Trump’s priorities

Trump is so in love with big government policies to protect labor unions that he’s willing to put that goal ahead of reducing the suffering in Puerto Rico:

The Trump administration on Tuesday denied a request to waive shipping restrictions to help get fuel and supplies to storm-ravaged Puerto Rico, saying it would do nothing to address the island’s main impediment to shipping, damaged ports.

The Jones Act limits shipping between coasts to U.S. flagged vessels. However, in the wake of brutal storms, the government has occasionally issued temporary waivers to allow the use of cheaper, tax free or more readily available foreign-flagged ships.

The Department of Homeland Security, which waived the act after hurricanes Harvey and Irma, did not agree an exemption would help this time.

Gee, I wonder why Trump was willing top help Texas and Florida, but not Puerto Rico?

Update:  Alex Tabarrok has a much better post.

Meanwhile Trump fulfills another campaign promise, have presidents focus on their job:

Say what you will about Bush and Katrina, at least he wasn’t spending all his time tweeting about sports.

But wait, Trump’s officials insist that these tweets are not about baiting blacks to whip up support among white voters, rather they are trying to “promote patriotism”.

So I guess this comment was about patriotism?

“Because you know, today if you hit too hard — 15 yards! Throw him out of the game. They had that last week, I watched for a coupled of minutes. Two guys, just really, beautiful tackle. Boom! 15 yards. The referee goes on television, his wife’s so proud of him. They’re ruining the game! They’re ruining the game,” he said.

[As an aside, just as the absolutely worst way of trying to be happy is trying to be happy, the absolutely worst way of trying to promote patriotism is trying to promote patriotism.]

It looks like the voters of Alabama are about to pick another neanderthal in the tradition of George Wallace (this time standing in the courthouse door instead of the schoolhouse door.) The alt-right at Breitbart is celebrating Judge Moore’s strong opposition to DACA:

JACKSON: “Would you support an end to the Dreamer program that President Trump has still continued to push?

MOORE: “Pardon? The Dreamer program?”

JACKSON: “Yes sir. The DACA/DAPA. You’re not aware of what dreamers are?”

MOORE: “No.”

JACKSON: “Dreamers are — this is a big issue in the immigration debate. Dreamers are . . . ”

MOORE: “Why don’t you tell me what it is Dale, and quit beating around, and tell me what it is?”

JACKSON: “I’m in the process of doing that, Judge Moore.”

Oops, sorry, that wasn’t the Breitbart quote, it was a National Review quote showing that the Judge doesn’t know what DACA is.

BTW, did some sort of cultural change happen without anyone informing me?  Is it suddenly fashionable among GOP voters to support assholes and bullies and jerks who know nothing about public policy?

Welcome to the new Republican Party.  Here’s the guy they are rallying around to support in the November election:

The Vietnam veteran and lifelong Christian holds the view that the U.S. Constitution is a kind of extension of the Bible, and that the Founding Fathers intended their America to be a Christian nation.

In 2014, he went so far as to suggest that the First Amendment applies only to Christians. Speaking at an anti-abortion luncheon, Moore said: “Everybody, to include the U.S. Supreme Court, has been deceived as to one little word in the First Amendment called ‘religion.’” . . .

“Sodomy is against the laws of nature,” he told The Washington Post in a recent interview. “Let’s say the court decides to get rid of the law of gravity and says you can jump off the Empire State Building. Can they do that? No, they certainly can’t do that.”

In a 2002 child custody case during his first term as Alabama chief justice, Moore called being gay “an inherent evil” and “abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature’s God.”

Moore has said he believes “homosexual conduct should be illegal” and that same-sex relations are akin to bestiality. After the U.S. Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states, Moore, who’d been reelected as chief justice of Alabama, instructed state judges to flout the order. In September 2016, he was once again removed from court for the remainder of his term.

But he wasn’t deterred. Moore announced his run for U.S. Senate several months later and continues to share his extreme views on the campaign trail.

“There is no such thing as evolution,” he recently told a Washington Post reporter. “That we came from a snake? No, I don’t believe that.”

Equally ludicrous to Moore is the idea that non-Christian faiths have the same religious legitimacy as his own. During a campaign stop this summer the candidate called Islam a “false religion” that’s “completely opposite with what our First Amendment stands for.”

But hey, Trump put Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, so there is nothing to worry about here.  All is well.

PS.  Trump was supposed to announce his big tax cut plan today, but instead we got basically nothing.  I could come up with a more detailed plan in one week.  This White House is amazingly incompetent—which shows what happens when you aren’t able to recruit good people to work in your administration.

PPS.  During the campaign, Trumpistas told me that Trump was a master “dealmaker”.  So I guess that’s why he chose to ridicule a Vietnam War hero for being captured, and then never apologize.  He figured that insulting soldiers who have spent years being tortured while you are out grabbing other men’s wives by the pussy is a good way to make people like you more, so that, you know, they’ll provide the crucial vote in the Senate when you try to fulfill your campaign promise to repeal Obamacare.

