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Trump’s Battered Presidency

12 4 8
13.02.2018

WASHINGTON, DC – It’s gotten to the point where one might almost feel sorry for Donald Trump. While that “almost” reflects a gap too wide for Trump’s opponents to bridge, it can be said that February has, thus far, been cruel to the US president, though he clearly is no innocent victim.

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During the first full week of the month, Trump’s White House faced more trouble than befalls most presidencies in a couple of months, or longer. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1,000 points twice, wiping out all the gains that the bull market had racked up for the year so far. No one knew when the markets would steady themselves or whether Trump’s vaunted tax cuts, among other policies, were fueling fears of economic over-heating and higher interest rates.

Trump had made things worse for himself by doing what his predecessors in the Oval Office had wisely avoided. He regularly took credit for stock-market gains. The supposed great businessman had forgotten that what goes up eventually comes down.

Also that week, Congress passed a two-year budget agreement. Ordinarily, a longer-term and bipartisan deal would be good news; but the deal was estimated to guarantee a staggering $1 trillion annual budget deficit. The Republican Party, which had long claimed to be the party of fiscal responsibility, forfeited that identity. Congressional Democrats and Republicans were able to agree by giving each side essentially what it wanted in new spending – without budget cuts or tax increases to offset the impact on the deficit.

Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton all presided over tax increases, with Clinton’s fiscal policy actually generating a budget surplus in the final years of his second term. But then along........

© Project Syndicate