The Art of those Deals

Trump's deal-making prowess in NK and Iran isn't too impressive.

Doug Mataconis has already noted the problems with Trump’s triumphalism regarding his summit with Kim Jong Un, but let me add the following via WaPo:  North Korea working to conceal key aspects of its nuclear program, U.S. officials say

U.S. intelligence officials, citing newly obtained evidence, have concluded that North Korea does not intend to fully surrender its nuclear stockpile, and instead is considering ways to conceal the number of weapons it has and secret production facilities, according to U.S. officials.

[…]

The findings support a new, previously undisclosed Defense Intelligence Agency estimate that North Korea is unlikely to denuclearize. 

Emphasis mine.  This is not a surprise and, indeed, exactly what anyone who knew even a little bit about the situation was saying going into the summit.

Trump gave up joint military exercises with South Korea and gave Kim enhanced international legitimacy in exchange for essentially the status quo ante.  That is not a good deal by any objective measure.  I do get that Trump did get a lot of positive press and an ephemeral PR moment.  But, what did the United States get?

Meanwhile, the withdrawal of the US from the JCPOA is a major factor in driving up global oil prices (via Oil.com):

Oil prices surged again on news that the U.S. was pressuring its allies not to import oil from Iran, lest they risk sanctions. Iran currently exports 2.9 million barrels per day of crude oil and condensate to Asian and European markets. Even if there is modest compliance with this Trump Administration request, it could accelerate the depletion of global crude oil inventories. That would likely drive oil prices even higher.

Trump as much as acknowledges this here:

While the Venezuela issue is wholly internal to Venezuela, the decrease of Iranian contribution to global supply is the direct result of Trump’s own actions.  It is an unforced error.  The US not only got nothing positive out of the unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA, we are now getting the negative of higher oil prices.

As has been my wont of late, I ask: how can supporters defend this?  How can anyone pretend like he knows what he is doing?  These scenarios were the obvious outcomes from the beginning and clearly predicted by anyone who knew an iota about the situations in question.

We could add to the list that withdrawal from the TPP has only reduced our influence to China’s benefit.  His behavior at the G7 meeting damaged US credibility, for that matter.

There has been no evidence to date that Trump makes the best deals.

 

FILED UNDER: *FEATURED, Asia, Donald Trump, Middle East, US Politics, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. You can add international trade into this as well.

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  2. Michael Reynolds says:

    Yep, to the surprise of absolutely no one not in #Cult45, Trump is as bad at dealmaking as he is at everything else. His one talent is convincing idiots he’s one of them, and of course I agree that he is.

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  3. Ray says:

    ” I ask: how can supporters defend this? How can anyone pretend like he knows what he is doing?”
    Two very good questions you have asked. The answer to both is covered under the following.
    The followers of Trump all subscribe to “Stupid is as Stupid does!”. They will follow their chosen leader until all of their guns are pried out of their cold dead hands. Never doubt the power of the Stupid for in their vast amounts of STUPIDITY there is high amounts of danger.

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  4. teve tory says:

    The day trump took office the average US regular gas price was $2.30. Current avg regular price is $2.85, a 24% increase.

    (This is mostly meaningless but I remember those dumbasses walking around with shirts printed with cherry-picked gas prices to make Obama look bad if you were ignorant of the relevant market history. Trump has been responsible for some of the increase with his JCPOA idiocy, but presidents aren’t usually the main drivers of gas prices, nor are increased gas prices necessarily bad.)

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  5. Kylopod says:

    Trump is, essentially, a real-life version of Gilderoy Lockhart. You remember Lockhart. He’s the Hogwarts professor who’s constantly boasting about his exploits fighting dark wizards, who has written books detailing his alleged feats, and who hawks products of questionable quality. And, of course, he is finally exposed as a fraud–a guy who takes credit for the achievements of others but is great at invoking a magical charm on people so they don’t realize it.

    You may find it strange that I’m comparing Trump to a silly character in a children’s fantasy series, but that’s just the point. He is like some silly character out of a children’s movie. It’s so totally obvious he’s a fraud with entirely phony achievements that it’s hard to understand how any normal, functioning adult could fall for it. Like Lockhart, the only “evidence” of his greatness is the fact that he continually declares it to be so, even though it’s plain as day that he has no idea what he’s doing.