PPPS.  Of all the defenses for Trump’s failures that I’ve seen in the comment section, perhaps the silliest is the claim that the failure to repeal Obamacare is Congress’s fault, not Trump’s.  First, because Trump ran as a SUPERMAN who would force Congress to do his bidding.  Second, because Trump never even came up with a health care proposal.  Third, because Trump often trashed the repeal proposals that Congress did consider. Imagine if Obama had just left health care up to Congress, providing no leadership.  Especially when they could not lose a single vote in the Senate.  Trump could afford to lose two votes, and still seems to be falling short.  But to the Trumpistas, nothing is Trump’s fault.



52 Responses to “Trump’s priorities”

  1. Gravatar of sean sean
    27. September 2017 at 10:21

    Honestly only one thing really matters with trump. Does he nominate Warsh to the Federal Reserve. If he avoids something as stupid as that he might even get re-elected. He will go down as a great president.

    The two most important things a US POTUS can do.

    1) Have a Federal Reserve that does its job
    2) Do not start a nuclear war

    3) Every other policy decision (everything else is supply side which changed RGDP maybe .2-.5% over a long period of time)

  2. Gravatar of Benny Lava Benny Lava
    27. September 2017 at 11:02

    Its a race to the bottom in America.

  3. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. September 2017 at 11:38

    Sean, You said:

    “He will go down as a great president.”

    I stopped reading right there.

  4. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    27. September 2017 at 11:56


    “silliest is the claim that the failure to repeal Obamacare is Congress’s fault, not Trump’s.”

    It’s more accurate to say that Congress succeeded in their effort to stop Obamacare repeal, rather than they failed in their efforts to repeal. The latter implies they were trying to repeal and were unsuccessful. In reality, much of Congress tried to stop the repeal and succeeded.

    The ultimate decision and choice and formal power over repealing Obamacare was in Congress’s hands and they choose to stop a repeal and they bear primary responsibility for their own choices.

    Even The Onion is ridiculing McConnell over his failure to coordinate a change in health care policy:

    Free market health care needs better messaging. As-is, they are rightfully ridiculed.

    “chose to ridicule a Vietnam War hero for being captured”

    Sydney Schanberg called McCain a war criminal, not a hero:

  5. Gravatar of Student Student
    27. September 2017 at 12:24

    “Repeal and replace with something terrific…Other than that, it’s private. You will get great plans, you will have great competition, everything else. Now, at the lower end, where people have no money, I want to try and help those people. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But I want to try and help those people, so they can also can — now, it’s not going to be like a good plan. It’s not going to be like the finest plan that somebody that’s made some money or has a good living can do.”

    “When we win on November 8th and elect a Republican congress, we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare…. Obamacare has to be replaced and we will do it and we will do it very, very quickly.”

    1.) The plans didn’t seek to cover everyone and they weren’t immediately able to repeal or replace.

    2.) it wasn’t his fault because Mitch and Paul told him to say that. He didn’t want to say it but everyone made him make promises he couldn’t keep.

    At this point it is becoming quite clear that trumpsters would eat a shit sandwhich if the great leader told them is was a terrific sandwhich that would satisfy them big league. And…. they would love it. They would ask for seconds.

  6. Gravatar of John Ha John Ha
    27. September 2017 at 12:37

    “Would you support an end to the Dreamer program that President Trump has still continued to push?”

    The question, the way it is asked, is confusing. The DREAM Act has never passed. There really isn’t a Dreamer program, per se. Former President Obama decided to stop deporting illegal immigrants who met some of the criteria in the DREAM Act. I think this morphed into the DACA program, but no Dreamer program.

  7. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    27. September 2017 at 12:44

    What some Republican politicians and many of their voters seem to fail to understand is that the big reasons ACA repeal has failed is because many Americans want affordable access to healthcare and Republicans are too incompetent and cowardly to push freer market plans that improve access. They’ll do nothing to lower costs and increase access simultaneously. Their only true goal is to satisfy then plutocrats’ interests in lower taxes.

    A repeal of the ACA, Medicare, and Medicaid, along with most other welfare programs in favor of a wage subsidy/GUI combination, and getting government out of healthcare entirely would seemingly constitute real reform with freer markets.

    The way Republicans are going, they’re going to lose control of Congress anyway, so why not take some real risks and actually be the party of compassion and freer markets?

  8. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    27. September 2017 at 12:47

    Oh come now Massimo, surely you must realize as the Trump Derangement Syndrome sufferers do that LEGISLATION, under which repealing and replacing Obamacare would fall, is obviously and clearly a responsibility of the head of the executive branch.

    It is all Trump’s fault.  It is also his fault that many GOP congressmen voted to repeal when Obama was president but flip flopped once Trump was elected.

    See, the reason Trump is at fault here is because he didn’t dictatorially end Obamacare and thus give this blog a reason to criticize Trump for ending it himself instead of going through the route of Congressional vote and legislation.  But because he did defer to the Congressional swamp, which as you noted purposefully strove to stop the repeal, he is at fault for not dictatorially stopping it.

    This blog is an alt-left enabling cesspool of fake news.  Puerto Rico is being abandoned by Trump?

