November 9th, 2016


What To Expect From the Unexpected

I certainly didn't expect Trump to win, and I'm not happy about it. Then again, I wouldn't have been happy with a Clinton win. Libertarians don't lay in supplies for election night celebrations. I did have a nice beer--a stout from Shannon, a local microbrewery.

A frequent electoral gambit is to lay out a ten point plan for what the candidate will do first, often called a Contract. Trump, being Trump, has a Contract With the American Voter with four lists of 6, 7, 5, and 10 items each. I doubt that he'll consider them contractually binding, but it's the best clue we have of how he's going to start off his time in office. Here they are, with my comments:

Cleaning up Corruption:
● FIRST, propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress;
I doubt term limits will have as much benefit as the advocates hope, but turnover is good. Everyone can think of one president they've lived through that they're glad couldn't have a third term.
● SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health);
This will result in an amazing number of agencies being redefined as safety and health functions. But it'll probably cut back on the growth of the federal payroll.
● THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated;
And this one will see two simple regulations replaced by one very complex one. The search for sacrificial regulations will slow down the production of new ones.
● FOURTH, a 5 year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service;
Doesn't bother me, but the root of the problem is the total power of the Federal government. As long as government officials are worth buying, people will buy them. Diverting the stream of money into a new channel won't affect the corruption.
● FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government;
As above.
● SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.
As above.

Protecting Workers
● FIRST, I will announce my intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205
Hell, no. Free trade is one of the best anti-poverty programs there has ever been. We get more wealth for everyone. Yes, it's not evenly distributed, but that's always the case with capitalism's creative destruction.
● SECOND, I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership
The TPP is free trade mixed with a bunch of trade restrictions but we come out ahead on net. Bad idea.
● THIRD, I will direct my Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator
Digging around I haven't been able to find the real significance of this. If we're just calling China names, it's posturing. If we impose punitive tariffs because China is fiddling with exchange rates, very bad idea. That's a harsh tax on everyone who buys stuff made in China, which is to say all Americans except the richest.
● FOURTH, I will direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately
See above.
● FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.
I'm generally in favor, though not wanting the feds to override state safety and environmental provisions.
● SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward
I approve.
● SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure
Giving money to the United Nations is almost always a bad idea. Flint can certainly use it to fix their water system.

Security and Rule of Law
● FIRST, cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama
Cancelling executive orders is a routine start-of-administration exercise. I don't expect Trump will be checking if they're unconstitutional.
● SECOND, begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States
Yep, something the President is required to do. Given that many of the judges on that list favor restricting Presidental authority I wonder if Trump will actually nominate them after he realizes they may tell him no?
● THIRD, cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities
Given that Congress makes the budget I'm not sure the President has the authority to cut that funding. Money that comes through executive branch grants probably can be cut. I'm fine with providing negative incentives for encouraging lawbreaking.
● FOURTH, begin removing the more than 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back
Assuming he's referring to people who've been convicted of a crime other than entering the country illegally I'm fine with deporting them. The legality of blocking entrance from countries that won't take their citizens back is something I'd have to research.
● FIFTH, suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.
This is the ugliest one. "Terror-prone regions" is a euphemism for Syria. ISIS was spawned when the US pulled out our troops and created a power vacuum. Then we intervened in the Syrian civil war enough to prolong the bloody stalemate. That gives us some moral responsibility for the refugees fleeing the chaos. The problem is any terrorist would also be happy to use a refugee program to enter the US. And with the Syrian government effectively an enemy of the US they're not going to cooperate in background checks, so "extreme vetting" is just a euphemism for not letting in anyone from there. I'd favor supporting refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan, which is probably more cost-effective than bringing a handful of them to the US.

This is quite long enough for one post so I'll leave the ten proposed laws for another day.