Monday, May 8, 2017

My posts on President Trump...

...last week were interrupted by my Urban Hike with Mike recap on Thursday and the unemployment report on Friday, which actually required me to do my job.

To review, on Monday I talked about Trump's lack of accomplishments at the 100-day mark, on Tuesday I asked three nagging questions I still have about the 45th president, and on Wednesday I opined on why Trump won and Clinton lost.

Today's post (and I'm still kind of busy with the markets) will be brief. It's about buckets -- three of them to be exact -- and how I would organize Trump's presidency so far into those three buckets.

Bucket No. 1: Russia

We know Vladimir Putin hacked the election with the intention of helping Trump and hurting Clinton -- the Intelligence Community has said so with "high confidence." The question of course is, was there collusion between the campaign and the Russians, and if so how much? My guess -- and it's all a guess at this point -- is that people like Carter Page, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn were all involved to some extent but that Trump was more of a "useful idiot." The problem for Trump, though, is did he get wind of it at some point and participate in a cover-up? I'm assuming we'll get the answers to all of these questions sometime in Trump's first term, but it could take a while.

Bucket No. 2: Trump's business/conflicts of interest

While Bucket No. 1 is disturbing and Bucket No. 3 is scary, Bucket No. 2 is just plain maddening. I won't go into all of Trump's businesses and his conflicts of interest (and his family's conflicts of interest) because it's all so exhausting. I'd like to focus on his tax returns, which I am convinced we will never see. Why? Because he either isn't as rich as he'd like us all to believe, or he doesn't make nearly as much money as he'd like us all to believe, or he doesn't pay as much in taxes as he'd like us all to believe, or he doesn't give as much to charity as he'd like us all to believe, not to mention where exactly he gets his money and to whom he owes money (see: Bucket No. 1).

As for those leaked 2005 returns, I think it was Trump who did the leaking. I mean, come on, two pages? I'll bet that was the last time Trump made any serious money and the last time he paid taxes of any consequence. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that his TV show has been his primary source of income since the crash in 2008.

Mitt Romney was right when he said Donald Trump was a fraud and a faker. Forbes estimated Trump's net worth at $4 billion while the Donald put it at $10 billion. If there's one thing we can be sure of it's that Trump has inflated his number. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt and say he's worth around $8 billion. I'm too lazy to look it up again, but people have done the math: if Trump had simply invested his inheritance in index funds he'd be worth around $13 billion today. So, rather than all the hotels, casinos and golf courses (and steaks, water and "universities"), Trump would have been better off lying on a beach all this time. That, by definition, makes him a "failure" in business, doesn't it?

One last point: true titans of industry endow business schools at prominent universities (for example, Booth at the University of Chicago), they don't start bogus "universities" to cheat people out of their money. No, Romney was right: this guy is a fraud.

Bucket No. 3: Policy/competence

Before last week's passage of the disastrous House health care bill, Trump had very little to show for his efforts after 100 days in office. I went through all of this on Monday, but the bottom line is that the fear that Trump would govern as an authoritarian turned out to be misplaced; the actual danger here is incompetence. While I think Trump will end up making Jimmy Carter look capable in comparison, I worry more about what the president will do in a crisis. (And there is sure to be at least one, probably several.)

I won't even go into all the unfilled appointments and Trump's lack of understanding or even interest in policy. (I said I'd keep this short.)

But that's how I'd organize Trump's presidency so far. And it's not encouraging.

Next: something else that's not encouraging.

1 comment:

Ed Crotty said...

Spot on. Especially the "useful idiot" part. I'll bet he didn't even realize he has been being used by the Russians to launder money - convinced he is just a great dealmaker. Going to my first Democratic Party meeting tonight - trying to become a precinct captain. Social media and a few small $ donations are not enough. Working on massing the snowflakes into a tidal wave. #indivisible