Donald Trump, who is not even in office yet, is already effecting change by keeping American jobs. Even Ronald Reagan had to wait until his first day in office to get our Iran hostages released.
Trump has set about prioritizing his campaign promises. Most will have to do with the economy, and I hope he reconsiders his protectionist trade rhetoric.
He did backtrack on one major campaign promise so far: to see that Hillary Clinton goes to jail for a long time over her foundation and private server crimes. The only person who seems disappointed about Trump’s change of heart is Bill Clinton.
This was a part of the populist bravado that got Trump elected but that most knew he would not pursue. If you took the campaign literally, George Clooney would be moving to a Greek island and Hillary Clinton to Rikers Island.
The only thing that has come true so far is that Gary Busey fled to Canada. But he did so because he thought it would keep him from getting drafted for the Vietnam War.
Trump is going to renegotiate NAFTA, our trade agreement with Mexico. As the agreement now stands, we ship Spring Break kids and our crappy jobs to Mexico, and they ship Mexicans and pot to the USA. Many of us are thinking, “Unless we want to pick our own avocados and have them cost us $12 each, slow down Mr. President-elect. Maybe we are getting the better of this deal.” I’ve got an outside fireplace to build next month, so wait until it’s done to deport.
The tone of the general election was that, if elected, Trump was going to build a wall and Mexico was going to pay for it. If Hillary was elected, she was going to build an abortion clinic in Texas and Sen. Ted Cruz was going to pay for it. We knew the reality would differ.
Trump has already moonwalked back building a full wall along the border with Mexico. Anyone with any sense knew it was not doable. Now he promises to draw a line in the desert sand between us and Mexico and make Mexico pay for the stick.
Even before he was elected, Trump met with President Pena Nieto of Mexico. They both said they forgot to discuss just who would pay for the wall. But to be fair, who among us has ever gone to Mexico and really wanted to remember everything?
This wall will not affect many Mexicans, since most of them are already living in the USA anyway. Most illegal immigrant Mexican men are happy with increased border security, as it keeps their in-laws from visiting over the holidays.
Trump is now balancing his populist rhetoric with what is realistic, doable and helpful to the American economy. He cannot publicly harangue every company like Carrier into staying in the country. He can’t run the economy by tweeting 140 characters.
With free trade, companies and currency flee across borders to where they are treated best, more rapidly than ever these days. Jobs and cash have continued to flee our shores under Obama. Communist China recently bought the Miss America Pageant. So Trump suggesting that his portly Miss Universe needed to lose a few pounds might soon seem like the gentle, good old days.
Trump knows the long-term solution is to untangle American corporations from the petty and punitive regulations Obama imposed on them, starting with Obamacare. Then he must lower the corporate tax rates and bring sanity to our Byzantine tax code.
Bowing to the economic populist political cry to raise tariffs on our trading partners will not work. As Americans learned with the Smoot-Hawley Act in the 1930s (the knee-jerk reaction of charging up to 50 percent tariffs on imported products), they actually paid the 50 percent increase in the cost of their goods. Smoot-Hawley, along with big-government program growth under FDR, prolonged the Great Depression.
Trump’s instincts are generally very good. I hope he does not disrupt free and fair trade; it has improved the lot of mankind like nothing else in history.
Hopefully, members of the GOP will spend their legislative currency well. They have the coveted presidency and both houses of Congress, where any group of idiots could legislate what they want. But if politicians have shown us anything — over and over again — it is that they are not just your average idiots.
Ron Hart is a syndicated op-ed humorist, award-winning author and TV/radio commentator, you can reach him at Ron@RonaldHart.com, Twitter @RonaldHart or visit RonaldHart.com