The Mess Donald Trump Inherited

Throughout his campaign Donald Trump mourned the loss of American greatness.

According to Trump, all the good jobs have gone overseas. African-Americans and Hispanics are living “in Hell.”. And “The American Dream,” he claimed, “is dead.” His goal: to make America great again.

What does that mean? Nobody seems to be able to say. Not even Donald Trump. But he did promise that if we elected him, we’d win so much, we’d grow tired of winning.

Much of the blame, Donald Trump says, can be laid at his predecessor’s feet. President Obama – Trump’s Kenyan-born, Muslim “founder of Isis” – ran the U.S. into the ground. And only Donald Trump can dig us out of the hole.

Fair enough. Let’s explore the hole that Obama dug…

The Mess Donald Trump Inherited by the Record: Obama vs. Bush

George W. Bush had eight years to push the Republican agenda. And he did so with gusto. But how well did his party do? Not too well. Unless you consider two wars and the Great Recession a good job.

But let’s be even-handed about this. Let’s look at some key numbers…

Unemployment: When Barack Obama took office, unemployment was at 7.6%. During the month Obama was sworn in, 7 million people lost their jobs.

In January of 2017, unemployment stood at 4.8%. That month, the economy added 227,000 jobs. Under Obama, our economy saw one of its longest streaks of continuous job growth.

Foreclosures: Anyone who lived through the Savings and Loan crisis could have seen it coming. De-regulation let banks act recklessly to boost short-term profits. And, of course, their house of cards collapsed in 2008.

In 2009, one in every 45 households in the U.S. was under foreclosure. That’s almost 3 million foreclosures. According to RealtyTrac, foreclosures were up 21% over 2008 – and more than 50% over 2007.

2016 marked the third year in a row foreclosure rates fell into the “historically normal” range. 2016 rates were at their lowest level in 10 years. And more than half of the homes in foreclosure in 2016 had been financed in the cowboy years of 2004 – 2008.

Want more? We’ve got ‘em…

Terrible Crime Statistics and More

Violent Crime: Not long ago, Trump famously told a gathering of law enforcement head that murders were at their highest level in 45 years. Not exactly.

FBI statistics reveal more people were murdered in the U.S. during every year of George W. Bush’s presidency than were murdered in any year under Obama. (Stats only available through 2015.)

The U.S. murder rates – the number of Americans murdered per 100,00 – show the same trend. In fact, it holds even when you look at all the crimes the FBI tracks. Every year under Obama was lower than any year under Bush.

But don’t worry, Conservatives. Now we’re getting to taxes. Obviously, Bush will come out on top. Taxes are the Republican stronghold.

Taxes: Under President Bush, we saw massive tax cuts. Sure, half the benefits went to the top 20% of taxpayers… but these cuts were big.

Sorry, President Obama cut taxes more in his first two years than Bush did in his first full term. And 85% of some big cuts went to the bottom 80% of taxpayers. Of course, that doesn’t mean the rich didn’t benefit from Obama’s tax cuts.

When Obama took office, the rich paid 39.1% on all earnings over $297,350. When he left, the highest bracket – 39.6% – didn’t kick in until $415,050.

Yes, some of Obama’s tax cuts are temporary… but so were some of Bush’s.

War: Bush takes this category 2 – 0. Because President Obama managed to avoid dragging the U.S. in any new wars. But Bush started two. Through 2106, just one of them – Iraq – has cost more than $819 billion.

$819 billion is hard to imagine, so let’s look at it this way…

If I gave you $1,000 a day, it would take me more than 2.2 million years to hand over $819 billion dollars.

Under President Obama, spending on the Iraq War went from $143.9 billion in 2008 to just $5.0 billion in 2015.

Do the Math, Donnie

That’s the “mess” Donald Trump inherited. A stronger economy… lower taxes and lower unemployment… fewer foreclosures and less crime.

Sure, things aren’t perfect yet. But they’re a lot better than they were when Barack Obama took office. Based on Obama’s record, the best thing Trump could do would be to continue his policies.

But he won’t. Because the Republican Party is determined to undo Obama’s legacy.

The economy went south under the first Bush. During Clinton’s presidency, the economy rebounded. In fact, it flourished far beyond what even Reagan had promised.

Then came the 2nd Bush, and things went south again. Under Bush, our economy took its worst hit since the Great Depression. Then Obama took office, and things turned around.

What will it take for voters to wake up and smell the roses?

Giving the rich all the breaks… Letting businesses run roughshod over citizens… These policies don’t work. They didn’t work under Reagan. And they didn’t work under either Bush. Why would anyone think they’d work under a greedy narcissist like Trump?

Don’t buy the lies. And don’t stay silent. America doesn’t need to be made great. But we’re going to have to fight like Hell to preserve its greatness.

