President Donald Trump is accused of many things: lying, willful ignorance, exaggerated feelings of self-importance, mean-spiritedness, childishness, using racially divisive language, white supremacy, etc. He has such a domineering personality that it is easy to make these charges in a credible manner.
Policy-wise the situation is different. He is doing some things quite well. For example:
- Economic growth has been robust with a currently low unemployment rate of 3.7%.
- He is cracking down hard on China for unfair trading practices and theft of intellectual property.
- He has imposed stiff economic sanctions on international bad actors such as North Korea, Iran, Russia and Venezuela.
His biggest failing, in my opinion, is ignoring rapidly growing spending deficits which are adding so dramatically to our exploding national debt. The problem is that:
- After falling for several years, deficits are now increasing again. The deficit for the current 2019 fiscal year will be close to $1 trillion and growing.
- Right now interest rates are so low that our debt is almost “free money.” But interest rates will inevitably rise at some point and then interest payments on the debt will explode and make our annual deficits that much worse.
- When the next recession hits, which could be soon, tax revenues will fall and social spending will increase, making the deficits that much worse.
- Deficit and debt make a very difficult political problem because fixing it requires cutting spending and/or raising taxes, neither of which is a politically popular option. This means that it will be difficult to solve this problem until a severe fiscal debt crisis occurs which will require unpleasant emergency action. But it is a President’s responsibility to address our most serious problems.
Summary. President Trump has many critics who accuse him of various faults and deficiencies. But his biggest failing, which will have the most negative effect on his legacy, is his unwillingness to address our country’s most severe long term problem: out-of-control deficit spending and rapidly accumulating debt.