SOTUS: Great Theater, Great Performance, Great Pot of Pabulum

by | Mar 1, 2017

Wow, what great theater last night!  What a great performance!

It’s as if Trump had studied the State of the Union speeches of past presidents and taken ingredients from each to come up with a policy feast for a hungry public.  The cooks in his policy kitchen are apparently Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton.

Unfortunately, the result was a porridge of protectionism, a soufflé of statism, a cake of contradictions, a pie of platitudes, a rump roast of regulations, a dollop of deregulation, a stew of socialism, a few carrots of capitalism, and to top it off, a huge dessert of debt.

Let’s start with the national debt, because that was the $20 trillion elephant in the gilded room.

Trump said he wants infrastructure spending to rival Eisenhower’s interstate highway program, but he conveniently failed to mention, or didn’t know, that Eisenhower was a deficit hawk.  In spite of big expenditures on the interstate highway system, on the Cold War, and on establishing such new agencies as NASA, the federal debt at the end of Eisenhower’s second term was only $288 billion, or $2.3 trillion in today’s dollars.  Not only that, but the USA was at the height of its economic and military might during his presidency, because most of the rest of the industrialized world was still rebuilding after the destruction of the Second World War.  Also, this was before the advent of the social-welfare state and its associated costs, which today consume most of the federal budget and are on automatic pilot.

Oh, Eisenhower also implemented Operation Wetback (that’s what it was called) to deport tens of thousands of Mexican migrant workers.

And let’s not forget that Eisenhower warned about the “military-industrial complex.”  The complex now spends twice as much as the nation that ranks second in military spending:  China.  But that’s not enough spending for Trump and the hawks in the Republican Party.

Incidentally, Trump’s infrastructure spending on bridges, tunnels, airports, and roads will reward cities and states that have been the most irresponsible in their fiscal matters—the states that are heavily Democrat, that are dominated by ravenous public-sector unions, and that have massive unfunded liabilities for unsustainable public pensions.

Speaking of the military, Trump was correct that we wasted $3 trillion in Iraq and elsewhere, that our allies should pick up their share of military spending, and that we should win when we go to war.  But then he said we’re going to beat ISIS, without specifying how or what it will cost.  He also said that we are going to honor our veterans, implying that we are going to give Veterans Affairs more money, as if a lack of money is the problem with VA hospitals and services.

The most moving part of the speech was when he honored the Navy Seal who died in Yemen.  Lost in the emotions of the moment was the question of what Navy Seals are doing in that godforsaken country.  Our Middle Eastern allies in the neighborhood should be dying there, not Americans.

Then there is the matter of Trump’s support of Israel, a country that gets the most foreign aid from us, over $3 billion worth.  Does this put America first?  Other questions:  Putting aside domestic politics, does Israel or American benefit the most from the two countries being allies?  Is it a mutual or one-sided relationship?  Does the relationship protect Israel and endanger us?   Of course because of domestic politics, it is forbidden to ask such questions, as asking the questions gets one labeled as anti-Semitic.

As every president has said for the last 40 years, Trump said he is going to stop the illegal drug trade.  In other words, he is going to more aggressively execute the War on Drugs.  (He is already on record as being against drug legalization, which is a surefire way of reducing the importation of illicit drugs.)  At the same time, he is going to resurrect inner-cities and dramatically cut crime in them.  But two of the top problems in inner-cities are the War on Drugs and the fact that 70% of young black men are raised in fatherless homes, due to the destructive effects of the welfare state, which, combined with drug dealing, is the root cause of crime, high incarceration rates, and high dropout rates in inner-cities.  But Trump’s lofty rhetoric about stopping illegal drugs was short on specifics, and he was completely silent about the problem of fatherless families.  On the other hand, kudos to Trump for speaking of the problem of blacks being trapped in failing schools.  Unfortunately, choice in education (aka vouchers) will have limited effectiveness if the larger social problems aren’t solved.

Trump went on to say that he is going to help the governors fix Medicaid so that no one falls through the cracks, is going to add a new entitlement of paid family leave, is going to see that female entrepreneurs get the funding they need (Is this a problem?), and is going to reduce the price of drugs, apparently by presidential edict.  Notwithstanding that such initiatives will expand the regulatory state and result in inevitable mission creep in the bureaucracies responsible for their implementation and ongoing operation, Trump is going to simultaneously cut regulations.  Stay tuned as he pulls rabbits out of a hat.

By the way, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance already sets aside federal contracts for minority and female businesses.  Apparently, it’s not doing a very good job.

Burp!  Excuse me, but the pot of pabulum dished out last night has given me indigestion.  I have to end here and run to Walgreens for some Maalox.

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