Trump Recently In A Tweet Complained Media Is Ignoring All The Great Things He’s Doing And Is Instead “Trying Endlessly To Make Me Look As Bad An Evil As Possible”
We’d argue that Trump himself, not the media, is to blame for looking so bad and evil. Perfect example: the flag above the White House going from half-staff to full-staff to half-staff again, as the President wrestled with just how much to publicly disrespect the recently deceased Senator John McCain, after quite possibly overestimating how much his base would enjoy him snubbing the Arizona Senator, who’d just lost a battle with brain cancer. And the President’s animus seeming to never quite allow him to understand why McCain refused to show blind loyalty to him (as much of the rest of the Republican party has). So it’s hard to move beyond a President who talks all the time about how he’s treated “unfairly”, when nothing’s more unfair than the way Trump first brutally blindsided the Vietnam war hero, and then expected zero repercussions.
Setting that aside–as hard as that is to do–we did find a handful of policies and initiatives we like.
• Starting with the most recent: Trump’s announcement of an agreement-in-principle on an updated trade deal with Mexico. Yes, it’s not a done deal yet, and yes, it’s really only 1/2 a deal since Canada is missing right now, and they’re the 3rd partner. But far from the highly disruptive re-envisioning (or even utter trashing) of NAFTA Trump has repeatedly promised, it’s a lot closer to a common-sense updating of a pact that was due for some updating: the original version was signed long before the internet really even existed. (Of course Trump wants to rename it, to put his mark on it and in this case eliminate part of the Clinton legacy, but you can’t have everything…)
So far, from what we’re hearing about what’s in it, the new partial-NAFTA agreement seems pretty good:
- Most of the current free trade relationship between the U.S. and Mexico stays the same.
- Much of the change involves the automotive industry, specifically increasing the percentage of raw materials and parts originating in North America (which means less from Asia and Europe), and mandating minimum average wages for many workers in that industry, regardless of what country they’re in. And that could bring jobs back to the U.S. It even requires Mexico to do a better job of protecting whales and sea turtles. Parts of it seem like the kind of thing Democrats would normally propose. (And at least a little ironic considering the President is dead set against raising the basic minimum wage, and is intent on ignoring animal habitats elsewhere in favor of corporate interests.) Of course, higher wages and more locally made parts will likely mean higher prices for cars in the U.S. And that in turn could require tariffs on imported vehicles that would have to stay in place for a long, long time.
- As we mentioned several weeks ago, a lot of the stuff we’ve mentioned above had already pretty much been settled upon a while ago. The real sticking point was the U.S.’s insistence that the 3-way trade deal be up for renegotiation every 5-years. And this seems to be where the most movement was of late, and what actually seemed to get it (nearly) done. It also represents a huge concession on the part of the U.S. The way the deal goes now, the three countries will check in on how things are going in 6 years, and if it’s all OK, they’ll extend it for 16 years, when it’ll probably be time for another sensible revision anyway. So all-in-all, not bad.
Except for the question of what happens with Canada? Of course the easiest outcome is for Canada to sign on. And Trump’s stunt of prematurely announcing the deal, and insisting he’d go it alone with Mexico if need be, is clearly aimed at pressuring Canada to do just that. And we think they probably will, especially given the U.S. concession on timing, duration and renegotiation. On the other hand, while Canada is the U.S.’ biggest trading partner, and their easiest trade route is across their 5,525 mile long mutual border, Canada is also far better positioned than Mexico to greatly expand trade with the EU and China. Trump is counting on the fact that no one is ever going to stand up to him, because it’s too risky to lose the U.S. as a trading partner. (The EU seems to be taking the attitude that someone sane will come along as President of the U.S. at some point, so for now they’ll just grin and bear it). But at some point, someone will challenge Trump.
• Here’s another item we like coming directly from Trump: his recent proposal that public companies no longer be required to issue quarterly earnings reports, and instead do them twice yearly. We think that’s a great idea: because quarterly reports put too much pressure on management to focus on short-term returns to shareholders and often prevent corporations from embarking on longer term projects that might not be profitable for a while. We firmly believe this type of approach could lead to more innovation, and shareholders would still be serviced by the fact that most CEO salaries these days are based on stock price performance, so they wouldn’t have to worry about top executives not doing everything they can to drive their stock price up anyway.
And…what else? That’s about it. So maybe it’s less than a handful.