    Not according to the governor of Puerto Rico.  But what does the governor of Puerto Rico know about what is going on in Puerto Rico.  Bloggers with fake news know better and we should listen to them instead.

    Trump called on Congress to quickly pass an aid bill, and yet they won’t get to it until next month.  In other words, Congress is purposefully going to let people in Puerto Rico suffer and die in order to advance the narrative that Trump is ignoring Puerto Rican victims of the hurricane.  Probably because they have brown skin right??  That is what the alt-left fake news is pushing, so it is probably true.

    This is also likely the reason why Trump made the deal with Democrats for money for Texas .  Probably suspected he couldn’t get money otherwise.  

    Trump is likely trying to make sure that Puerto Rico isn’t going to use any funds for hurricane recovery to fix their other problems. And without FEMA keeping a tight rein on the money it will become another Katrina. Money thrown at a problem to avoid liberal critism and race baiting is what led New Orleans being a shit show after Katrina.

    Sumner the fake news peddler apparently wants a repeat of the needless deaths from Katrina, because virtue signaling and derangement therapy sessions is more important than pragmatism and facts on the ground.

    If you want to criticize Trump, do so, but not fake news style. Focus on something like how exactly international accounting works so that we can understand how Trump is wrong about trade surpluses and deficits. This is a huge fallacy that could lead to international war, sinc eit presupposes an inherent conflict of interest between nations. We can’t all have surpluses.

    By constantly trying to paint Trump as uncaring to the point of insinuating he wants to let many Puerto Ricans die, is proof this blog has gone full derangement.

  9. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    27. September 2017 at 13:38

    @Major.Freedom, you are being sarcastic.

    Much of Sumner’s writing here is not genuine belief, it’s just his venting and insulting Trump fans. Which means we should read + comment elsewhere.

  10. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    27. September 2017 at 16:31

    One (hopefully last) comment.

    NR, in a post broadly credited to “The Editors”, says of the GOP failure of health care legislation:

    “Blame for this debacle should go in the first instance to the senators who refused to support the latest version of the bill. John McCain said that he would back a bill only if it had Democratic support. So much for his promise during his 2016 reelection campaign that he would “lead the fight” to repeal Obamacare.”

    This is precisely the “silliest” claim that Sumner suggests. It’s actually just basic common sense.

  11. Gravatar of Jason Smith Jason Smith
    27. September 2017 at 18:08

    Scott, you said:

    “BTW, did some sort of cultural change happen without anyone informing me? Is it suddenly fashionable among GOP voters to support assholes and bullies and jerks who know nothing about public policy?”

    I think living in Massachusetts might have insulated you from reality. I grew up in Texas (in one of its most conservative counties near Houston). The GOP of today is indistinguishable from the way the GOP presented itself to Texas voters outside the cities in the 1988 election. They showed us the really racist ads. The dumbest ones, too.

    I was 11 and in our 6th grade project on the 1988 election, I couldn’t fathom why anyone with half a brain who wasn’t a white supremacist would support Bush. But I understood why he won because I was surrounded by them. As a kid, I just thought intelligent people were really rare in the world (and apparently concentrated in Massachusetts).

    Because I was versed in the language of racism, I guess when I heard Reagan say “states’ rights” I didn’t think of it with any ‘ambiguity’ like “city conservatives” or “libertarians” did. To the people of Texas, “states’ rights” means “I am a fellow racist”. It wasn’t any less clear to me as a child than any of the overtly racist stuff Trump says today.

    Kevin Brady, the long time local congressman, is literally the dumbest person I have ever heard speak besides Trump. Governor and then President Bush was also a moron. The lieutenant governor and then governor Rick Perry, now head of the Department of Energy, is also an incredibly stupid person. He didn’t know what the Department of Energy does (and probably still doesn’t).

    I no longer live in Texas, but it’s why today’s GOP is no surprise to me. It’s no different from the GOP I’ve always known.

    Funny story. My parents and the rest of my family were Trump supporters. One time I was talking to them sometime after Rick Perry’s “Oops”, and they were telling me that we should get rid of the Department of Energy. I told them my physics Phd was funded by the DOE. I also told them that they’re in charge of nuclear weapons. I also told them that they have their own classified compartments. Basically, the DOE is much more closely related to the DOD and NSA than the EPA. I can’t remember if it was my Mom or my Dad who said: “Well, then we should move that stuff to the Defense Department.” The budget for “that stuff” is most of the budget for the DOE.

    So I guess what I’m saying is that the Texas GOP is now the entire national GOP. But it’s been an integral part of it ever since as a Congressman from Houston, Bush Sr catered to the John Birch society and staunchly supported “states’ rights” — i.e. racism. There was a chance to avoid the current state of things, but it was back in the 1960s. Republicans cared too much about wresting power from “liberals” to excise the cancer that was once the old South and now is the entire rural population of the country. The democrats stood up for their principles and as Johnson said, lost the South for a generation. They excised the cancer, and the GOP gobbled it up. The time to protest Trump was during Reagan’s no-nothing administration. It was when anyone after Nixon ran as a Republican. It was during Bush Sr’s Willie Horton ads. It was during Gingrich’s “Contract with America”. It was during the nation’s nonsensical freakout over Bill Clinton despite one of the strongest periods of economic growth in recent years. It was when the Supreme Court decided the outcome of a presidential election in 2000. It was when the second Bush administration went to war in Iraq because of terrorists from Saudi Arabia because the GOP voters are too dumb to understand the difference.