    The people who believe in his awesome deal-making skills are people with a deep-seated need to believe in it. This comes from different directions. There are the hardcore cultists who can’t get enough of the notion that Trump is putting all the snot-nosed elites in their place. But there are, also, some elites who have long supported some of his goals such as the destruction of JCPOA, and admitting it to be an “unforced error” as you put it would be tantamount, in their eyes, to acknowledging that maybe Obama wasn’t the Chamberlain-style naif they depicted him as when he enacted the deal. In this case it’s not just Trump’s particular cult of personality that inspires them, it’s their entire worldview that’s at stake.

    One way or another, a lot of different people have incentives to turn themselves inside out to convince themselves of Trump’s amazing abilities.

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  6. Yank says:

    As has been my wont of late, I ask: how can supporters defend this? How can anyone pretend like he knows what he is doing?

    Because admitting the truth would mean admitting you were either duped or you are incredibly stupid. Take for example our Mbunge here, deep down he knows Trump is a fraud and total incompetent. But yet, he still has to keep up the facade that Trump knows what he is doing and it is the elites who are wrong.

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  7. teve tory says:

    Polaris joins Harley in plotting relocation to Europe due to Trump Tariffs. link

    You know, if Big Bidness really does pull all the strings in GOP politics, they just might figure out how to get President Dumbass out of the way if he keeps this up.

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  8. CSK says:

    With regard to Trump’s Tweet about his chat with the king of Saudi Arabia, the White House had to “clarify” that the king did not agree to raise output by 2 million barrels.

    MAGA!

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  9. @TM01: As per a previous warning, all trolling comments will be deleted.

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  10. reid says:

    @TM01: You’ve been warned about posting this same false idiocy here over and over. Is this the straw that broke the troll’s back?

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  11. TM01 says:

    And regarding oil prices, let’s frak more and allow more drilling close to the shore in shallower waters!

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  12. @reid: And hence the deletion.

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  13. reid says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Yes, sorry, bad timing. Good work.

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  14. Yank says:

    Yep, to the surprise of absolutely no one not in #Cult45, Trump is as bad at dealmaking as he is at everything else. His one talent is convincing idiots he’s one of them, and of course I agree that he is.

    Honestly, I don’t think Trump does a very good job at that given his lifestyle. His one talent IMO is his ability to sell himself as a success, which is a good skill to have in politics.

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  15. @TM01: This is, at least, something new.

    One can certainly argue for more domestic production, but that is not a counter to the fact that the withdrawal from the JCPOA has gotten us nothing more than higher oil prices.

    You aren’t dealing with the topic of the post.

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  16. reid says:

    When your favorite football team has a lousy year… even when your team makes a stupid trade… they’re still your favorite football team. At least they aren’t that other team with their stupid colors! (Is it much more than this?)

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  17. Michael Reynolds says:

    There’s a difference between making a deal and pulling a con. Trump isn’t even a very good conman, but he’s good enough for the highly-motivated Dunning-Kruger victims in his base. It’s easy to con people who’ve been raised from birth to believe whatever bullsht that comes from any glib white man with bad hair. These are the same people who think maybe there really is a Nigerian prince who just needs some earnest money before he makes you rich.

    The model here is Scientology or David Koresh’s ‘religion.’ A part of the culties knows they’re rationalizing absolute nonsense, but groveling reinforces the need to continue groveling since they have to justify the sunk costs of earlier groveling. In order to convince a cult member you have to appeal either to their reason or to emotions like love of family or patriotism, but people who care about reason and truth and concerns beyond their own selfish needs, are by definition not the sorts of people who join cults.

    A white man with bad hair who angers liberals is all they need or want. The bleedingly obvious fact that he is destroying this country’s standing in the world, humiliating us in service to Vladimir Putin, has to be denied, after all Cult Leader is smarter than everyone. Cult Leader knows. Cult Leader’s apparent failures are all just his clever ruses. Cult Leader said Mexico would pay for a wall? They will, they will. . . just as soon as taxpayers pony up 25 billion dollars.

    No NAFTA deal, no TPP deal, no JCPOA re-negotiation, no Obamacare deal, no Wall deal, no ME deal, and the jaw-dropping performance in Korea. Zero deals. Not one, after almost two years with a tame Congress. But the culties see deals in their imaginations, they cannot do otherwise. This isn’t politics anymore, it’s religion, with white evangelicals tossing Christ overboard (he can walk on water, right?) and dancing around their orange calf.

