An angry Bill Baum wrote a scathing letter published in the Nov. 12 edition of the Daily Inter Lake that demands a response. He made many accusations and assumptions, but he lacked details to back them up. As I attempt to respond to his letter, I will try not to make the same mistakes.
As I read Mr. Baum’s letter, I was reminded of something the esteemed economist, professor, and author, Dr. Thomas Sowell, wrote: “When President Barack Obama and others on the left are not busy admonishing the rest of us to be civil in our discussions of political issues, they are busy letting loose insults, accusations and smears against those who dare to disagree with them.”
First, referring to people who may have voted for Trump as being uneducated, non-readers, and uninformed about what Trump believes and what he has done or is trying to accomplish, is both insulting and far from the truth. It also contributes to the division he spoke of in his letter.
During the election Politico reported, “New research suggests financial markets could react with panicked selling should Trump defy the polls and deliver a shocking upset …” Liberal economist Justin Wolfs of the University of Michigan and Eric Zitziwitz of Dartmouth College said, “Wall Street clearly prefers a Clinton win certainly from the prospective of equity prices …” The prediction was stocks might lose 10 to 12 percent of their value if Trump won. It is clear that none of this transpired. In fact, quite the opposite occurred. Instead, the market has continued climbing to record highs.
One of the primary indicators of the country’s economic health is the gross domestic product and it has shown promising growth in the last two quarters of this year. The second and third quarter reports have been revised upward to 3.1 percent and 3.3 percent respectively. The last quarter of 2016 came in at 1.8 percent.
It is clear that this kind of GDP growth was not predicted either. An article in the Federalist dated Oct. 21, 2016, ended by saying, “There’s no easy prescription, and addressing slow GDP growth will be a tough problem for the next president to sort out.”
Obama, Hillary and their minions have claimed the improved economy and stock market is all due to what they did before Trump took office. It has been my experience that the market is forward looking and reacts to what it sees happening in the future. For this reason, I believe Trump’s agenda deserves some credit for a growing economy and a record-breaking market.
Otherwise, why did the market rise sharply after Trump outlined his comprehensive agenda in a well-received speech before a joint session of Congress? Why did the dollar fall sharply and the market tumble when the Senate failed to replace Obamacare, which generated concern about what might happen to the balance of Trump’s agenda? Why did the market plummet when the press reported that the Senate’s tax plan would postpone the corporate tax reduction for a year?
Trump understands the importance of deregulation and the market is responding. He promised to decrease regulations, which are estimated to cost almost $2 trillion annually.
According to Investors Business Daily, Obama added, “22,700 regulations on Americans …” Investors Business Daily also quoted the American Advertising Association, “While there have been some hiccups, overall, the Trump administration is on track to finish the first phase (of his regulatory reform program) with $645 million in net annual regulatory savings.” Is it any surprise to hear a businessman declare, “We feel like the wind is now at our back.”
Mr. Baum implies, because of Trump, “our worldwide reputation is being mocked by all other nations …” One has to question whether Mr. Baum has watched any of the speeches Trump has made on foreign soil and observed their reaction. Yes, he has ruffled some feathers when it came to NATO. They needed to be called to task because they were not paying their fair share of the cost of financing NATO. It worked. In all Mr. Baum’s reading, he must have failed to see a recent article in The Washington Times that said, “Money pouring in as allies pony up for NATO.”
I did watch many of Trump’s speeches as he addressed large crowds in the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. The New York Times described Trump’s reception in Riyadh. It said, “Trump was greeted with trumpets blasting, cannons booming, and fighters streaking overhead trailed by red, white and blue contrails.” Compare that to a headline in The Guardian: “Obama’s Chilly Reception in Saudi Arabia Hints at Mutual Distrust.”
I watched as Trump spoke to a representative crowd of leaders from 50 Muslim nations. Trump pulled no punches when he told them, “Drive them out! Drive them [radical Islamists] out of your places of worship, drive them out of your communities, drive them out of your holy land and drive them out of this earth.”
Later the United Arab Emirates’ foreign minister tweeted, “Bravo President Trump. Effective & historic speech defining approach towards extremism & terrorism with candid respect & friendship.” I’ll take that kind of mocking.
The Saudi king told Obama, “We will be the last to make peace with the Israelis.” Jared Kushner met with leaders in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Arab nations. Suddenly, Israel and the Saudis are talking. Shakespeare’s quote, “misery acquaints strange bedfellows” seems appropriate as it did during the cooperation of the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union during the Second World War.
Let’s compare and contrast Obama and Trump’s receptions while visiting China. When Obama visited China for a G20 meeting, he was required to use a little used exit in the belly of Air Force One with no red carpet or press present. The Guardian, known for its left- of-center bias printed the following headline: “Barack Obama Deliberately Snubbed by Chinese in Chaotic Arrival at G20.” I would say that Obama was the one that was being mocked.
Conversely, Trump and Melania disembarked from Air Force One from the proper exit onto a red carpet flanked by an honor guard and greeted on both sides by young children waving small Chinese and American flags. Trump was honored at a dinner in China’s Forbidden City, which is unheard of for any U.S. president.
Did Mr. Baum et al. read the NBC headline, “China Sending Envoy to North Korea Following Trump’s Visit?” Did they read where Bloomberg reported, “Tariffs for 187 product categories will drop from an average 17.3 percent to 7.7 percent?” That’s one small step toward redressing the $347 billion trade imbalance with China. Or, how about the $250 billion trade deals with China announced by U.S. companies.
Let’s look at who has been mocking whom. Obama continually mocked Trump before and during the election and it continues to this day even on foreign soil. Here’s what CNN reported during the election, “He’s [Obama] abusing his bully pulpit abroad. Obama has used the foreign trips to underscore his global stature — and make a tacit comparison to what he sees as his critics’ lesser positions.”
Look, there are a lot of things Trump says that may deserve some criticism. However, we should be able to discuss those things in a civil manner. Any meaningful discussion stops when someone begins any debate by insulting, belittling, demeaning, diminishing, castigating, or otherwise excoriate people with whom you want to have a discussion as Mr. Baum did in his letter.
Lester Still is a resident of Kalispell.