Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Behind the chaos curtain, Trump is grinding out a lot of policy wins

Some grudging admissions from the "Boston Globe" below, in the heart of "blue" country:

President Trump’s White House presents a daily tableau of chaos, falsehoods, caustic attacks, and allegations of corruption. But despite his stormy and impulsive management style — and in some ways, because of it — Trump is presiding over an administration that is grinding out policy victories with surprising efficiency, fulfilling campaign promises and propelling his support among Republican voters to record heights.

Nearly 18 months after taking office, his accomplishments have reached something of a critical mass, with Republicans rallying around him over wins that have thrilled the party base from social conservatives to defense hawks. The majority of his successes have been reversals of the Obama agenda, a goal shared by Republican leaders who are now tacitly or actively participating in his remake of the 164-year-old Republican Party to match his own image and priorities.

Republican supporters assert that, after a rocky start in 2017, Trump has learned on the job and is now firmly in control of the GOP and the nation’s agenda. If they are right, it is certainly Democrats’ worst nightmare.

“Every month that goes by strengthens the president’s hand,” said Christopher Ruddy, a Trump confidant and the chief executive of the right-leaning media outlet Newsmax. “His foreign policy success, especially now with North Korea, makes people think, ‘OK, he’s different. I don’t agree with all his approaches, but something is working here and let’s give it a try.’”

Even Republicans who have been highly critical of Trump are torn. They are impressed with the pace of his work on the conservative wish list, as they continue to fret about the direction he is pulling the Republican Party, away from its traditional ideological pillars and toward one that revolves around Trump’s singular personality.

Despite a chaotic and scandal-plagued tenure, President Trump has racked up a long list of conservative victories after 18 months in office.

“When are Republicans going to stand up to Trump? Never. They’re getting what they want,” said Charlie Sykes, a longtime Wisconsin-based conservative talk radio host.

“This is the agonizing dilemma for a lot of folks,” he said. “You get the tax cuts, but then of course you might have to swallow a trade war. You get federal judges, but you might also have to bite your tongue when you see attacks on the rule of law. A lot of Republicans and conservatives are really wrestling with that checkered record.”

Trump has reshaped the federal judiciary system — from his Supreme Court appointment of Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch to dozens of lifetime appointments in the lower courts. He has taken a sledgehammer to Barack Obama’s environmental policies. He has appeased social conservatives with policies targeting transgender rights. He has eviscerated Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

And while he is satisfying conventional Republican constituencies like business executives and evangelicals, his penchant for disrupting the status quo is appealing to a non-traditional populist base hungry for action in a capital long frozen in place by partisan divisions. In the past week alone he has blown up decades of GOP doctrine and conventional wisdom by upending decades-old trade policies, feuding with mainstay allies, and opening up direct talks with North Korea.

His record goes a long way toward explaining why Republican leaders are so often silent in the face of new Trump policies such as cozy relations with Russia and attacks on federal law enforcement. Members of Congress can read polls like anyone else: Nearly 90 percent of Republicans approve of the job Trump is doing, which puts him at a higher level of support than any president has had with his own party aside from George W. Bush, whose popularity soared after the 9/11 terror attacks. Among all Americans, Trump’s approval rating has consistently climbed above 40 percent in recent weeks — low for historic standards but a resurgence for him.

Many candidates are hugging Trump tightly, running ads that feature him prominently and tout how closely aligned they are to his policies. Republican primary voters in South Carolina last week ousted an incumbent, Representative Mark Sanford, who had been critical of Trump, and in Virginia they nominated a controversial US Senate nominee, Corey Stewart, who has modeled his campaign on Trump in both substance and style.

“They’re talking about things he wants to do, especially immigration,” said Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor at the Cook Political Report who closely tracks races around the country. “The most frequent mention of something that he has done is tax cuts.”

Trump’s surge in strength highlights the stakes for Democrats in 2018. If they hope to slow him down they need to win back majorities in Congress, and there have been some troubling signs.

In Florida — the nation’s largest swing state and a key to the 2020 presidential election — some 48 percent of voters approve of the job Trump is doing, compared with 49 percent who disapprove, according to a recent survey conducted for Politico and AARP. His numbers are even better among voters age 50 and older, which is an important factor in a state rich in reliably voting retirees.

In the US Senate race, incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson is running neck and neck with Republican challenger Rick Scott, who is the current governor.

“This is what keeps me up at night,” said Peter Fenn, a longtime Democratic strategist. “I’m afraid that Democrats are so upset with the abnormality of Donald Trump that they’re not focusing enough on the substance — on the policies and the programs and the damage that he’s doing to the country.”

