Thursday, April 28, 2011

Beowulf on "The Donald"

Bo Cutter had one of his usual propaganda posts over at New Deal 2.0, falling all over the Obama Administration's political handling of the current political emergence of Donald Trump on the GOP side. Excerpt:
'The Donald is the gift that keeps on giving. Every time he opens his mouth a million Americans move toward President Obama,"
This is the type of pure Obama apologist propaganda I've come to expect from Bo Cutter over there and he as usual does not disappoint.

For a dose of reality concerning this situation, our Beowulf posted a comment that I think provides a more accurate assesment. His comment:
Keep your eye on the ball Bo, its a flea flicker play. Trump is running as (in the National Review’s memorably dubbed George Wallace) as a country and western Marxist… though I guess Ed Glaeser’s term “small government egalitarian” probably sounds better. He’s running on cultural and foreign policy issues (pro-birther, pro-life, anti-gay marriage, pro-trade war with China and OPEC) and yet running left on fiscal policy. Thanks to the birther indirection (with a helpful assist from the Obama WH), he’s leading in the GOP polls even as he tells conservative supporters like Sean Hannity what he’d do about entitlement reform;
“I don’t care what plan the Republicans put, I’m protecting the seniors..”
And when Hannity asks how he’d balance the budget, Trump changed the subject from deficits to jobs (taking a whack at China along the way), “Don’t forget China is taking our jobs…. the best thing for balancing the budget is to have a strong economy. And the economy can never come back if we are going to always have high unemployment.”

That last part, of course, is a neat paraphrase of Kennedy’s famous line from his 1962 Economic Club speech, “only full employment can balance the budget”. Not quite accurate to blame China for our unemployment , if we spent enough in public investments to fill the $500 billion demand leakage created by our trade deficit, itt wouldn’t be a problem. But since one has to throw something out to appease the deficit zombies, Trump has the right idea, better to turn on free trade than the sick and elderly. What was it that Wynne Godley and Francis Cripps proposed in the mid 70s… “non-selective protectionism with matching fiscal easing” (i.e. use tariff revenue to cut payroll tax). if he ran on a “fair trade tax cut”, he would win over that fraction of the US population that doesn’t work in DC or on Wall Street (leaving the rest for Obama). (Ed: ooohhhh!)
Trump is rich enough to self-fund and has hit on the perfect angle of attack (if he pulls the trigger and runs), lock down the GOP base on cultural issues by going farther right than anyway else, and then down stand ready to pivot to economics to hammer the President from the left. Politico quoted an interview from last month where Trump sounds like he read Jamie Galbraith’s book.
“When this country becomes profitable again, we can take care of our sick; we can take care of our needy,” he told Human Events. “We don’t have to cut Social Security; we don’t have to cut Medicare and Medicaid. We can take care of people that need to be taken care of. And I’ll be able to do that.”… And he says we won’t need to raise taxes either. Trump is suggesting that, as our economy improves, it will expand to cover trillions of dollars in future deficits…”

I think Beowulf has some insightful analysis and nicely includes some perspective and history in accordance with MMT.

So Trump has so far been taking on Obama, on trade and jobs and our social safely net programs, but next I would like to see him kick the fiscal morons and ”free markets”, Paul Ryan types of the GOP right in the backside for a change, he'll have to do it sometime if he is going to run in the GOP primaries.

It’s a pretty sad state of affairs in our sitting government when it’s up to the flamboyant businessman Donald Trump to make the current political establishment on both sides look like a bunch of Marie Antoinettes.


Letsgetitdone said...

Undoubtedly, our mutual friend Beowulf is an extremely insightful analyst and brilliant in his thoughts about MMT and related matters.

However, while I, too, can admire Trump's unusual attempts to get the support of diverse publics; there's one thing about him that's very, very clear. And that is, whatever he says now, how do we know how he'll act when he gets into office. he seems to be an inveterate liar. This doesn't distinguish him from many others running or from the President, of course. But at this time I think the country desperately needs someone who is fundamentally honest, who we can count on to represent the interests of people he appeals to his campaign.

What are the chances that that person is Trump? That person is someone like Elizabeth Warren, or Bill Black, or Jamie, or Warren, or Randy. It is not Donald Trump, the big-time real estate operator.

Matt Franko said...

Right I dont think he is perhaps the best based on some past things he's been in, etc.. and these days there is really such large amounts of money in politics (Obama wants to raise $1B) that it is not surprising now Trump is very interested time will tell how serious he is I guess.