    Marcus Johnson wrote a really nice piece today about how the US is going to be ungovernable at the federal level for the next 20 years. It’s because people haven’t stopped voting for the GOP despite 50 years of increasing racism and nonsense. The time to stop voting GOP was 1964. That’s when the cultural change happened.

  12. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    27. September 2017 at 19:33

    Jason Smith,

    I’m from Houston originally and can relate to much of what you say. The open hostility to diversity was never far outside the Houston city limits, as Ron Paul’s district demonstrated, when openly racist newsletters were being printed in his name.

    I grew up in very diverse communities, with sometimes more than 40% minority populations and thinking bilingualism was normal.

    So, there’s that east Texas dichotomy. The Houston area is both a shining example of functional diversity and a hotbed of bigotry, especially just outside the city limits.

    One impression I disagree with is with regard to the Bush family. They never seemed racist to me. In fact, they seemed quite the contrary, but I agree W. was a moron. At least he didn’t seem to enjoy doing evil for its own sake, like Trump.

    By the way, reading your comments reminds me of Sheldon Cooper and how much you may relate to that character’s memories of being a physics nerd growing up in east Texas.

  13. Gravatar of major.freedom major.freedom
    27. September 2017 at 20:38

    Good reporting on Congress refusing to repeal Obamacare:

  14. Gravatar of Alec Fahrin Alec Fahrin
    27. September 2017 at 22:31

    This is all fine and dandy (or not), but what are we going to do about the broken system that is the ACA? Are the Republicans going to bite the bullet and start shoving $50-60 billion a year in subsidies into the program so that it doesn’t collapse?
    I personally didn’t and don’t expect the ACA to be repealed nor do I expect any real tax reform (not the “reform” deficit spending proposed) to be passed in the next year. By July 2018 the Republican legislative window will have closed without any major tax legislation. That’s my prediction.

    Ironically enough, in the USA today it’s easier to pass legislation in a bipartisan manner than in a partisan manner. That sounds insane considering what happened in 2011-2013, but it is increasingly becoming reality.

    In relation to the tax “plan” announced today, what on Earth have they been doing the last eight months? That monstrosity is essentially a giant deficit booster with new exemptions and deductions. It’s like they took all the good reforms, realized special interests are too powerful, and then modified them in a way to where they lost all real effectiveness.
    Furthermore, the US economy doesn’t need more stimulus. All this is doing is causing the Fed to tighten too much. What happens if July 2018 comes around and the tax cut is weak and disappointing like the Bush tax cuts? Maybe a recession.

  15. Gravatar of Mike Mike
    28. September 2017 at 01:11

    What’s wrong with Gorsuch?

  16. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    28. September 2017 at 01:32

    Nikkei Asian Review-Reuters

    September 16, 2017 10:00 am
    Asia’s multinationals are hoarding cash like never before
    Tencent, Alphabet, others quickly eclipsing Japan Inc. as stashers

    It is no longer just Japanese companies that are stockpiling funds.

    TOKYO — Japan’s Toyota Motor has always been known for squirreling away cash. But these days the automaker –nicknamed “Toyota Bank” for its $153 billion of reserves — has plenty of company, especially among new Asian multinationals.


    I thought it was US companies stockpiling cash to dodge taxes. But evidently a global phenomenon.

    What does this mean?

    I think it means weak aggregate demand, and lots of capital everywhere.

    Is the global economy entering a new zone, in which simple lower interest rates and jibber-jabber from Fed officials is enough to spur demand?

    What if consumers are tapped out?

    Are helicopters drops needed?

    A global review of urban property zoning? (Robert Shiller recently pondered why urban housing globally is becoming unaffordable).

  17. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    28. September 2017 at 01:50

    Lots of misconceptions here.

    1. Trump isn’t trying to promote patriotism, nor is he trying to bait blacks. Instead, he is baiting the two most notoriously unpatriotic institutions in America: the media, and the academy. The gap between these institutions and the average citizen is stark especially on the issue of patriotism. If Trumpenfuhrer can discredit both, their pushback will become less potent.

    2. No GOP Obamacare bill was every going to pass. GOP voted for clean repeal a hundred times when a veto was assured, and suddenly they find exactly 49 votes when they have a president willing to sign? Obviously, most of the votes before and some now are show votes, from politicians whose private positions are markedly different from their public positions. Many people believe that Heller, Flake, and perhaps Portman are among the “shadow noes” who are being given cover to vote yes thanks to side deals with McCain and Collins.

  18. Gravatar of JMCSF JMCSF
    28. September 2017 at 02:00

    I would like to know who these people are that think Trump is doing a good job? If that is satisfactory job performance, then maybe I should just work for one of them!

