Victim-in-chief has some worthwhile achievements

President Donald Trump is claiming to be the victim in advance of the Democrats taking control of the US Congress.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that Democratic attempts at oversight in the coming Congress could amount to “presidential harassment.”

Speaking from the Oval Office, Trump again denied any collusion between his team and Russia when he was questioned about the investigative powers Democrats will assume come January.

“It’s probably presidential harassment and we know how to handle that. I know how to handle that better than anybody,” Trump said.

“You’re talking about millions and millions and millions of dollars of wasted money,” Trump said. “There’s been absolutely no collusion. But there has been a lot of collusion by the Democrats, with Russia and a lot of other people that maybe they shouldn’t have been dealing with, including very dishonest people.”

He has a record of blaming others for what he has done.

It’s a bit ironic Trump accusing others of harassment – or in this case possible harassment in the future. This could be seen as him harassing the Democrats to try to avoid being held to account.

“It’s a disgrace, what’s happening in our country,” Trump fumed, seated behind the Resolute Desk. “But other than that, I wish everybody a very merry Christmas.”

I just can’t help laughing at that. Time and again he comes across as a fool out of his depth.

But there has been some achievements in the two years he has been President (Barack Obama achieved some things too, al presidents do).

CNN: Five things even Trump critics can give him credit for this Christmas

President Donald Trump ends his second year in office isolated and under siege. A self-inflicted government shutdown is happening over Christmas, the stock market is suffering its worst month in a decade (compounded by his talk of sacking the Fed chair) and the resignation of Defense Secretary James Mattis is sending shudders through America’s military and allies.

But these criticisms are for another day — pretty much any other day.

Today is Christmas. And in a spirit of finding the best in people, I promised myself I’d look for a few areas of agreement with a President with whom I disagree quite a lot.

After all, if you view politics through a historical lens, you’ll see that even our worst Presidents have some redeeming qualities. And if those can’t be found personally, they can be found in policy.

Criminal justice reform

President Trump got it done after decades of talk. He cobbled together a bipartisan coalition to pass the First Step Act and used his bully pulpit to push past a reluctant Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had pronounced the legislation “divisive” just weeks before. As a measure of that alleged divisiveness, the legislation passed by an overwhelming 87-12 margin.

The law blends common sense and compassion, redeeming reformed lives while saving money in the process. It promises to lessen the sentences of nonviolent criminals and reduce frankly racist sentencing disparities. And it’s the kind of bill that could only command Republican support if it were backed by a law-and-order candidate, which itself speaks to the stupid partisanship that usually outweighs policy.

Getting tough on China

…he’s been clear-eyed and mostly consistent when it comes to standing up to China’s exploitation of international systems to fuel its expansion while creating a technological surveillance state.

Team Trump has realized that time is running out to have any leverage on China in the effort to get it to act like a responsible global power. And while I don’t support Trump’s trade war tactics — mostly because they have lumped in allies like Canada with China — the President has been right to call out abuse of trade treaties by China that have created an unequal playing field on issues from manufacturing to intellectual property to massive state sponsored cyber theft.

Economic opportunity zones

The tax cut bill most often trumpeted as the prime achievement of the Trump era was actually a disaster. It stimulated an economy that was already overheated, promises to exacerbate the growing gap between the rich and poor (as well as the super-rich and middle class) and its failure to close corporate loopholes is already exploding our deficit and debt, reducing tax receipts in a booming economy.

That said, there is an excellent and overdue provision in the otherwise lousy tax bill — economic opportunity zones. Consider this the belated love child of Jack Kemp’s dwindling influence in the Republican Party, incentivizing investment in poverty-stricken neighborhoods through tax breaks on capital gains. It’s exactly the sort of smart, targeted government action that may finally spur development in our atrophied regional economies.

‘Right-to-try’ legislation

This is a comparatively small step, but it radiates common sense and actually shows a rare libertarian streak. The “right-to-try” legislation had been embraced by a number of states, but the federal government had been opposed until Trump pushed the bill into enactment.

Basically, it allows terminally ill patients to have access to experimental drugs. The logic is simple: what do they have to lose? Why not give patients and their families access to whatever experimental drug they want if it might be able to save or prolong their life?

The Music Modernization Act

… Orrin Hatch sponsored, and Trump signed, a worthwhile and overdue piece of legislation that stops musicians from getting screwed by streaming services and cuts down on the power of predatory middle men.

There will always be positives if you look for them. The hope has to be that they are not overwhelmed by negatives – and that the President is not overly distracted or even overwhelmed by negatives.

