The US is suffering a plague of contemptible media, corrupt agencies, and an amateur administration.
With Obamacare reform now off the table following Democratic electoral victories on Tuesday, tax reform is the last best hope of Republicans and the embattled Trump presidency. Unlike the Republicans’ earlier failed attempt to “repeal and replace” — or even reform — Obamacare, in which Democrats greatly outspent disorganized Republican groups, this time Republican pro-tax-reform groups are outspending Democratic groups.
When Republican Senator Rand Paul was attacked from behind on his own property, without warning, and seriously injured in ribs and lungs by a partisan Democrat neighbor, the establishment media ran with the attacker’s alibi, that it was just a trivial domestic dispute, perhaps over Rand’s negligence of his landscaping. It took the alternate media a day later to actually practice journalism by interviewing the neighbors, who were in agreement that Rand’s landscaping was impeccable, that there were no known festering disputes between the two neighbors, and that the attack was shocking and unprovoked.
It is no less scandalous that the attacking neighbor was merely charged with a misdemeanor and let out on light bail. Attacking important federal officials — senators, congressmen, cabinet officers, judges — needs to be made a federal crime. In the meanwhile, the attacker should be charged with felony, not misdemeanor, assault by local authorities.
In the run-up to Virginia’s gubernatorial vote, the major media denounced the Republican candidate’s attacks against his Democratic rival’s on again, off again defense of sanctuary cities and a vicious Latino gang. But the same media looked the other way at a Democratic attack ad that featured the Republican candidate driving a truck and running down Latinos with it — as though an attack on a vicious gang was an attack on all Latinos.
President Trump gave one of the finest speeches of his career to the South Korean legislature on November 7th. A Google search for this speech, using the search term “Trump speech to South Korean legislators,” comes up with the following top three articles:
Huffington Post: “Trump Plugged His Golf Resort In A Speech Before The South Korean Legislature”
CNN: “Trump shouts out South Korean golfers in national address”
The Hill: “Trump touts New Jersey golf club during South Korea speech”
We’re not sure if even Communist China or North Korea is capable of producing such lock-step unanimity — and deceit — as Google performs for its complicit major media.
Coverage of the House and Senate tax bills is also false. The bills are being portrayed by the media as a tax giveaway to the rich and, equally falsely, a tax increase for the middle class. Additionally, see here.
President Obama’s departing IRS commissioner, John Koskinen, who stonewalled Congressional attempts to investigate the IRS’s partisan blocking of tax-exempt status to Tea Party groups, just assessed billions of dollars of ACA employer mandate penalties against small businesses as he headed out the door — assessments the IRS had declined to issue during the Obama administration and Hillary Clinton campaign because of their political unpopularity.
It has become increasingly apparent that the Clinton campaign created the Trump-Russia collusion scandal prior to the election, shopped its falsehoods around to sympathetic media, got part of the intelligence community to jump on board a spurious scandal sheet (the Steele dossier) and then leak the intelligence community’s endorsement back to the media for additional credibility. FBI director James Comey and other Obama Justice Department officials similarly climbed on board, exonerated candidate Hillary Clinton of felony violations of government security laws (the home email server), and have stonewalled Congressional attempts to get to the bottom of the agencies’ malfeasance. The Clinton campaign’s fraudulent Steele dossier then was used to motivate the appointment of Special Counsel Mueller, who seems to be prosecuting everything else but the Russian collusion that was his supposed mandate.
The Wall Street Journal‘s Kimberley Strassel does not seem guilty of hyperbole in calling the Clinton campaign’s Fusion GPS dossier “one of the dirtiest political tricks in U.S. history.”
The failure of Congressional leaders to have an Obamacare repeal and tax reform bill ready to go on Jan. 20, 2017 must surely go down in U.S. history as a missed opportunity. The Congressional leaders knew that the incoming Trump administration would be entering as complete amateurs and that therefore strong Congressional leadership and policy unity would be a necessity. But this happened only for judiciary appointments.
As expected, the amateur status of the Trump administration is manifesting itself in a number of areas, the most damaging of which is trade. The deals that Trump and his allies are boasting of as a result of his trip to Asia, and China in particular, are either deals that preexisted his trip or that came during the trip but are not set in stone: in short, a P.R. exercise at best.
Today, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum being held in Da Nang, Vietnam, the president reiterated his insistence on bilateral rather than multilateral trade agreements. Japan didn’t buy this when he visited there, and none of the other APEC members are buying it either. The eleven members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are going ahead with their own multilateral trade pact, minus the US.
US abstention from the main forums the rest of the world is using to expand trade and economic well-being has been a gift from heaven to China. It gives the outrageously mercantilist nation a cover in posing as the free-trade leader of the world economy. Trump’s abstention from TPP collaboration with its allies may have been the straw that broke South Korea’s back in capitulating to a Chinese economic boycott against it. Trump may have given a fine speech to South Korean legislators, but his failure to organize assistance to South Korea — instead of denouncing it for unfair trade — may have provided South Korea’s weak new president comments:the impetus to cave to the Chinese. The Wall Street Journal
“Last week Mr. Moon folded. Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha announced a deal to settle the Thaad dispute on Chinese terms. South Korea promised not to deploy more Thaad radars and launchers, leaving South Korea vulnerable to future North Korean attacks, since the six current launchers don’t cover northern South Korea, including the capital Seoul. Without more launchers, North Korean missiles could overwhelm the system.
“Seoul also agreed not to join America’s regional missile-defense system, which will limit the effectiveness of the defenses in South Korea and Japan. And South Korea agreed not to join a military alliance with the U.S. and Japan in the future. So Beijing achieved its goal of stymieing the U.S. agenda of collective defense in Asia along the lines of Europe’s NATO.”
But that’s not all. The US has been blocking India’s accession to APEC, despite the fact that India is key to the quadrilateral alliance (US, Japan, Australia, India) to contain China’s growing imperialism in the South China sea and elsewhere.
Where does it all start, President Trump’s basic error on trade? First, he doesn’t seem to grasp the difference between trade imbalances and payments imbalances. The former are a component of the latter. Payments imbalances are the more important concern. Second, if the corporate tax is reduced to 20%, and if the US adopts territorial taxation as practiced elsewhere in the world, these will make the US a better place for new investments and exports, and that will help improve the US balance of payments. But third, what the President and his trade advisers don’t seem to understand is that a fundamental cause of the US payments imbalances is the low US savings rate. If the US has insufficient domestic savings, of course we’re going to become indebted to China, Japan, etc. Rather than attack the countries with healthy export industries and savings rates, Trump and the Republicans should address the perverse incentives that discourage savings and favor debt over equity: high marginal tax rates on the wealthy, estate taxes, double taxation of dividends and capital gains, the mortgage interest deduction, and corporations’ ability to deduct interest on debt. The present Senate and House tax bills taken together only address one of these perverse incentives, the estate tax, and even that incompletely.
hat tip: Eaglebeak