‘‘Trade wars are good and easy to win,” declared President Trump. He was overly optimistic; at this point it appears both China and our country are losers. The trade war began after Trump stated (in effect) the U.S. was getting short changed in trade because we had a gigantic trade deficit with China. In 2018, we imported $419 billion more than we exported. The fact China sells much more to us than we do to them is not proof of unfairness. Chinese workers are paid far less than their U.S. counterparts, allowing Chinese companies to sell products at lower costs even factoring in higher transportation expenses.
Some claim China lowered the value of its currency, giving Chinese exporters an unfair trading advantage. China signed and appears to be complying with an international agreement forbidding the practice. Many countries, including ours, provide subsidies on certain products/services to protect their critical interests, but subsidizing all items by decreasing the value of currency would be a different matter. Usually trustworthy sources, including the U. S. Department of the Treasury, the PBS News Hour and both Forbes and The Economist magazines, state China has not devalued its currency. Deep State Conspiracy lovers will not trust any branch of government and may doubt PBS, too, but Forbes is a business-friendly and objective U.S. publication, and Britain’s The Economist has an outstanding reputation.
U.S. farmers are enduring a double-whammy; catastrophic flooding has devastated their lands and China’s retaliatory tariffs have noticeably reduced sales. Furthermore, if Chinese farmers find a lower price and reliable source, American farmers could be permanent losers. And, as long as tariffs on Chinese products are in effect, American consumers will pay more for many items. Short-term pain for long-term gain? The jury is out.
“We are enjoying the best economy ever.” That claim is doubtful. It is true unemployment is low, wages have risen and the stock market is doing very well, thanks in large part to Trump and the Republican Party “giving the store” to big business. Trump argued the 35% top tax rate was “killing” industry, but, very few if any corporations paid anywhere near that amount and some paid none. Our middle class received a modest tax cut for a few years, but the gift to big business is eternal. The downside of the tax reductions is annual $1 trillion deficits into eternity, an unsustainable situation. Other than when we are in a recession, the taxes we pay should balance our budget. In recent times, only President Clinton’s administration had occasional surpluses.
The Great Wall of Trump: Despite the president’s lie warning of an approaching invading horde of terrorists, rapists, murderers and thieves, we cannot admit unlimited numbers of immigrants. Trump missed an opportunity for the wall to be fully funded when Democrats were a minority in the House of Representatives because the Republican majority objected to any agreement protecting “Dreamers.” The extreme right will never vote for a liberal anyway, so Trump should accept the “Wall for Amnesty” agreement. If the Democrats no longer support it, shame on them.
“I will drain the swamp.” Seldom if ever have so many administration officials pleaded guilty to or been charged with lying under oath. Special Counsel Mueller charged eight Americans once affiliated with Trump’s election campaign or his administration, 12 Russian intelligence officers, three Russian companies, and two other individuals. By all indications, it took Special Counsel Mueller’s team to partially rid the swamp of unsavory characters. Despite Trump’s claim that Mueller is a “Never Trumper,” Mueller, a Republican, has an outstanding ethical reputation. Investigators are sworn to seek truth, not choose favorites. Most do that.
Hoaxes, fake news, deep-state conspiracies, enemies of the people and so on. President Trump may be the biggest hoaxer of all. “No collusion, no obstruction.” Just one more of President Trump’s twisting of the facts, aka lies. Mueller found no proof of Trump or his team colluding with Russia but Mueller revealed several instances of probable obstruction of justice.
Quite notable is his statement, “No person is above the law.” Typical of many politicians and other citizens, too, is the tendency to shift the focus from themselves to the faults, real or imagined, of someone else. In that regard, Trump has damaged the credibility, among his faithful followers anyway, of the CIA and FBI. It would be naïve to think all law-enforcement personnel are incorruptible … but only conspiracy lovers will believe a great many are unethical.
President Trump has become famous for endless fact-free comments. Perhaps the gold-star winner is, “Your favorite president of all time.” Was his comment intended as a joke? Conservatives would probably choose President Reagan. Even most people who disagreed with his politics liked and respected him. The same cannot be said about President Trump. The chances are most conservatives favor him primarily because he is not a liberal.
Ted Shannon is a Mokelumne Hill resident and retired California Highway Patrol officer. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.