Is it a new day in America? Or is it just another day?
On Jan. 20, we know Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States. But as I’ve said from the beginning stages of Trump’s campaign for the highest office in the land, it’s the stuff we don’t know that concerns me. And that is much to the chagrin of many of my conservative friends who believe Trump will fix everything through government.
Mind you, these are all allegedly small-government people. But for whatever reason, they believe Trump should use his office to do whatever he wants or desires (kind of like having a pen and a phone, no?) to fix what they want fixed, punish who they want punished or change what they want changed. As the saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for.”
After eight years of President Barack Obama wielding his mighty pen (second only to his empty rhetoric in his strength repertoire) in doing what he wanted when he wanted, one would think Republicans would want someone to do the constitutional thing above all else. So in that sense, if Trump wants to use his pen to eliminate things unconstitutional done by Obama, I’m all for it. If Trump wants to work with Congress to eliminate the single biggest unconstitutional fiasco from the Obama administration called Obamacare, have at it. If Trump wants to change the tax environment in this country for everyone and every business to spur our economy, please do.
But if Trump’s going to run around “making deals” as the president for public relations purposes that benefits one company over another as he’s already done, I’ll call foul. If Trump continues to brag he saved 1,000 jobs while thousands upon thousands of small businesses that don’t get the same breaks go under, I’ll speak up. And, while I doubt this will happen, if Trump attempts take away the constitutional rights of any minority (or majority for that matter), I’ll be the first in line to speak out.
So where will that leave us on Jan. 21? The truth is, no one knows. As with most presidents, I envision it won’t be as bad as Trump’s detractors fear and it more than likely won’t be as great as his supporters believe. And why is that? Simple. It’s because the president can’t fix everything. The problem is no one seems to tell our presidents that fact any more. The same rule applies to just about everyone sitting in Washington, D.C. And I wish it would stop trickling down to the state and local levels.
Let’s go back to my comment on “saving jobs” or worse, government “creating jobs.” Government can pretty much only “save jobs” via tax breaks or special favors to insiders or crony businesses. A newer trend is to give a business tax breaks and other taxpayer-paid incentives so they will locate to a certain area. Those jobs were created by companies, not government. But look who takes the credit. Government can only “create jobs” when it confiscates money via taxes and then has to do so every year afterward to keep paying for those jobs. That’s why I get so frustrated when our elected betters run to the cameras to brag about jobs they’ve created, brought to town or saved. I’ll tell you what, give me $100,000 in tax money every year for the next 20 years and I promise I’ll create and save two jobs as long as I’m in business.
But that’s not how it works in real life for small business. And that’s the problem I see with Trump in the days leading up to his taking office. He’s playing this like he’s been a political hack for the last 40 years. He’s giving favors to the select few who have access while the individual small businessperson suffers with no help whatsoever. And this then goes back to where everyone, and every business, should be treated equally under the law. And that goes the same for select groups who some want punished based on how they feel about that group. If we’re all treated equally, there’s no need for favor or punishment under laws applied equally.
But that’s not how government works. It relies on favors given out based on the rights it controls. That’s why the tax system is so complex and onerous: so government can “give” someone or some business a “break” when it suits its purposes. Sometimes these breaks are special rebates to make citizens feel good, sometimes these breaks are for special interests to buy votes from a constituency, sometimes these are breaks in taxes to influence citizen behavior, and sometimes these are breaks so our politicians can brag “Look what I did!” But rarely are these breaks because the playing field is equal.
Just look at the mortgage tax deduction. Everyone in the country should be for its repeal for one simple reason: We’re overtaxed. The government created that deduction under the guise it would spur home ownership. But it’s simply relief from overtaxation and benefits only homeowners. So what did government do to make up for non-homeowners? It created other credits like the earned income tax credit. That’s how government works — creating laws for selected constituencies, all while driving specific behaviors.
The government creates laws that treat people unequally. Freedom says it shouldn’t. What will Trump do?