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Trump’s Potential Fatal Errors: Not for Him, But the Country. Pt. 1

Is he stupid or pretending to be?

To this day, I have been needled by a suspicion that Donald Trump is actually a shill for the sleazy, Clinton wing of the Democratic party. I’ve said many times, including when he was just hitting the political scene, and in my book. I had a hard time coming to grips with his immaturity, impetuousness and utterly disorganized style.

How, as I have often asked, here and elsewhere, can his clearly erratic behavior be actual stupidity and not just political shtick? Is he really trying? Or is he putting a four-year monkey wrench in the GOP, damaging their brand for the next decade?

Don’t get me wrong. When he seems to have at least gotten a basic concept right, I have been happy to say so. But he still gets so much wrong. And so many people seem to have it in their heads that Trump is a genius and worse, they think he is a conservative.

He is neither.

I’ll give you an example The President gets endless praise for his tax cut. But, with just a little ass kissing by congressional leadership, he owned a pathetically watered down version of a cut, without the valuable reform he had promised. If you were paying attention and not just celebrating this fig leaf legislation, you came away thinking what a sucker this guy is. With the slightest stroking of his ego, Trump will sign off on anything.

Continuing the same example, with little preparation and in complete ignorance of history, Trump spiked the entire economic uptick the tax cuts did provide with the monumentally stupid tariff announcements and implementations.

I will go into greater detail about this in my next book.

The costs of the Trump ego

Tariffs are wrong on too many levels to fully catalog here.  But a few aspects do leap out in this case.

1) First, as is ALWAYS true, tariffs help the bottom lines of the protected companies ONLY and, without exception, hurt the wider economy. The very people who are singing the praises of the administration’s get-tough trade policies are the ones being hurt by it, along with the entire world’s economy.  

President Donald J. Trump

2) If you follow the news cycles from Trump’s election, through the tax cuts and through the tariff announcements, you can plainly see that our economy was expanding beautifully. This was the direct result of someone – anyone – other than BHO going to the White House and that someone was talking about free market concepts.

As a result (and because we are still the world’s largest consumer economy) the world’s economies were expanding apace.  Even the PIGS (Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain) were suddenly healthy again. 

But along with the rest of the world, our markets were thrown into turmoil and volatility because of this very stupid tariff idea.  The PIGS are now talking about defaulting again.

As ridiculous as the idea of tariffs already is, the way Trump rolled them out (i.e., with no forethought) we have this untenable situation as a result!

3) On top of the damage EVERYONE but the cronies who own the political whores feel, tariffs don’t work. They never have and they never will[1].  This how it will all play out:  We will place tariffs on whatever. Other countries will respond in kind (or maybe not because they already skim money from us on a huge scale.)  There will be “negotiations”.  In the end, when we’ve all had a bellyful of this stupid idea, all parties will declare victory and we will go back to where we all were before, relative to the economies of each country involved.

source: The Spectator

4) As was the case in the Travel Ban and the Zero Tolerance border policies[2], rolled out by executive order early in the Trump Administration, tariff actions were announced and launched impetuously and without any adult supervision. 

The result? Peter Morici, a respected economist, points out correctly that we now have barriers to raw materials for, say, bicycle parts and metal tubes, but no barriers against foreign bicycles.  As a result, American bike makers have to pay more for their raw materials, giving foreign makers a market advantage.  MEANWHILE, YOU NOW PAY MORE FOR A BIKE BECAUSE NO MANUFACTURER, FOREIGN OR DOMESTIC, IS IN THE BUSINESS AS AN ACT OF CHARITY!

5) In order to do what only Congress is permitted to do (introduce tariffs) by executive order, DJT declared our trade deficit vs the rest of the world is a national security issue.  Am I the only person who see how perfectly insane this position is? 

For more about the roots of this tariff debacle, and my earlier warning, read this.

Give me fair trade or I’ll kill you

Was the rest of the world going to attack the United States because we made it too easy for them to sell their goods here?  Were we on the verge of nuking Canada because of their unfair treatment of American dairy farmers? I’m going to go way out on a limb here and say neither was about to happen?

I would submit, and history does insist, that the placing of tariffs, especially by a stronger nation, are more likely to be the catalyst of unrest and even war.

Look at Germany immediately before and then after the clearly discredited Smoot/Hawley tariffs were rolled out.  Germany was struggling mightily to recover from World War II.  As they were beginning to turn the corner, people like Hitler were looked upon as weird opportunists, trying to advantage of Germany’s weakened, but improving, state of affairs.  Our market collapse in 1929 sent shock waves through the world economy. But the suffering was well distributed. Countries like Germany were continuing to work their way into world markets albeit at a slower pace.

Smoot and Hawley, two old men pictured from 1930s.
The authors of Smoot Hawley (that would be Smoot and Hawley themselves) the Dumb and Dumber of 1930.

