling pencils.? This doesn’t mean that now American companies can sell pencils for 1 cent each, it just means that the Chinese company is charging 5 cents per pencil as well.? Guess who loses?the American consumer.? More specifically, the low income factory worker loses because that 5 cents for the pencil that used to only be only 1 cent?is a larger percentage of his budget than it is of Donald’s.? So, he may have his job back, but now he can’t afford his pencils, so he unionizes, pushes his wages up, and thereby pushes the cost of American made pencils to 7 cents each, and we start all over again.

Now, let’s get into his specific proposals:

  1. Withdrawing from NAFTA – Is NAFTA perfect, no probably not.? However, Trump’s complaints about tariffs when exporting to Mexico seem to be referring to VAT tax, something fairly similar to our Sales Tax (http://cnnmon.ie/2f4ari8)? It’s imposed on domestic companies as well, except for in the case of supplements apparently.? Then again, he might be referring to a retaliatory tariff that was imposed but has since been lifted (http://bit.ly/2f19gkt). Regardless, Canada and Mexico are our 1st and 3rd largest trading partners respectfully.? This relationship needs to be handled careful and with tact.? Penalizing them for having cheaper labor and for being able to provide us with cheaper goods than we can produce internally only hurts the American consumer as I’ve stated above. ?We also, really don’t want to start a trade war.
  2. Withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership – I’m not an expert in TPP by any means.? However, in general free trade is a good thing.? It keeps costs down which allows low income people to balance their budgets more easily.? Yes, it may cost us some low income/low skill jobs.? However, it will also make our goods and services easier to market to these 12 countries.? Here’s a decent article that covers both sides: http://bit.ly/2frSfmG
  3. Labeling China a currency manipulator – See my introduction to this section and my points on NAFTA.? China is our number 2 trading partner.? Yes, there are major?ways to improve things.? However, we don’t want to just make them mad, that’s not productive.
  4. This is incredibly vague and broad, so I’m not sure how to address.
  5. Lifting restrictions on energy jobs – This depends on whether you put a higher priority on more manufacturing jobs or on clean air and water, reducing global warming, etc.? I’ll vote with the planet on this one.
  6. Lifting roadblocks – pretty sure this is the same as the previous one, but again, very vague.? I haven’t specifically researched Keystone XL in much detail.
  7. Cancelling payments to UN climate change programs – This makes sense, I suppose, if you believe climate change is a myth or don’t think we should be actively engaged on the international stage with correcting it.? Otherwise, staying engaged with the UN on these efforts is probably a good thing.

Restoring Security and Constitutional Rule of Law

  1. This is so vague, I’m not sure how to respond.? Which ones were unconstitutional and what basis would he use for determining that?? Also, usually just cancelling something that people have already taken actions as a result of is neither fair nor efficient.? Each executive action, moratorium, or order SHOULD have careful consideration.? Not something that could be accomplished day 1.
  2. Sounds like a great idea
  3. Sanctuary cities – This would impact A LOT of cities, counties, and even states.? While I understand Sanctuary Cities are problematic for ICE, rule of law, etc., immediately cutting off all funding is a rather draconian answer to this problem.? Again, this requires tact, finesse, etc. Here’s one site’s list of cities, counties, and states: http://bit.ly/1Se6weP.? Every site I checked had a different list because it’s not a legal term.
  4. Removing criminal illegal aliens would be a good idea.? Cancelling Visas of countries that won’t accept them back is concerning.? Are we saying that if Bob comes over from Italy and commits a crime and we try to send him back and Italy won’t accept him for whatever reason, that we will also revoke Bill’s visa in spite of the fact that he has no association to Bob except for being from the same country?? Again, sounds rather draconian.
  5. “Extreme vetting” is an undefined term, so again, hard to respond to that.? However, any increase in vetting will require more ICE staff and will slow immigration, not to mention regular visitors who bring tourism dollars to our nation.? However, there’s a bigger issue here.? Do we as a nation really want to suspend immigration (particularly of refugees) from Syria, Yemen, ISIS controlled areas, Iraq, etc.? Remember, we are the nation of the Statue of Liberty.? Remember her quote:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Yes, we should screen these people.? However, it’s in keeping with neither American nor Christian values to say that we will “suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur”? Let’s figure out how to vet these people and then welcome them to a new safe home.

