Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Trump’s First Address to Congress


On the positive side, the call for $1 trillion in infrastructure spending is good – provided it does not degenerate into a public-private privatisation scam:

The concern with re-shoring US manufacturing and open support for protectionism is excellent.

Trump even invoked Lincoln and the Republican protectionism of the 19th century, and linked this with immigration restriction:

Ending illegal immigration and reducing legal immigration is what America needs, so a reduction in legal immigration by a shift to a merit-based immigration system (if this is what will happen) is a step in the right direction. This is a pro-working class position.

In my opinion, however, this doesn’t go far enough: H-1B visas in America should be abolished immediately and a moratorium on all Third World mass immigration should be introduced. If any government wants to raise wages and increase job opportunities for its citizens, then breaking the addiction in the West to the unending flow of cheap Third World labour is vital, and immediately.

I don’t see how Trump can (a) cut taxes and (b) increase defence and infrastructure spending without massive Federal deficit spending. Hopefully immigration restriction, with industrial policy, and massive Keynesian stimulus with actually turn the American economy around. A real danger is another financial crisis and the temptation Trump might have to give in to the fiscal conservative hawks.

On the negative side, deregulation was always going to be part of the Trump program (we knew this from the beginning), but that can be fixed by a future Democratic government that isn’t a Neoliberal train wreck.

The health care reform seems a mess, and the only effective solution is a universal system free at the point of delivery: the rich and upper middle class can continue to buy private health care. A universal system free at the point of delivery would increase disposable income for households and help corporations reduce costs, so that it would be part of an industrial policy.

The government debt hysteria was unfortunate. The poorly-regulated financial sector and the huge level of private debt are the two biggest issues that are not being addressed.

On foreign policy, the anti-Iranian moves cave in, to some degree, to Neoconservative and other lobbies in Middle East, but hopefully this won’t go too far. It is unclear whether the administration is retreating from what might have been a badly-needed détente with Russia.


  1. I'm sorry I'm writing under this post, but couldn't find any other way to contact you directly.
    Have you heard of this book?
    Fred Moseley, Money and Totality: A Macro-Monetary Interpretation of Marx's Logic in Capital and the End of the 'Transformation Problem'
    I think it could be interesting to you

  2. There's no indication that health care,free at the point of delivery, is on offer. Private public partnerships are. Dogma rules the GOP!

  3. While not as important as the influence of neocons and other lobbies on middle eastern policy, the experiences guys like Mattis had with Iran during the Iraq war also plays a part in their mistrust of Iran. The Iranians were playing and arming all sides of that fiasco, including the Sunnis, and much of the skepticism about Iran being opposed to the Salafists, instead of supporting them off the record, comes from the role Iran played in Iraq. Hopefully they update their thinking on Iran to match the current circumstances in the region; with the rise of Daesh and the Syrian Civil War, as well as Iran's own ascendance as a regional power, the situation has changed enough that they could be viewed as a legitimate partner in the war against Muslim atrocities. Unfortunately, incompetence is the rule when it comes to US policy in that part of the world.

  4. "There's no indication that health care,free at the point of delivery, is on offer. ... Dogma rules the GOP!"
    Dogma rules Richard McKean!

  5. There's good evidence that Trump is going to pursue a particularly vulgar P3 plan in regards to infrastructure. See here, ala Krugman:

  6. I heard that President Trump invoked Australia's merit points immigration system in his speech. While it may be an improvement on what you folks have now, I'd say don't get too excited.
    Australia also runs a visa system which includes provision for 'skilled' migrants. Migrants entering on these 457 visas don't get to stay permanently, but their participation in the workforce earns them a lot of points if they choose to apply later for permanent residence.
    Hardly a day goes by without some new revelation of the rorting of 457 visas, by either unscrupulous employers, fake training providers or the visa holders themselves. A standout was the brothel owner who bought in a number of ladies from Thailand to work her establishment on 457 visas. She originally claimed that the requisite skills were in short supply in Oz, but when challenged (probably for the first time ever) by immigration officials, changed her story, claiming that the ladies were waitresses. The Department ACCEPTED this and the ladies were welcomed to Australia, enriching our vibrant culture with skills completely unavailable in the native populace. The story came to light when the media reported on the deportation of one of the group, who was under age.
    In addition to the 457 visa scams, we also run big, unsustainable 'legal' migration programs of about 200,000 people (net) each year. A more reasonable number would be about 50,000 per year and I'd be happier still with a cap of 35,000, but the business lobby cries 'growth' and our PM turns it into a slogan. So we have 200K and there's talk of higher numbers next year.
    The moral of the story is, go with a points based immigration program if you like, but don't overlook the fine print and start with a target number in mind.