    Then I can literally get nothing accomplished, spend my whole time on social media and watching news tv, and blame my colleagues when projects fail to get done. No wonder the US has a productivity problem.

  19. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    28. September 2017 at 02:05

    3. Regarding the previous point, many voters have caught on to the fact that few politicians actually believe what they say during campaigns. That awareness, more than any other factor, is driving the increasingly radical shift toward electing “crazy assholes.” Voters figure they can get authenticity, or polish, but not both.

    4. The CBO runs Obamacare. Obamacare was optimized to maximize coverage according to the CBO’s methodology, and the CBO’s methodology was hacked to reward liberal policy preferences. Kasich, who campaigned as a budget hawk and Obamacare repealer, eventually came around to support big spending increases, which is the only way to get better coverage numbers from the CBO. Jeb would have eventually favored big spending increases too, for the same political reality. It’s not like he’s more conservative than his Medicare Part D brother.

    5. Obamacare isn’t really fixable right now anyway, because the bid-ask is huge in terms of what people believe about the law. Democrats are still trying to push more marketing spend and education as a fix. Republicans have learned the hard way you can’t cut entitlements without being accused of murder. Neither side is willing to push major cost containment, nor major spending increases. Welp!

  20. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    28. September 2017 at 04:09

    New homes…obviously, new homes now are being built for the upper class. So they are bigger.

    The middle-class is getting cut out of the housing market, and this trend will likely get worse.

    See Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, Hong Kong.

    We may look back at Trump as a sensible sort, compared to what follows. See Alabama?

  21. Gravatar of Bob Bob
    28. September 2017 at 04:53

    Trump is a buffoon. However, if the Republican party really had ideas they could manipulate him. ACA has flaws, but it is better than the old system. In the old system a person could be perfectly responsible, maintain continued coverage their entire life. and then lose there insurance when they got sick because they were unable to work. I saw it happen to a friend. That is an abomination. The ACA fixed that and that alone makes it a good law. There are many ways we could improve the law, but repealing it would not be an improvement. Everyone know that now. That’s why the law hasn’t been repealed. I could write a better law and so could you, but Republicans wouldn’t support either law and the American people won’t support repeal. As bad as Trump is, this is a long time coming. Republicans haven’t had a good idea since welfare reform. Tax reform would be great, but we know that they don’t want to reform taxes. They just want to cut taxes. Trump is a huge problem, but the complete lack of ideas for Republicans is a bigger problem.

  22. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    28. September 2017 at 06:59

    For any who didn’t realize Paul Ryan was of extremely low moral character:

    He is exactly who I thought he was. Judgments of character matter.

    This means Krugman was right about him too, though he was wrong about a number of other conservatives, like Mankiw and Cochrane, for example.

  23. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    28. September 2017 at 07:11

    And now, here’s Lindsey Graham exposed:

    I’ve long disagreed with Graham on many things, but I have to admit I didn’t think him capable of such political depravity.

    He’s not racist, nor stupid. Many in the Republican Party on Washington are, but he’s not, yet he pushes a healthcare “plan” like the one he did, and now admits him and his colleagues had no idea what they were doing.

    Political desperation is the only notice that comes to mind in his case.

  24. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    28. September 2017 at 07:12

    Motive, not notice, and he, not him.

  25. Gravatar of Dean Dean
    28. September 2017 at 10:58

    There is no better example of the current GOP’s indifference to actual policy and coherent thought than the belief that you simplify taxes by reducing the number of brackets. Sure, there are bigger problems with the outline they provided (anyone remember when they cared about the deficit?), but the bracket reduction is so deeply, stupidly, pointless that it shines through.

  26. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    28. September 2017 at 11:32

    Funny blog entry, Scott. There’s still the Auspie in you writing?

    Scott, I think that you still just don’t get it at all.

    David Brooks, on the other hand, seems to get it by now:

    “Trump was not elected to be a legislative president. He never showed any real interest in policy during the campaign [and so did his voters by the way]. He was elected to be a cultural president. He was elected to shred the dominant American culture and to give voice to those who felt voiceless in that culture. He’s doing that every day.”

  27. Gravatar of Dhruv Dhruv
    28. September 2017 at 12:06

    Thank you Scott for your blog. Sometimes I think you are the only sane voice in the wilderness.

  28. Gravatar of Ken Beck Ken Beck
    28. September 2017 at 12:51

    Right now 99.99% of the issue is moving containers from the port of San Juan to where there are needed. Then the ships anchored out awaiting to be unloaded.

    Of the remaining 0.01% of problem, getting containers to the port of San Juan, the Jones Act is practically speaking, a non-issue.

    Anyone who brings up the issue of the Jones act at this point does not care one whit about the suffering in Puerto Rico.

  29. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    28. September 2017 at 13:19

    “Imagine if Obama had just left health care up to Congress, providing no leadership.  Especially when they could not lose a single vote in the Senate.”

    Obamacare would still have passed thanks to Pelosi and Reid’s leadership. Obama had nothing to do with Obamacare passing.

