Another Easy Win for Trump

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Another of Donald Trump's campaign promises appears to be low-hanging fruit, a little like that silly wall. (But I'll reluctantly give one cheer to this one.) And, once again, his predecessors have set the table for him with bad policy.

The Washington Times recently considered the question of how Trump was going to pay for the $1 trillion in new infrastructure spending he promised, and came up with the following:

... For years the Obama administration has tangled up the [Greater Moose's Tooth Development] project in regulatory red tape. "We are ready to break ground on day one after we get the permit," a frustrated Connoco-Phillips vice president John Dabbar tells me. "We're going to employ nearly everyone up there," he adds. It still hasn't been approved because President Obama hates fossil fuels.

If Donald Trump is smart, he will green-light the drilling project the day he enters office.

Now multiply this story by several hundred at least. The radical green agenda of the Obama regime has for eight years canceled, delayed, denounced and disrupted these types of smart energy, mineral and transportation projects all over the country. The value of these financially lucrative and job-creating initiatives -- such as the Keystone XL pipeline -- is in the hundreds of billions of dollars. [link removed]
In other words, all Trump has to do is the part of his job Obama was worst at: get out of the way. The Washington Times goes on to note that this spending both (1) avoids adding to the federal deficit, and (2) will increase the amount of money the government can loot via taxation. The second of these, while true, is where, I believe, I part ways with Stephen Moore of FreedomWorks. Trump can look like a savior by doing virtually nothing here, but the power of the state over the economy will remain, to be abused another day. (Presidents shouldn't have to "green light" anything in the economy other than those relatively few things necessary for the government to protect individual rights.) Oh, and we might be able to kick the can of entitlement spending down the road a little bit further.

I have expressed my concern that Trump, a businessman, will be wrongly taken (or portrayed) as an exponent of capitalism. That concern remains, and is now joined by another, synergistic one: The partial unleashing of our economy that such a move (and others like it suggested by some of his cabinet picks) may make it harder, by lulling the public, to advocate much-needed, fundamental reforms. We can suddenly start doing well (or appearing to, at least in comparison to now), and those who, like Trump, regard regulation and government takings as necessary, will appear to have been vindicated.

Proponents of liberty will have to guard against calling Trump one of us, and we will need to remind everyone why the reforms he won't do on principle, nonetheless remain necessary. We may well need the band-aid of economic breathing room, but we mustn't forget that it is only a band-aid.

-- CAV


Steve D said...

'The partial unleashing of our economy that such a move (and others like it suggested by some of his cabinet picks) may make it harder, by lulling the public, to advocate much-needed, fundamental reforms.'

You have a point but I'm not sure there is anyway to avoid this at the moment. Anytime the government reduces taxes, or regulations or green lights development which has been halted, it will improve the economy. I guess an argument you could use is: if reducing taxes so much improves the economy, extrapolate what would happen with even lower taxes (or even further; say a maximum taxation rate of 0)

However you mentioned in a previous post that Trump had neither the philosophical base not the political capital to follow through (even less that the conservatives) and therefore, I think he will for the most part succumb to outside pressure and not get much good done at all.

Gus Van Horn said...


You're right about what I am saying applying any time there is a small lessening of the government's stranglehold on the economy.

But it has been awhile since we've had to think about that.