- - Thursday, November 10, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Tuesday’s stunning presidential election was, first and foremost, a devastating rebuke of Barack Obama’s presidency, especially his economic record.

Many issues, no doubt, influenced the voters’ decisions to put the Republicans back in charge of the White House and the executive branch of government. But none was more intense than the anger and angst over the economy.

After eight, long, painful years of a weak, slow-growth, underperforming economy, the American people said they had enough, voting to end the Democrats’ wasteful, big spending, scandal-ridden, high tax reign of mediocrity.

Donald Trump ran on many issues, but the core of his pro-growth agenda was across the board tax reforms that would cut the rates for businesses and individuals to get America investing and growing again.

That was the linchpin of Mr. Trump’s extraordinary political victory in the wake of a largely unpopular president whose approval ratings rarely crept out of the 40 percent range, and whose sluggish economy couldn’t do better than an anemic 2 percent growth rate.

Hillary Clinton, who ran as a proxy for the continuation and expansion of another four to eight years of the Obama administration, clung to the Democrats’ irrationally wacky, uninformed, ignorant belief that she could strengthen our economy by raising tax rates on business, investors, job-creators, and anyone who, she believed, made too much money.

To add icing to the GOP’s cake, Republicans held on to the House and Senate, putting their party in full control of the government for the next four, and maybe eight, years.

What this means is that Mr. Trump will sign the Republicans’ tax reform legislation that has been languishing on Capitol Hill for years, as well as the GOP’s repeal and replace bill that will end Obamacare, and tighten budgets that will beef up defense spending.

Equally important, it will mean filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court with a strict constructionist in the mold of the late, great Antonin Scalia.

Mr. Trump has already put forward a lengthy list of possible nominees that have met with widespread approval from Senate conservative leaders.

But the new pro-growth, pro-job incentives can’t come soon enough to get our country back on track.

Mr. Obama and his apologists in the national news media kept insisting that the economy was strengthening, no matter how weak the economic data was.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics last week reported that unemployment was at a low of 4.9 percent last month and that employers added a minuscule 161,000 workers. But the low jobless figure was largely the result of discouraged job-seekers who hadn’t looked for work in a week or more, most of whom were uncounted as unemployed.

If you read way down to the fine print in last month’s BLS jobs report, you will find that a total of 21.1 million people were unemployed for one reason or another.

Yet The New York Times reported that the job numbers showed “an economy that is basically healthy.” Huh?

But the American people knew better and so did the business community.

Here’s what the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of leading U.S. companies, said in a recent report:

The “U.S. economy continues to perform well below expectations. Unemployment is down, but the workforce participation rate is at a 35 year low.

“U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) is growing too slowly — we need policies that will spur economic growth and vitality. The U.S. economy lacks momentum,” the CEOs said.

If Mr. Trump is going to hit the ground running after he’s sworn in next year, he will need a skilled, fully experienced team of people in his Cabinet. And, dare I say it, people who are part of the nation’s political establishment.

It doesn’t get much news coverage, but he has already surrounded himself with some of those people.

Start with the man who heads Mr. Trump’s transition team, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who chaired the National Governors’ Association. The team is run by his longtime adviser Rich Bagger, and includes William Hagerty, a key adviser and strategist in Mitt Romney’s 2012 transition team, and many other veteran establishment operatives.

No single staff person will be more powerful and have more influence in the White House than chief of staff, and Mr. Trump is said to be considering Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, who maintains close ties to all of the GOP’s elected officials.

Former Utah Gov. Michael O. Leavitt, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in George W. Bush’s administration, who headed Mitt Romney’s transition group, is said to be “informally advising” Mr. Trump’s team.

And, talk about the establishment, CNBC reported Thursday that Mr. Trump was considering Jamie Dimon, the CEO of J.P. Morgan, for Treasury secretary.

Mr. Dimon, who describes his political alignment as “barely Democrat,” once said of Hillary Clinton, “she reaches across the aisle.”

So while Mr. Trump poses as the arch enemy of the political establishment, the fact remains that he’s schmoozed with people on both sides of the aisle over his long business career. His decision-making standard can be summed up in “I only like the best.”

Meantime, while Mr. Trump will be focused like a laser beam on the economy, other parts his agenda are in deep doubt.

There is no way a Republican Congress is going to enact trade tariffs, another form of taxation, that would hit consumers in their pocket book and hurt our economy.

As for building a $400 billion, 20-foot wall on our 2,000 mile southern border, and forcing Mexico to pay the bill, it’s never going to happen.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.

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