“To pretend nothing’s getting done, or it’s just about the tax bill and North Korea — even if those are front of mind — is a mistake,” he added.

Fenn thinks Democrats need to make a stronger argument about why voters should reward them with majorities: that they could be an effective check on Trump.

“This is not a competent man in charge here. But that doesn’t make any difference,” Fenn said. “There are people, whether in the Justice Department dealing with immigration or in housing and urban development dealing with help for poor people — you’ve got ideologies in there who are undermining, in our view, clear, right policy objectives.”

In many cases, Trump has managed to impose his will on issues despite intra-party divisions that have prevented sweeping legislation from clearing Congress.

While Congress was unable to repeal Obama’s signature health care law, for instance, Trump and Republicans have devised ways to weaken it substantially. In the December 2016 tax cut bill, they ended the individual mandate requiring that virtually all Americans have health insurance. And now the Justice Department has said it will not step in legally to protect patients with pre-existing conditions hit with coverage denials or exorbitant premiums.

Longer term, there is a downside to many of Trump’s actions, and many of them are still a work in progress. Talks with North Korea, for example, show the power of Trump’s stagecraft to punch through decades of deadlock, but many Republicans worry that he is giving away too much without any firm commitments from Kim Jong Un, a ruthless dictator who has recently gone through a rapid public relations remake.

Trump’s policy successes also could be fleeting: Most of them have come through executive orders, which means they could be undone as quickly as he enacted them. Trump has issued such orders at a rate of 54 per year, a brisker pace than any other president since Jimmy Carter, according to data kept by the American Presidency Project.

Still, key members of Trump’s Cabinet have proved lethally efficient when it comes to gutting Obama-era policies.

His secretaries and administrators have slashed the size of federal parkland, rescinded fuel economy standards, opened up new offshore oil and gas drilling along US coastal waters, and authorized construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to bring oil from Canada to the United States. They have dismantled a unit of the Department of Education that investigated some for-profit schools, and have delayed rules designed to protect borrowers defrauded by predatory lenders.

“In those places where he placed very conservative people who had a clear agenda . . . there is definitely big change happening in subterranean ways,” said Daniel Gitterman, a professor of public policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who has studied Trump’s executive orders. “Perhaps by all the focus on dysfunction of the White House, we’re missing that he’s got some lieutenants who have a clear mission.”



54% of alien children, teens, on welfare, nearly half for adults

More than half of all non-citizen children and teens in the United States are receiving taxpayer-funded welfare, mostly Medicaid, while nearly half of all non-citizen adults legally in the country are on welfare, according to a new report.

In a just-released study of welfare use by U.S. born Americans, naturalized citizens and non-citizen aliens, the Migration Policy Institute found that of the 22 million non-citizens in the country, 10.3 million are one at least welfare program.

The report said that 54.2 percent of children and teens up to age 17 receive at least one of four major public welfare benefits while its 46.3 percent for those aged 18-54 and 47.8 for older aliens.

By comparison, 32 percent of the U.S. born population of 270 million receive some welfare. Of those, 45.8 percent are children and teens, 30 percent are aged 18-54 and 22.5 percent are age 55 and older.

The report warns that the Trump administration is considering new rules that would make it difficult for immigrants to receive a green card if they or one of their dependents are receiving Medicaid, cash welfare, food stamps or Social Security benefits.

MPI estimates that the law would have a “chilling effect” on immigration and cut welfare use by aliens significantly, likely what the Trump administration wants to hear. According to the report:

Although it is difficult to estimate precisely how many people would alter their behavior in response to the proposed change in public-chart policy, if immigrants’ use patterns were to follow those observed during the late 1990s there could be a decline of between 20 percent and 60 percent -- and that even some members of groups exempt from the new rule [e.g. refugees] would likely withdraw from pubic programs.

MPI noted that U.S. born children of non-resident immigrants could be hurt by the changes.



Small Business Optimism Through the Roof,/b>

Business optimism soars to 1980s levels. Good news for America. Good news for Trump.   

Thanks to President Donald Trump’s aggressive agenda of cutting onerous regulations coupled with the passage of the GOP tax cuts — which not a single Democrat voted for — the U.S. economy has blasted out of the eight-year doldrums that Barack Obama once labeled the “new normal.” The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) noted that, this past May, optimism among small businesses hit the second-highest level ever recorded, just shy of the record set in 1983. And who was president in 1983?