    Trump is not capable of making deals, that would take work and Trump is bone lazy. It would involve study and our president is not capable of study. It would require taking expert advice and Trump is too insecure to do that. All Trump can do is smash things because any brute beast can destroy.

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  18. Kathy says:

    But, what did the United States get?

    Screwed.

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  19. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    Trump is, essentially, a real-life version of Gilderoy Lockhart. You remember Lockhart.

    Kind of hard to remember someone I never heard of until today 😉

    But in keeping with literary references, Trump reminds me of Frederick Hallam in Asimov’s “The Gods Themselves.” Except Hallam actually stole one insight and did one thing, and then coasted on that for decades.

    Hallam is a bully, he loves to be flattered, takes any criticism of his work as a personal attack, and, to quote the book “He’s a pygmy with only one talent: the ability to convince others he’s a giant.”

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  20. teve tory says:

    @Michael Reynolds: cults also enforce an information bubble. Anything from outside is Fake News, only what the group or leader says is Truth.

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  21. CSK says:

    @teve tory:

    Yep. Fake news is whatever is printed in the NYTimes, the WaPo, the LATimes, the Boston Globe, and broadcast on CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC.

    Real news, on the other hand, comes from Breitbart, The Gateway Pundit, The Conservative Treehouse, Infowars, and a couple of other sites run by crackpot semi-literate paranoid hysterics who are, however, shrewd enough to capitalize on a growing market.

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  22. reid says:

    Sometimes bizarre garbage like this appears in my googles news feed:

    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/jul/1/us-really-did-have-manchurian-candidate-white-hous/

    Oh my god is it stupid. I know the Washington Times is a right-wing rag, but jeez.

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  23. @reid: The bizarre and ongoing obsession many on the right have with HRC and Obama is remarkable (to put it mildly).

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  24. @reid: No need to apologize–I was just reinforcing your point.

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  25. teve tory says:

    @reid: Holy Shitballs.

    After returning from a tour of some of the war zones in the Middle East — which ended with the Free Iran Gathering 2018 in Paris — I am struck by the realization that America really did have a Manchurian Candidate in The White House for eight years. If you look at the evidence, there really is no other conclusion. The calamitous consequences of the Obama presidency will be felt for the foreseeable future.

    In the short year and a half that President Trump has been in office, he has put in place policy that has mitigated the damage that President Obama inflicted on our national security and on our allies. The speed with which Trump has been able to turn things around points to the diabolical depths the Obama administration went to in order to undermine our national strength and way of life. All Trump had to do was stop doing things that hurt America; America could then take care of itself. The results are plain as day. However, it will take decades for the Obama damage to be completely undone. The deviousness of the Obama sedition runs deep.

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  26. reid says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Yes. I don’t know who the author of the piece is, but it’s awfully suspicious that we get such essays when it’s clearly the current occupant who is the more likely manchurian candidate. If someone on your team is accused of something, turn the attack back three-fold. (Truth is irrelevant, of course.)

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  27. CSK says:

    OT, but John McCain is resigning his senate seat on July 4.

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  28. teve tory says:

    I won’t go into why Obama ran up more debt for the United States than all previous presidents combined.

    because he took over after the biggest financial collapse in 90 years, dumbass.

    I won’t ask why he weakened our armed forces. I won’t ask why he used tyrannical policies, like using the agencies of the federal government to go after his political opposition. I won’t ask why he politicized our security apparatus in an attempt to frame President Trump.

    I won’t ask where you got that heavily adulterated crack you’re smoking, because i’m worried it would cause permanent damage.

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  29. @teve tory: @teve tory: There is a lot of projection plus utter BS in that piece.

    @CSK: Interesting. That will put the chamber at 50-49.

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  30. restless says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Doesn’t the Arizona governor already have a replacement picked for him? Won’t that appointment to go into place immediately?

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  31. Kylopod says:

    @teve tory:

    I won’t go into why Obama ran up more debt for the United States than all previous presidents combined.

    Pure economic illiteracy. Yes, the debt under Obama increased by a greater number of raw dollars than under any previous president, but that’s a meaningless number without adjusting for inflation. Several previous presidents increased the debt by a greater percentage, including Dubya, Reagan, and FDR.

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  32. CSK says:

    @restless:

    Cindy McCain has been asked if she’d like to take her husband’s seat.

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  33. grumpy realist says:

    Wasn’t “The Art of the Deal” ghost-written anyway?

