STOP ME IF YOU'VE HEARD THIS ONE BEFORE

Posted in Rants on November 13th, 2016 by Ed

To distract ourselves from the clown car of halfwits currently being installed into positions of authority and influence in the Executive Branch, let's take a closer look at something that received only token attention during the election: Trump's "First 100 days" agenda. At the time, given his poor performance in the polls, it seemed like a cute attempt to play President for a day. In the new un-reality it deserves a closer look. Nothing here will strike you as strange or unfamiliar, I promise.

Trump's agenda is essentially the far-right part of the Republican Party's economic platform with a smattering of populist-centrist stuff thrown in to make Trump look "different" from the standard Old Republican White Guy. What will undoubtedly happen, now that Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are in charge (nominally, in Ryan's case) of a chamber of Congress, is that all the folksy Populism will be a non-starter in the Capitol. The agenda will be shredded, and when the knives are put away we'll be left with – stop me if you've heard this before – big tax cuts, a partial Health Care Reform repeal (they lack the balls to get rid of the popular parts), and more big tax cuts.

The parts of the Trump agenda fall into three categories: blatantly unconstitutional, totally unrealistic, and standard GOP fare that any Republican suit would bring to the White House and has been since the 70s. Consider, for example, these populist proposals to clean up corruption:

* FIRST, propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress;

* SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health);

* THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated;

* FOURTH, a 5 year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service;

* FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government;

* SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.

One: good luck passing an Amendment. Two is within the president's power for some Federal agencies. Three is unconstitutional on its face and looks like a middle school kid wrote it. Four and Five, blatantly unconstitutional. Six is redundant on existing FEC rules. I'm not cherry-picking here. This is how the entire thing unfolds.

"End offshoring" with "tariffs," spend massively to improve infrastructure…yeah, Mitch McConnell is definitely going to be cool with that. School vouchers? That drum has been banged for 15 years; where is the money going to come from? Building a wall? Unless it's a chain-link fence from Menard's, show me where the money is supposed to come from. Oh, right – those big tax cuts, including slashing the corporate tax rate by more than half, are gonna generate SO MUCH revenue that the lower rate will actually result in more tax dollars. Any of this sounding familiar? If you're the kind of person who "reads books" and stops believing in theories when they're "proven not to work" you may have noticed that Supply Side Economics has a rather…dismal track record. Yet, here we go again.

Attempts at restricting immigration in some draconian fashion, at which he only hints in his agenda, are likely to be the only substantive part of the agenda aside from the tax cuts that Congress is willing to touch. Even then, Congressional Republicans are likely to trim off a lot of the crazy in a cynical effort to win back some ground with Latino voters. Then again, they may go all-in with their new demagogue. Many of them, particularly in the House, are nihilistic enough to do it.

Trump was a godsend for the GOP in one sense – he distracted everyone for an entire year from evaluating just how poorly the party has done with control of Congress. "Obstructionist" doesn't even begin to cover it, as the term implies that they at least accomplished something that counts as what a middle school teacher would describe as an Action Verb. And now Trump, as well as the rest of us, are about to be rudely reminded that for all the talk of the presidency as though it is a Third World dictatorship the office depends heavily on Congress to get anything substantive done, and this is a Congress that has shown that other than tax cuts and trying to close abortion clinics there is basically nothing they will actually do. Add to the equation a president with no temperament for negotiating with pinhead legislators in safe, gerrymandered seats and no real understanding of how the legislative process works and we are looking at several years at the least of getting only the worst parts of what was already bound to be a very bad agenda.