Sunday thoughts on how awful

It’s Sunday, so I take a break from nerdy econ analysis and speak my mind.

Last November 9 we woke up to a living nightmare. The next four years were bound to be awful. The only question was, how awful?

The very tiny silver lining as of now is that, so far, it has been about as limited an awful as it could reasonably be.

The simple fact is, those things that the Executive could worsen all on his own, he is doing so. But those things that require Legislative action or Judicial approval have either not materialized or have been stopped in their tracks.

The Executive has almost unlimited freedom of action in foreign policy, so it was a foregone conclusion that China and Russia were going to seize the opportunity to expand their power and influence, and they are doing so. Taiwan is already suffering diplomatically, and it isn’t a good time to be one of the Baltic States either. The EU is looking aghast at Trump’s view of NATO, and will probably vivify their moribund “European Defense Force” at least until 2021.

It is also pretty clear that Trump means to erase Obama from the history books, if for no other reason than Obama humiliated him at the 2011 White House correspondents dinner. So every Executive Order or program undertaken by Obama is being systematically obliterated. This includes deferral of action against illegal immigrants/undocumented workers. There’s not much that can be done there, but even so, the Courts have occasionally stepped in, and Trump himself seems to want to allow the Dreamers to stay.

It was also always going to be a bad time to be a Muslim in the US, but even there, the Judiciary has stepped in, stopping Trump’s travel ban.

And where Trump needs Legislative action, with the exception of the appointment of Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, so far there has been a big fat goose egg. I figured that Congress would repeal Obamacare in toto by January 31, and get around to the “replace” part approximately never. Instead, due to Trump’s own insistence on a replacement, as of now there is no repeal at all (the House bill is, right now, only a bill).

There’s no tax cut for billionaires. There’s no raiding of the SS and Medicare trust funds. The privatization infrastructure scam hasn’t even gotten a hearing in Congress. And on and on.

Bottom line: there has been no legislation of significance out of the Trump/GOP Congress whatsoever. None. Zilch. Nada.

And we are over 30% of the way from the last Congressional elections in November 2016 to the next ones in November 2018. If they can manage this same record just twice more, we are almost home (maybe).

We are also 10% through Trump’s four year term. In four weeks we’ll be 1/8 of the way through.

As the lyrics of “Unchained Melody” say, “Time goes by, so slowly…” but time is passing and there will be an end. In the meantime, so far things are as “least awful” as we could reasonably have hoped.

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