Legislative Measures in the First 100 Days

  1. Middle Class Tax Relief and Simplification Act – First of all, let me go on record as saying, I would love to have lower and simpler taxes.? I pay way too much in taxes annually, and this year I plan to give an accountant hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to tell me how much I owe, because now my taxes have become to complicated to do myself. ?That said, most of this is incredibly vague, so again, hard to respond to.? However, cutting the business tax from 35% to 15% is the epitome of top down economics which tends to make the rich richer, and when you do it this extremely, you’ll make them much richer. ?It would definitely substantially benefit Donald. ?Lowering the repatriation tax rate to 10% might encourage some companies to bring money back.? Other companies that already repatriate would just pay less tax, and probably a lot of companies would still leave their money where it is.? According to the tax foundation this plan would decrease tax revenue (after accounting for economic growth) by $2.6-3.9 trillion over the next decade (http://bit.ly/2cFsFYD).? The current federal debt is almost $20 trillion.? Not sure we want to decrease tax revenue by that much.? Additionally, these new income tax brackets primarily benefit the top 1% by reducing their tax burden by 10% (see link above).? Regardless, if we significantly decrease?taxes, it has to be offset somewhere.? Either individuals will pay more, we’ll all pay more later when we have to pay off the debt, or we’ll have to dramatically cost cut to balance the budget someday. ?So far I’m not seeing much dramatic cost cutting in his plans.
  2. End the Offshoring Act – See my points in the Protecting American Workers section.? This might retain some jobs, but it would also increase cost for manufactured goods.
  3. American Energy & Infrastructure Act – This is super vague.? However, last I checked tax incentives aren’t revenue neutral generally.
  4. School Choice and Education Opportunity Act – Great idea if you don’t mind hollowing out the public schools of all the good students.
  5. Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act – The solutions he mentioned won’t insure the 10 million people on Obamacare.? This would either result in all these people being uninsured again, or maybe Trump actually would put his admiration for single payer systems into action (http://bit.ly/2emS9Zd). ?As someone who works in the healthcare industry, I can also say that enormous amounts of money have been spent adjusting operating models to Obamacare. ?While it’s tempting to toss the baby with the bathwater for political reasons, at this point the country would be much better off working on fine tuning it and figuring out how to make it work properly instead. ?He also wants to cut the red tape for the 4,000 drugs awaiting FDA approval.? I’m sure there’s red tape and some could be cut.? However, let’s remember that when bad drugs hit the market they often kill or severely hurt people.? Let’s be careful how much we cut this red tape.
  6. Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act – Much of this is already law.? “Matching contributions for low income families” will cost someone money, not sure whether it’s the employer or the government or whether it would be required.? If the government, who’s paying for it? ?Are we just going to add this to the deficit?
  7. End Illegal Immigration Act – This is at least the 4th time in this contract that’s he’s alienated Mexico (NAFTA, TPP, End the Offshoring, and Build the wall).? Remember, we share a border with this country.? How do we intend to make them this angry and then convince them to build a wall without starting a trade war, a visa war, or God forbid a real war? ?As for the rest of this, we’ll need to build a lot more prisons, but other than that, good ideas.
  8. Restoring Community Safety Act – sounds good, again, someone please build more jails and prisons.? Many of our existing ones are already overrun with people doing time for drug convictions.
  9. Restoring National Security Act – Sounds good, though again, we’re talking about increasing budget?what pays for this?? Also, how do we get this bill through without also increasing funding for social safety net programs since the democrats won’t sign off on this without that.
  10. Clean up Corruption in Washington Act – No details here, but see my minimal discussion about this above.

That is the end of Trump’s contract with America. ?Thanks for sticking with me as we went through it. ?One thing that everyone: democrats, republicans, libertarians, and whatever other groups there are seem to agree on…this election is one of the most critical, perhaps of our lifetime. ?These are my opinions, but please, go educate yourself further, read articles on both sides of the issues, fact check your sources, debate with people you don’t agree with, and then go vote! ?Again, questions, comments, thoughts…please share below. ?Looking forward to the feedback and discussion.

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