    “First, because Trump ran as a SUPERMAN who would force Congress to do his bidding.”
    This is literally what all presidential candidates do. HRC did far more of this, far less plausibly.

    “Is it suddenly fashionable among GOP voters to support assholes and bullies and jerks who know nothing about public policy?”
    This isn’t even remotely new for either party.

    “So I guess that’s why he chose to ridicule a Vietnam War hero for being captured, and then never apologize.”
    McCain never had any intention of supporting Obamacare repeal. Trump attacked Ted Cruz far worse; he wasn’t an obstacle to Obamacare repeal. Had Trump sucked up to McCain like some c*ck, he still wouldn’t have supported Obamacare repeal. McCain isn’t planning to run for re-election. His votes have nothing to do with Trump.

    “Second, because Trump never even came up with a health care proposal.”
    That’s not his job.

  30. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    28. September 2017 at 19:25

    Szu Ping Chan
    4 APRIL 2017 • 6:20PM

    Global debt has climbed at an “eye-watering” pace over the past decade, soaring to a fresh high of £170 trillion last year, according to the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

    The IIF said total debt levels, including household, government and corporate debt, climbed by more than $70 trillion over the last 10 years to a record high of $215 trillion (£173 trillion) in 2016 – or the equivalent of 325pc of global gross domestic product (GDP).


    So the Fed is going to buy back $2 trillion in bonds in the next several years. Outstanding global debt is north of $200 trillion, and more than $100 trillion of that is in bonds.

    The Fed will accomplish what through it buyback program?

  31. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    28. September 2017 at 20:06

    @Ben Cole:

    Um, they are selling bonds not buying them. Actually at first they are just letting maturing bonds run off. Take a few plays off, champ.

  32. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    28. September 2017 at 21:10


    Thanks for the correx. Yes, I meant to say “sell.”

    So, still same question: The Fed sells a couple trillion in bonds into a globe $200 trillion debt market. So what? This does what?

    Okay, but no time off for me.

    Xi will increase his pull at the PBoC:

    “Speculation swirls over China’s next central bank chief
    Front-runner indicates potentially bigger role for President Xi’s right-hand man

    ISSAKU HARADA, Nikkei staff writer

    Jiang Chaoliang, seen here in 2012, is considered the leading candidate for governor of China’s central bank.

    BEIJING With China’s central bank Gov. Zhou Xiaochuan set to step down after 14 years on the job, a likely successor has emerged in the person of Jiang Chaoliang, party secretary of Hubei Province.”


    Xi, now being called the next Mao, is tightening his grip on everything in China. I guess the PBoC too.

    This PBoC action actually may be good news for China. I think Xi is more pro-growth than otherwise, and the PBoC was in danger of being Westernized. China and the PBoC are below inflation target, lots of room for QE, buying bad debts etc.

    Interesting to watch if a newish PBoC emerges….

  33. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    28. September 2017 at 21:28

    Everyone, I’m enjoying seeing the Trumpistias come up with more and more pathetic excuses for the complete failure of the Trump administration. Now the claim is that Trump wasn’t elected to do policy, but rather to be an entertainer. Yes, he’s entertaining to the sort of people who don’t think professional wrestling is staged. The majority of Americans continue to regard him as an idiot.

    Jason, I agree with your parents, we should abolish the DOE. I also like states rights.

    I’m old enough to remember Reagan, and he was totally unlike Trump. Four of the past five GOP presidential candidates refused to vote for Trump. No, he’s a complete break from the traditional GOP. If you can’t see that then you aren’t paying attention.

    Scott, Don’t send me videos of Sean Hannity, I’m not going to waste time watching them.

  34. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    28. September 2017 at 22:32

    @Ken Beck:

    So Trump just suspended the Jones Act for PR, I guess that makes your last statement true.

  35. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    29. September 2017 at 01:36

    Trump is a lulu, but Xi makes him look like Peter Pan….

    September 29, 2017 2:09 am JST

    “China tightens grip on state-owned enterprises
    Companies give Communist Party say in key decisions

    ISSAKU HARADA, Nikkei staff writer
    BEIJING — All of China’s 98 major state-owned companies have adopted charters handing the ruling Communist Party significant sway over management decisions, Xiao Yaqing, chair of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, told reporters on Thursday.”


  36. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    29. September 2017 at 01:41

    So everybody who doesn’t agree with Scott is a Trumpista now, even David Brooks.

    I love your siege mentality, Scott.

  37. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    29. September 2017 at 02:17

    The view from China, on China. The secret sauce is Marxism, and the CCP!

    “Decoding China’s economic miracle

    Xinhua | Updated: 2017-09-29 10:15

    BEIJING — China’s economic miracle can be baffling for many westerners, as the country is often at odds with the traditional understanding of what socialism is, going against the grain of standard political and economic theory.

    While many western countries continue to stagnate, China has grown and kept stable. This is due to the strong leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which is markedly different from the western system where multiple parties hold office in turn, often bickering on their way to power.

    Ahead of the 19th National Congress of the CPC, the west should attempt to decode the mystery of China’s economic miracle as it can offer an insight to the future of China and the world.