But he is think about it, the ONLY ONE who has said anything supportive of SS and Medicare and employment and our terms of trade with the OPEC. The ONLY ONE. (high profile Presidential) Obama? Palin? Romney? Pawlenty? Bachmann?.... all MIA.

These are issues that resonate (you probably notice in our area here all gas got a $4 handle this week).

Trump will probably raise a lot of money for sure. And I'm at least glad that SOMEBODY is saying what he is saying out there.


mike norman said...

I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but I'm starting to like Trump and hoping he will run.

widmerpool said...

He's an incompetent businessman who inherited his money.

I don't think any GOP voter cares about his views on the economy. They like the culture wars.

I agree that Obama is MIA but Trump is a non-issue and will be gone soon.

mike norman said...

You don't need a businessman to run gov't anyway. You need someone who's not afraid. That's Trump.

Tom Hickey said...

We'll know by May 16th. That's the latest that NBC will announce whether Trump has signed on for another season of his show. The announcement could come before that. but Trump probably can put it off until then — unless someone leaks. The deal is already either on or off. NBC just is not saying yet.

Clonal said...

That is the problem with the US electorate - flamboyance always "Trumps" substance!

My tastes go more towards backing somebody whose record backs his/her rhetoric. Obama's record was abysmally different from his rhetoric. When that was pointed out to his supporters -- the common comeback was -- things will be different if he is elected! Things were not!

My backing goes towards Dennis Kucinich. He has always backed his principles, and acted upon them, right from his days as the "Boy Mayor of Cleveland"

Detroit Dan said...

The point of Beowolf's comment is not whether or not WE like Trump, it's whether THE U.S. VOTERS will like Trump. And clearly the table is set for some economic populist to challenge the powers that be in both parties. I would prefer someone who doesn't indulge in absurd paranoid conspiracy theories, but that's just me...

Tom Hickey said...

The only thing that Trump has going for him with the voters is celebrity. Can't we find a better celebrity to mount a populist campaign? I'd prefer Oprah to Trump for president, and David Letterman would be worth the laughs. But if I had my druthers, its among Stewart, Colbert, and Maher. :)

beowulf said...

"The point of Beowolf's comment is not whether or not WE like Trump, it's whether THE U.S. VOTERS will like Trump."

Exactly! Personally, I agree that anyone on Letsgetitdone's list would be a better President, but no one can win running as a Democrat against the incumbent President or as an independent under any circumstance. And if someone wants to run as a Republican, they must punch at least two out of three tickets-- social, foreign policy or economic conservatism.

Only a billionaire candidate who can self-fund (or perhaps Sarah Palin, who's sui generis) can afford to cross the GOP fundraising class by tacking towards the center on economics. So yeah, it'd be great if Trump runs. If not, I hope Sarah and Todd read the tea leaves (and Trump's poll numbers) and realize that since the GOP establishment hates her anyway, might as well make lemonade out of lemons.

As for the "fair trade tax cut" I mentioned, see this 2008 Levy Institute study (tariff revenue could cut 15.3% FICA to 10.5%).

I've already messaged Greg Hannsgen at Levy that they should update the study with 2011 numbers and forward it to Trump and pro-tariff Members of Congress. :o)

Clonal said...

Tom Hickey said:
But if I had my druthers, its among Stewart, Colbert, and Maher.

Tom this exemplifies the problem in the US -namely the culture of celebrity.The names you give have no track record of doing anything but of talking. They are rich people who talk a lot. If they are elected, I would not expect them to be very different from Obama.

In the words of what a government minister once told me -- we don't know much about how to run the economy or the government. We just go by the advice of the "experts." What makes you think that the experts will be any different?

With a person who has a track record of public service, you know what you will get and what that person is capable of.

With campaign finance being in the sorry state it is in, and the fact that it takes money to buy campaign advertising, and that $10, $20 or even $200 contributions cannot match the $10,000 (over the election cycle) contributions. The $20 is much more to the bottom 60% than the $10,000 is to the top 1%. Further, the bottom 60% has no time to contribute to election campaigns -- they are too busy eking out a living. The net result is that the bottom 60% make no contribution toward getting a candidate elected other than voting based upon what they hear from the TV.

So, until the bottom 80% wakes up to what is happening, I don't think there is a snowball's chance in hell of bringing about meaningful change.

Tom Hickey said...

So, until the bottom 80% wakes up to what is happening, I don't think there is a snowball's chance in hell of bringing about meaningful change.

Agreed. In the meanwhile I would like to as Joh Stewart or Stephen Colbert win the presidency and continue with their regular show schedule. That's about the best I could hope for in the present climate.

Chewitup said...

How about sending Warren to Trump's hair dresser?

Anonymous said...

