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By Paul K. Schwartz
The Trump administration is a major disaster for this country and will come to an end at some time whether within a year, in two years, or, quite possibly, in six years, or maybe even longer. How long it will take to undo the damage caused by this administration is quite another story.
Whether it be reversing the damage done to our standing in the world community as the former leader of the free world, to our environment, to our credibility regarding agreements and treaties with both our allies and our opponents, to the middle- and working-class taxpayers, to upholding the values and ideals captured in our Constitution, or any of the other issues facing our nation that have been undermined, reversed or abandoned, the question facing us is how long will it take to fix the damage done.
The answer, sadly, is probably a very long time. What this administration has foisted on the American public in just two long, very long, years is historic in its magnitude.
Let’s start with confidence by our closest allies in the current president to do the right thing regarding world affairs. According to a recent poll conducted by the Pew Research Center the comparison of Trump to Obama in terms of confidence level is: Germany: Obama – 86 percent, Trump – 11 percent; France: Obama – 84 percent, Trump – 14 percent; United Kingdom: Obama – 79 percent, Trump – 22 percent; South Korea: Obama – 88 percent, Trump – 17 percent and Poland: Obama – 58 percent, Trump – 23 percent.
I wonder what the results would have been if the survey included Canada and Mexico. Well, actually, I am fairly certain I could figure that out.
Now, granted, the results may have been drastically different if the survey included the likes of Russia, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Philippines, and others, but that does not change the reality of how our country is now viewed by our closest allies. It is also true that if these allies felt threatened they would seek support from the good old U.S.A., but that is not the point. Whether they had confidence in this president doing the right thing is the question and to that question, the resounding answer clearly is “No!”
Our leadership in the free world is, of course, not the only thing seriously jeopardized by the Trump administration. How long, for example, will it take to return some standards for the presidency? Voters not only have a right to know to whom their president is financially obligated, especially worldwide, they have an obligation to know before they vote.
Not any more, however, due to the Trump presidency. Releasing tax returns is no longer an accepted protocol for presidential contenders. Not benefiting financially from foreign entities in violation of the emoluments clause to the Constitution is no longer a requirement thanks to this administration, as long as the profits keep rolling in at the Trump Hotel four blocks from the White House.
How about moral leadership? Maybe even moral outrage? “The Jews will not replace us, the Jews will not replace us” was chanted, according to Trump, by “some very fine people” in Charlottesville, Virginia. Anyone who believes that Trump’s inability to condemn outright the hatred spewed by white supremacists in Charlottesville did not contribute directly to the mass slaughter of Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh needs to wake up and accept the reality we face.
The gruesome torture and execution of journalist Jamal Khashoggi should have caused as much outrage by anyone representing a civilized society as was the outrage of the equally gruesome and horrific execution of journalists Jim Foley and Stephen Sotloff at the sword of ISIS regardless of any financial considerations or arms deals with the Saudis.
Let’s move to income inequality and the economy. The 83 percent of the benefits of the Trump/McConnell/Ryan tax plan went to the top one percent of income-earners in America. Funding the tax break for the wealthy was, we were told, based on economic growth which economists predicted would never reach the levels needed to fund the tax breaks which raised the deficits some $2 trillion. What to do, what to do?
To no one’s surprise, the Republican solution is to cut the social safety net and earned benefits such as Social Security and Medicare. This is their solution in spite of the words of that great liberal spokesman, Ronald Reagan, who so correctly stated in 1984: “Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit. Social Security is totally funded by the payroll tax levied on employer and employee. If you reduce the outgo of Social Security, that money would not go into the general fund or reduce the deficit. It would go into the Social Security Trust Fund. So Social Security has nothing to do with balancing the budget or lowering the deficit.” Nothing has changed since 1984 that would make those words any less applicable today.
Undoing the damage that cutting these social safety net programs would cause cannot be calculated in years for the many lives that would be put at risk.
While on the economy, here are a few words on Trump’s outdated view on imposition of across-the-board tariffs. The global economy of today is a far cry from the global economy of the ‘60s or ‘70s or ‘80s during which time the United States held a much more controlling position than it does today. What changed most dramatically is much more than just the abundance of cheap labor overseas. What really tied the global trading partners’ world together concerned the movement of cargo, specifically, containerization which streamlined and expedited cargo movement. That opened up opportunities for other nations, specifically China, to compete with the United States amongst the global trading community.
Yes, we can play tough guy and impose across-the-board steel tariffs as George Bush did in 2003 which resulted in the same trade war we are experiencing today. Like 2003, however, the likely result will be to backtrack on the stance when our domestic industry becomes negatively impacted due to the retaliation by other countries and the associated rise in costs to domestic production and exports. Undoing the damage to domestic industry as well as our importing community will not likely be accomplished overnight.
Oh, and if you are thinking “New NAFTA,” forget it. Increasing the percentage of production of a product from 63 percent to 75 percent and raising the minimum wage to $16 an hour does not make the “worst deal” all of a sudden become the “best deal” and neither does a simple name change. If that $16 minimum wage is such a dealmaker, maybe the administration should endorse it for our country and not limit it to Mexico.
I can go on, but let me end with the devastating cuts to our federal workforce and the continuous loss of what we refer to as corporate knowledge. Restoring that is critical to an effective and efficient federal government, and, too, will not likely be accomplished overnight.
Here’s a suggested campaign slogan for Democrats in 2020: “Putting the country back together!” But it will take much more than “all of the king’s horses and all of the king’s men.” It will take a concerned electorate.