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  34. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kylopod:

    To be fair, Presidents do not increase (or decrease) debt. Congress increases debt.

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  35. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Everything Trump has ever “written” has been ghosted.

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  36. Gustopher says:

    Delusions of competence.

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  37. SenyorDave says:

    @Kylopod: The main reason that debt increased so much under Obama was the Bush tax cuts, which put in a massive structural deficit. Obviously there was no chance to do anything about the structural deficit because the GOP told everyone up front that they had no intention of working with Obama. The policies of Obama contributed to very little of the debt; almost all of the contribution to the debt under Obama was a direct result of the tax cuts under Bush.

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  38. Lava Land says:

    Could anyone here be doing a better job as president in this crazy wacky world? Let me know so I can research….what a week. Happy Independence Day!

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  39. Jax says:

    @Lava Land: Why yes, actually, we could. We all like to read and research information, it’s possible any ONE of the commenters here (outside of Bunge, TMwhatever, Guarneri, and yourself) could’ve gotten a better deal out of any of those “deals”. I could put my 13 year old in charge, and she’d do better than Trump. She’s definitely read more ACTUAL books, and has a basic understanding of not spending more than her Amazon gift cards.

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  40. @restless: I realized after I typed that that I did not know what rule AZ used to replace a Senator. Yes, the governor will replace with another Republican, and I assume quickly, so never mind.

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  41. SenyorDave says:

    @Lava Land: It really isn’t hyperbole to say that Trump lies almost all the time. In a year and a half he has made sure that the US is seen as untrustworthy by our traditional allies. He is completely divisive, and doesn’t even bother to attempt to conceal his contempt for anyone who opposes him. His cabinet is filled with corrupt and/or incompetent hacks. Perhaps worst of all is his total lack of interest in learning from history. Yes, I think any number of commentators here could do a better job as president. Trump is a dishonest, racist, amoral pig.

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  42. Lava Land says:

    @SenyorDave: cuz Obama didn’t spy or lie. And yes Jax please send me your 13 years old qualifications. MAGA good night

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  43. Lava Land says:

    @Michael Reynolds: OMG your President may encompass a lot of descriptions but lazy is not one of them, that would be stoner Barry. Cheers and HAPPY 4TH

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  44. grumpy realist says:

    @Lava Land: The guy can’t even be bothered to read bullet briefing statements. Lazy.

    Do you have any evidence that Trump does anything aside from watch Fox News, golf, and vent his spleen on Twitter?

    I didn’t think so.

    If you think that what Trump is doing is “hard work”, that explains why most of Trump’s supporters haven’t gotten that far in life.

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  45. Lounsbury says:

    @Kylopod: Certainly there’s on the contrary rather ample evidence over the years he’s quite incomptetent in open negotiations, although quite masterful in marketing.

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  46. Kit says:

    As has been my wont of late, I ask: how can supporters defend this? How can anyone pretend like he knows what he is doing?

    As concerns JCPOA, I’ve just got to disagree with pretty much everyone here. To be clear, I think America’s withdrawal was a mistake, but let’s imagine a world in which it was not. Let’s imagine a world in which the case again Iran was so strong that all our allies followed along. Oil prices would still have risen, given constant demand faced with deceased supply. Honestly, any supporter who could not defend higher prices (and who still believes in the benefits of withdrawal) must have had no idea of the situation.

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  47. OzarkHillbilly says:

    I think America’s withdrawal was a mistake, but let’s imagine a world in which it was not. Let’s imagine a world in which the case again Iran was so strong that all our allies followed along.

    Except, that is not the world we live in. I’m really not sure what you are trying to accomplish with your imaginings.

    Imagine that trump is intelligent, knowledgeable, competent, courageous, compassionate…. Why bother? He’s not any of those things.

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  48. @Kit: I honestly am not sure of your point–could you restate?

    Are you saying that under a scenario in which Iran deserves harsher sanctions, and all the allies agreed, that they would put pressure on Iran and, hence, drive oil prices up? If so, ok, sure.

    But that isn’t what we are talking about–rather, we are looking at a scenario in which Iran was complying and the maintain of the JCPOA meant more oil in the market, and therefore lower prices.

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  49. teve tory says:

    @SenyorDave: well, also the fact that in the wake of the biggest financial collapse in 80 years, tax revenue cratered. When Obama was sworn in the country was losing 800,000 jobs a month. Of course both corporate and individual income tax revenues strongly declined.

