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Donald John Trump, sadly, is currently one of the most controversial and prominent figures in the United States, if not the globe. Most people were taken aback when Trump was elected President of the United States in January, wondering how someone so stupid and unprepared for the job was able to reach this far and ultimately win the position. Trump is notorious for his unrestrained statements about competitors, as well as his lack of hesitancy or thought when responding to them. His persona has sparked a heated debate about whether Trump is genuinely a babbling fool who happened to be elected President of the United States or if he uses his perceived idiocracy to his advantage? So, now that we have been able to get through almost a year in his presidency, it's interesting to take a step back and look at how Trump was able to get in to the position he currently is in and how he is using his newly established power. In the latest political tide, Republican hopeful Donald Trump would talk about the administration being for all and instating that all that was needed was the right president with the right priorities. "It's about time we had somebody running this country who knows a little something about money" (Leonhardt), claimed Donald Trump himself at the first presidential debate in 2016. Questions linger on whether Trump is self-aware of the stakes he holds in office and whether he is poised to be a great leader whose legacy will be remembered. However, like any good worldwide question, there are two sides to the debate regarding the future of the nation under Donald Trump considering the balance of wealth in meeting market demands (Smith 58). Although the allure of having a businessman as president, who claims to be for all people, creates a mystique of hope for the United States, analysis of the economic plan proves that the scheme only benefits the upper class, and in some cases actually even adversely affects the lower level citizens.
Prominent yet Controversial Figure
Trump has always been in the world's eye view, before becoming President of the United States he was a businessman and television personality. A very successful businessman at that too, according to Forbes magazine in 2017, he was estimated to have a net worth around $3.5 billion. Working on and starring in reality television shows such as The Apprentice and having cameos in films and other television shows, Trump produced a public image for himself that led to him being a constant subject for comedians. Trump has been parodied in The Simpsons and most notably Saturday Night Live, where actors such as Alec Baldwin and Phil Hartman have portrayed him. The allure of having a strong businessman for president creates a mystique of hope for the United States but leading our nation back to capitalism as per the Trump plan can actually end up adversely affecting the proletarian class.
Now that the United States public knew Trump and what kind of person he was, it was very easy for Trump to play a role in the media, even with how was being perceived. Trump even started dipping his toes in politics all the way back in 1987, where he placed full-page advertisements in newspapers expressing his discontent for the United States' current role in foreign affairs. In 1999, Trump also filed a statement that sort a chance for the Presidential nomination, matching him up against Presidential nominees George W. Bush and Al Gore. He eventually dropped out of the race because he did not have enough support to run against those candidates, although winning the party's California and Michigan primaries. During the 2008 Presidential run, Trump served a key position in the "birther" conspiracy theories surrounding Presidential candidate Barack Obama. He publicly questioned the legitimacy of Obama's citizenship, even though Obama had made public that he was an American citizen by birth by presenting a copy of his birth certificate showing that he was in fact born in Hawaii. Even after that, Trump refused to budge requesting to see the "long form certificate" and proclaiming that he had sent "investigators to Hawaii." Even when the White House released Obama's original long-form birth certificate, Trump stated that he "hope it [all] checks out." Trump showed his lack of respect for what we call politics by insulting President Obama.
Building a wall along the U.S./Mexican border
It is imperative to consider the understanding of the economics of Donald Trump's plan for the wall that is underway, and that is expected to be erected at the Southern border between Mexico and the United States. Trump had cited that the necessity of building a wall is to ensure that the "supposedly bad" Mexicans who he perceives to be criminal and who engage in illegal businesses within the US are prevented from causing harm (Francis). It was only five days into his presidency, and Trump had already signed an executive to mandate the construction of the supposedly controversial wall that has gotten economists concerned already. What the president fails to realize, however, is that putting a wall along the border would mean Americans end up paying especially now that Mexicans have stated explicitly that they will not pay for the wall.
The understanding of the role of Americans in paying for the wall is clear. Since there are more proletarians than upper class, proletarians tend to pay more (Thompson). Interestingly, Trump wants to impose the cost of the wall on Mexico, who has refused to pay and despite Mexico declining to pay, Donald Trump has not changed his mind about the idea. The outcome is that it leaves America to pay for the project and since its population is not principally composed of the upper class, the lower will be the targeted group.
The Trump Administration further fails to consider that building this wall would mean upsetting trade relations between America and Mexico. Apparently, by the time Donald Trump was finishing his first week in office, he had already alienated a friendly neighbor with whom the US has had strong relations and arguably the largest trade partner (Francis). The effect is clear because by attacking Mexico but suggesting that they should pay for the wall, he does not pre-condition a negotiation but instead, undoing the many years of diplomacy between the two countries (Guajardo).
Trump has, therefore, recklessly brought back dark era between the US and Mexico relations and the outcome is made worse by the realization that Americas will suffer in the process. The people who will ultimately pay are not Mexicans, but U.S. customers who are currently getting a great deal on their products (Francis). The implication is that people who buy produce and other goods from Mexico could end up paying for the wall indirectly if the U.S. retaliates against Mexico for their refusal to pay with an embargo. Also, Mexico would raise tariffs on U.S. goods, which means that lower class people will not get to sell their goods to Mexico
Increased Defense Budget
The first part of the Trump plan is to increase defense spending. In a letter to Congress attached to the budget, Mr Trump asserted that "The core of my first budget blueprint is the rebuilding of our nation's military without adding to our federal deficit," (Cohen). At this point, one would question where the money to increase military power will be obtained considering whether the deficit is off-limits. For a logical point of view, one would think that it would come from the government cutting on the spending within the United States. However, throughout his campaign, Donald Trump had emphasized preserving the budget for the elderly (Thompson). The effect is that it leaves the federal assistance programs, who will suffer near-paralyzing budget cuts if Trump was to go through with his plan. These federal assistance programs are dominated by help for the young and poor (Thompson).
