Many voters are rightfully frustrated and have turned to Donald Trump and his trademarked “Make America Great Again” motto. The last eight or so years haven’t been great for most of us.
While the National Bureau of Economic Research says the Great Recession officially began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009, the recovery has been one of the slowest on record. For example, it took five years to 2014 to regain the jobs lost during the Great Recession. The growth of per capita disposable income since recovery started has been much slower than during previous recoveries. While unemployment has fallen, so has the labor force participation rate, meaning many workers have given up seeking work.
Voters once again list the economy as their top concern in this election. Illegal immigration and trade agreements have received much of the blame for our economic woes, particularly from Trump. We do need to control our borders and enforce our existing immigration laws. Any country that fails to control its borders will eventually lose its identity and culture. We need to stop rewarding – as President Obama has and Democrats propose additional rewards – those who have broken our immigration laws while others have patiently waited for years to come here.
Free trade gets a bum rap. While it has cost us some jobs, we all benefit from lower prices and a broader selection of goods. Thanks to free trade, most of us can afford electronic goods such as smart phones, flat screen televisions and computers. Clothing and footwear are much more affordable now. Walmart likely wouldn’t exist without free trade.
What we need is to get our economy growing again at historical rates! That will increase jobs, incomes and opportunities. Then our college graduates won’t have to move back home and live in the basement while looking for a job in their field. A growing economy will do wonders for our attitude and outlook.
Obama has demonized job creators – “You didn’t build it!” – for eight years. Tax rates, on both income and capital gains, have been significantly increased on high achievers. Higher taxes or lower rewards reduce the funds available and the incentive to take risks on new ventures.
Government regulations have grown at a furious pace during his two terms, with ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank notable examples. Obama has resorted to executive orders when he fails to sell Congress on his regulatory proposals. He is setting us up for big increases in the cost of electricity and other energy. Both Democrat candidates for president promise to do even more. Maintenance of the rule of law and regulatory predictability are prerequisites for a growing economy.
Why isn’t Trump the answer? Some supporters simply want to get even with the Democrats and don’t care about the means. While some more stand -up national Republicans would certainly be welcome, substituting Emperor Trump for Emperor Obama won’t ‘Make American Great Again’ or improve our prospects. Trading Obama’s resentment and insults for Trump’s will only put our delicate democracy at more risk.
Trump is the ultimate “insider” or “one percenter.” Much of his self-proclaimed tremendous wealth has been based on his family’s wealth, eminent domain (taking property over the owner’s objections), and political and financial connections. He considers himself an excellent deal maker, but he demonstrates no understanding of the president’s responsibilities as outlined in the Constitution – the President executes the laws made by Congress. He can’t just fire Congress or anyone else that disagrees with him.
While negotiating with Congress on legislation and the budget would represent progress from the Obama era, Trump’s deals would be more like Obama’s side deal – no need for Constitutionally-required Senate confirmation – with Iran and equally successful.
Your vote in Tuesday’s election is an important one for our own future. There are candidates committed to Constitutional government and the rule of law. The Founders understood the dangers of democracy – the ability of the majority to exploit a minority – which is why our Constitution has checks and balances. Even if Trump turns out to be a conservative and there is little assurance of that, two wrongs won’t make a right.