The Long Game

I’ve been amazed by the amount that the Donald has accomplished before becoming President. He’s been picking off the low-hanging fruit as far as companies who might keep or move jobs here. Not good policy to do individual deals, but then he can’t set policy yet, he’s not President. And the deals have established that he is serious about keeping his word.

However, I’ve been a bit concerned about the Pre-President’s habit of promising future tax and regulatory benefits to companies in order to get them to either keep or move jobs here in the US. For example, the big man at Ford, CEO Mark Fields, said of their decision:

“As you can imagine, we look at a lot of different factors and one is that we feel it’s going to be a positive business environment under President-elect Trump, particularly for manufacturing,” Fields said. ford-ceo-mark-fields“We are confident that he’s going to be able to deliver on that and that does play a part. It did play a part in those decisions.”

Now, up until today I’ve been thinking that making all of these promises before even getting into office might come back to bite Trump on the lazarette. I mean, there’s a lot that can happen between now and delivering on those promises. And if he can’t come through on the things he’s promised to say Ford, folks will not be happy.

But today I realized that there is another side to this that I hadn’t been considering. This is what will happen when the legislative rubber meets the road. At that point Trump will have to actually pass the enabling laws. And of course, when he starts to shepherd legislation through Congress he is sure to encounter opposition from various factions.

And that’s when Trump’s long game finally comes into play. At that point, if he’s being opposed by a Congressperson from say Michigan, Trump can say

“Gosh … I wonder what the Ford workers will say when they see they might lose their jobs because you’re obstructing the pro-business environment I promised the Ford CEO …”

And of course, if the Congressperson still balks, the Tweeter-In-Chief can rally the faithful by  tweeting to the Ford workers that their jobs are in jeopardy, call their Congressman …

As a sometime practitioner of the art of the slow roll myself, I do admire a man who is playing a long game.

It’s a fascinating time to be alive …

Regards to each and every one,

w.

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13 thoughts on “The Long Game

  1. The first few days post-inauguration will see the political class in a state of shock when they discover that Trump really is different and is not just another politician … all the usual rules will be out the window.

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  2. Triangulation is one thing. But triangles are connected in an icosahedron. Can Trump manage the all the ripple effects that result when one of the triangles is jostled?

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  3. The job of Congressmen and Senators is to get re-elected. The Donald has made their important constituents those who are numerous and vote, not the those who are few and write big checks.

    He has made an interesting coalition that includes a big chunk of the 99 percenters and the one percenters who are ready, willing and able to compete in a world market.

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      • Term limits on Executive branch positions is a great idea. It is terrible for Congress or the House of Representatives. It takes years to learn the technical and social details necessary for making sensible laws. Newcomers start from zero knowledge about the legislation they are voting on. Even worse, they show up when elected with “mandate” or ax to grind without having more experienced people to explain the undesirable side effects of their proposals. California is in that mode now making unfortunately poor laws.

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      • re: Gary Wescom January 5, 2017 at 7:05 am

        The most practical thing to do is repeal the 17th Amendment. The 17th Amendment changed Senators from being appointed by State legislatures to a direct election by the people. Enter special interests groups and outside money with Senators now beholding to them rather than their States. The Founding Fathers had it right, do not put so much power into the hands of so few without a viable counter balance.

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      • Gary Wescom wrote, “Term limits on Executive branch positions is a great idea.”

        Perhaps you meant the Legislative Branch. The US President is already limited to two four year terms.

        I don’t have an opinion either way about term limiting the Legislative Branch but one upside would be that Senators, for example, could spend their last six years in office doing real work rather than raising money, granting favors and running for their next term.

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  4. You are dead on about the long game. A further example is today’s article in the WSJ about reorganizing the intelligence services, among the ideas – put more CIA in the field. I bet that puckered a few sphincters behind a few desks. Given the failures in the Ukraine, Syria, Libya, etc. more eyeballs in foreign places couldn’t hurt.

    The Swiss have long had a significant advantage in eyeballs in places we couldn’t reach, as their large construction companies would have Swiss managers and senior foremen on the ground all over the globe. Given the Swiss militia training, it was like having trained observers placed where interesting things could be seen.

    If we wanted to do so, we could always outsource… /sarc

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  5. “So smart we become, so late.” LOL Very observant once again, Wills. The best of the best, ALWAYS play the Long Game. And P-E T KNOWS how to play the political game. He has been playing it all over the world with every conceivable type of politician.
    When all this started and the Donald would make some “outlandish” statement, to which the wife would ask, “What the hell is he doing?” I’d say, “Well, if his goal is to become President, and I don’t know why he’d want to do that other than he REALLY cares about what’s happening in the country, he’s playing the long game.” To which she said, “How?” “Well my Dear, by setting the rules of the game. He’s masterfully controlling the media like a great sculptor manipulates a block of marble.
    The shallow media by nature focuses on every blow of the hammer and cut of the chisel, exclaiming, “He’s destroying that beautiful piece of marble!” The Master meanwhile “sees” only the end-result.” In politics, it’s not about the press or what THEY are saying ABOUT you, it’s what’s your message to the people. THAT is the ultimate end-result.

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  6. Reducing taxes is not, by far, the only action Trump could initiate to improve the future of US manufacturers. Another more promising approach is reduction of regulations. For example, in the recent past, there have been more than 50 new regulations affecting and increasing the cost of the manufacture of air conditioners. How many more are there for cars, washing machines, windows…? How many of them serve real national needs and how many serve rent seekers?

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  7. But…everything has to be paid for somehow, sometime. Notwithstanding Paul Krugman’s dictum that we owe it to ourselves. I wonder which of us owes the debt and which owns the debt.

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  8. @texasjimbrock

    what is the cost of eliminating regulations?

    What Trump has been promising the corporations is only partially tax related, mostly it’s that the gigantic pile of regulations is going to be rolled back to something sane.

    When the pile of regulations becomes too large, nobody can know all of them to be able to comply with them (even assuming that there aren’t contradictions in the pile, which there usually are). At that point the regulations become a ‘gotcha’ that can be used to target opponents.

    As for taxes, the claim is that they are going to be cutting deductions as well as the tax rate, resulting in approximately the same overall income. But if this eliminates the overhead of tracking and accounting for all the deductions, this is still a significant win (for everyone but the accountants 🙂

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