A Tale of Two Trumps

 

I have mixed feelings about Donald Trump. I didn’t vote for him because of his crude and sleazy behavior.  But I like some of the things he is doing.  Barron’s frames the issue well in its cover story this week, ”A Tale of Two Trumps,” by John Kimelman.

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On the positive side he has:

  • Been a successful real estate developer and serial entrepreneur who favors lower taxes and fewer regulations for many industries, especially energy, financial services and healthcare.
  • Made many good appointments such as Mnuchin for Treasury, Tillerson for State, Pruit for EPA, Price for HHS, Cohn for Chief Economic Advisor, Ross for Commerce, etc.

But on the negative side he has:

  • Issued a badly executed travel ban on immigrants from seven Mideast nations which has now been withdrawn.
  • Belittled the leaders of Mexico and Australia.
  • Torn up the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiated by President Obama
  • Threatened to withdraw from NAFTA which supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S.

On the other hand he has dialed back some of his extreme rhetoric by

  • Meeting with President Obama after the election.
  • Deferred to Defense Secretary Matson on the undesirability of waterboarding.
  • Accepted the “One China” policy in a telephone conversation with Chinese Premier Xi Jinping.

What remains to be seen is whether or not he can:

  • Make better trade deals with Mexico and China without starting a trade war which would badly hurt our economy.
  • Enact tax rate cuts and a $1 trillion infrastructure program without making deficits worse than they already are.
  • Work with his deficit hawk Budget Director Mulvaney to establish a plan to eventually achieve a balanced budget.

Conclusion. I personally remain optimistic that his good instincts will lead to faster economic growth and that his disruptive instincts will be sufficiently restrained by Congress and the courts so that they will not do major harm.

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