Editorial

What agenda?

Monday, August 21, 2017

People with diverse views blame the controversies surrounding the Trump administration for the President not getting anything on his agenda accomplished. A stagnant federal government that passes no new legislation is regarded across the political spectrum as bad.

This does not make sense. First - getting bad policy implemented can, in fact, be worse than getting nothing passed.

Second - Trump just had a set of campaign slogans, not a policy agenda, with the possible exception of real proposals regarding both illegal and legal immigration.

His ban on immigration from targeted countries has been ruled unconstitutional. His suggestion of moving from a family connection based immigration policy to a merit based policy has been oddly dismissed without serious debate - oddly because adopting an immigration policy as practiced in Canada and Australia could at least arguably have merit.

Trump has impatiently waited for a health care bill to arrive at his desk, even a mean bill, so he could sign it and check off that box on his to do list. Trump had promised to pass a health care law law that would be better and cheaper than Obamacare but then he discovered that health care is a complicated issue. No one had realized that health care was complicated until Trump made that discovery himself.

As of this writing, Trump is getting input from top military advisors regarding the direction on the war in Afghanistan. He might be allowed to implement such a policy without legislative interference since legislators (with a few hawkish exceptions) lack both the vision and courage to take a stand on interventionist foreign policy.

As far as “tax reform,” this refers to tax cuts primarily to rich people with the understanding there will be spending cuts sometime in the future to pay for this. That is something like giving a particularly irresponsible child a five-year advance on his allowance while admonishing him to spending more responsibly in the future. This “tax reform” is not only unlikely to pass but also not necessarily a good thing.

The vaguely defined infrastructure initiative is also being promoted without a way to pay for it. The obvious way to pay for the roads and bridges portion of infrastructure repair would be a fuel tax increase but who has the courage to vote for that?

While nobody likes the idea of government stagnation, there are worse possibilities.