Then along comes the Smoot/Hawley debacle.  Immediately, what was left of Germany’s chances of recovery were put off by at least a decade.  Already weak, the German economy had the chair kicked out from underneath it.  Suddenly, the blame-the-rest-of-the-world activists, including Hitler and the Communists, were seen as visionary. When you are dangling over the edge of the cliff, you’ll grasp at anything.

Germany, circa 1930 – 31 would be similar to our PIGS now. Their politics and economics are in ever increasing disarray. The tariffs aren’t helping them or the US in any way.

The cliché is: “When goods stop crossing borders armies soon will”.  It’s a cliché because it is true. So the talk of needing tariffs for national security reasons was undiluted bullshit from day one.

But, boys and girls, if I may be permitted the microaggression of noting the difference, we are now facing a far greater threat from Trump than any harm this tariff lunacy might do to us.

In an upcoming post I will outline the greater threat and the stupidity (not just Trump’s stupidity, this is widespread ignorance) behind it. In a separate post I will define the clear solution to our trade deficit.  I will give you a hint about the latter: We are SUPPOSED to have trade deficits with just about every other country because we are stronger and richer than they are.


[1] Read Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt.  It is a college education in one easy-to-read book. You can read it free here.

[2] The author supports both concepts, generally

 

Don’t be a political pansy! Read Street Politics: It Ain’t Your Daddy’s GOP Anymore! Grab your copy here.
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Why Everyone Is Wrong About "Tax Reform"

So, What’s Wrong With “Tax Reform”?

I’ll start with this little hint:  What we are seeing debated right now in the abortion we call Congress is not tax reform.  It isn’t even a significant tax reduction.  Okay, so that was more than a hint.

Take a gander at my piece about Boris and Ivan.  When I posted it last week a Boris attitude was running rampant through social media and cable news.  Commentators and the wider ignorant crowd were whining about how unfair it is that the rich get the several times more than everyone else.They should pay more still!

When I read and hear people saying such things I often wonder if they are stupid and pathetic enough to actually believe it, or if they are hoping to join the chorus of the left, hoping that Daddy Government will kill Ivan’s goat for them.

At any rate, it seems to be working.  Since last post congress has been debating who should get taxed to pay for the tax cuts.  (Can you see the stupidity at work here?)   It appears they will not only keep the top rate at 39.6%, there is serious talk of running it up to 48%+ to pay for the measly tax breaks the middle class is getting.

There are so many things wrong with the ongoing debate it is hard to know where to start.  The undiluted bullshit is flowing out of DC like a wall of stinking lava.

The first, and most significant point is how blatantly disinterested the Republican are in a true, free-market fix to our tax code.  I would lump Trump in with them but I have to allow for his monumental ignorance about all things political and economic.  I have been so hard on him over the years it wouldn’t be fair to pretend he understands what is actually being debated here.  Clearly, the Four Morons simply stroked his ego, let him think he was the driver of the debate and told him this was going to be a historic tax cut.  It’s not going to be any such thing.

If the GOP actually wanted to REFORM the tax code, they would have started from a position of real reform.  This would have been to announce that taxes and spending were going to be slashed to the bone.  Naturally, the Dems would have had fits.  But they would have been forced to defend the ridiculous code we have now.  Any conservative, even pretend conservatives like Paul Ryan could have easily won that debate.

The result, even with compromises, would have been far more productive and far better for the economy than what we have now.  That’s because the GOP started, as they did with Obamacare repeal and Immigration, from a position that was already 90% a Dem/Socialist position.  And as with Obamacare and Immigration the Dems couldn’t have been happier with the laws being proposed by Ryan and McConnell.

When you see the Democrat half of the Four Morons saying how horrible the GOP plans are, you are just hearing hot air.  They know three things: There are a few honest conservatives on the Right who know this is all theater and will have a hard time supporting it.  They also know there are at least two political whores, McCain and Collins, who will not support anything that isn’t 99.9% liberal so they can claim to be “mavericks” working across the aisle.  Finally they know the Ryan and McConnell are weak leaders who care more about simply being in their cushy positions as party leaders than actually accomplishing something.

Result:  the Dems know they will either keep everything as they want it or if they “lose” the debate, they keep 90% of what they want.  In other words, the Dems can’t lose and the GOP had already surrendered their principals before the first committee took up “tax reform”.

Oh Yeah, about the “reform” thing.

I really hope if you are reading this you are not one of those pathetic rubes excited about the post card tax form.  THAT is the first “reform” Paul Ryan has been touting.  There is nothing new about that card.  It is a 1040A printed in a smaller piece of thicker paper.  You’ll enter the same numbers in basically the same way.  The only difference is there will be more people claiming “gifts” from the government in the form of “earned” income credit (EIC) and the “alternative minimum” tax (AMT) repeal.

While these “gimmees” send more of our money to mostly people who don’t pay income taxes to begin with, they represent more of the federal government taking money from you and me and pretending to help us by giving it back or giving it to someone else.  Why take it to begin with?

So the card is a hoax.

The state tax write-off.

