Sunday, April 30, 2017

Fox News Interviews Trump About His First 100 Days

This video is worth watching.  Trump is asked a lot of good questions.  Many of which he fails to answer, but it is very revealing.  He starts out by saying that he should not be held to the artificial target of the first 100 days, but then he claims that he has done better than any other president in the first 100 days.  He was asked about his failure to repeal and replace Obamacare as he promised on the campaign trail.  That led him to attack "archaic" rules in the House, but particularly in the Senate, that make it difficult for him to "close deals".  In particular, he attacked the filibuster which is the only tool available to the minority power in the Senate.  In general, he views the legislature, and also the judiciary, as branches of the government which are doing what they were designed to do.  That is, they are part of our democratic system that limits the power of the executive branch.  The free press is another important part of our system of checks and balances.  He continued his attack on the free press by claiming that the media are biased against him.  Fox News, of course, is an exception to that rule.  He would prefer a news system in which the media are a part of the executive's communication system.  Its a shame that Fox News has to compete with "fake news" competitors.

Trump boasted about his foreign policy accomplishments by claiming that he has developed "good chemistry" with many foreign leaders.  I guess good chemistry will enable him to make deals that are good for him and bad for the nations that they lead.  The US runs trade deficits with many of them and Trump claims he can turn deficits into surpluses. 

He listed the confirmation of his Supreme Court nominee as one of his accomplishments.  He said that no president has done that in his first 100 days.  Of course, that was only possible because the GOP did not allow Obama to fill a vacant seat on the Supreme Court. No president had a vacant seat to fill in his first 100 days. Trump only had to nominate any conservative judge for the vacant seat.  The Republican Senate changed a Senate rule which would have prevented the Senate Democrats from using the filibuster to block the nomination.  Trump turned the simple act of nominating a candidate into a major achievement. That accomplishment is about as significant as his claim that he developed good chemistry with foreign leaders.

He was asked about the tax plan that he been floating around.  He claimed that it was a plan that would benefit the middle class.  The "fake news media" have been critical of the plan because it lacks many important details and because it gives huge tax breaks to people in his income bracket.  He will have a tough time pushing a more detailed plan through Congress because economists and other analysts have examined the implications of the plan.  He operates like a salesman who has a bad product to sell but believes that it can be sold to poorly informed consumers.  He will blame Congress if he can't get it passed.

He claims that his tax plan and his trade policies will stimulate the economy and produce jobs.  He claims that other nations are growing their economies by 6-7 percent and that the US economy has been only growing at 1%. There are two big problems with that claim.  The first problem is that it is a lie.  The US economy has recovered much better from the financial crisis than most the major economies in the world.  China is the only large economy that has grown at the rates that he quoted.  Moreover,  he used only the last quarter of GDP growth in the US to describe economic growth in the US.  Annual GDP growth in the US compares well with historical growth in the US and with GDP growth in other large economies.  Moreover, its hard to find any well respected economist who believes that his policies will produce the growth rates that claims.  Most of them, however, agree that his tax cuts will increase federal budget deficits.   Moreover, many believe that his trade policies could cause economic growth to decline.  Trump seems to believe in Keynesian economic policies in which federal budget deficits are used to "prime the pump" during a recession.  Most Republican's hate Keynesian economic policies, especially when they are used by Democrats,  but few economist argue for Keynesian policies when the economy is close to full employment.  The US economy has been operating at full employment for several years.  Its unfortunate that middle class wages have stagnated during that period but that has less to do with government policies than it does with business decisions.

Trump also blames the media for reporting on Russian interventions in the US election.  He responded to concerns about charges being made about his former national security adviser by blaming the Obama Administration for giving him a top security clearance. Of course, the activities that got Flynn into trouble did not occur when Obama was in office.  They happened when he worked for the Trump campaign and during the Trump transition. 

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