Oversight of the president, especially this president, is as important as ever, no matter how much Trump complains about it.

 

 

 

14 Comments

  1. adamsmith1922

     /  December 26, 2018

    I would suggest that the tax improvements were not Trump’s,but inserted,possibly at the last minute to get the bill passed. Trump probably has no idea of what he actually signed.

    • Presidents are often a small or token part of the political processes – but they tend to claim credit for positive changes. At least Trump didn’t stop some reasonable achievements from happening.

      • adamsmith1922

         /  December 26, 2018

        Somewhat uncharitably, I admit, I would suggest that Trump has little if any idea about details in the tax bill unless he benefits personally.However,that could well be,because I detest the man.

    • Gezza

       /  December 26, 2018

      Damned straight, adam. 👍🏼

      While I don’t wish to seem ungenerous in spirit, I tend to the view any positive effects of the hopefully short, divisive & chaotic Trump presidency, The Twitter Tantrum Years, will be accidental, owing to his being as thick as a brick & his policies mainly driven by Fox News items & brain exolosions.

  2. kluelis

     /  December 26, 2018

    I think the bile directed at Donald Trump by the left is absurd. Similarly the bile directed at Obama by the right was/is absurd. All irrational bitter and twisted hyper partisan views do become tiring after a while. The reality is that trump and Obama have no power at all. Congress rules and rightly so. Like the NZ Gov’t is run by select committees not the PM. Get a grip folks

    • Patzcuaro

       /  December 26, 2018

      Obama was a decent human being the same can’t be said for the current occupant of the White House.

      • Pink David

         /  December 26, 2018

        “Obama was a decent human being the same can’t be said for the current occupant of the White House.”

        Bill Clinton established a clear precedent that being a ‘decent human’ was not a requirement to occupy the White House.

        • I think the precedent of ‘decent human being’ that you’re alluding to there dates to well before Clinton’s term.

    • adamsmith1922

       /  December 26, 2018

      Must disagree,Congress both from the Democrats and the Republicans has ceded far too much power to the executive and to the courts. Oversight in many respects has descended into a partisan abyss. So much so, that Trump calls it Presidential harassment.This is not New,but it has worsened in recent years.

      Re NZ, I cannot agree, we have an over mighty executive with few constraints and Select Committees are not functioning well.

  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  December 26, 2018

    Spirit of Christmas not lasting long here.

  4. David

     /  December 26, 2018

    Th right to try has been gummed up by both parties beholden to the pharmaceutical giants campaign donations and I am delighted its been passed.
    For me Obama,s biggest failing was not addressing criminal justice reforms as the first black president where 1 in 4 black men under the age of 30 is either in jail, on parole or on bail there was a lot he and the Dems could have done. Again it was prison guard unions, trial lawyers, private prison campaign donations. If you want to guarantee poor outcomes for a people lock up a quarter of the males when they are at a critical point in their lives in a country where having a criminal conviction follows you forever and precludes you from many things.

  5. The Consultant

     /  December 26, 2018

    ….and its failure to close corporate loopholes is already exploding our deficit and debt, reducing tax receipts in a booming economy.

    U.S. Collects Record Tax Revenue

    The U.S. government has accumulated a record amount of tax revenue over the first nine 9 months of its 2018 fiscal year.

    Yay. The argument often made against is that tax revenues would have been higher if tax rates had been cut.
    Nope. And that has not been true since JFK and LBJ passed income tax rate cuts in the early 1960’s in order to increase tax revenue. Tax rate increases and cuts cause an economic response.
    Unfortunately…

    The federal government’s budget deficit increased during these same nine months because its spending rose more than its tax revenues did.

    As has been the case for decades now, with only the occasional blip in the oppistie direction. And the result….

    And that spending increase was created by a GOP Congress and GOP Senate, and signed by a GOP President. But don’t kid yourselves, it’d be the same with a Democrat Congress, Senate and President. While its true that Trump does not give a shit about the debt or deficits – very few in US government do either. Rand Paul’s suggestions to spend only 99% of the previous year were dismissed as “impossible”. In some respects his critics are right, because the overwhelming majority of US government spending, even in the so-called “discretionary” part, runs on automatic year after year. Effectively the US government – President, Senate and House – only really decide on about 20% of expenditure, and that number will shrink rapidly in the next decade.

    It’s going to be ugly in the 2030’s.

  6. The Consultant

     /  December 26, 2018

    In the spirit of Spitting Image…Christmas Special: Trump vs the Butcher of the Arctic