The NFIB gave credit for the optimism primarily to Republican tax reform, writing, “The new tax code is returning money to the private sector where history makes clear it will be better invested than by a government bureaucracy.” But it also pointed to Trump’s policies, noting, “Regulatory costs, as significant as taxes, are being reduced.” NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg explained just how well small business is doing: “Small business owners are continuing an 18-month streak of unprecedented optimism, which is leading to more hiring and raising wages. While they continue to face challenges in hiring qualified workers, they now have more resources to commit to attracting candidates.” NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan added, “Main Street optimism is on a stratospheric trajectory thanks to recent tax cuts and regulatory changes. For years, owners have continuously signaled that when taxes and regulations ease, earnings and employee compensation increase.”

Meanwhile, Democrats and leftists can only see negatives. Nancy Pelosi continues to decry the Republican tax cuts as bad for America and pledges to roll them back if Democrats regain control of Congress. And yet, the government isn’t hurting for tax revenue — the Fed just collected a record high in individual income taxes through May. Do Democrats really believe that Americans are longing for the years of next-to-no growth in the overly regulated Obama economy?

And then there’s #Resistance leader Bill Maher, who acknowledges the fact that the economy is doing great but whose leftist desire for greater government control over the lives of citizens trumps any joy he has for the growing economy. In fact, he’d rather Americans suffer under a bad economy if it gets the Left back into power. For leftists like Pelosi and Maher, the real issue is one of power.

It would seem that Trump and Republicans have been the ones listening to Americans, while Democrats and leftists are focused solely on preaching their socialist ideology, irrespective of reality or the Constitution.



Why Kanye West and More Black Americans Are Supporting Trump

Kanye West surprised the American music scene by dropping a single, "Ye vs. The People," in which he and fellow rapper T.I. go back and forth about their political views.

Some are calling his vocal support of President Donald Trump nothing more than a publicity stunt. But even if that's true, West is bringing attention to some very important issues.

At what point did Trump become such a villain and the blame for everything and everyone's problem?

An article from Revolt TV points to over 35 positive rap references to Trump, including Jay Z, Ice Cube, Fat Joe, Lil Kim, Nicki Minaj, and Meek Mill. You get my point.

FiveThirtyEight did a study on 266 hip hop songs and lyrics referencing Trump and Hillary Clinton. From 1989 until 2015, Trump was positive and represented money, power, and what many strive to achieve, including "Listen I ain't from the slums, I fought my way up out the slum / Arrogant rich n-- , we might vote for Trump," Cam'ron rapped on "Dope Spot" in 2015 .

Most references to Clinton were negative, including "Never Put Your Trust in Hillary Rodham".

Even some of the most recognized black leaders, including Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton praised Trump for his diversity efforts. Trump endorsed Jackson in his failed attempt to run for president years ago.

So something besides just ideological differences has to be going on here, right?

Is it Trump? Is it the Republican Party? Is it the policies he represents? Most people I ask give reasons that are personal, as well as what they've heard through liberal media.

In the song West said, "See that's the problem with this d- nation / All Blacks gotta be Democrats, man, we ain't made it off the plantation."

And while I wouldn't put it quite the same way, I do believe many of the policy priorities so strongly supported by the left do more to keep people poor than they do to lift them out of poverty.

According to Forbes, "Welfare offers short-term help and long-term poverty." The first failure of government welfare programs is to favor help with current consumption while placing almost no emphasis on job training or anything else that might allow today's poor people to become self-sufficient in the future.

It's hard to argue against policies that will reduce energy poverty for black and minority communities, or to defend why you dislike Betsy DeVos and K-12 education policy under this administration promoting school choice when your child attends private school.

Opportunities to pursue the American dream without worrying that an occupational license scheme will keep you from starting your own business have become a cornerstone of conservative policy, and the opportunity to receive justice under the law and take mental health into consideration is getting more and more attention every day.

These are policy priorities of the Trump administration and issues I was in favor of long before Trump became a candidate. These are issues that most African-Americans and other minorities believe in.

I rode a bike and delivered newspapers every morning from sixth through 12th grade and earned a football scholarship.

I've also been a small business owner under Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Trump. These and other experiences have allowed me to see life through a different lens.

For me, there's no comparison. We've been more successful as a small business and family under these Republican administrations than under the Obama administration. That's why I believe in opportunity over handouts, and empowerment over entitlements.

When it comes down to it, it's about opportunity, and that's something we should all get behind. However, like many other blacks who have spoken out in support of the Trump administration, I've been called names, lost friends, and gotten all sorts of clapback because I see things differently.

I'm a husband and father whose children are taught to respect everyone's point of view-even if you don't agree. But more and more, those who don't follow the narrow box built for us by the left are written off as crazy.

However you choose to vote, we should all be able to agree to respect each other. Just because we disagree doesn't mean we're enemies. So, do you, Kanye West! And props for speaking your truth. We should all feel comfortable doing the same.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


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