President Trump in 2017

A friend of mine sort of asked me to speculate on what a Trump Presidency will look like in 2017, presumably so I can be proven right and her catastrophically wrong.

It’s a difficult one, as Trump has no history in politics to look back on.  I think we can safely say he won’t be as bad as his detractors are saying he will, because that would involve the skinning of puppies on the White House lawn while simultaneously launching nuclear weapons at China on the orders of Putin and urging his supporters to go out there and grab a woman by the pussy.  That isn’t going to happen.

The biggest damage he can do is via the military or the economy.  I really don’t think he will do any of what I would call “damage” outside these spheres, and that would include demolishing the UN building with everybody still in it, ignoring the Paris Agreement, sacking a good half of all federal employees, continuing to troll the press, and undoing Obamacare.  Others’ views may differ as to what constitutes “damage”, but that’s the gist of mine.  In other words, I really don’t care if those who are wringing their hands over Trump’s potential domestic social policies are still wringing their hands, or even hanging themselves from rafters, throughout 2017.

I don’t think there is any risk of Trump going on the warpath, particularly against Russia and thankfully not over Syria. Had Hillary won, we might be looking at a serious confrontation now as shrill voices call for no-fly zones over Aleppo which would involve American jets shooting down Russian ones and Stinger missiles being handed out willy-nilly to jihadist rebels.  Trump appears to have more sense than that.  That said, Trump knows he has a decent military at his disposal and will certainly be prepared to use it if required.  I don’t think he’s going to shy away from potential military confrontation if he believes doing so would make America’s position weaker, and this was demonstrated by his remarks over Taiwan and Israel.  There is a chance he could blunder into a military engagement which would prove disastrous, but one would hope that he has appointed General Mattis so that he is properly advised on such matters and can avoid making the mistakes of his predecessors.  With Mattis as Secretary of Defence, Trump ought not to be rushing headlong into inadvisable wars.  The best outcome that can he hoped for, and I think is achievable, is that the USA uses military force (or the threat of) sparingly in those places where it is needed most, but leaves any potential adversary under no illusions as to what will happen if America is trifled with.  This would involve the USA telling Europe it is going to have to have to shoulder much more of the responsibility for its own defence from now on, which will be expensive and require its people to fight occasionally.  Good.

On the economy I think Trump is far less certain, mainly because I think he is trying to do the impossible.  There have been genuine losers from globalisation, people who saw their jobs disappear to China or Mexico and not replaced, and these made up a large chunk of Trump’s support.  He made promises during his election campaign that he would bring jobs back to America, but this would mean either subsidising domestic production, imposing tariffs or a combination of the two, none of which is economically sensible or even possible on the scale required to revitalise America’s rust belt.  The best he can do is remove the artificial barriers to American job creation: overly stringent environmental legislation, leaden bureaucracy, Union intransigence, and taxes which are too high.  Even if he manages this, and gains a hearty round of applause for me, I don’t think it will make much different to manufacturing and other secondary industries in the United States: the forces of globalisation are too large and the results too beneficial for almost everybody to be reversed.  The best that can be said is that at least Trump recognises there is a social problem and wants to do something about it, but it’s way beyond his – or anyone else’s – capacity to do anything about it.

If he wants to improve the nation’s finances he could start by reducing the size of the giant, sprawling bureaucracies that make up the federal government and suck up so many hundreds of billions of dollars, something no other President has managed to do – Reagan included.  With a trajectory like this, the best we can hope for is he does enough to slow their growth a bit and puts a tiny dent in the annual deficit.

In summary, and judging by what he’s done so far, I don’t think he will be awful, and nor will he be great, at least by the criteria I’ve laid out here.  I think he will be at worst a decidedly average President in 2017, and at best one who surprises us by not being too bad.  Of those two options, I’ll go for the latter.  I also think he’ll be far better than Hillary would have been, and Obama was.

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8 thoughts on “President Trump in 2017

  1. 1. In 2016 I came across a Canadian joke I enjoyed.

    Q: In a NATO naval exercise how do you recognise the ships of the USN?

    A: They are the ones with the dents in them.