Trump didn’t inherit a mess. But, based on his first few weeks in office, he’ll certainly create one hell of a mess. Unless we all step up to stop him.

Resources:

“Increase in unemployment rate in January 2009,” Bureau of Labor Statistics. Feb 10, 2009.

“The Employment Situation — January 2017,” Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jan 2017.

Christie, L, “Record 3 million households hit with foreclosure in 2009,” Money.CNN. com. Jan 14, 2010.

“U.S. Foreclosure Activity Drops to 10-Year Low in 2016,” RealtyTrac. Jan 10, 2017.

“United States Crime Rates 1960 – 2015,” DisasterCenter.com. 2016.

“Tax Brackets,” MoneyChimp.com. 2017.

Linden, M. and Ettlinger, M., “Obama vs. Bush: Who’s the Bigger Tax Cutter?” AmericanProgress.org. Sep 13, 2011.

“Iraq War Costs Summary Table,” TheBalance.com. 2017.

Shall We Talk About Donald Trump’s Intelligence?

Donald Trump is as thin-skinned as they come. He has to be 100% right, 100% of the time. But he’s not.

When it comes to politics and world affairs, the Pumpkin-in-Chief rarely gets it right. And that’s created some awkward situations with our intelligence agencies.

The latest (as I write this) is with the DHS – the Department of Homeland Security.

Trump asked the DHS for a report on Muslim terrorism. His wanted backup for his travel ban on seven Muslim-majority nations.

But the DHS report doesn’t up the President. DHS said country of origin isn’t a good way to ID terrorists. Instead, they say, “… country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity.”

The report says terrorists looking to attack the U.S. over the last six years came from 26 different countries.

But The Orange One can’t accept any view other than his own. So he rejected the report.

Donald Trump’s Intelligence Strategy: If You Don’t Like Reality, Just Deny It

Trump and his surrogates swiftly attacked the DHS report. Just as they’ve attacked every other intelligence report that doesn’t fit Trump’s worldview.

Just look at his original “not-a-Muslim-ban” ban. He claimed it was to protect the U.S. But the conservative Cato Institute pointed out the ban was poorly targeted. Nobody from any of the countries Trump targeted has killed a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil since 1975.

Trump also has no business interests in any of these Muslim-majority countries.

But he does have investments in three Muslim-majority nations left off the list. And terrorists from these three nations have killed U.S. citizens on U.S. soil.

Saudi, Egyptian, and Emirati (U.A.E.) citizens have killed nearly 3,000 Americans since 1975 – mostly in the infamous 9/11 attacks.

According to the New York Daily News, Trump admires the Saudis. “They buy apartments from me,” the News quotes him as saying last year. “They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.”

It seems property sales count more with Trump than actual risk.

Trump’s Pattern of Rejection Should Be a Red Flag

We should have seen this coming…

  • After the election, Trump chose not to receive daily intelligence briefings.
  • When an embarrassing intel report leaked, he blamed the intelligence community. And he compared them to Nazis.
  • Trump regularly insults our intelligence organizations in his tweets. Including suggesting the outgoing CIA director has leaked sensitive information.

And, of course, there’s the Russian interference thing. The entire U.S. intelligence community agrees Russia tried to influence last year’s presidential race. But Trump’s first reaction was to call the idea “ridiculous.”

This is more than a little spat. The man with his finger on the nuclear button consistently ignores and insults our intelligence community. But he accepts “information” from the likes of Fox News and Breitbart.com at face value.

Stay tuned for a very hairy four years.

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Postscript: I wrote the above before the latest Trump-Russia ties were revealed. Flynn, Sessions, and Kushner all appear to have had inappropriate contacts with Russian officials.

The current Russian government has crushed opposition media, murdered political opponents, and plundered that nation’s wealth. They annexed Crimea, sponsor a rebellion in eastern Ukraine, and may have meddled in Moldova’s recent elections.

These are all red flags to our intel community. But seemingly not to Trump.

Watch closely in the coming months. Don’t be surprised by a leak of Trump’s financial ties to Russian oligarchs. And it will have to be a leak. In spite of promises to the contrary, Trump now says he won’t release his tax returns.

References:

DeMarche, E., “Trump rejects DHS intelligence report on Muslim ban,” FoxNews.com. Feb 25, 2017.

Sommerfeldt, C., “President Trump’s Muslim ban excludes countries linked to his sprawling business empire,” New York Daily News. Feb 1, 2017.

“Trump rejects CIA intelligence of Russian hacking, lawmakers vow probe,” The Denver Post. Dec 11, 2016.

Herszenhorn, D.M. and Baker, P., “Russia Steps Up Help for Rebels in Ukraine War,” The New York Times. Jul 25, 2014.

Mutler, A., “Moldova official says Russia meddling in presidential race,” Associated Press, via U.S. News. Oct 4, 2016.