In the wake of the government shutdown fiasco, you have to begin to wonder whether Trump is becoming a liability to the “Make America Great Again” movement.
It isn’t so much the fact that he reopened the government. It’s the way he did it. He caved in. He totally capitulated to Democrats’ insistence on maintaining an open border, getting absolutely nothing in return. What should he have done? First of all, he should have followed through with his threat of declaring a national emergency. Secondly, he should have withdrawn America from NAFTA and immediately put in place tariffs on all manufactured goods from Mexico, effectively making Mexico pay for the wall like he promised. Finally, he should have immediately begun deporting the “deferred action” illegal aliens that he offered to protect.
The “deal” to reopen the government for three weeks, supposedly for the purpose of giving Trump and congress time to negotiate a deal on border security, is a farce. Trump has given up all leverage that he had on the border wall issue and Democrats have made it crystal clear that they’ll never support a dime for securing the border in the only way that it can be secured – by building a barrier. Either there’ll be an impasse again, or Trump will cave in a 2nd time and try to sell something less than a barrier – maybe more funding for border patrol agents and technology – as a win.
The problem goes far beyond the border wall issue to the half-hearted, inconsistent implementation of virtually every element of his “Make America Great Again” (or “MAGA”) program, a program consisting of three key elements: a re-balancing of trade to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.; putting an end to rampant, out-of-control immigration – both legal and illegal; and putting an end to the rest of the world behaving like a spoiled, entitled teenager treating the U.S. like a doting parent, providing everything it asks for and getting nothing but scorn in return.
We were promised a wall to virtually put an end to illegal immigration across our southern border, to be paid for by Mexico. We were promised a prompt withdrawal from NAFTA, and tariffs on products from Mexico, which would have made fulfilling the border wall promise a snap. We were promised tariffs on Chinese imports and on auto imports.
Soon after the inauguration, Trump invited Red China’s communist dictator to dinner at Mar A Lago and was quickly seduced into holding off on tariffs on China. Then he caved in to pressure not to withdraw from NAFTA and instead got sucked into a ridiculously drawn out negotiation of a new agreement with Mexico and Canada that may or may not be any improvement at all, and that Congress seems in no hurry to take up. Goodbye to any chance of getting Mexico to pay for the wall. He did implement a small ten percent tariff on half of Chinese imports after it became clear that Chairman Xi’s promises were nothing more than a ploy, but caved in on further implementation once the global corporations began their pissing and moaning. Now we’re sucked into the same kind of trade negotiations that the rest of the world has used for decades to stall America’s efforts to stand up for itself.
Then there’s North Korea. Give Trump credit for using the toughest sanctions ever to forced them to agree to denuclearization, but Kim’s promises have proven hollow and North Korea seems to be off the hook once again.
I don’t blame Trump alone for all of this. Everyone around him has been against him from the start – the Democrats who despise him and would never agree to anything he wanted, the media, global corporations, global organizations, his own staff and even members of his own family (globalists like Kushner and Ivanka) who have stonewalled his programs.
All of the backlash from the MAGA initiatives was to be expected. I predicted as much in Five Short Blasts – a period of inflation caused by significant tariff-induced price increases, but eventually followed by explosive economic growth as manufacturing in America returned. Trump needed to go all in with his program quickly, enduring withering criticism for a couple of years or so before having the last laugh when GDP began to explode as factories were rebuilt and as the manufacturing sector of the economy exploded. It would have taken a lot of guts to be almost universally despised in the short term in order to have history remember him as an American hero in the long term.
However, I see a real danger in what’s happening here. Trump’s incomplete implementation of these policies will yield only the pain without achieving the benefits that would eventually come, and will be deemed complete failures. They’ll be forever labeled as “Trumpian” policies that no one will ever dare to attempt again. America will be forever doomed to massive trade deficits and budget deficits, and will eventually collapse under the weight of gross overpopulation and a national debt that the rest of the world can no longer sustain.
It’s not too late for Trump, but it’s getting pretty darn close. He needs to immediately begin ignoring all of globalist noise and whining and go all in with what he knows needs to be done. Declare an emergency. Build the wall. Withdraw from NAFTA and slap tariffs on Mexico, and tell congress that if they don’t like it, then they can pass the new agreement he negotiated. Slap tariffs on all Chinese exports and raise them to 25% or higher. Slap 25% tariffs on all auto imports. Tell the rest of the world that we’re willing to buy from them only as much as they buy from us. Sure, the globalist outcry will be almost unbearable, but so what? Continue down the path you’re on and history will remember you as a complete failure. So what is there to lose?