Tag Archives: Donald Trump

The danger in deregulation

By Samantha Gross – In the United States and around the world, energy production depends on support from local communities, what the industry calls “social license to operate.” Especially in a democracy, public opposition can make life very difficult for energy producers. Public support for energy resource development depends on trust—in the companies doing the development and in the regulatory structure that governs their activities.

When the Trump administration dismantles energy regulation, it runs the risk of undermining the trust that underpins domestic energy development. U.S. oil and gas production has grown dramatically in recent years, but we have also seen a public backlash.

The proposal to open nearly all U.S. offshore waters to drilling is an opening salvo in a battle likely to go on for some time. Many governors, even Republicans, are vehemently opposed to drilling in waters off their states.

But the hard push toward deregulation is likely to have consequences for public trust, not just in companies, but in government itself. If the public feels that the government is being run by and for the energy industry, accomplishing many important societal goals—like modernizing infrastructure and preventing the worst impacts of climate change—become much more difficult. more>

Donald Trump and the Rule of Law

By Jeffrey Toobin – Richard Nixon earned eternal disgrace for keeping a list of his political enemies, but he, at least, was ashamed enough of the practice to know that he had to keep it secret. Trump, in contrast, is openly calling for the Department of Justice, which he controls, to put his political opponents in jail.

This kind of behavior is a trademark of the authoritarians he admires, like Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Trump’s contempt for the rule of law infects his entire Administration, as illustrated by Jeff Sessions’s newly announced guidance on marijuana policy.

Under the new policy, in much of the country federal marijuana enforcement will be run by officials who are only accountable to Sessions and Trump, not to the broader public.

Senators have a right to ask prospective U.S. Attorneys how they plan to enforce federal law on marijuana, and, of course, the legislators have the right to vote these officials down if they don’t like their answers. But Sessions has installed acting U.S. Attorneys in much of the country—including in such high-profile locations as Manhattan and Los Angeles—and senators can’t exert any oversight of them.

This gesture of contempt for the Senate’s role in confirmations is reflected well beyond the Justice Department. Throughout the government, Trump has nominated many fewer officials to Senate-confirmed positions than his predecessors; instead, Cabinet secretaries have filled these crucial positions with acting or temporary officials who avoid scrutiny from senators. more>

Brookings experts on Trump’s National Security Strategy

Brookings Institution – The United States was born of a desire for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—and a conviction that unaccountable political power is tyranny.

For these reasons, our Founders crafted and ratified the Constitution, establishing the republican form of government we enjoy today. The Constitution grants our national government not only specified powers necessary to protect our God-given rights and liberties but also safeguards them by limiting the government’s size and scope, separating Federal powers, and protecting the rights of individuals through the rule of law. All political power is ultimately delegated from, and accountable to, the people.

We protect American sovereignty by defending these institutions, traditions, and principles that have allowed us to live in freedom, to build the nation that we love. And we prize our national heritage, for the rare and fragile institutions of republican government can only endure if they are sustained by a culture that cherishes those institutions.

We are committed to protecting the rights and dignity of every citizen. And we are a nation of laws, because the rule of law is the shield that protects the individual from government corruption and abuse of power, allows families to live without fear, and permits markets to thrive.

Our founding principles have made the United States of America among the greatest forces for good in history.

The United States will respond to the growing political, economic, and military competitions we face around the world.

China and Russia challenge American power, influence, and interests, attempting to erode American security and prosperity. They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, to grow their militaries, and to control information and data to repress their societies and expand their influence.

These competitions require the United States to rethink the policies of the past two decades—policies based on the assumption that engagement with rivals and their inclusion in international institutions and global commerce would turn them into benign actors and trustworthy partners. For the most part, this premise turned out to be false. more>

Ignoring the Will of the People

By Susan Milligan – The $1.5 trillion tax bill, hailed with glee and relief by Republicans eager to appease donors and desperate for the year’s first major legislative win, is the most unpopular major piece of legislation to pass in decades.

“It has a lot to do with money,” says Lee Miringoff, director of the nonpartisan Marist Institute for Public Opinion in Poughkeepsie, New York, pointing to the “Citizens United” Supreme Court case which allowed corporations and interest groups to spend massive amounts of money to influence elections.

“We see the tremendous impact of the lobby community in the tax bill. Lobbying interests were very much dominant in drafting and creating this approach.” And that means public opinion, so painstakingly quantified by pollsters candidates themselves hire, is often disregarded.

On several major issues in the news, the views of the public at large appear to have no effect on Congress.

As for the tax bill, “the Republicans are betting that by the time people realize what a turkey this bill is, it will be somebody else’s problem,” Stan Collender says. And that problem may be dumped onto the tax bill-hating Democrats, should they succeed in wresting control of Congress. more>

The Fraying of the Trump Brand

Experts say President Trump is damaging his party and its candidates’ election prospects
By Susan Milligan – Trump is regarded as a master brander in the commercial arena, building real estate and entertainment businesses heavily attached to his name. More like a Martha Stewart than, say, a Kraft Foods, Trump personifies the product he is selling. And when Trump – now suffering from historically low approval ratings in the low-to-mid 30s – struggles, so does the GOP brand he effectively took over when he became the party’s presidential nominee and then commander-in-chief, political and branding specialists say.

