Sundin column: What Trump’s first half-year shows us
In just two weeks Donald Trump will have been our president for six months — one-eighth of his term. His record to date is not encouraging. He has failed to keep some of the promises he made during the campaign that he should have, and is keeping some of those promises he shouldn’t have.
During his campaign, Trump promised to “drain the swamp” of the establishment that has been controlling our government to serve its self-interests. Instead, he has surrounded himself with a Cabinet of Wall Street insiders who continue to represent the interests of corporations and the wealthy at the expense of the struggling middle class. His Cabinet is the wealthiest in U.S. history.
He also promised to improve the lot of the middle class, but his actions will have quite the opposite effect. His claim that cutting taxes for the wealthy will boost the economy, resulting in higher wages for workers (the trickle-down effect) has failed twice in the past and each time doubled the national debt.
Trump is also keeping his promise to give billions in tax cuts for the wealthy, but he is going to pay for it by an assault on health care, leaving 22-23 million people without health insurance and cutting programs that help millions of the most vulnerable people, including low-income families and children, women’s health, the elderly and the disabled.
He is also keeping his promise of major cuts in the funding and staff for our public lands (National Parks & Forests) and for the Environmental Protection Agency, gutting clean water and air regulations that protect our health.
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Trump is in denial of global warming and has kept his promise to pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement, which is supported by 190 countries. He has also cut funding for scientific research, (largely because it is revealing the causes and effects of global warming) leaving the door open for other countries, especially China, to take the lead in scientific advancement.
Another promise he is keeping is to increase our military spending (over $600 billion and more than twice that of China and Russia combined) to reward the Military Industrial Complex and to create jobs to make it look like the economy is growing.
A disturbing fact about the Trump administration is the lack of preparation for response to disasters, natural or man-made, including hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, epidemics, etc., due to understaffing. Seventy-nine percent (442 out of 559) of key administrative positions in the government remain unfilled. The State Department in particular is woefully lacking in experienced personnel.
This may explain Trump’s dismal performance on the international scene. He has been rude to other heads of state, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, has lectured other countries on their roles and has adopted friendships with the wrong people: Rodrigo Duterte, the brutal dictator of the Philippines and the Saudi family, which has fostered instability in the Middle East and supported Islamic extremism worldwide.
More fundamental and of greater concern is the nature of Donald Trump and whether he is up to the job of being president of the U.S. and leader of the free world. Many of his actions raise serious questions. At the top of the list are his abysmal lack of awareness of history, his unwillingness to listen to and learn from those who know more than he does, his constant tweeting and his reliance on television news as his source of information.
He also has an insatiable ego, as witnessed by his obsessive attempts to justify his ridiculous claims that he would have won the popular vote if it weren’t for millions of illegal voters, and that he drew a larger inaugural crowd than Obama.
Aren’t there more important matters that demand his attention? Even worse was the disgusting televised meeting with members of his Cabinet, one after another proclaiming in fawning obeisance how much they admired him and what a wonderful opportunity it was to be serving him.
By his own admission, Trump has allowed that he thought the job would be easier. The question is whether he is fit for the job and whether it is safe to have the future of our country and the world in his hands. Several columnists quoted in The Week magazine have commented that he has the emotional maturity and attention span of a child, lacks the character, values and experience to lead the nation, and is focused on potential political damage and protecting his image.
Hal Sundin’s As I See It column appears on the first Thursday of the month.
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