McDonalds and Trump are the future?
Wow, the US is doomed.

Meaningful change would be to move towards direct democracy. The mainstream parties are not suitable for this task.

If I were American I would be looking to cast my vote elsewhere. Or spoil my ballot in protest. It would be symbolic but at least it would be a start.

Letsgetitdone said...

Folks, with due respect for all your comments, which were all very apt. No one has responded to my central point which is that trump is a liar and what he advocates in a campaign has no relationship to what he will do in office.

I don't think we can sustain any more of that crap from the people we elect. I recognize Beowulf's point that no one can beat Obama from the left. But I think that assumes that there's no double dip between now and the end of the year. If there is, if the banks collapse again, all bets are off, and our predictions about the possibility of challenging him are up in the air.

Tom Hickey said...

Joe, while I agree that Trump is a liar, which politician is not. Campaign promises are necessarily lies because no president can assuredly deliver on them, although a Republican president has a better chance than a Democratic one, because the GOP representatives and senators are better disciplined than the Democrats.

I think that most voters recognize this and take the measure of the person instead of believing the promises. Moreover, elections are decided more on the basis feeling than reason.

The '12 campaign is going to come down to whether to impose financial austerity (cut spending) or tax the rich (let the Bush tax cuts expire at the top). as the way to improve the economy and create jobs.

Of course, both are poison pills but this is what the public in interested in now, and most people haven't a clue about what would actually be beneficial for them.

The way the election is stacking up it is going to be the most expensive one in history, probably reaching well over two billion dollars. That money is going to come from vested interests expecting to be paid off.

The left should take a lesson from the right and mount strong primary challenges against establishment incumbents to replace them with actual Democrats instead of suits. If we had a Tea Party candidate on the right and a real progressive on the left, there would be a real choice.

I suspect that what we will get, however, is divided government.

selise said...

the idea of looking for a savior in national electoral politics, or anywhere else for that matter, holds very little appeal to me. makes my skin crawl actually.

maybe that's part of why, wrt the politics, i have a completely different take... mostly based on my understanding of bill black's work.

imo, national politics is and example of a crimogenic environment. cheaters prosper and ethical politicians are driven out or co-opted.

kleptocracy is control fraud in politics -- and that certainly appears to be what we have: presidential elections are competitions to determine which group of people will enjoy the spoils. the campaigns are marketing campaigns with no limitations on anti-customer control fraud. candidate-fraudsters compete to see who can get the most victims (voters) to trust him or her.

voters can no more "take the measure of the person" than they can take the measure of a laundry detergent by watching commercials.

that doesn't mean i don't think we should vote, i do. mostly because there are, or at least can be, differences between kleptocratic regimes. and uncertainty prevails so we really can't know what will result. but mostly i think voting is important for the social movement potential of protest votes, if they are cast in large enough numbers, as a sign of the voters refusal to give the patina of legitimacy to the "winner."

so, while i think there's no point in not participating at all, i also think (absent an insurgent like mosler running) spending time and/or money supporting a candidate-fraudster is just a suckers game.

i enjoy reading beowulf's take because beowulf is a clever commentator who finds interesting and fresh ways to look at things -- not because i'm looking for reasons to support one or another candidate-fraudster.

my 2 cents.

disclaimer: the above is in no way meant to advocate political disengagement. i just think we ought to be able to find better, more useful and constructive things to do...

Tom Hickey said...

Which is why I'd prefer to watch Jon Stewart or Stephan Colbert conduct the presidency from the oval office on their nightly show. In fact, if they opposed each other, I'd have a hard time deciding who to vote for and would probably just flip a coin. At least, this way we'd get some laughs out it.

The fact is that government is institutional and neither the president or the members of congress have a lot of say individually, although theoretically, the president is the "decider." But that is just BS. The politicians are caught up in the institutions that control them and which are controlled by the ruling elite.

There is no way to really change this other than by deconstructing the existing institutions and constructing new ones. That would mean eliminating the ruling elite, which is what steel and velvet revolutions both do, one way or another.

What to do if you are disgusted? Either become an activist promoting your cause, or else drop out and become a DFH creating the counterculture as an alternative.

selise said...

"What to do if you are disgusted? Either become an activist promoting your cause, or else drop out and become a DFH creating the counterculture as an alternative."

i don't think the two are mutually exclusive. for example, at least as i understand it, gandhi's "constructive program" it was both counterculture and the basis for mass action.

Tom Hickey said...

While they are not mutually exclusive in that one can participate in both and many do, one has to choose one's focus and where to allocate most of one's time and energy if one wishes to be successful. Pick something great to do and do it well.