Richard Wagner writes a criticism of the first 6 months of the Trump administration without ever mentioning Russia.  

I don’t know if Trump is incompetent, or just doesn’t care.  I often think he never intended to win, and now isn’t even sure what to do.  But here we are, with a President with zero political experience who relies on establishment Republicans like Paul Ryan to write policies for him and has delivered so far on few, if any of his campaign promises.  And the prospects for doing so over the next 3 and a half years are dismal.

Can you offer a more compassionate replacement for Obamacare?

Trump seemed like a different kind of Republican as a candidate.  In the past, he’s been known to speak positively of single-payer health care, specifically, in the UK.  As a candidate, he walked back that position, which is no surprise.  But he did promise “insurance for everybody”.  He also promised to protect Medicare and Medicaid.

However, instead of looking deeper into healthcare and how he can offer a more compassionate replacement plan for Obamacare, Trump has largely relied on Paul Ryan to develop the plan —no wonder he doesn’t want to call it “Trumpcare”.  First, he praises the House plan.  Then he learns a little about it and calls it “mean”.  Now the Senate is proposing a slightly different version, which is a little less “mean” on the subsidies.

However, it’s just as “mean” as the House version in rolling back the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, which is a great help to the lower middle class who earn just a little too much to qualify for Medicaid pre-Obamacare but struggle to afford private insurance.  Instead of offering a new plan and taking the Republican Party in a new direction, Trump is allowing Congressional Republicans to recycle the same policies they have for eight years.  How about changing the status quo?

Where are the tariffs?

Candidate Trump boldly proposed a 45% tariff on Chinese imports, a similar tariff on Japanese automobiles, blasted NAFTA and TPP, and promised to bring back American jobs – bigly!

He did keep his TPP promise, but that trade deal was already running out of momentum and increasingly unlikely to pass through Congress anyway.  At the stroke of a pen, Trump merely saved Congress the trouble.  But here we are, about six months in, and Trump has shown no intention of fulfilling one of his biggest campaign promises, to implement a 45% tariff on Chinese imports.  Trump largely won the election because he was able to turn those blue “rust belt” states red by promising to revive American manufacturing, and now he’s failing the voters who put him in the White House.

Getting Played By China

And why is Trump failing on the tariffs?  Trump is trying to get North Korea to end their nuclear proliferation and ballistic missile tests.  A worthy goal.  But he honestly thinks the Chinese will make this happen?  China has been using N. Korea of decades now to manipulate western leaders.  But Obama started to see through it and did convince Congress to implement a 35% tariff on imported tires from China.  

Obama’s record on China is weak, but he at least did something.  Trump has done nothing but rattle his saber, and then capitulate.  The Chinese, therefore, have every reason to make empty promises and keep stringing us and our western along.  Trump could, without Congress, implement at least temporary tariffs on China, but instead, he keeps believing that China will actually give up their strongest card in the deck – N. Korea.  

Criminal Justice Reform – So much for black outreach

Candidate Trump benefitted from black anger at Hillary Clinton for the Crime Bill of 1994 and her infamous “super predator” comment.  Some of Trump’s black supporters have supported him in part because of Clinton’s notoriety on this issue, such as Diamond and Silk.  Many white supporters, and likely people of all races, also have seen this tragic injustice against the black community and supported Trump for that reason.  Candidate Trump did make some effort to reach out to the black community with his words.  President Trump has made a few gestures, but nothing substantive.

However, what he has done on criminal justice reform will be disastrous.  President Obama was quietly winning a crucial victory against the “prison industrial complex” near the end of his presidency.  He has ended the privatized prisons at the federal level.  This is crucial, because private prisons operate for profit, and they frequently lobby for harsher sentences and keeping marijuana criminalized so that they can fill their cells and keep the government contracts rolling in.  

By the end of Obama’s presidency, all federal prisons were publicly run.  It’s possible that state governments would have followed.  However, Trump appointed Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.  In one fell swoop, Trump destroyed one of Obama’s greatest, and least talked about accomplishments.

Since that time, Sessions has ramped up the “war on drugs”, which disproportionately affects the black community.  Many blacks struggle with drug addiction and need help.  Instead, they’ll likely find themselves in a prison cell, torn from their families, or dead from yet another tense situation with the police.  Furthermore, Sessions has opened new contracts for private prisons, ensuring a new flow of funds for the “prison industrial complex” to use to lobby for yet more draconian laws.  

The US has the largest incarcerated population in the world!  Not just per capita, but the largest in sheer numbers!  The incarcerated population in 2016 was over 2.2 million!  This is compared to about 1.6 million in China, even though their overall population is nearly 4 times the size of the US.  Obama took the first steps towards curbing this horrible trend, and Trump’s appointee Jeff Sessions stopped it at the stroke of a pen.  I wonder if Trump is even aware.

Americans who voted for Trump because they thought the Clinton’s were bad on this issue made a huge mistake.

The End

There you have it.  I have written this as a demonstration of how to competently criticize the Trump administration without ever mentioning Russia.

The criticisms of Trump coming from the mainstream center-left are doing an injustice to the American people, who deserve robust debate so that they can make informed decisions about candidates and policy preferences.  

This is just my way of showing what a truly effective criticism of Trump would look like if Trump’s critics were competent and really interested in engaging in a debate on his actual policies.

Read more:

Trump And The Overhyped Enthusiasm For Mideast Peace

The Three Reasons Why Trump’s Tax Cut Plan Is A Mistake

For more competent criticisms of the Trump administration, read a piece I wrote on my personal blog “5 Things I don’t like about President Trump”.

Richard Wagner is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Florida State College at Jacksonville. He conducts independent study on the American conservative movement and foreign policy. When he is...

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