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  50. teve tory says:

    @grumpy realist: It doesn’t matter that Trump takes literally 2x the number of vacation days Obama took. Obama’s lazy. Why? Let’s ask Donald Trump:

    “Besides that, I’ve got to tell you something else. I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control…. Don’t you agree?”

    –From the book Trumped! by John R. O’Donnell

    Lavaland and Trump have a certain ugly trait in common.

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  51. Kit says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I honestly am not sure of your point–could you restate?

    The fact the neither you nor OzarkHillbilly got my point is proof enough that I didn’t manage to express myself well. Let me try again. Trump pulled out of JCPOA to punish Iran. This punishment takes the form of making it harder for Iran to sell its oil on the world market. An entirely foreseeable consequence was a rise in oil prices. No rational supporter of the withdrawal would take this as refudation of the withdrawal.

    As has been my wont of late, I ask: how can supporters defend this?

    Trump’s supporters defend this by saying the the sanctions are meant to change the behavior of Iran, and the rise in oil prices are a short-term consequence that we must pay. Sanctions = reduced supply = higher prices.

    Allow me to reiterate that I don’t agree with these sanctions, I simply don’t see higher oil prices as proof that Trump doesn’t know what he is doing. Yet I do agree that Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing.

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  52. rachel says:

    @CSK: As long as it’s not (shudder) Gosar.

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  53. Kit says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    I’ve already replied to Steven. I’ll just say that my point, obviously poorly phrased, was that sanctions, imagine them how you will, result in higher prices. Higher prices is the proof that sanctions work, not a reason for supporters to start soul searching. Trump’s withdrawal from JCPOA can be criticized from any number of angles, just not this one.

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  54. @Kit: I see your point. And yes, that is not an unfair rationale for defense. I suppose my broader point would be that since we (the US) appear to be getting no material benefit from the withdrawal and higher oil prices to boot, defending the withdrawal is difficult (IMO).

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  55. teve tory says:

    @rachel: Gosar the Gosarian? I should hope not.

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  56. Facebones says:

    As has been my wont of late, I ask: how can supporters defend this? How can anyone pretend like he knows what he is doing?

    His wealthy supporters care about tax cuts. That’s all.

    His other supporters care about ‘owning the libs.’ They support him out of spite. They don’t care how much the policies hurt them personally (Losing health care, losing jobs due to tariffs, higher prices on beer cans, etc.) as long as they know it hurts THOSE people even more.

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  57. Kylopod says:

    @SenyorDave: @teve tory: While I agree that the country’s fiscal problems under Obama were mostly inherited, it’s important to emphasize that the one major policy of his that did contribute to the deficit–the stimulus–was entirely justified.

    I have a problem that whenever liberals discuss this subject, they all too often end up (perhaps inadvertently) using a conservative frame in talking about debt and deficit as intrinsically negative things. The very vocabulary everyone uses reinforces this outlook: nobody wants to be in debt, and there’s no way to make a phrase like balancing the budget sound like anything but responsible governance. Yet this is simply not accurate.

    The single largest and most rapid expansion of the national debt in the country’s history occurred during the four years the country was involved in WWII–1941-1945. And a good thing, too. It was the thing that finally pulled the country out of the Great Depression. Contrary to popular belief FDR did not, in any real or consistent way, practice stimulus spending when enacting the New Deal in the 1930s. In 1937 he actually practiced austerity–disastrously, because it was quickly followed by another crash.

    There’s only one US president who managed to wipe out the entire national debt while in office, and that was Andrew Jackson, whose presidency was quickly followed by the worst economic depression in the country’s history up to that point. (Ben Carson falsely described Jackson as “the last president who actually balanced the federal budget.” He didn’t get into the depression part.)

    But you wouldn’t know any of this listening to most political discussions. First you have Republicans, who adopt the twofold approach of (1) talking about debt as inherently catastrophic, even apocalyptic (2) claiming against all available evidence that the policies they favor will lead to a reduction in debt.

    Then you have partisan Democrats, who spend most of the discussion simply pointing out that Republican presidents (at least since Reagan) have enacted policies that have caused massive increases in the debt, while Democratic presidents (at least the two most recent ones) just haven’t.

    Finally you’ve got the Beltway centrists, the one group that is genuinely consistent about hating debt and showing some understanding about the policies that actually cause debt.

