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But trying to rein in globalisation is to fight a war that is largely lost and, so far as the workplace is concerned, increasingly irrelevant. US manufacturing output stands at an all-time high, but manufacturing employment has declined to levels last seen in the late 1940s. Quite a number of Trump’s “forgotten men and women” (a phrase with Depression era echoes) lost good jobs and good pay, not to the Chinese, but to automation — to the robots. Many, many others will suffer the same fate, and no politician, left or right, establishment or populist, really knows what to do about it. This time round, Trump benefited from these fresh additions to the ranks of the early 21st-century’s left-behinds, but if he cannot come to their rescue (he can’t) they will look for help elsewhere, quite possibly to a Democratic party shifting rapidly to the Left.

Meanwhile, Trump’s answer to the economy’s woes is to propose what chancellors of the exchequer once called a dash for growth, combining Reagan-style tax-cutting and deregulation with a $1 trillion infrastructure package, much of which would be financed by the private sector, incentivised in turn by tax credits. As with a great deal of Trump’s programme the details are vague, but it’s a reminder that, even if Trump is again a Republican, he is attached to no one wing of the party. If tax-cutting and deregulation is Reaganesque, upgrading the country’s dilapidated infrastructure harks back to Eisenhower, architect, among other grands projets, of the Interstate Highway System and, as National Review’s Reihan Salam has argued, to Nixon, who (unlike Eisenhower) posed as an opponent of the elite, but, like the general, saw a role for big government. Similarly, Trump will defend the big entitlement programmes — from Social Security (pensions), to Medicare (health care for the elderly) to, perhaps with some tweaks, Medicaid (healthcare for the poor). He knows what his voters want, which is why he is already signalling that his repeal of Obamacare may not be quite as comprehensive as he has promised in the past. The way that Obamacare is structured may be unloved, and the way that it functions is flawed (sharp increases in Obamacare premiums probably played a part in Clinton’s defeat), but chipping away at its benefits will be a hard sell, unless the GOP can find a more credible replacement than it has managed to so far.  

How will all this be paid for? Trump is hoping for a supply-side miracle, with another boost coming, fingers crossed, from the repatriation of corporate funds stashed overseas after the sharp cuts in America’s corporate tax rate (on some measures amongst the highest in the world) that he has in mind. On the other hand, the GOP’s green eyeshade wing, headed by House Speaker Paul Ryan, will be less than convinced by Trump’s maths and with worries over the federal government’s nearly $20 trillion debt likely to increase as interest rates move up, there will be battles to come, battles that will be a reminder of deeper fractures that Trump has opened up on the right, battles in which Democrats, at least on the infrastructure plan, may find themselves in a very strange place, by Trump’s side.

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Juggling For A Cure
January 16th, 2017
2:01 AM
Liberal media and celebrities were acidic toward Trump before election as well. However they did not remember that acid turns blue litmus red.

Milton Ezrati
December 19th, 2016
10:12 AM
Criticism of anything by Andrew Stuttaford always presents a challenge. The problem is he writes so much and is generally so thoughtful and so clever that one cannot help but agree with many of his points. The above has an equivocal title that makes my point - "Trump is No Loser, But Government is Harder". In this one, as with so much written about Trump, it is less his analysis that irritates than his tone. This piece starts with a confession that the author underestimated Trump's ability to take the Republican nomination and a further confession that he underestimated Trump's ability to win the general election. But then, without a hint of further humility, Stuttaford rolls on to examine how Trump's abilities will fall short of the demands of the job. One cannot argue with such a conclusion. I cannot think of anyone who has abilities fully up to the demands of that job. One can only hope that Trump, behind his boastful manner, has enough humility to proceed carefully and to subject his initial attitudes to review. One can only hope, too, that Mr. Stuttaford might reflect on his earlier failures and subject his initial attitudes to review. But he, like so much elite opinion, seems to feel no need to hesitate even for a moment or qualify conclusions in light of past failings. I suspect, though I cannot know, that he, and much elite opinion, cannot help himself because Trump is so unlike him in style, background, and aspiration, and that might be the most mortal of sins. One passage in the article stood out in this regard. About a third of the way through, Stuttaford tells us that Trump has "boasted about hiring the best and letting them get on with it." Then he contrasts that with Trump having added "but I always watch over them." My first problem is his use of the word boasted. Trump is an irritating braggart, but his comment about hiring the best does not sound like a boast at all. On the contrary, it sounds like a promise to the voters and an executive pursuing a well-respected approach to management. Worse is Stuttaford's effort to imply that oversight is somehow a contradiction. An executive, mush less a president, would be a fool to neglect oversight, even of the very best. That is what Eisenhower did with his generals and what many other successful leaders have done. But with tone alone, Mr. Stuttaford leaves the impression that these attitudes reflect inadequacies. There are other examples throughout the article. It is surely Trump's manner that makes good sense sound silly in Stuttaford's ears, but he owes it to his readers to see beyond style to the substance.

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