President Donald J. Trump noted in his inaugural address:
“For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished—but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered—but the jobs left, and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country.”
Forever more this will be the backdrop for evaluating the success of Mr. Trump and the resistance of the political establishment. Please note the following:
The Congressional Review Act. Mr. Trump took the oath of office at noon (EST) on Friday, January 20, 2017. By 5:00PM on Monday, January 23, 2017 – a scant three days later – Mr. Trump had cancelled taxpayer funds to be used for abortions outside of the country, froze implementation of rules adopted during the waning days of President Barack Obama’s administrations, stopped further implementation of Obamacare and required agencies to roll back rules and orders that imposed additional costs or hardships on those effected, implemented a hiring freeze, withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and met with representatives of large businesses and private sector union leaders. The following day, Mr. Trump removed the final barriers to the construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines and required the new pipelines to use United States steel. And that is just the start.
In contrast, the Congress, still controlled by Republican “lifers” has done precisely nothing – well not “nothing” they did try to change the ethics rules to eliminate an “outside” ethics panel. However, substantively they have done nothing. According to Forbes Magazine there are over 150 rules capable of being overturned by application of the Congressional Review Act that permits Congress to review and reject any rule adopted within sixty “working” days from its adoption. (A demonstration of how little Congress does is found in the fact that sixty “working days” translates into almost six calendar months – Congress only works three days a week and all the holidays, recesses and horse play stretch action to an interminable amount of time.) The new Congress was sworn into office on January 3, 2017. By the time of the publication of this column, twenty-four calendar days will have elapsed during which Congress could have acted to reject any of those 150 rules and laid that resolution of Mr. Trump’s desk for signature. Having surfed the internet I cannot find a single reference to Congress acting on a single one of those rules. But so exhausted were the Republicans from doing nothing that they cut the workweek short and retired to Philadelphia for yet another boondoggle leaving the majority of Mr. Trump’s cabinet nominees unconfirmed.
There are still no plans for replacing Obamacare despite having whined about it for six years, no legislation for implementing tax reform despite having whined about it for six years, and no plans for balancing the budget or freezing the national debt despite having whined about it for six years.
Returning to Mr. Trump’s inaugural address:
“We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action — constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.
“The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.”
Some things never change.
Another Obama Lie about Obamacare. Two weeks ago I wrote about my distrust of a government that consistently lies to justify pursuit of a policy that cannot stand the test of the truth. One of those items was Obamacare. An article by Betsy McCaughey of the London Center for Policy Research in the January 18 edition of the Wall Street Journal emphasizes that former President Barack Obama lied about Obamacare walking in the door and he continued to lie about it as he exited:
“Can Democrats scare Republicans into giving up their plans to repeal ObamaCare? They’re certainly trying: President Obama recently warned that if Congress junks the Affordable Care Act, “133 million Americans with pre-existing conditions” will be in jeopardy. That’s a phony figure, for several reasons. The actual number is roughly 500,000.“For starters, half of Americans get their insurance through an employer, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Another 34% are on Medicaid or Medicare. For all these people, pre-existing conditions are no barrier to coverage.”
If the Wall Street Journal is correct in its estimation that there are only 500,000 people actually effected by the issue of “pre-existing conditions” it means that Mr. Obama and his fellow Democrats destroyed the American healthcare system for less than 0.15 percent of the population. A number so small that it could have been dealt with in a hundred different ways as a supplement to the then existing healthcare system. (In previous columns I have noted that nearly 80 percent of those previously uninsured were taken care of through an expansion of Medicaid – another action that could have been taken without destroying the existing healthcare system. The remaining previously “uninsured” are divided between those displaced by Obamacare and students now included under their parents policies. All matters that could have been dealt with specifically instead of destroying America’s healthcare system.)
But if your real intent was to capture a significant part of the economy (over sixteen percent) and place it under absolute control of the federal government, then pretending to focus on those with pre-existing conditions and the poor who were uninsured is a great façade for your actual intentions. Obamacare was justified by a lie, implemented with a lie, and now defended by a lie.
But then some things never change.
The Clinton Foundation. For those of you have a long believed that the Clinton Foundation was primarily a political front and a means for laundering money for political rather than charitable purposes, recent events have reinforced your belief. The January 15 edition of The New York Observer noted:
“ The Clinton Foundation’s long list of wealthy donors and foreign government contributors during the 2016 elections provoked critics to allege conflicts of interests. Clinton partisans defended the organization’s charitable work, and dismissed claims that it served as a means for the Clintons to sell off access, market themselves on the paid speech circuit, and elevate their brand as Hillary Clinton campaigned for the presidency.
