The New York Times editorial page is unremittingly hostile towards Donald Trump. My last post reports on an essay in the Atlantic magazine, “How to Build an Autocracy,” arguing that Trump will seize dictatorial power if he can get away with it. Now the foreign policy expert Elliot Cohen, whose work I greatly admire, argues that the Trump regime will probably end in some disastrous calamity such as a terrible global recession or war. This is overreaction.
Several of Trump’s executive orders in the first two weeks are very positive:
- New Iran Sanctions for conducting ballistic missile tests contrary to agreement. This also implies that the Trump Administration will probably not tear up the Iranian Nuclear Agreement signed in July 2015.
- Rolling back overly restrictive Dodd-Frank regulations. The financial crisis was not caused by greedy bankers but rather by the bursting of the housing bubble fed by too many government-mandated subprime mortgages. The Dodd-Frank Act is aimed at Wall Street banks but is hurting too many Main Street banks.
- Federal Regulations. Requiring that at least two regulations be repealed for each new one implemented. This is a gimmick but it is still a move in the right direction.
There are, of course, at least two that are ill conceived:
- The travel ban to the U.S. from seven predominantly Muslim countries was rushed out without careful vetting but has now been blocked by U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle.
- Revamping the National Security Council by removing the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and replacing him by his chief strategist Steve Bannon. This gives too much influence to an inexperienced amateur.
Conclusion. The American people are taking a clear risk with such an unconventional populist President. But we have huge problems to solve, especially economic (slow growth) and fiscal (massive debt). A President Clinton would not have addressed them effectively. I am quite confident that President Trump will address them. Furthermore his supporters and their representatives in Washington are capable of restraining him if necessary.