Hussain Abdul-Hussain

Why is President Trump scary?

Likely unable to deliver on his unrealistic promises for economic growth, expect the new president to revert to scaremongering and sowing further divisions in American society

Republican president-elect Donald Trump gives a speech during election night at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on November 8, 2016. (AFP/Jim Watson)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump pulled a stunner on Tuesday by defeating his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Much ink will be spilled over why and how Trump trounced the Democrats. Suffice it to say, his victory was driven by rural White America voting against urban diverse America. Trump won the elder generation, while Clinton bagged the majority of young voters, an alarming trend for Republicans and their political future.


Until the future is here, America and the world will have to deal with a man who has not held any sort of governmental office, not even been elected as a member of a local council. This inexperienced Tump will be supervising the world’s biggest government and strongest military.


Trump’s supporters argue that his lack of government experience makes him an outsider and injects Washington with much needed new blood. They also believe that because Trump showed success in expanding his considerable inheritance, they expect him to show similar competence running America.


But America is not a company. While successful businessmen live by the rule of the “survival of the fittest,” governments mitigate individual greed and alleviate the suffering of the less fortunate.


Trump’s team has so far promised a throwback to the same tested-and-failed Lafer Curve voodoo economics: Cut taxes to incentivize capital, which goes to work, creating jobs and new revenues, which in turn will offset tax cuts. That’s in principle. In practice, such a scheme worked for America’s legendary President Ronald Reagan only because his government substituted its lost tax revenue with debt. As lower taxes delivered a short-term jolt and the government maintained its high spending — especially on defense — America’s economy under Reagan saw unprecedented growth and prosperity.


But no government, including Washington, can borrow endlessly. Reagan’s expansion was so short-lived that he had to raise taxes, and so did his successor George Bush Senior, a step that cost Bush reelection in 1992 in the midst of a recession.


One wishes, however, that Trump implements voodoo economics as planned. Instead, Trump cherry picks in a way that will make the Reagan plan go worse, faster. His amended Reagan economic plan creates contradictions. 


Trump has promised to raise tariffs to balance deficits with America’s trade partners. Decreased trade means less revenue for the government. Trump has also promised to fine American companies that do not re-shore their factories (bring them back from overseas). How will American corporations be incentivized to unleash the power of their capital, and abandon inversion plans (relocation to other countries) if Trump forces them to re-shore manufacturing, even at higher cost? What kind of free market decides for American companies where to open factories or which workers to hire? 


Because Trump is a businessman, not an economist, he is probably unfamiliar with the literature that blames the slowing down of the world’s biggest economies on their aging populations. In America, aging is believed to have subtracted one percent from GDP growth, from three percent in the 1990s to two percent over the past 16 years. With US national debt at around 100 percent, Trump will not be able to fund higher GDP growth with more government debt. 


America’s economic problems are structural. Policies, short of fundamental changes in demographics and other factors, can only mitigate economic troubles to an extent. It is unlikely that the US economy — now nearing the time of its cyclical recession — will be humming and churning with high paying manufacturing jobs, like Trump promised. 


Come 2018 midterm elections, without delivering on his economic promises, Trump will see his popularity nosedive, and Republicans might lose the Senate, leaving Trump’s second term in jeopardy.


Trump’s failure as chief executive does not, in and by itself, threaten America. The US has seen many messiah figures ride the horse of hope in an election and produce only disappointment while in office. Between his “election smile” and his “malaise speech,” former President Jimmy Carter lost favor with America, and eventually his bid for reelection. He might be the best example of how Americans can be duped by self-anointed messiahs, after which they regret their decision fast and throw their president out of office faster.


But knowing Trump, and judging by his character and campaign, the fear is that the man will revert to the only way he knows to keep his base fired up: Scaremongering and instigating his base against other Americans. Scapegoating others for one’s failures is a known autocratic policy in failing states.


If Trump turns criticism against him into identity politics and clings on to power, the same way Republicans unconstitutionally blocked the replacement of a conservative Supreme Court judge,  America might be sailing into unchartered territory. That’s the scary side of Trump that threatens America, its democracy and the world at large.