“But as soon as Clinton lost the election, many of the criticisms directed toward the Clinton Foundation were reaffirmed. Foreign governments began pulling out of annual donations, signaling the organization’s clout was predicated on donor access to the Clintons, rather than its philanthropic work. In November, the Australian government confirmed it ‘has not renewed any of its partnerships with the scandal-plagued Clinton Foundation, effectively ending 10 years of taxpayer-funded contributions worth more than $88 million.’ The government of Norway also drastically reduced their annual donations, which reached $20 million a year in 2015.”
In large part the Clinton Foundation has been used to house the Clintons’ political operatives during former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s preparation for running for president. It was also the vehicle for receiving significant donations from foreign entities seeking favor from the State Department and for directing such donors to the employment of former President Bill Clinton for speaking engagements that were billed at hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Clintons went from “dead broke” to an accumulated wealth of nearly $200 Million utilizing this form of “pay to play” while Ms. Clinton was in public office.
The Clintons further reinforced that perception by announcing that it is closing the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and firing 22 employees. The CGI has been the principle vehicle for its charitable contributions.
The sudden and dramatic drop in contributions to the Clinton Foundation and the reduction in speaking engagements and the cost of those engagement for both Mr. and Ms. Clinton demonstrate that the Clintons, without political power, without the prospect of political power, and without public office, are virtually worthless. Their speeches were never about “insight” into the government or specific issues” but were always about access and favors. The Clinton Foundation remains flush with cash as they held out the prospects for political favors should Ms. Clinton have been elected. One now wonders how the Clintons will drain that money out for their personal benefit.
From the Clintons’ standpoint it is a good thing that they amassed a fortune during their days of political power and favor because the likelihood that others will employ their skills and support their causes is practically nonexistent for the future. The same can be said of their daughter Chelsea who, during this same period of time, has amassed a fortune of nearly $50 Million without any discernable production outside of the Clintons’ political affiliations.
As Mr. Trump pursues his intent to “drain the swamp” the best starting place will be to investigate, indict and convict all three of the Clintons thus removing a significant stain on American history.
Some things never change.
Media Madness. There is a frenetic hatred amongst the mainstream media when it comes to Mr. Trump. It is hard to attribute a single cause for this maniacal loathing but it exists – exists to the extent that most of them no longer try to hide it under the guise of “reporting.” (One of the problems with generalizations is that there are always exceptions to the rule and, in this case, there indeed are exceptions – few as they may be.)
Let me list the sins of Mr. Trump that contribute to this hatred: he is wealthy (ostentatiously wealthy), he is successful (unapologetically successful), he is (at least currently) a Republican, he is not politically correct (in fact, eschews political correctness), he routinely points out the errors (deliberate and otherwise) of the press, and he refuses to be cowed by the “power of the press.” I’m sure that there are other reasons but they all add up a total abandonment of the ideals of the Fourth Estate – to hold government accountable. Instead they have now morphed into a collective offensive to destroy a sitting president.
Worse yet, they accept absolutely no responsibility for their errors, their distortions or their conduct – not for themselves, nor for each other. How many denounced the classless rudeness of CNN reporter Jim Acosta, how many criticized Time Magazine’s Zeke Miller for falsely reporting that Mr. Trump had removed the bust of Martin Luther King, how many criticized CNN for its reporting of a known “false flag” story regarding Mr. Trump’s relationship with Russia, and how many protested the Daily Mail when it claimed that Melania Trump was a “paid escort.”
Whatever story, regardless of the truth, that fits the narrative of Mr. Trump and his supporters as being misogynistic, racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, or otherwise deplorable is good enough for them. But all of this is creating a backlash against the mainstream press and they, so enmeshed in their own self-importance, don’t get it – don’t see it. A guest editorial in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal by Barbara A. Smith, who was egged by anti-Trump people on her way to an inaugural ball, is instructive to the mainstream media:
“I don’t expect to agree with all of his administration’s policies or even the rhetoric that Mr. Trump employs to make his case. But being assaulted based on an assumption that I supported him had a way of breaking through my reservations.“I choose to stand with the ridiculed, the insulted, the belittled. I stand with those who voted for something new and different and a little scary. I stand with people who are tarred as bigots and misogynists—or even egged—simply because of their views on taxes, health-care reform or government entitlements.”
I stand with Barbara Smith.
Some things never change.