The passage of a tax reform bill, and its signing into law by
President Trump marks a “promises kept” first stage of the
new Republican administration.
Mr. Trump, mostly on his own, had fulfilled a great many of
his campaign promises --- including naming true conservatives
to the federal courts, including one to the U.S. supreme court;
repealing most of President Obama’s executive orders and
regulations; disrupting the entitlement drift of earlier
administrations; dramatically slowing illegal immigration
into the U.S;. reversing a weak and apologetic foreign policy in
Europe, the Middle East and Asia; recognizing Israel's capital
in Jerusalem, and creating a climate for business expansion,
reduced unemployment and a booming stock market (thus
increasing most Americans’ pension fund plans and net worth).
Not bad for less than one year.
But much needs to be done before we can properly judge his
first term a success. A politician actually keeping promises
is a rare matter, and Donald Trump was perhaps the last
person many political observers would have guessed would
keep them. Promises kept, however, do not always mean
Liberal and Democratic critics have argued that the tax reform
bill will not work as promised --- employing an anti-trickle
down argument they traditionally bring to the debate. After
decades of ignoring federal deficits, they now cite this as proof
this legislation will fail. This political opportunism aside, we will
now have, in coming months, an opportunity to observe whether
the tax cut argument works or does not.
“Trumpamentum” is a combination of a particular president’s
worldview, temperament and policy rate of change. Mr. Trump’s
Democratic and media critics (as well as “never-Trumpers” in
his own party) have so obsessed with his temperament style
(most notably his often impetuous and petty “tweets”) that they
became oblivious to the significant changes he has been making
in Washington, DC.
Complicating Mr. Trump’s program has been a Congress his
party controls, but which was so splintered that it could not
pass promised significant legislation. After almost a year of
frustrating inaction, it was clear to all, friend and foe alike, that
the 2018 mid-term congressional elections would be a likely
disaster for the GOP and its conservative victory in 2016. Finally,
at the edge of this political cliff, a sense of survival prevailed
among the conservatives legislators.
The repeal and replacement of Obamacare, a high profile
campaign promise in 2016 has now been partly accomplished
as well. The tax bill removed the penalty for taxpayers who did
not sign up for Obamacare, thus making the program, in effect,
OINO (Obamacare in name only). This partial accomplishment,
however, is not sufficient, In the sessions ahead, Congress must
fashion a credible and workable “free market” replacement
Although inherently flawed, Obamacare was passed to respond
to a genuine public policy need. Now the conservatives must
demonstrate they have a better way to respond to this need.
Americans have endured a prolonged period of political
stalemate. Now, in December, 2017, a president and a Congress
have taken an initial step to put that institutional stalemate
behind. But it’s only a first step.
The opposition party, the Democrats, have an important role to
play, but they will only do that if they offer alternatives and
changes to “Trumpamentum.” They and their media allies
need to focus on the future, and not be consumed by trying to
undo what can’t be undone, that is, the 2016 election. What
liberals and Democrats can do is try to make 2018 and 2020 go
If they do not, 2018 and 2020 will make Trumpamentum not
merely temporary, but irreversible.
Copyright (c) 2017 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.