There’s no denying that Donald J. Trump has done a splendid job of making himself rich – a well-known real estate mogul, reality TV show host, and now the President of the United States of America. Declaring 9.2 billion dollars in total assets and 502.8 million dollars (only) in liabilities in a document released to the media (during the presidential campaign period), Trump says “I’m really rich.” But can he also make America rich?
Trump is the 45th US president and will be serving his first term in office from 2017 to 2021. His administration is focusing on “making America great again” with the economy at the top of his agenda and perhaps, will serve as a barometer of his performance.
In an interview with the Washington Post in April 2016, Trump appeared to be more open to the idea of being in charge of finding remedies for his doomsday view of the U.S. economy, saying “I can fix it. I can fix it pretty quickly…”
But can he? And will his plans work?
“America First” Energy (and Environment) Plan
Strongly stating that “American energy policy must balance environmental protection with economic growth in order to encourage innovation, discovery, and prosperity.” – The Trump administration, through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), signed a measure to repeal former U.S. President Barack Obama’s signature policy, the Clean Power Plan.
The EPA stated that repealing the “so-called Clean Power Plan will also facilitate the development of U.S. energy resources and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens associated with the development of those resources.” – a part of Trump’s campaign promises to revive the coal industry while remaining dedicated to clean coal technology, claiming that wages will increase by 30 billion dollars over seven years.
In addition, on the 1st of June this year, Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord – which goal is to keep the global warming from worsening another 2 degrees Celsius above pre industrial levels – saying, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” A decision that, despite being convinced by the heads of state, climate activists, corporate executives, and members of the president’s staff, was failed to be changed. A major blow, as the U.S. stands as the Earth’s second-largest polluter – responsible for 20 percent of the world’s carbon emission.
This portion of Trump’s strategy on boosting US economy has stirred up mixed opinions and criticisms from the public:
In The Hill article written by Corey R. Lewandowski, Trump’s former campaign manager, he stated that the current administration’s energy plan will energize the economy – saying that, “There is not more critical sector of the economy that will create new jobs than the energy sector…”, “Strengthening the energy sector promotes the growth of the whole economy, increases national security, creates jobs and lowers energy costs for middle and low income Americas.”
However, the Renewable Energy World argued that Trump’s assault on environmental policies will damage the economy and national security. According to the article, “…President Trump seems unwilling or unable to acknowledge that energy markets, not policy, have driven coal into its current state.” Furthermore, the idea that the U.S. will be more secured upon rolling back the Clean Power Plan and propping up the coal industry was labeled nonsense – especially that the emissions from burning fossil fuels are the primary drivers of climate change.
Similarly, Trump Today discussed that if Trump cannot comprehend the necessity for climate change, the economy will eventually suffer. Natural sources are still the better choice because aside from the lower manufacturing and installation costs, expected job openings for coal companies are not as massive as what the Trump administration portrays.
In line with his “America First” campaign that seeks to protect American workers and industries, Trump touted to overhaul the immigration system by drastically cutting the number of legal immigrants allowed in the U.S. and implementing a “merit-based” visa scheme. Also, he promised to deport the two to three million immigrants who have criminal records.
Alongside Senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue, Trump claimed that the plan would “reduce poverty, increase wages, and save taxpayers billions and billions of dollars.” by favoring applicants who can speak English and are financially stable.
“This competitive application system will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that can contribute to the U.S. economy.”
Moreover, a key part of this plan was building a wall along the 2 000-mile U.S. border with Mexico to keep migrants out – remarking that “When Mexico sends its people; they’re not sending the best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems… They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
But it seems like Trump’s immigration policies aren’t working well and are in fact, could cripple the U.S. economy.
Economy experts unequivocally see immigration as a net benefit to the economy – citing everything from population growth, innovation, business start-ups to the diversity of people and ideas – and cutting their numbers down will mean less growth unless they become a lot more productive quickly.
Luke Tilley, chief economists at Wilmington Trust, told CNN that dramatically cutting on immigration will post a risk to long-term economic growth. This is primarily because of the slowing population growth in the U.S. and falling labor force participation. Also, immigrants often offer highly skilled labor that the country needs.
Fair and smart trade
On January 23, Trump signed an executive order that withdraws the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and promised to replace it with a series of bilateral agreements instead.
On August 16, 2017, the renegotiations on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – the world’s largest trade agreement – were begun.
On September 02, 2017, aides were instructed to withdraw from the five-year-old U.S. free-trade agreement with South Korea – wanting the country to import more U.S. goods.
These trade deals might seem okay with Trump. However, for economists, they aren’t. In fact, they are worrisome – agreeing that Trump’s policies are deeply flawed; they say trade talks with Trump is a “waste of time”.
Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz told BBC that Trump’s negotiating strategies are “non-starter”. “What Trump has done is thrown a hand grenade into international trade relationships…”
And while Trump can take some credit for a job well-done in some economic areas, such as the stock market, it’s really far too soon for his policies to take effect. Economists agree that “Presidents can affect the economy through the decisions they make, but it often takes years to gauge the impact.”
So while Trump might deserve some credits for the stock market’s boost, his economic plans and overall growth of the U.S. are yet to be seen.