“When you’ve got a brand that is tied to a personality, it can be incredibly strong and incredibly vulnerable. It is tied to a human being, and that human being’s actions and people’s feelings about it, as opposed to the performance of a standardized product or service,” says Jason Karpf, a marketing and public relations consultant based in Minnesota. What Trump is attempting now, Karpf says, is what I known in the marketing world as a “brand extension,” this one, into the political world. But the effort has been sloppy at best and offensive at worst, experts say, threatening to do serious damage to the GOP brand as a whole.

And perhaps most troubling for the GOP, there have been ominous signs that suburban voters are moving away from Trump’s party.

Those are ominous signs for Republicans, whose party is being branded by an outsider president who prefers provocative remarks about sexual harassment complainants, protesting NFL players and white supremacist demonstrators to the blue-chip GOP agenda of smaller government and lower taxes. more>

An Economic Sugar High


By Andrew Soergel – As recently as Wednesday, President Donald Trump was quoted during a Cabinet meeting as saying he sees “no reason why we don’t go to 4 percent, 5 percent and even 6 percent” gross domestic product expansion in the months and years ahead.

Economists have broadly doubted these claims – though few quibble with the idea that the GOP-constructed tax plan would have a modestly positive impact on markets and the economy over the near term. Analyses from the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Tax Policy Center and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Budget Model have all predicted a final bill, in a best case scenario, would add a few fractions of a percentage point to the country’s GDP growth rate over the course of the next 10 years.

A growing number of experts are using the term “sugar high” to describe what the tax bill is likely to do to the U.S. economy – provide some short-term energy for growth before petering out or, even worse, pushing the country toward a crash. more>

The Missing Role Models

Public officials used to be worthy of being looked up to – not anymore.
By Kenneth T. Walsh – Where have all the role models gone?

They certainly are vanishing from politics and government, at least based on the seemingly endless series of accusations and admissions involving famous politicians and public officials who have been engulfed in the swamp of alleged sexual misbehavior.

Now the media are investigating public figures more thoroughly than ever, and are more willing than ever to expose the flaws they find. And people with grievances against public figures are increasingly willing to go public.

Trump, at the top of the political pyramid, has been widely condemned for failing to live up to the standards of civility, decency and honesty that have been expected of presidents for many years. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told CNN recently: “The president has great difficulty with the truth on many issues….I don’t know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard and debases our country in the way that he does, but he does.”

Questioning Trump’s “stability,” Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Trump is not a “role model” for the world and for America’s children, and added: “I think at the end of the day when his term is over, I think the debasing of our nation, the constant non-truth-telling, just the name calling, I think the debasement of our nation will be what he’ll be remembered most for, and that’s regretful.” more>

Preparing for the Trump trade wars

By Bill Emmott – Next year, Trump can be expected to turn rhetoric into action on two main fronts. The first is China, which Trump has singled out as the greatest trade exploiter of the US. Unless the North Korea standoff escalates critically, he will likely initiate anti-dumping actions against Chinese industries – notably in steel – deemed to be selling their goods below cost; and he will probably launch a broad assault on intellectual-property violations in China.

These measures will almost certainly provoke retaliation from China. China feels stronger than ever in the Trump era, and in the eyes of Chinese cadres, not responding forcefully would be a sign of weakness.

The other main front for Trump is the World Trade Organization, which America helped establish in the early 1990s as a successor to the post-war General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Robert Lighthizer has gone on record to describe the WTO’s dispute-settlement system as harmful to America. And already, the Trump administration is blocking the appointment of new judges to WTO arbitration panels. If it maintains that policy, the WTO’s entire dispute-settlement system will be crippled within months. more>

When Even the Simple Stuff Is a Crisis

By Robert Schlesinger – What’s going on? If everyone agrees on these successful programs, why are they stuck in legislative purgatory?

The proximate cause is that the Republican majority got too distracted with its endless, fruitless attempts to roll back the Affordable Care Act. That consumed their attention through the year and very specifically in the crunch time during which the final deals should have been cut on basically noncontroversial legislation like renewing funding for CHIP and community health centers. But that went by the boards when the GOP dropped everything to push the late, unlamented, half-baked Graham-Cassidy bill.

Uncertainty abounds. And again, we’re talking about noncontroversial stuff here, which speaks to a larger problem with the political system. The failure of this Congress to understand “the need to act responsibly, to reauthorize needed programs without catastrophic disruption … is simply striking,” says the American Enterprise Institute’s Norm Ornstein, who has written extensively on GOP dysfunction (most recently “One Nation After Trump,” with Thomas Mann and E.J. Dionne). more> https://goo.gl/1xQG84

Fanning the Flames of Chaos

President Trump’s cycle is clear: announce a goal, then back off to let others do the work.
By Kenneth T. Walsh – Trump isn’t a detail man. Throughout his careers in business and politics and during his presidency, he has floated above the landscape of specifics and set general directions. He attempts to sell his ideas to the country as a showman with a proclivity for hyperbole that borders on deception and sometimes crosses into falsehood. His goal, above all, is to score a personal victory and crush his opponents.

Now Trump’s it’s-all-about-me approach is being tested as never before as he copes with a new wave of crises, political battles and tragedies.

Trump’s pattern is clear. He dramatically announces a goal, dominating the news and becoming the center of attention, then backs off and leaves working out the details to others. He declares any success as his own achievement and portrays any failure or setback as someone else’s fault. In short, Trump fans the flames and then lets others fight the fire. He may be creating more chaos than he bargained for and fostering an out-of-control atmosphere which makes most Americans very nervous. more> https://goo.gl/y9XmRA