Monday, March 14, 2016

Trump: Big on Rhetoric, Short on Policy Detail

His interview by Hannity some days ago is below.

And of course rhetoric is one thing; if he gets into office what he does may well be very different. In that respect, he is a wildcard.

Note carefully:
(1) Trump says he will not cut entitlements; so, incidentally, does Bernie Sanders.

(2) his major line on the economy is: ditch free trade deals and offshoring of jobs and end the exporting of manufacturing to the Third World (despite laughably paying empty lip service to “free trade”). Bernie Sanders agrees.

But it is difficult to see how he can do this without smashing up the WTO and America’s various free trade deals. That means a revolution in the international trade regime and probably US protectionism and tariffs.

(3) Trump says he wants to spend much more on US infrastructure. Bernie Sanders agrees.

(4) the bad news: he seems to be talking the talk of budget balancing and cutting government spending. But it is bizarrely difficult to see how he can do this if pushes through his massive and regressive tax cut plan and increases military and infrastructure spending. A Trump presidency will either crash the US economy through fiscal austerity, or (perhaps more likely?) Trump will ditch the fiscal responsibility and go for Reaganomics Mark II: a large tax cut, massive deficits and perhaps even increases in discretionary spending. So possibly his fiscal policy, if he gets in, will actually turn out to be expansionary, and generally speaking somewhat like that planned by Bernie Sanders.

(5) on health care: Trump seems to have retreated from any significant government involvement here, and favours market-based models.

(6) Trump rejects open borders. So does Bernie Sanders. But Trump, if builds his wall, deports many illegal immigrants and pursues policies to bring back manufacturing, may actually do something for working class Americans: he will impose a degree of labour market and trade protectionism.

(7) even on foreign policy there are similarities between Sanders and Trump, and Trump generally still rejects the fanatic neoconservative foreign policy in the GOP.
Conclusion: Trump is Bernie Sanders-lite.

The major differences: Trump wants low taxes; Bernie wants high progressive taxes. Bernie is in favour of universal health care; Trump once believed in that, but has retreated into market-based health care.

Of course, as I said, his rhetoric may very well be different from what he does in office.

The bottom line is that Trump will probably either:
(1) crash America by fiscal austerity or continue its economic stagnation, and accelerate its catastrophic decline under neoliberalism (because Trump will impose an extreme form of neoliberalism, albeit maybe with some trade or labour protectionism) or

(2) smash up the current free trade consensus and actually impose some Keynesian stimulus, and trade and labour market protectionism.
Either way, Trump could pave the way for a populist Democrat to reject neoliberalism in the next election cycle.


  1. There are some differences.

    Bernie is more hawkish toward Russia and closer to Hillary than Trump is to any of the neoconservative Republicans.

    Bernie refuses to disavow violence/shutting down Trump rallies, and similar tactics on college campuses by his supporters.

    Bernie won't distance himself from the positions of his SJW/regressive left supporters.

    Bernie is less likely to be neutral on Israel, given his history.

    He probably won't actually do anything good on borders.

    Bernie probably won't have the energy to push anything through or the political acumen. Outside of getting elected in Vermont, he doesn't seem to have ever accomplished anything. Nor has he accomplished anything inside the Senate.

    He doesn't seem like he really wants to win, so he goes easy on Hillary. He will endorse Hillary once he officially loses.

    1. I agree. I think Bernie is like Ron Paul. More interested in changing the terms of debate in the party than actually winning the nomination. He could hammer Hillary on so many things and seems to soft pedal

  2. Anonymous is right about Bernie and violence. Tonight's obliteration of Bernie is a reminder America is not France. In France if you riot you win, in America you lose. Hillary does not deserve to win but Bernie deserves to be humiliated, and was.

  3. You haven't remarked on Bernie's disgraceful post-riot behaviour LK. It should be easy. "Even Donald Trump's vicious rhetoric does not justify shutting down a rally or intimidating his supporters. I condemn such behaviour." Couldn't do it.

    Care to admit you had him wrong, and he's worse than Trump.

    1. Hmmm... in point of fact, I have condemned it as disgraceful, at least in the comments section.

      Also, as disgraceful as Bernie's not condemning the violence is, at least Bernie is not in favour of torture. This still makes him superior to Trump.

    2. Sanders has condemned the violence and no evidence has been put forth that his crowd had anything to do with it. Judging from the smear campaign from the recent Nevada convention, I'd say Hillarybots are behind it - or tagging Bernie with it.

  4. prob not gonna beat isis without extreme measures. torture is bad, but it existed/exists for a reason. not all the world adheres to civilized standards, and when your backs to the wall, you'll use the methods you have to. brutality wins if it isn't stopped with brutality.

    we're already droning innocents. if we put 30k troops on the ground and they capture our guys, torture them to destroy our morale, our response is what? we firebombed and used nukes to win ww2, and call ourselves advanced and liberal?

    isis has less regard for civilized standards the the armies of the middle ages. they're exploiting a vacuum of brutality. we will discover sooner than later how high a price we'll pay to be able to think of ourselves as liberals.

  5. I learned a new word today, for what LK calls the regressive left. Bernshirts. It won't catch on but I like it.