    A modern Marixst party

    The west has long wondered how such an ancient civilization can modernize so quickly while under the leadership of a Marxist party. Some have mistakenly attributed such modernization to the success of neoliberalism.

    Yuan Fangcheng, professor of the School of Politics and International Studies of Central China Normal University, believes China’s success not only lies in its economic miracle, but also in political reasons.

    Yuan believes strong CPC leadership and broad representation has guaranteed a stable political order and development environment.

    Chen Shuguang, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, agrees with this analysis, saying that one of the major advantages of the Chinese political system is its ability to formulate long-term development plans and implement them in an effective manner.

    Chen notes that the CPC has maintained consistency in its commitment and policy-making while adapting to changing domestic and international conditions.

    “The CPC effectively avoided short-term behaviors and vetocracy during its governance, thus ensuring consistency and stability of national policies and strategies,” Chen said.

    The late political scientist Samuel Huntington once said that for third-world countries the path of modernization was one full of disturbances and conflicts, and that political organizations seeking modernization were key to advancing and keeping stable the process of modernization.

    The CPC is exactly such a modern political organization and serves as the first and foremost answer to the mysteries behind the China miracle.

    How a socialist market economy can remain vital….


    There is more to the article and it is worth reading.

    Interesting—should Westerners say, “No, we here in the United States understand why you in China are economically growing, better than you do.”

  38. Gravatar of Ken Beck Ken Beck
    29. September 2017 at 06:51

    Marginal Revolution has put up an informed post:From the GAO report “Jones Act requirements have resulted in a discrete shipping market between Puerto Rico and the United States.”

  39. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    29. September 2017 at 08:51

    Christian, I never said anything about Brooks.

    Ben. Is the entire world getting stupid? China growing fast because Deng moved the country away from Mao’s neoliberalism toward central planning? Is this a joke?

    Ken, You are right, Trump doesn’t care about the suffering of the Puerto Rican people.

  40. Gravatar of Matthew Waters Matthew Waters
    29. September 2017 at 12:26

    “Trump was not elected to be a legislative president. He never showed any real interest in policy during the campaign [and so did his voters by the way]. He was elected to be a cultural president. He was elected to shred the dominant American culture and to give voice to those who felt voiceless in that culture. He’s doing that every day.”

    Many or most Trump voters were marginal. They were traditional GOP voters who wanted an SC justice and hated Hillary more. Polls showed that many of Trump’s voters really disapproved of Trump. They were not the MAGA people profiled at rallies. I guess these voters got Gorsuch and didn’t get Hillary. So, uh, victory?

    Trump’s base was around 30% of GOP primary in a very weak primary field after Rubio’s “glitch.” Yes, these voters are bitterly loyal to the end because of pure cultural identification. It doesn’t matter how badly the Executive branch is run or how incompetent he is at passing legislation. Pure cultural identification is enough.

    Is this really your defense of Trump’s base?

  41. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    29. September 2017 at 14:13

    Everyone, I’m enjoying seeing this blog’s Trump Derangement Syndrome sufferer coming up with more and more pathetic criticisms of the Trump administration that have been refuted by facts.

    Time and time and time again it has happened on this blog, and the author doesn’t care. Facts are not primary here. Narrative is all that matters.

    Now we’re being told Trump is at fault for the flip flopping Congressmen on Obamacare, and he is a horrible person for NOT being a dictator and repealing Obamacare all by himself unconstitutionally above Congress.

    This blog is a cesspool of uninformed drivel.

  42. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    29. September 2017 at 14:15

    This blog is even losing its entertainment appeal as a spoof site.

  43. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    29. September 2017 at 14:24

    Somebody, anybody, refute this please!

  44. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    29. September 2017 at 14:54


    Is this really your defense of Trump’s base?

    It’s not so much about defending but about understanding.

    I mostly agree with your analysis of the primaries and then the main elections. You can see that the “cultural president theory” is true, because he won the primaries. This base of his voters wanted a cultural president indeed. They could have elected an experienced bridge builder like Kasich but they went with Trump.

    I try to find the best theories, for example why Trump’s base seems to be pretty loyal. One mainstream theory seems to be that Trump’s base is extremely stupid and doesn’t know anything about anything, while the Trump critics can see through everything and got it all figured out. They even know what’s best for Trump’s base and even better than Trump’s base themselves.

    I find this theory implausible and way too complicated. It’s basically a massive conspiracy theory. There’s a much simpler theory: Trump’s base is loyal to him because they like what they are seeing.

  45. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    29. September 2017 at 16:00

    NFL Survey of ‘Merica

    “Q6: Do you think NFL players should stand and be respectful during the national anthem?”

    Republican 91-6
    Independent 60-25
    Democrat 43-41

  46. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    29. September 2017 at 18:32

    The Puerto Rican local government neglected the people for a whole week and then requested help from the military just yesterday.

    The San Juan mayor Yulin Cruz is all over the news pushing a false narrative. Much help was offered that was never received or distributed.

