What Is Trump Doing For Consumers?


Will he make it to Mount Rushmore?

The only thing worse for consumers than President Trump not keeping his promises is keeping his promises. The pre-inaugural hope was he would be “transformed” once he took over the Oval Office. It was pretty to think so.

Donald Trump lives in the moment. He starts most days with a tweet. Tweet mastery could turn out to be the only skill he will be remembered for. The wiretapping tweet lacks any evidence. White House loyalists can’t even find an “alternate fact” to support the wiretapping claim.

One explanation: He is a short-term thinker, not a long-term thinker. His attention span stumbles off a cliff after an hour and a half. As moments change, contradictions pop up. A few pundits convinced themselves that reading the Daily Briefs from US intelligence sources would change him. The assumption collapsed on January 20 when he delegated Daily Brief reading to…no one knows. He said he would be told if anything important came up.

Another explanation: The President is a congenital liar.

Either way, the question is not what he is doing for consumers, but what he is doing to them. Consider his current roles:

Health Care Giver Having found health care more “complicated” than Trump the candidate understood, as President he grabbed Paul Ryan’s old plan. It’s big on repeal of ObamaCare, small on who is covered, silent on projected costs to consumers. TrumpCare’s costs and coverage are bound up in blind faith in “Competition,” which allows Trump and Trumpians to promise that Competition will result in lower prices. Competition is just as likely to bring competitors together to determine prices.

TrumpCare is supposed to give every American Access, a word that Trumpians find harder to define than wiretapping. A few million consumers will be free not to access TrumpCare if it gets expensive for them. Instead they can choose to spend on food, shelter, clothing, and Comcast. Those consumers can keep their medical costs low by not getting sick.

Tax Cutter If Trump’s new budget gets adopted, middle and lower income consumers will see cuts in or elimination of programs that had benefitted them. For example, cutting the government role in cancer drug research will save tax dollars, but it will also shorten lives of a lot of consumers. Meanwhile, transfer of federal costs of programs to states will increase state taxes.

Conservatives claim a Big Ax to the federal budget will create prosperity so great so fast that that Trump will be added to Mount Rushmore before he runs for a second term. They still believe in Supply-Side Economics, which is resuscitated after its past failures are forgotten.

Wall-Builder The wall could be the symbol of his presidency. Trump’s early projected cost for the 1900 mile, 26 foot high wall was $10 billion. Contractors, drooling over the prospect of huge profits, say it will be over $40 bn. No one has included the maintenance costs after it is built. For a guy who built big buildings, you’d think he could easily produce a summary of cost-and-benefits: one-page of projected costs for the next 10 years and another page listing economic benefits. But careful: past reactions to complaints about his wall made him make it higher and costlier. And Mexico paying for it is as likely as Trump telling the truth about its cost.

Deconstructor He said he would cut government down to size, like Paul Bunyan leveling a forest. So far he has fired 46 federal attorneys, but will likely replace them all. And he has uncovered waste and inefficiency in the Coast Guard, justifying a billion dollar reduction in the CG’s budget. But if he gets his wall, he may need a bigger Coast Guard to keep the illegals from boating in rather than walking in.

My favorite is his requirement that every fed agency that adds a regulation to simultaneously cancel two regulations. Could a new reg like The last person out must turn off the lights be the way to get rid of two costly regulations like Replace all ten-year old lead water pipes and Pay women the same as men doing the same job?

The Decider George W. Bush called himself The Decider, but historians see his decisions as why he was the worst president of all time. It took Bush 8 years to pull it off. In just 6 weeks Trump is on his way to both taking the title from Bush and making Bush look good.

Consumerist Or Corpratist He rarely comments on consumer protection. Except for the Consumer Protection Finance Bureau. The CPFB forces banks and financial services to change or eliminate abusive and illegal activities designed to cheat and confuse consumers. Republicans want the CPFB dissolved because bank and financial lobbyists say it gets in the way of making America great. For them. Trump will try to eliminate it soon.

So, will Trump make it to Mount Rushmore? Yes. As a tourist.

 

 

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