    In all this, it’s no wonder that liberal economists like Paul Krugman who point out that increasing the debt is not intrinsically a bad thing get drowned out.

    One of the consequences of this misperception is that people end up confusing fiscal problems with economic ones. There’s a famous moment from one of the 1992 presidential debates where a young woman from the audience asked the candidates how “the national debt” had “personally affected each of your lives.” President George H.W. Bush began rambling about how the debt leads to spikes in interest rates and lack of affordable education. The young woman pressed him further by talking about how she’d had friends laid off from jobs and who couldn’t afford to pay for their mortgages or cars. It quickly became clear (as the moderator noted) that she was using the phrase “national debt” as a stand-in for the country’s economic problems.

    In Bill Clinton’s empathic response (which for some reason came to be known as his “I feel your pain” moment, even though he never actually used those words or anything similar), he described various problems he’d seen ordinary people experiencing while he was governor, then he noted, “What I want you to understand is the national debt is not the only cause of that.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ffbFvKlWqE

    Political scientist Jonathan Bernstein speculates that most Americans can’t even correctly define what the federal deficit is, so when pollsters ask questions related to it, debt and deficit invariably become stand-ins for “problems in the economy.” As a result, these polls foster the impression that the public hates debt, when the reality is that the public is largely indifferent to government debt as long as their pocketbooks aren’t empty. That’s why Democratic complaints about the debt in the 1980s and 2000s fell on deaf ears until the economy started cratering. I suspect the same will be true in the Trump era. Dems can get a lot of traction talking about health care, taxes, and wages, but I doubt they’ll get very far simply complaining about an exploding national debt.

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  58. Kylopod says:

    Please rescue my comment from moderation. And Jesus, please find a way to enable us to put at least one or two links in our posts without causing the posts to be sent to moderation hell.

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  59. teve tory says:

    @Kylopod: Oh i do think there was a big problem with the stimulus. Smart economists like krugman said it should be $2 trillion and innumerate dipshits in the Senate demanded it be under $800 billion based on argle bargle. The final stimulus was $787 billion and it wasn’t nearly enough, though it did help.

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  60. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Certainly. But in fairness to Kit’s argument, Trump’s supporters believe the counterfactual is reality or at least claim to, so they will also be able to state, legitimately in their own worldview, that the rise in gas prices is a necessary cost to be born for MAGA.

    ETA: Please note that I realize–as does everyone else here–that they are delusional, but faith (as well as envy and anger) is a powerful force.

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  61. Kylopod says:

    @teve tory:@teve tory:

    Smart economists like krugman said it should be $2 trillion and innumerate dipshits in the Senate demanded it be under $800 billion based on argle bargle.

    That’s exactly what I’m talking about. We always end up at that point because the entire conversation about fiscal matters is skewed so that reasonable points of view are drowned out by unreasonable ones. On one side you’ve got a Republican Party mired in the supply-side fairy tale, where tax cuts for the wealthy are the solution to everything, and only spending on social programs counts as “increasing the deficit” (even for laws like Obamacare that actually decrease the deficit). The only real conversation about debt occurs within the Democratic Party, a significant chunk of which is comprised of real debt alarmists (as opposed to the fake ones in the GOP), and it’s that group that dominates the party’s power brokers, including the economists on Obama’s team. In this atmosphere, the perfectly orthodox economic analysis of someone like Krugman is relegated to the far-left fringes, and with practically the entire GOP filibustering the bill, the Dems needed every vote they could get–so it’s not surprising the bill was pared down so that it was far less than what was needed.

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  62. restless says:

    @Kylopod:

    I know it’s from a DailyKos website, so salt is required, but I found this referenced at another blog and it seemed apropos.

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/6/30/1776899/-Distributive-Negotiating-in-an-Integrated-World

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  63. Kylopod says:

    @restless: That’s a great article. It goes along with something I wrote a couple of months ago, where I argued that the biggest problem with Trump’s approach to “deals” is that he views them intrinsically as a zero-sum game, with a clear winner and loser, and that’s simply not how deals work on the international stage. (I’m hardly the first to have made this observation, of course: Ben Sasse last year observed that the Trump Administration “holds 18th-century views of trade as a zero-sum game.”) But the DailyKos article, written by a law professor who teaches about negotiations, goes into a lot more detail than I was aware existed on the subject. It’s well worth a read.

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