  47. Gravatar of Matthew Waters Matthew Waters
    29. September 2017 at 21:48


    I don’t think it’s a crazy conspiracy theory. Across different countries and history, a lot of leaders exploit and deepen cultural divisions. Outside of it, it’s easy to see how those voters and supporters are ultimately acting against their interest.

    If Trump supporters really do “like what they see,” then what EXACTLY do they like about these 8 months? You don’t have to be President to write some tweets about the NFL. If truly the only thing supporters want is 140 characters, then yes I think they’re hurting their own interests and the countries.

  48. Gravatar of Matthew Waters Matthew Waters
    29. September 2017 at 21:52

    *the country’s.

  49. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    30. September 2017 at 06:39

    Scott Sumner:

    I am reluctant to assume I know better why China has excelled economically in the last 30 years than the Chinese themselves.

    The author cited above makes an interesting point about vetocracy, which nearly defines the US at this point. Can you develop property in the U.S.? Eliminate Medicare? Wipe out VA? Reduce military outlays? Simplify the tax code? Build infrastructure and run roughshod over neighborhoods?

    It may be for economic development, a beneficent strongman, culturally attuned, is better than democracy and vetocracy.

    Reading deeper, they talk about harmony with development.

    I read a fascinating account of Syria, that posited the nation broke down after liberal IMF ideas were introduced. The existing clan network that controlled the economy was shunted aside, for a dose of freer markets and meritocracy.

    That’s fine, but if you are a powerful clan that has handled trucking for the state for generations, and given fervent loyalty in exchange, and built deep family relations around the business, and now you are told that deal is dead, what do you do? In the Mideast, well…welcome to Syria.

  50. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    30. September 2017 at 08:00

    The real shift we’ve seen in the Republican Party over the past 20 years has been the emphasis on social/cultural issues versus economic freedom. It’s a party now that wants a culture war, but only on its own terms and it’s willing to do anything, legal or otherwise, democratic or otherwise, to win it. This is because they’ve lost their majority on many cultural issues, such as definition of marriage and family, and they feel their racial majority slipping away as well. Many of the religious fundamentalists among them see losses on cultural issues in existential terms, and the racists see existential threats as well stemming from the slipping away of the White majority.

    Hence, what was previously the party of Reagan, Milton Friedman, and William F. Buckley would now be unrecognizable to them. For them, individual freedom, with economic freedom as an important subset, is what primarily drove their public engagement.

    Today, the free market is increasingly seen as an enemy of what has become a white nationalist, militant Christian party. 20 years ago, there was very little space between the Republican base and the US Chamber of Commerce. Today, the Chamber is regularly attacked as part of a culture war against the kind of corporate PC culture pushed because it’s good for business, and the Chamber’s support of immigration and free trade deals. It doesn’t help that the Chamber also pushes some crony capitalism at times.

    Meanwhile, the Democratic economic centrist movement, for all it’s virtues, has actually helped push the the right-wing extremist away from free market policy. By reducing the differentiation in the parties on economic issues, they’ve helped taint freer market approaches to problems, like cap and trade and the ACA approach to healthcare, so that members of the Republican base no longer have anywhere to stand and resist within the free market realm. Better for Democrats to push leftist solutions to problems, but be willing to meet somewhere in the middle, when compromise is required, and only as a last resort.

    For the Republican Party now, the fight is more important than realistic goals, unless they can win with authoritarian tactics. Authoritarianism is their only hope for combatting the existential threats they see, which explains the rise of Authoritarianism in their ranks.

  51. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    1. October 2017 at 16:32

    Christian, You said:

    “One mainstream theory seems to be that Trump’s base is extremely stupid and doesn’t know anything about anything, while the Trump critics can see through everything and got it all figured out. They even know what’s best for Trump’s base and even better than Trump’s base themselves.

    I find this theory implausible and way too complicated. It’s basically a massive conspiracy theory. There’s a much simpler theory: Trump’s base is loyal to him because they like what they are seeing.”

    Why not both? 🙂

    Steve, “Patriotism is the last refuse of a scoundrel” Seems the GOP is full of scoundrels—indeed it’s led by one.

    Ben, You said:

    “I am reluctant to assume I know better why China has excelled economically in the last 30 years than the Chinese themselves.”

    So you think the Chinese attribute their recent growth to “Marxism”? Which Chinese— there are 1.4 billion? How many have you spoken with? And if so, why would you be “reluctant” to disagree. Are you also reluctant to assume that you know more about monetary policy than the Fed?

    The Chinese I know don’t think their recent growth is due to Marxism.

    Sorry, but attributing recent Chinese growth (which is overwhelming in the private sector) to Marxism is just stupid.

  52. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    2. October 2017 at 14:33


    Why not both?

    Because Wittgenstein said if a sign is not necessary then it’s meaningless. But let’s ignore Ockham’s razor and say it’s both. That’s still a tremendous compromise from your side. You are so lenient, what happened?

    „Ultimately“ is a big word. The next elections are in 2018 already. You act like the Americans made a decision for all eternity.

    then what EXACTLY do they like about these 8 months?

    The tweets, the culture war, everything. Trump didn’t really change. He’s still the exact same person he was during the primaries, his base loves that.

Leave a Reply