His promises include allowing unlimited production of fossil fuels to put coal miners back to work; the creation of thousands of manufacturing jobs, rebuilding the middle-class and replace Obama care with “something better and much cheaper.”
He also says his tax cuts will benefit the middle class, he will undertake comprehensive tax reform, stop illegal immigration, abolish Roe v. Wade, rebuild our “depleted” military and restore “law and order.”
But a closer examination reveals those pledges to be no more than pie-in-the-sky, in many cases for reasons beyond the control of a president. Others would have significantly negative consequences.
The following is an examination of some of his most specific pledges.
He’s going to allow unlimited production of fossil fuels and put coal miners back to work. This will never happen. Fossil fuel production is determined by global supply and demand, which a president has little control over. Coal to generate electricity is being replaced by natural gas, which is cheaper, cleaner burning and just as abundant in the United States. Unless oil rises above $80 a barrel, tar sand production and fracking aren’t economical. Will prices rise? Ask the Saudis. If Trump somehow persuades them to cut production and raise prices, it will knock the wind out of our economy and you’ll pay double for gas at the pump.
He’s going to create thousands of manufacturing jobs. The chances of that happening are non-existent. Once again, manufacturing is now a global commodity. Jobs are flowing from high-wage countries like the United States to low-wage countries like Mexico. The average manufacturing wage in Mexico is $2.60 an hour. In the United States, it’s $22 an hour. The gap is even wider compared with developing Asian nations like Vietnam. Trump knows this; he has his ties made in Southeast Asia. No trade policy or tariff is going to close that gap, short of an outright ban on imports. Since the U.S. is still the world’s largest economy, that would trigger a worldwide recession and retaliatory bans on our exports. Trump should know better, he’s exploited cheap overseas labor for years; he’s built all his buildings with cut-rate Chinese steel. Thousands of jobs are also being lost to automation, and there is nothing a president can do about that unless he wants to mandate a return to water wheels and steam locomotives.
He promises to rebuild middle class. Trump’s appeal is mostly to non-college educated white males. They have borne the brunt of global economic changes with the loss of well-paying factory jobs. But Trump’s solution is to repeal the federal minimum wage. He wants states to set their own minimum wages to “increase competition,” and even compete with other countries. But this will simply touch off a race to the bottom, as states cut wages to compete with each other to attract businesses. It’s a classic bait-and-switch sellout of his base. It may create some jobs, but not the kind that can support a family that depends on hourly wages, even with both spouses working. It will, however, benefit his own companies and corporations that will replace high-wage workers with new low-wage workers.
He promises his tax cuts will benefit the middle class. Trump’s tax plan has been thoroughly examined by reputable economists, so we won’t go into detail here, except for two key points: It will add substantially to the deficit and it won’t lead to an average 4 percent growth rate over 10 years as he’s promised. The United States is a mature economy compared with, say, China, which is still developing. Yet, he constantly compares the two. They’re like apples and oranges. Most economists will tell you a mature economy will only grow in the 2 percent to 2.5 percent range without touching off inflation. Without a super-heated growth rate, however, his economic proposals will generated more than $11 trillion in new debt, according to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.
He promises to reform the tax code and do away with most loopholes: Whatever he gives to the middle class trough tax cuts, will be taken back through his plan for “tax reform.” If he follows the GOP’s lead, he’ll gut the only tax deductions available broadly to working people–the home mortgage interest deduction and deductions for state and local income taxes. It will turn the U.S. from a nation of home owners into a nation of renters, while making Wall Street fat cats even richer. The National Association of Realtors already warns that this trend is underway. Thanks to a new Wall Street strategy, big investors are buying huge numbers of single family homes and converting them to rentals. In just the last two years, investors have bought more than 200,000 single-family homes mostly through short sales and foreclosures. They purchased more than $250 million worth of foreclosed homes from Fannie Mae alone. Trump’s plan will cause a drop in property values at the same time thousands are forced out of their homes because the new tax bite will make it more difficult to afford mortgage payments.
He plans to abolish the estate tax: This is a dead giveaway to the rich. Estates up to $10 million for a married couple are already exempt to preserve family farms and small family businesses. Abolishing the tax would apply to only the wealthiest 0.2 percent of Americans — roughly 2 out of every 1,000 people who die, according to non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. But the cost to the government would be stiff, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT). It would cost $269 billion in lost revenue and add $320 billion to deficit when counting additional interest on the national debt. The roughly 5,400 wealthy estates that owe the tax this year would reap a $3 million tax windfall each, according to the center. The 318 estates, including Trump’s, worth at least $50 million or more would receive tax windfalls averaging more than $20 million each.
