Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Ronald Mason | The tragedy of Trump

Published:Sunday | February 26, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Donald Trump, having been elected and inaugurated into office, has now become the face of transformation in American society. He campaigned on some outrageous and unorthodox promises. He set out to complete southern boundary wall. He identified the undocumented 11 billion people as the prime targets for deportation.

The repeal of regulations and executive orders by prior administration was also to be undertaken. These measures, along with many others heard by the electorate, but large numbers of them totally discounted his ability to fulfil these promises. This would lead to his shock victory.

There was very little made public that was expanding on his promises. He did not tell the American population that Mexico, which provides the largest bloc of undocumented aliens, was also the single largest trading partner with the USA. Mexico and the USA have daily trade valued at US$1.2 billion. Millions of jobs on both sides of the border are directly related to this trade relationship.

When this became public, Trump began the age-old practice of divide and conquer. NAFTA was concluded between Canada, USA and Mexico. Now, Trump does not want to negotiate terms of NAFTA collectively as three parties. He seeks to negotiate singularly, with Canada at one time, and Mexico at a separate time.

The trade with USA and Canada is not conducted within a framework of mistrust. Canada is not being threatened with paying the cost of a northern boundary wall. Canadian workers do not form large undocumented workforce in the USA.


Visible difference


The Mexicans, as workers, are significant in agriculture, construction, food service, and slaughterhouse industries, in addition to which the Mexican workforce is largely visible different from the Canadian workforce. By and large, the Mexican is brown, the Canadian is white. This dilemma is currently causing divisions within the Trump White House and its executive branch.

Trump is stating that the deportation exercise is a military operation while secretary of homeland security, General Kelly, sought to reassure Mexico on a recent visit that there will not be a military operation to effect deportation.

Stephen Miller, the White House architect of the Trump immigration policy, is a proponent of a freeze on immigration to allow the American society time to absorb the legal immigrants in the USA. Steve Bannon, a person who may be described as the power behind Trump's presidency, stated that America is not just an economy, but a distinctive cultural society that should be preserved. The clear inference being, keep the immigrants out to maintain the purity of that which we have.

How Trump is going to resolve these competing immigration positions is going to make for very interesting observations in the foreseeable future.

President Trump has also been speaking on other issues with what appears to be very little thought. Infrastructure, development, the Affordable Care Act, the return of manufacturing jobs are worthy ideals, but let us take a look at what could be the impact of seeking to implement his ideas without thorough analysis.


US$20 trillion debt


America has a debt of US$20 trillion. The scale of the funds being sought for infrastructure developments; roads, hospitals, airports, urban water systems is in the region of US$1 trillion in its first phase, but simultaneously with the heavy spend for infrastructure, Trump is proposing a reduction in tax rates. With the related reduction in revenue, this is likely to add to the deficit and increase interest rates.

The offset to be had from increased employment is not likely to be enough to keep the US$20-trillion debt at its existing level. The infrastructure investment needs a lot more analysis.

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is to be either repealed, replaced or revised. No consensus has been arrived at as to what is to be done because the 30 million people who are now covered want to retain health care for their children up to age 26 and want to keep coverage of pre-existing conditions. This is untenable if the premiums are to remain relatively affordable.

Members of Congress have been facing boisterous constituents at their town hall meetings and they are very cognisant that they will be subjected to an election in November 2018 in which Trump will not be on the ballot. It is interesting to hear the comments of the previous speaker of the House of the Representatives, who is no longer a Member of the House, stating that the repeal of Obamacare will not happen. If anybody could be credited with the ability to count the votes in the Congress, it would be the former speaker.

The Healthcare Bill cannot be repealed without simultaneous replacement by a lot of people across the United States who do not even know that the offerings made available to them through the Affordable Care Act are the same act they disliked when it is referred to as Obamacare.

Trump is off on a presidency that raises more questions than answers.

- Ronald Mason is an attorney-at-law and Supreme Court mediator. Email feedback to and