Trump's Appeal Is More Roosevelt Than Reagan
Regulatory relief and a corporate tax cut, combined with aggressive federal spending on national infrastructure, are likely to raise both the US growth and inflation rates — as the markets appear to think. That much can be expected from a Trump administration. Everything else is uncertain. The president-elect told a television interviewer on November 13 that he would deport 2 to 3 million illegal aliens immediately after his inauguration, although it is unlikely that an operation of such magnitude could be mounted in a short period time under any circumstances.
Of all Trump’s campaign pronouncements, the claim that illegal immigration had worsened economic life for ordinary Americans had the least foundation in economic fact and the strongest resonance among the voters. The actual count of illegal aliens in the United State appears to have fallen somewhat since 2008, if polling organisations like the Pew Institute are correct. But Americans who have difficulty diagnosing the economic problems that bedevil them see the impact of illegal immigration daily. Many voters made immigration a decisive issue, not because they believe that deportations will set the economy right, but because they saw it as a litmus test of whether candidates cared about them. Evidently Trump will make good on his promise, but its impact will be minor.
Few believe that Trump will start a trade war with China. Indeed, China’s stock market is one of the very few emerging equity markets to have risen since the election. Beijing evidently views the president-elect as a pragmatic businessman who drives a hard bargain, but whose object is to make a bargain at the end of the day.
Throughout the campaign, Trump was attacked as insufficiently vigilant about the Russians, or even (as former CIA Director General Michael Hayden alleged) “a useful fool” for the Kremlin. That can be dismissed as campaign Billingsgate. Trump’s closest adviser on national security, the retired chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency General Michael Flynn, published a campaign book with a very harsh view of Russia’s enmity towards Western democracy. The trouble that Trump will have dealing with the Russians (or the Chinese) is precisely the same as the trouble President Obama has had. The technological balance between America’s military on one hand and Russia and China on the other is no longer unambiguously in America’s favour. In Syria, for example, Russia has deployed advanced air defence systems which may be able to target and destroy American stealth aircraft. Because America has never engaged the new Russian system, the Pentagon does not know with certainty what it can do, but senior Air Force commanders do not wish to find out the hard way. Ironically, there is the no-fly zone in Syria that Mrs Clinton talked about during the second presidential debate, except that it is maintained by the Russians, not by the United States.
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