    I hope that Trump doesn’t push his luck with his large fleets of surface ships: surface ships = target-rich environment. Surface ships where the officers are not good at navigation and ship-handling are presumably even more at risk.

    2. “The best he can do is remove the artificial barriers to American job creation: overly stringent environmental legislation, leaden bureaucracy, Union intransigence, and taxes which are too high.” Yup, improve the “supply side”. Will probably prove too difficult though.

    3. One thing I’ve learned from years of reading blogs is that virtually no American has ever absorbed the arguments for Free Trade. I am happy to listen to anyone who has absorbed the arguments and would like to try to point out their flaws. But I will not waste my time reading anyone who has failed to grasp them, which is (to rounding accuracy) every American with a view on the subject.

  2. Expectations are too high on both sides.

    The Left’s are most obviously ridiculous and can be dismissed, given they’ve decided he’s Hitler reincarnated.

    From the Right, I doubt we’ll see much of a dent in political correctness. I expect the USA’s national debt will continue to rapidly climb, and I wouldn’t be surprised if debt/GDP keeps going up too. The MMGW scam is, I fear, unstoppable; it is also too convenient a source of revenue and power for the State.

    What’s also forgotten, particularly by the shrillest voices, is that the US is not a dictatorship. Trump can say what he likes; there are plenty of limits to what he can do.

  3. When I used to catch the bus to work (ah, those days of using tickets as bookmarks: I still find them tucked away in unfinished books lurking on shelves) every driver was aware of the Twirlies. These were the old age pensioner (oh shit, wait… I’m one now…) who turned up at the bus stop before the allowed time and showed their bus pass while asking: “Am I twirly for this?”

    So, in the spirit of we (argh!) OAPs, Trump is a Twirly. Just too early to say.

    Except he probably doesn’t have a bus pass, and I agree he would be better than the pair of clowns named at the end of your piece.

  4. Trump will herald in a marked improvement in the US and world economy. The cycle has already moved in this direction and Trump will capitalize on it further. A great time to review your investment portfolio as the mother of all booms is once again baked in. We are still on the upside of the current KWave and this always was a mid cycle commodities slump.

    Assuming that there is no black swan military event in Syria between now and him taking office then Putin and Trump will lead this modern day Judeo-Christian crusade against ISIS. This scenario will have the potential for massive and sudden escalation between security council members with some of them getting a bloody nose. If Syria does not flash in the next few weeks then the traditional military flash point will now move to the South China Sea.

    Trump will continue to criticise the UN and other western political blocks, nationalists politicians and voters in Europe will be encouraged to change. Idiotic policies will remain in Europe up until then and Trump will preside over the worst period in the current UN’s short reign. He will bring the UN to the brink, duly supported by Putin and the other new “good guys”. The only way forward for the UN will be to adopt massive reform which will be forthcoming from the “new” and changed for the better more “inclusive” UN. Expect to see calls for the expansion of P5 and the abolishment of the hated veto, this is why a bloody nose is required, continuous leaking of scandals both moral and political, dark secrets of western intelligence agencies will be revealed all aimed at further weakening the west’s credibility and dominance in the UN.

  5. The best he can do is remove the artificial barriers to American job creation: overly stringent environmental legislation, leaden bureaucracy, Union intransigence, and taxes which are too high.

    Or as Bill Whittle says – Big Government, Big Business, Big Unions.

  6. The only way forward for the UN will be to adopt massive reform which will be forthcoming from the “new” and changed for the better more “inclusive” UN. Expect to see calls for the expansion of P5 and the abolishment of the hated veto

    I can see it going this way, and then collapsing in a heap mere months later around the time South Africa, Venezuela, Ghana, Sudan, and India outvote the US and UK on reparations for something or other.

  7. “With Mattis as Secretary of Defence, Trump ought not to be rushing headlong into inadvisable wars. ”

    With Mattis, he most likely won’t need too. He can just say “Shall I send this one to Mattis?” and you will see some rapid reassessments from challengers.

  8. With Mattis, he most likely won’t need too. He can just say “Shall I send this one to Mattis?” and you will see some rapid reassessments from challengers.

    Heh!

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