LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Personality shapes performance of Trump
In his letter to the Pioneer on Jan. 28, Fulton Gallagher challenged us to separate dislike for Donald Trump’s personality from assessing his fitness for office. As an economist, I have been trying to understand how Donald Trump’s character has shaped his business practices and his performance as president, especially in staffing the government and adopting economic policies.
Objective observers of Trump’s business practices over the years have ample reason to question his fitness for the presidency. He has used borrowing and bankruptcies for personal gain for years, but this does not translate into sound economic policies.
His business behaviors seem to have fed a distorted ego so he is incapable of delegating authority as is required for successfully governing. It is disturbing how often he’s had to say “you’re fired” to people in his administration. The record of ethical scandals amassed in Trump’s first year puts the lie to his promise to drain the swamp.
Trump’s promises of tax reform and policies to help the working class seemed to have positive potential. Many economists recognize that we must practice capitalism better so that it does not leave so many people and communities behind. Donald Trump’s extreme favoritism toward corporations and Wall Street are having the opposite effect. The tax cuts to middle and working class Americans are dwarfed by the cuts to corporations and millionaires.
Rather than achieving much needed revenue-neutral tax reform, the tax cuts are pushing the annual deficit back to $1 trillion and will add $1.5 trillion to our national debt. At this stage in the business cycle we should be narrowing deficits and even running the rare surplus in order to pay down past debt.
The Trump/Republican calculation seems to be that a short-term “sugar high” will help them in upcoming campaigns and long-term damages won’t be understood until it’s too late to hold them accountable. This extremely pro-rich tax structure will mean that future burdens to answer for this fiscal recklessness will fall even more heavily on the struggling people Trump claimed he’d help.
Similarly, he won support in part by attacking trade policies as a scapegoat for the widening divide between rich and poor. It is too early to tell how protectionist he’ll be and how much chaos will result. Ironically, Trump’s trade crapshoot will likely hurt most the farmers and workers from areas that helped him win the Electoral College.