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My prediction for the Trump Presidency is still that it will be a Bush Presidency with some Trumpian twists (e.g. infrastructure spending). But there is a worse scenario.
Who thinks that President Obama will say on January 20 that he is NOT stepping down because his “replacement” lost the popular vote and won the electoral college because of Russian hacking? The whole idea seems farfetched. On the other hand, if PEOTUS Trump loses the election in four years, who thinks he might say the election was rigged and try to stay on? This does not seem farfetched.
So the most important job of Congress is to check-and-balance PEOTUS’s excesses. How should Congress do so? As usual, Roger Myerson is ahead of the rest of us in thinking about this. In a blog post he writes:
America’s constitutional system depends fundamentally on a balanced distribution of power between the separate branches of government. Over the past century, a long expansion in the size and scope of federal agencies has entailed a steady growth of presidential power. Now, with a President-elect who has never exercised public power within constitutional limits, our best hope is that the next four years should be a time for strengthening the effective authority of Congress. For this vital goal, Democrats today should support the constitutional right of congressional majorities to legally direct the policies and actions of the federal government, even when those majorities happen to be Republican.
His blog post makes many points including regarding the paradoxical impact of term limits for Congress and the misuse of the filibuster.
The most likely outcome for the Trump Presidency is that it will Bush 2.0 with some Trumpian twists. Specifically:
- Tax cuts for the wealthy: No brainer
- Rolling back financial regulation: No-brainer
- Comeuppance for 1 and 2: Either another bubble like 2008 or huge deficits leading eventually to a tax increase (like Reagan to (H.W.) Bush).
- Another war: Trump is thin-skinned and hence a prime candidate for manipulation by terrorists who seek to escalate conflict. So, another war beckons. Probably, Syria in a coalition with Putin.
- Construction: Trump is will try to build roads, bridges, infrastructure etc. This is an anathema to Paul Ryan et al. They will try to prevent this so not clear how much will happen. Democrats of course will be into this and will try to help Trump achieve it.
- Russia expansion: Putin will co-opt Baltic States. NATO will not defend hence this will be the end of NATO credibility.
- Trade: Token tariffs will be imposed. Maybe Carrier Air Conditioner will be made into an example. But given threat of retaliation by trading partners, Ryan/McConnell will dampen trade controls. Whatever happens, there will be little impact on jobs as technological change means fewer workers needed in manufacturing.
- The Wall: He will build a tall but small wall. TV crews will film it. Construction will stop but Trump will lie and say he built whole thing.
- Racism will go up: No-Brainer.
President-elect Trump main framework for organizing human interaction is the zero-sum game. If he gives you anything, he wants something in return. He will soon be able to apply this deal-making philosophy to our strategic partners like Japan and South Korea.
We can measure the costs of the bases, the personnel and the nuclear weapons that are helping given them security. The benefits – stopping nuclear proliferation – are hard to measure. Are we giving them something for free? That is Trump’s perspective it seems. Can he get a better deal? If not, why not let these countries go nuclear? From the perspective of out strategic partners, if the US is not holding them up, why not go nuclear?
So, chances are, we will see nuclear proliferation among our “allies” in the Trump Presidency.
I was discussing some forecasts of what might befall under a Trump Presidency with a friend. He was skeptical of one of them but it turns out Henry Kissinger agrees with me:
JG: So there is some chance of more instability.
HK: I would make a general statement: I think most of the world’s foreign policy has been in suspense for six to nine months, waiting for the outcome of our election. They have just watched us undergo a domestic revolution. They will want to study it for some period. But at some point, events will necessitate decision making once more. The only exception to this rule may be nonstate groups; they may have an incentive to provoke an American reaction that undermines our global position.
JG: The threat from isis is more serious now?
HK: Nonstate groups may make the assessment that Trump will react to a terror attack in a way that suits their purposes.