Robert A. Levine 4-18-17
Since the election of Donald Trump as president, we’ve seen the promises he made during the campaign thrown by the wayside, as he changes his mind about what he wants done and how to get it done. The disregard of what he had pledged during his campaign began with his choice of cabinet members and top advisors. In populist rhetoric he said he was going to drain the swamp in Washington and rein in Wall Street, fighting the elites for the working men and women.
However, aside from three military men, his cabinet and advisors consist of billionaires and very wealthy Wall Streeters. No populists or little guys. Oh, and his son-in-law, Jared, seems to be in charge of almost everything. Trump is set on getting rid of Dodd-Frank and the Consumer Protection Agency, which will help Wall Street and the banks and hurt the little guys. And what happened to the taxes he said he would release once he was president.
On the campaign trail he also said he was going to eliminate NAFTA and brand China as a currency manipulator (which it hasn’t been for years). He was also going to slap high tariffs on imports from China. Well, NAFTA is still in place and there are no tariffs on any goods from China. Of course, he’s trying to get China to help control North Korea’s nuclear program, so it’s not a good time to engage in a trade war with them. But there’s been no suggestion yet that he will place any economic constraints upon them. Though the E.U. has targeted China for dumping steel, Trump has not yet taken any action on this problem, in spite of China’s efforts to undercut domestic steel with government subsidies.
Trump also promised to end Obamacare and to bring about health care for everyone at reasonable prices during his campaign. (Good luck with that.) But the repeal and replacement program that Trump endorsed would cost more, cut Medicaid and subsidies for the poor, and hurt the very people who voted for Trump. He’s blaming the Democrats for the failure of repeal and replace, though the Republicans have control of all the levers of the federal government. However, internecine warfare among Republicans makes it more difficult to pass legislation.
Another of Trump’s pledges was not to involve America in foreign ventures that did not impact us directly. Yet, he went ahead and bombed Syria after seeing the horrific gas attack by Assad that killed women and children, promising further bombing if there was addition use of gas. I’m not saying his action was wrong, but merely that it ran contrary to the declarations he made during his campaign. (He had also warned Obama against involvement in Syria when Assad had previously employed gas on his own people.)
Trump had expected to forge an alliance with Russia to fight ISIS and while campaigning, was praising Putin for his great leadership qualities. Instead, American finds itself at odds with Russia over its support for Assad in Syria, its grabbing of the Crimea and its backing of the separatist movement in the eastern Ukraine where Russian troops are playing a role as well. NATO, which Trump once branded as obsolete is now a trusted partner for America, putting military trainers in Iraq and Afghanistan along with the U.S. NATO is also placing troops in the Baltic states to discourage Russia from any land grabs there. Have Trump’s world views changed? Is he taking advice from his military staff? Or was he just not knowledgeable about foreign affairs before assuming the presidency?
Some of Trump’s reversals in office have been good and some have been bad, and one must assume there is a learning curve for a president. In general, his foreign policy moves have seemed reasonable, while some of his domestic actions will negatively impact his base. One cannot expect a president to adhere to everything said while campaigning and before becoming president. Perhaps with time, he will tack towards the middle, enlisting Democrats to work with moderately conservative Republicans to pass some of his legislation. But first he would have to work to fix Obamacare instead of repealing it, a move that makes the most sense for the American health care system and working class citizens. And he should cut down on some of those week-end trips to Mar-a-Lago which are costing taxpayers a ton, and spend more time in the White House as he promised he would.
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