Republican president-elect Donald Trump gives a speech during election night at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on November 8, 2016. (AFP/Jim Watson)

What kind of free market decides for American companies where to open factories or which workers to hire?

  • Phil؟

    mmmm liberal tears.. taste so good..

    November 12, 2016

  • Hanibaal-Atheos

    Sounds like you've enjoyed other liberal body fluids in the past.

    November 13, 2016

  • Phil؟

    Man up, Perez Hilton. You sound like an old lady. You'll be the first one thanking President Trump in a couple of years.

    November 15, 2016

  • Petrossou

    Regarding politics... He does not want to support and defend all and everybody for free! The US cannot support longer the costs alone. Is that wrong? Who ever needs their help has to spend also for his defense and not only enjoying the benefits of the free billions offered by the US. He is proposing to discuss with Russia the "enemy"! What is wrong with that? It will avoid wars and troubles. He wants less American troops abroad! Isn't it what everybody complains about? Now that a President is planning to do so, they all call him names. I will remind all of those that are doing so that WB came to power with same foreign policy intention. Thanks to some, and it is not CIA, FBI and all the conspiracy bullshit we have been hearing about, they made sure with 11 SEP to bring them back. We can here again debate for days... The most important for us is what his election can bring to Lebanon. One thing is sure, Hezbollah will be the one paying the bill after Syria and Iran will be neutralized not to bother anybody anymore, and this is why he has accepted to see Aoun elected and will also accept the next government and the one after. The rice will be to ease the pain he will endure if he keeps acting the same way.

    November 11, 2016

  • Petrossou

    Anything that is being said about Trump is bull....t! It starts with his alleged ignorance, to his lack of experience, etc... Time will show. I am a business man myself and apart, in very rare occasions, within the Arab world, I rarely met an ignorant one. They are all very much aware of everything. Those supporting these sort of allegations without proofs or proper arguments are the stupid ones. The man is successful in his businesses as well as a father. His empire and children are the proofs all the rest is bull...t! What he will do though is another issue. Regarding internal US social & economical policies, honestly we do not give a dam as they do not concern us. As far as international economics are concerned, whether we like it or not we are all connected. One bank in the State went busted and the world is still suffering to date of it. Therefore, the US need to restore their economy for all of us to profit from it too. It is in our interest to see a strong US economy and this will only happen if Trump manages to balance it. He wants to impose foreign products and services? Let it be! We will do the same for US ones! It is ethical to treat others the way we are treated. So I do not see the worry here. Everybody is complaining about the Chinese dumping in their markets. Well it is an opportunity to put more pressure on China to integrate the world system and accept to have a free Yuan just like other currencies. What is wrong with that? And we can go on....

    November 11, 2016

  • Hanibaal-Atheos

    Yet, the Lebanese love Trump. 72% said they favored him over Clinton. This says that the Lebanese are generally either desperate or stupid, or that they actually believe in Santa Claus, snowmen, unicorns, Superman and the like (they in fact do, except they have other names for their cave-dwelling bearded heroes who hear voices and heal diseases). No wonder they managed to turn the country into a slaughterhouse and a garbage dump for 4 decades now.

    November 10, 2016

  • Hanibaal-Atheos

    Excellent piece. If his outlandish promises were merely tactical just to get elected, then he is unlikely to act on them, thus eroding very quickly , as you point out, the very discontented base that elected him. But if his promises were genuine reflections of his ignorant thinking, and he proceeds to implement them, then he is bound to cause much havoc, across his own party, his own country at large, and internationally as well, thus sealing his demise. But having his stupid hands on the dangerous buttons is indeed scary. One hopes that more enlightened Republicans will surround him and control his temper tantrums and uncontrolled verbal diarrheas. Either way, his election does indeed represent the early twilight of WASP-dominated America. Statistics say that by 2050, WASP Americans will no longer be a majority. Unlike all other immigrations, which eventually stopped and assimilated, the vast reservoir of Latin American immigrants and its abutting geographical proximity to the continental US make it unlikely to ever stop and thus of never assimilating. Trump is thus like Nero, a prophet of doom called upon by his disciples to usher the fall of Rome.

    November 10, 2016

  • Beiruti

    Excellent piece of writing.

    November 10, 2016