Under Senate Majority Leader McConnell’s leadership, Republicans in the Senate have been handing the Trump administration a “confirmation spree” of judicial confirmations. This despite full-time attempts by Democrats to obstruct the confirmations.
Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that “Russian operatives targeted users on Facebook by race, religion and interests such as gun ownership, the Confederate flag and Ivanka Trump’s jewelry line, according to advertising data released by lawmakers Wednesday as part of congressional investigations into Russian manipulation on social media around the U.S. election. The ads targeted groups on opposite sides of an issue, a move that lawmakers said was designed to amplify social divisions.”
How did U.S. citizens become so vulnerable to such manipulation by a hostile foreign power? Democratic Party identity politics — by race, gender, religion, class, and age — goes a long way toward providing the answer. “The Democrats use identity politics to develop their campaigns, organize their party and impose their will via government policy….[S]omehow, Democrats think this is progress….It is what they want to do more of when they are in power,” a Washington Post columnist reports.
The world is upside down when a Washington Post columnist takes the Democratic Party to task while the lead editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal visits its opprobrium against President Trump. The President’s offense? This:
“Law enforcement continues to investigate Tuesday’s terror attack in which a 29-year-old from Uzbekistan used a truck to murder eight pedestrians in lower Manhattan. So it’s unfortunate and counterproductive that President Trump’s first instinct has been to politicize the tragedy by blaming—what else?—immigration.
“The President apparently got a scoop early Wednesday that the alleged terrorist Sayfullo Saipov was admitted to the U.S. in 2010 under the State Department’s diversity visa lottery. He then shot off a barrage of tweets blasting the lottery, which he called a ‘Chuck Schumer beauty,’ singling out the Senate Democratic leader.”
But the President’s immigration priorities are (1) merit-based immigration and (2) homeland security. There’s a great deal of citizen support — probably even majority support — for those two priorities. Despite the fact that the diversity visa lottery program only accounts for 5% of recent immigration to the U.S., handing out green cards by lottery is a really dumb way of doing things and violates both of the President’s priorities.
Where Trump and his supporters such as Senator Cotton go wrong is in seeking to halve immigration numbers. A proper immigration policy would not be based on any fixed number of immigrants but on admitting all candidates who (1) satisfy merit criteria, (2) satisfy labor needs without harming citizens employed in that field, and (3) be likely to assimilate and prosper here.
To increase the likelihood of achieving that, merit criteria should include strong English language skills, sufficient education and professional training so as to be highly employable, and a favorable attitude toward the Constitution and U.S. cultural norms. Sayfullo Saipov failed at least one of those criteria, English language skills. Reports indicate that this severely damaged his job possibilities, leading to a descent into “loser” status and murderous anti-American hatred.
Tying up loose strings before leaving tomorrow for Asia, the President is expected to announce today the selection of Jerome Powell as the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. The choice was reportedly urged on the President by his Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner.
Powell has been a close policy associate of the Fed’s present chair, Janet Yellen. They pushed two unconventional and controversial policies: (1) having the Fed to stuff itself with 4.5 trillion dollars of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities — the stimulus program called “quantitative easing”; (2) paying banks interest on reserves (IOR) held at the Fed, which discouraged banks from lending to the private sector for new investments and businesses.
The President seems to have been attracted to Powell over the alternate candidates because Powell seems likely to continue Yellen’s ultra-low interest rate policies, which Trump favors to keep the economy and stock market booming. But an economy can be as easily wrecked by interest rates kept too low too long as well as too high. In truth, the government should not be setting interest rates at all — the market should. Nor should banks be paid not to invest, as is the case under IOR policies.