He promises to replace Obamacare with something better. So far, all Trump has said is he will abolish insurance company restrictions on selling across state lines, again, to “increase competition.” That would be a disaster for individuals. Here’s why. Right now, states regulate health insurance and can set “mandates” requiring insurance companies to offer certain services. If an Arizona-based insurance company wants to sell insurance in New York state, it must offer policies that meet New York’s mandates. If Trump gets his way, companies will be able to sell insurance anywhere based on the mandates of the state where they’re located. This will touch off another race to the bottom as companies re-locate to states with the fewest, or no, mandates. They’ll be able to cherry-pick the youngest and healthiest—and most profitable—customers with low rate offers. Everyone else will have to fend for themselves. Those with pre-existing conditions or family histories of illnesses, like cancer, won’t be able to get insurance at all, or will pay exorbitant rates. Once they get sick, they’ll be dropped. Coverage now mandated, such as maternity care, will only be available with hefty surcharges. The whole purpose of insurance is to spread risk among the largest number of people possible to defray costs. But Trump’s plan will boost insurance company profits. If he follows conservative dictates, he’ll probably offer some sort of voucher to help subsidize costs. But so far details are dangerously lacking.
He promises to stop illegal immigration and deport all illegal immigrants: Here’s what he doesn’t tell you. In 2012, the most recent figures available, 6.8 million illegal immigrants were working in the country, or about 5.6 percent of all employed people. Subtracting them from the economy would cost the private sector as much as $663 billion, according to one economic think tank. Sectors hardest hit would be agriculture, construction, and leisure and hospitality industries. Trump has routinely employed illegal immigrants at his own properties. Deporting all of the estimated 11.8 million illegal immigrants, as Trump has promised to do in two years, would cost the government as much as $600 billion and shrink the national economy by $1 trillion, according to estimates. Trump’s plan to create a special law enforcement force will turn the nation into a Gestapo-like police state as they raid homes and businesses to round up illegal immigrants.
He promises to stack the Supreme Court and repeal Roe v. Wade: The ruling made abortions legal across the United States. Trump wants to leave it up to states to decide, but nothing would stop Congress from enacting a nationwide ban. Trump has said doctors who perform and women who seek abortions should be prosecuted, effectively creating a new criminal class. Of course, the rich will always be able to get abortions as they did before Roe v. Wade . But the poor and working-class—Trump’s base— will no longer have access to safe, affordable procedures. And your family doctor may just end up in jail.
Trump promises to rebuild our depleted military: The only problem is our military isn’t depleted. Roughly 57 percent of the national budget is currently spent on defense. At $711 billion annually, the U.S. defense budget is larger than all other nations’ military budgets combined. The next closest is China at $143 billion. In terms of quantity and quality, the U.S. armed forces are unequaled. What Trump is proposing is to add even more military hardware, which is exactly what military-industrial complex lobbyists in Washington want–and precisely what we don’t need. The military needs to be equipped to fight the next war, not the last war. It needs better intelligence capability, more special forces and more cyber-warfare capability to wage asymmetrical warfare against enemies like ISIS.
He promises to restore law and order. The cornerstone of his plan is to allow police to use “stop-and-frisk” tactics and “racial profiling” to cut crime. The former was tried in New York City and ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge. It also proved to be ineffective. Talk about class warfare. Only 2 percent of stops resulted in an arrest and 85 percent of those stopped were minorities, according to a New York Bar Association study. Racial profiling has already been ruled unconstitutional. Trump has no plans to enact reasonable regulations on the sale of guns to get them out of the hands of criminals. Yet, a new study by New York, a strict gun-law state, found that 86 percent of handguns recovered by police—the weapon of choice for violent criminals—were trafficked from lax gun law states like Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Congress could go a long way to solving the problem by making gun trafficking a federal crime; there is currently no comprehensive law that criminalizes each stage of illegal gun trafficking, according to the report. Don’t expect one from a Trump administration.
The world is constantly changing. We’ve gone from a local economy, to a national economy and now to a global economy. We as a nation need to change with it. It’s a cruel fallacy for a presidential candidate to make promises to turn back the clock to a time that no longer exists.
Instead workers who lose jobs should be retrained. It’s in our national interest to have a health care system that’s open and available to all; a military that takes care of its own and is equipped to counter the real threats we face abroad and a tax system where everybody pays their fair share.