Most people actually think this is a good thing.  While I am sure they love the idea of getting the money in their Federal refund, did you ever consider what little sense it makes?

Let’s say you live in Mississippi.  Your government taxes you and everybody else. At the end of the year you get a deduction for what you paid Mississippi.  In other words Daddy Government is subsidizing your citizenship in a state.  Pretty good, right? 

But in MS, you don’t pay very much in the way of state taxes.  New Yorkers, on the other hand, pay a huge tax bill to the state.  Their deduction is a lot bigger.  So when businesses and people decide to live in New York, it is understood that to live in such a “great” state, you have to pay for the privilege.  But wait, they are subsidized too.  Hmmm.

What would happen, I wonder, if the federal government dropped everyone’s tax rates a bit and stopped subsidizing people living in congested, high tax, big, bureaucratic areas?  Would a small to medium sized business person stay there with the traffic and the crime and the red tape, if someone else was not paying him public money to do so?  Just chew on that one.

But everyone is worried about the deduction (which the government never had any business creating) going away.  The idea of the government subsidizing what state you live in deserves more attention.  And I will revisit this subject in greater detail soon.

And what of your mortgage interest deduction?  Did you buy a home because you got a deduction?  Don’t lie.  You’re not a billionaire.  You bought a house because you were ready to buy a house.  Period.  The “deduction” you get is smoke and mirrors.  How about we knock a few more point of your tax bracket and stop wasting time and money factoring and paying inflated refunds.

How about the child-care credit?  That’s going up!  How about we knock more still off what you pay to begin with and not pretend to “give” you that money every year?  Do you know what happens to prices when there is less money chasing them?  That’s right!  Very good!  They go down.  It is the illusion of getting that money from Daddy Government that contributes to the high cost of child care.

And if you don’t qualify to pay income taxes, everyone else is paying for your child care and your “earned” income credit.  You should thank people for that every day.  If that line makes you smirk it is because you are an ingrate with an over-bloated sense of entitlement.  Don’t worry, you are not alone.  This tax debate and the comments I see on social media indicate there a bunch of you out there.

Don’t get me wrong.

Any reduction in taxes will have a positive effect on the economy right now.  But the pathetic little we will come away with after this bit of worthless theater in Congress will not be anywhere near the boost we’d get from a real across-the-board cut.  Everyone paying the same percentage of their income, closing all loop holes would be better.

But the tax cuts need to be paid for!!!!

No they don’t.  Not in the near term.  But once the economy settles into the new norm, there will be no new boost from the tax rates.  So, since we know that any new revenue from the volume of taxes being paid will be wasted by the spending pigs in the House and Senate, what is a voter to do?  What is the 1 smart statesmen in 50 to do?

Well, if you want to offset tax cuts directly, you don’t raise other kinds of taxes.  That kills the point of the exercise.  You must cut spending.  First there has to be a push for no new spending.  No one is dying in this country because the government doesn’t piss enough money away.

Uncle Stinky can, as I point out in Street Politics, dump a lot of useless spending over night. Start with the entire Department of Education.  It has never educated a single child in this country since its inception.  In fact, like the “war on poverty”, every dollar spent by the Dept of Ed has resulted in one less educated graduating class after another.  It is a drag on REAL education.  Dump it.

Put the EPA under the Department of the Interior.  Strip it of its entire mission other than referee of disputes between states over shared waterways.  Every state now has an EPA of its own.  We don’t need a 51st EPA in DC.  Slash it by 90%.  Not a single molecule of carbon will be emitted because of that cut.  Until now the only thing that stood between fossil fuels and success was bribe money on K Street.  Now the states will be the final arbiter of who burns what fuel and who builds wind farms.

And don’t get me started on job training programs.  They are most wasted tax dollars ever spent.  Not one of the 47 job training programs run by the federal government has reported a single success.  Most don’t even pretend to have a matrix to justify the money they waste.

That’s just three examples of billions we can save to put the “pay for tax cuts” canard to rest.  There are more in the book and many more to be had throughout the federal pig trough.

Conclusions

This should be your take-away.  There is only one true, honest, permanent tax reform to be pursued.  That would be a flat tax.  To be most effective it should be a point-of-sale retail tax, but or now we just leave it as an income tax.  No pretend loop holes.

Arguing for more taxes to pay for tax cuts is the kind of sick shit Orwell tried in vain to warn us about.  Reduce the size of the pig trough.

My final conclusion is this:  I am likely pissing up a rope (old Navy talk for wasting my time).  My guess is the GOP will put out a plan even more Byzantine than our existing tax code which will do 1/10th of what a simple across-the-board cut will do.  There will be great fanfare.  The Donald will call it the greatest tax cut in history.  And you will let them all get away with it.

 Don’t be a political pansy! Read Street Politics: It Ain’t Your Daddy’s GOP Anymore! Grab your copy here.
Let’s demand good governance!

Kindle version here!

Or just start reading for free on Kindle Unlimited!