The Case Against The Donald

Its probably useful to discuss what we need in our next president before discussing any candidate in particular. This will help clarify the choices. What I’m looking for is a combination of personal character and policy positions. We are not looking for a saint and I think it is important to keep in mind Reagan’s philosophy that he would rather accept 80% of what he wanted than 100% of nothing. With that my wish  list:

Personal Character – Obviously an individual must have a large ego to even think of running for president; the trappings of office, the motorcades, Air Force One, do nothing to assuage that ego. However in our republic the executive branch is just one branch of our government, arguably with more direct authority than the others.  No more “I have a pen and phone”, no more government by imperial edict. We need a president who understands the constitution and will work within it. We badly need a president who will not weaponize the bureaucracy against his opponents.

We need a president of all Americans not just the majority who elected him. Insulting and denigrating opponents and continually ascribing bad faith motives to almost half the country will not reduce the polarization in our country.

The U.S. does not have king. This means the president has ceremonial as well as executive responsibilities. This means representing the U.S. with grace and dignity abroad and undertaking a certain amount civic PR at home.

The president must have thick skin. On a good day for most presidents a third of the U.S. do not approve of his performance; on a bad day, two-thirds won’t approve. This is life as the president. The president should not give in to personal pique.

Policy Positions – The first priority should be repeal of Obamacare. This has been a disaster, not improving access to health care in any practical sense and contributing to the sluggish economy. Obamacare was sold on lies, bribes and legislative legerdemain. Unfortunately we can’t have an Emily Litella moment – “Never mind”. Obamacare broke the previous system so repeal must be accompanied by legislation to fill these gaps.

Our federal government is too large. We need to shrink government. Talk about eliminating waste and fraud is not sufficient. An efficient Dept of Education or Energy will not contribute directly to either education or energy in this country. If we disbanded the Dept of Education and disbursed its current budget to the public schools in the U.S. each school could receive about $1400 per year. For most districts this would be more than a 10% increase in their per student budget. The Dept. of Energy has more employees (direct and contract) than ExxonMobil but doesn’t directly produce a BTU of energy for the nation.

We have to take control of our deficit spending. Our current debt of $19 trillion is unsustainable. If interest rates rise debt maintenance will devastate our already struggling economy.

Obama has seriously weakened the U.S. military, through both attrition of senior flag officers and reduced materiel. The next president must restore our military to its position as the foremost military power in the world. Russia and China will continually test our resolve; we may not be interested in radical Islam but radical Islam is interested in us. I would rather fight ISIS or Al Qaida in Iraq than the U.S.

If you look at the requirement above you can see there is not a democrat in the race who merits consideration. The GOP is different. I was very excited when the campaign opened with the quality, quantity and diversity of the GOP candidates. We had a number of successful governors, especially Perry and Walker, a young field with Cruz and Rubio, and a diverse field with business and medical backgrounds in addition to the career politicians. What happened? We now have a charlatan vulgarian leading the field. Debates are no more informative and dignified than play ground taunts.

Case against Trump

Trump supports a single payer healthcare system and coverage of pre-existing conditions. While magnanimous coverage of pre-existing conditions is extremely expensive. This is a key contributor to the high cost of Obamacare. Once medical insurance moves away from an actuarially sound basis covered by premiums the expenses rise exponentially. A look at the waste, fraud and inefficiency of medicare and medicaid suggest a single payer system will be worse.

Trump is well described as having started life on third base and thinks he hit a triple.  He consistently states his net worth much higher than other estimates such as the Forbes annual 400 list. This he ascribes to the value of his “brand”. Good will and and the value of a brand are real and important – consumers pay more for an Apple iPhone than a comparable Android but Donald’s valuation of his brand seem excessive. Based on other, more objective, analysis, such as Forbes, suggest Trump has slightly out performed the market. This over rated business acumen pales in comparison to others such as Bill Gates or even Richard LeFrak, Trumps fellow NYC real estate tycoon. Failed businesses are not bad per se; entrepreneurs fail often and move on but Trumps failures are closer to scams not failed entrepreneurship. Trump U is a perfect example of attempting to capitalize on his “brand” without offering anything of value. It is unrealistic to expect Trump to do anything to restore fiscal sanity in our government.

There is no reason to think Trump views government as tool large. He is the ultimate insider, understanding very well how government works and it works fine for him. Not so much for the rest of us.

Trump offers sweeping statements with no real policy specifics and ever changing details. The idea that Mexico will pay to build a wall on the border is ludicrous. Mexico will not pay to shut-off an important revenue stream.

Trump is temperamentally unsuited to be president. He is very thin skinned and a litigeous bully. Is this the type of individual we want in charge of the IRS? His insulting behavior and name calling will not restore the dignity of the office and offer little hope for reduced polarization.

The liberal press have been very happy to feature Trump and his buffoonery. The believe Hillary can easily beat the vulgarian and hope he is the GOP candidate. Thus their over the top coverage of his nonsense while ignoring any serious policy discussion from the other GOP candidates.

Trump deserves the scrutiny now he will face this fall. Only modest scrutiny will demonstrate he is the wrong candidate.

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