Memoirs of the Addams Administration 9.

A calmer, more coherent, and less confrontational Donald Trump offered his first address to Congress.[1]  “Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed.  Every problem can be solved.”  He didn’t have Theodore Sorenson as his speech-writer, but that’s still a pretty up-beat statement.  Everyone noted the new tone.  Over half (57 percent) of Americans felt a “very positive reaction” to the new-and-improved Trump, while 21 percent felt “somewhat favorably.”  That’s better than three-quarters (78 percent) of Americans.  On the other hand, 22 percent took a dim view (or no view) of the speech.  That suggests that the majority of Americans are at least open to Trump’s ideas, provided he doesn’t act like a moron in presenting them.  It also suggests that the die-hard opposition to Trump is restricted to a MoveOn ghetto.  Could this Donald Trump have been elected president?  What if he had given this speech on inauguration day?

What are Donald Trump’s policies exactly?  That is hard to tell and the speech did little to clear up this question.  He wants a big infrastructure plan, and a border wall, a lot more money for defense and a lot less money for the snail darter, tax cuts for someone, and a replacement for the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  Republicans have been desperately trying to fill in the gaps with regard to the ACA.[2]  In the current version, “subsidies” to low income people to help them buy health insurance will be replaced with “tax credits” (worth more than those people pay in taxes) to purchase health insurance; it would replace the ACA’s federal subsidies to states that expand Medicaid with federal subsidies to states that create “risk-pools” to insure those with pre-existing conditions.[3]  Some of the problems of Republicans arise from the self-repeal of those covered by the ACA.  Many young people have not purchased insurance, regardless of the make-believe mandate.  This has distorted the financial model of the exchanges.  Many thinly-populated areas—red states—pay higher premiums and have less choice of provider than do densely-populated—blue state—areas.  The ACA sought to entice states to expand Medicaid by offering a temporary increase of federal cost-sharing from 60 percent to 100 percent, but down-played the subsequent reduction that would leave these states freighted with additional costs.  The ACA sought to eliminate product differentiation by requiring all the insurance plans to offer the same set of liberal mandated benefits.[4]  In short, is the current ACA an inadequately-financed effort to by-pass the market economy?  And all that implies.

At least for the moment, Trump’s astonishing victory has lifted the dead hand of Ronald Reagan off the Republican Party. For decades, Republicans have tried to our-Reagan Reagan.  Now they have to think anew an act anew.  Then, if Democrats don’t believe in the Trump administration, investors do believe.[5]  At least for now.  The much-delayed recovery of the economy from the financial crisis slump of 2008-2009 provides an underlying force.  President Trump’s endorsement of tax cuts, infrastructure projects, and deregulation have all poured fuel on the underlying fire.  However, trade war and tariff protection are implicit in “America First.”  With 44 percent of the goods and services sold by Standard and Poor 500 companies going abroad, people are skittish.  It’s still early days, so they aren’t alone.

[1] “A sunnier Trump lays out his policy goals,” The Week, 10 March 2017, p. 4.

[2] While the mainstream media (MSM) have been lambasting Republicans for trying to repeal and replace the ACA, the exchanges have been failing and premiums soaring.

[3] Just as the Obama administration found itself compelled by reality to follow some main lines of the Bush II foreign policy, the Trump administration finds itself compelled by reality to follow some main lines of the Obama domestic policy.  Anyway, that’s what I think at the moment.  Probably I’m wrong on both counts.

[4] “GOP divided over Obamacare repeal plan,” The Week, 10 March 2017, p. 5.

[5] “Conservatism: The Party of Reagan embraces Trump” and “Stocks: will the Trump rally last?” The Week, 10 March 2017, pp. 6, 33.

1 thought on “Memoirs of the Addams Administration 9.

  1. Pingback: Memoirs of the Addams Administration 10. | waroftheworldblog

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