After a year and a half in office, I think that I’ve seen enough to make a judgement on President Trump: He is wildly unpredictable and may have zero consistent principles.
Other than perhaps ‘America First’, Trump seems to flip back and forth on every major (and minor) issue. Trump ran on non-interventionism and then continued to bomb every country that Obama did. He campaigned massively on ending all illegal immigration and totally ending DACA, and then offered amnesty to millions of ‘Dreamers’ and continues nearly the exact same immigration policies that Obama had in place (which involved millions of deportations, unbeknownst to many Americans). He has flipped from supporting absolute gun rights to supporting stricter gun control than anything passed by Obama – and boasting about it. He has flipped on marijuana policy, taxes, and so many other issues. Many people say that Trump often agrees with and implements the proposals of the last person he speaks with. This may be true. He may actually hold zero consistent principles. As the old joke (attributed to Groucho Marx) goes: “These are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.” All in all, Trump has made some very good and very bad decisions in his first 18 months in office. As such, we’ve written this article which focuses on the good and another one which focuses on the bad.
Following the peculiar and sudden death of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the nation worried about which type of judge the unpredictable, unprincipled president would nominate to fill the vacancy. In a very pleasant surprise to conservatives (and many libertarians), President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, who was confirmed by the Senate to fill the seat previously held by Scalia. Gorsuch has since ruled in favor of removing the federal ban on sports betting and ruled that a car being a rental does not give police the power to search the car without a warrant. It seems early, but Gorsuch may be one of the better pro-freedom justices we have. Trump has also appointed many great judges to the lower federal courts, from what I’ve heard. In a world where judges create laws by setting precedents, Trump appointing solid constitutional jurists to federal courts could do a lot to reverse the nation’s spiral into authoritarian socialism.
Trump has nominated Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barret for the Supreme Court, and the US Senate has confirmed both. Trump has now placed three conservatives on the court, ensuring that his pro-freedom, constitutional legacy lasts for decades to come.
2) Tax Reform?
I know many people who would consider putting this one in the ‘bad’ column. In fact, I am one of those people! While the TCJA did maintain the 70,000+ page tax code and the upheld the use of tax code to manipulate human behavior, simply put – it cut taxes for most Americans. Of the 7 federal income tax brackets, 5 of them were decreased. The tax on businesses was also decreased from 35% to 21%. This will result in increased wages and has already resulted in billions of dollars in bonuses for American workers. By allowing entrepreneurs to keep more of their earned money, the new tax code should give a significant stimulus to businesses which could be used to reinvest, expand, decrease prices of products, hire workers, and increase wages. This was the first time that federal taxes were decreased at all in decades. Technically speaking, however, the tax cuts for businesses were permanent and the tax cuts for individuals were temporary (sunset).
In a world where every local and national government seems to be increasing regulations on every aspect of daily life, Trump keeping his promise to decrease regulations was an amazingly liberating breath of fresh air. Under Obama, the EPA created 4,400 new laws. The US currently has millions – or perhaps billions of laws and regulations. That’s the thing; there are now too many laws and regulations to even count. In 2012, regulations costed small manufacturers over $2 trillion, according to this NAM study. Only days after assuming the presidency, Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to cut two regulations for every one new regulation added. While I was quite skeptical of how substantial this would turn out to be, I was extremely excited to see a government official – especially the president – actively decreasing government power. Apparently, agencies outperformed the 2:1 ratio by a massive margin. This is one of the most pro-America and pro-freedom events to occur in my lifetime. Thanks to President Trump, if you begin a business tomorrow, you will have much less red tape holding you back from engaging in free market commerce with other consenting adults.
4) Appointed/Nominated Pro-Freedom Officials
While Trump did nominate some horrible, authoritarian, corrupt individuals, he did seem to make some pretty libertarian picks right off the bat, as well. Some of his first nominations included Betsy Devos, a woman who is hated by the Democrats for supporting alternatives to strict federal education curricula to be secretary of education. Devos and Trump have culled the federal education budget (which should be $0 according to the Constitution and according to common libertarian sense) and relinquished some federal powers back to states so that each state can guide its education policy. Trump appointed Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. The fact that Pruitt had sued the EPA and apparently said that the agency “should not exist” made me extremely happy. The EPA should not exist. Especially not on a federal level. And especially not without a constitutional amendment creating the new agency. While Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas may not be the most principled pro-freedom politician, I was excited to hear that Trump nominated a person who had once said that the federal Energy Department should not exist to run the department. I agree that the federal government has no business interfering with my energy.
I don’t know much about Mick Mulvaney, but I remember my first thoughts when I heard that Trump appointed the congressman to the position of ‘White House Budget Director’ (and then to director of the CFPB, as well). I recognized the name from a short while prior, when the EpiPen scandal broke onto the forefront of the news. Much like the recent congressional granstan- I mean, hearings where congressmen yelled at Mark Zuckerberg for collecting and misusing tons of personal data of Americans (which was obviously incredibly ironic), congressmen grilled the Mylan CEO, Heather Bresch for being so uncompassionate in her increasing of the prices of the EpiPen. The only person that I heard employ any logic during the scandal was congressman Mick Mulvaney. Instead of insinuating that the federal government control the epinephrine industry, he pondered whether corruption was involved in the massive price-gouging scheme. Of course, corruption was very likely involved.
And we already mentioned Gorsuch and the other pro-freedom judges that Trump has seemingly appointed.
5) Gave land back to Utah (which Obama had Stolen)
This is an issue that few people have heard of. Although I am not the most informed political analyst in the world, I do remember being infuriated that Obama stole land from Utah just before leaving office. I also remember being ecstatic when I heard that Trump gave it back. In the final weeks of his presidency, Obama reappropriated over 1.35 million acres away from Utah and 300,000 acres away from Nevada to the federal government. Simply put, this was annexation of land. Of course, Obama and the Democrats claimed that Utah and Nevada were too stupid to care for their public land; that only the federal government was responsible enough to protect it. Ten months after assuming office, Trump decreased the size of the new federal ‘Bear’s Ears’ monument in Utah by 85% and returned other federal land to the state of Utah. This was when I realized that regardless of the many horrible, corrupt, authoritarian policies that Trump was maintaining, he is the first president in a very long time that has the capacity to decrease the power of the federal government.
Note: I purposely neglected to address foreign policy, since I believe that those who do not work in the State Dept., White House, CIA, or Pentagon probably no little to nothing about what is actually occurring in regards to foreign policy. Obama’s foreign policy seemed horrible, and Trump is probably not changing foreign policy much. That’s all I’ll say about that.
I also did not touch on immigration, because I apparently have an incredibly unique perspective on immigration policy, and my honest opinions on it would probably make 99% of The Liberty Block’s readers (most of which are libertarian) turn on me. And I simply don’t have the inclination to take on that discussion at the moment.
I hope that you found this article insightful and please comment below with your thoughts!
Thank you very much!