It is clear, therefore, that bulldozing these programs could mean devastating effects for the lower class. The implications would be disastrous for the taxpayers because food stamps would be cut, federal unemployment insurance would plummet, and the Department of Education's budget would also see a significant drop (Thompson). These landslides in funding are not only limited to these programs, though, so the hypothetical effects can span even wider. The increased defense spending would ultimately adversely affect the proletarian class. The programs from which Trump would cut money in order to increase the defense budget are heavily relied upon by the lower half. In 2011, 44.6 million people relied on food stamps in order to get by (Rosenberg). If one focuses on militarizing and allows programs like food stamps to slip away, 44.6 million people could potentially suffer greatly.
The Benefits for the Rich outweigh the ones for the Poor
Although some supporters of Donald Trump advance the argument that there are in fact some benefits for the proletarian class under the Trump plan, the benefits for the upper half outweigh the benefits for the lower half. The outcome is that it makes the minute benefits for the lower half almost irrelevant. At a convention in 2016 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Trump stated that he would "massively cut taxes for the middle class, the forgotten people, the forgotten men and women of this country, who built our country" (Ydstie).
However, if one was to examine the tax plan, it becomes clear that the benefits are not for the middle or lower class but rather, the benefits are for the upper half, the top one percent (Ydstie). The top 0.1 percent of breadwinners would see a cut of 7 percent, whereas taxpayers making the lowest income would see less than a one percent cut (Ydstie). A professor of law at NYU Lily Batchelder explains the claim that the rich benefit from this policy. She states that a millionaire would get an average taxcut of about $317,000 (Ydstie), whereas a family making only $50,000-$60,000 would only see an increase of about $560 (Ydstie). It gets even worse; a multi-millionaire making over 3.7 million dollars would see a tax cut of over $1,000,000 ("For Some In Middle Class, Trump Plan Would Mean Tax Increase"). A cut of $560 pales in comparison to the lessening of $1,000,000 from a tax payment.
This type of policy, where the rich receive the most benefits, and everyone else gets the leftover, is called trickle-down economics. Critics are concerned the changes may affect business investment, and result in the creation of new incentives. Hillary Clinton, Trump's rival, even coined a special name for the policy: "Trump-ed Up, Trickle-Down Economics" (Blake). The effect of trickle-down outcome based on the thought that if the rich get the advantages, the rest of the population will soon follow all citizens win. One of the firmest believers in the validity of trickle-down economics was 20th century Nobel Prize-winning economist Simon Kuznets (Stiglitz). Kuznets' argument did have merit to it, until the post-World War II period. Since this time, the argument that trickle-down economics is a valid principle has been undermined greatly.
After World War II, the growth of the economy was extremely slow because of the uneven distribution of wealth that had come about from the system of trickle-down economics in place at the time (Stiglitz). It was finally at this time when taxpayers realized that trickle-down economics was the reason for their post-war slow economic growth, that the supporters of the principal realized that the way to build an economy is not to start at the top but to build from the middle class (Stiglitz). This is what the issue with the Trump plan is; the policy favors the wealthy significantly, as is characteristic of a trickle-down economy, and therefore, will not be effective in building up the economy for the nation as a whole, let alone the proletarian class. Overall, therefore we see that when the wealth is unevenly distributed and taxes are placed on the middle class more than the wealthy, the country spirals downward
Trump was not caught unawares because while he imagined that the idea of a businessman becoming president would be great for the US, the economic challenges to the lower-class citizens imply that his Administration will only benefit the upper-class citizens. As can be seen through economic analysis and study of the Trump plan, Donald Trump's ideas are not for the lower half. One particular area of concern is the realization that instead of Mexicans paying for the wall that is to be constructed in the Southern border, the lower-class Americans will account for the costs. Furthermore, as seen with increased defense spending, his plan would actually adversely affect the lower half. Thus, even though there are some benefits for the ordinary person, the benefits for the rich outweigh these significantly and the implementation of the trickle-down economics policy will not build up the middle class as was seen historically. While accepting responsibility to "make America great again" is no easy task, it is clear that the efforts to make this slogan a reality will not bore results for the common person. The Trump rhetoric may have been populist, but the economic plan is far from it because the adverse effect on the lower class citizens outweighs the perceived benefits.
Blake, Aaron. "The first Trump-Clinton presidential debate transcript, annotated." The Washington Post. WP Company, 26 Sept. 2016. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
Cohen, Zachary. "Trump proposes $54 billion defense spending hike." CNN. Cable News Network, 16 Mar. 2017. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
Erdner, George et al. "Why Americans Voted for Donald Trump." The Washington Post. WP Company, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
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Francis, David. “Trump’s Impact on the Economy: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” Foreign Policy 9 Nov. 2016. Web.
Guajardo, Jorge. “America Is Already Paying for the Wall With Mexico.” The Atlantic (2017): n. pag. Web.
Leonhardt, Megan. "Presidential Debate: What Trump and Clinton Said About Money | Money."Time. Time, 26 Sept. 2016. Web. 18 Apr. 2017
Rosenberg, Eli. "Chart: The Rise of Food Stamps." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 01 July 2011. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
Smith, Adam. “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Welath of Nations.” Classics Series Publications (2005): n. pag. Web.
Stiglitz, Joseph E. . "Capital in the Twenty-First Century." National Tax Journal (June 2015) 68.2 (2015): n. pag. GALE. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
Thompson, Derek. "Things Are About to Get Much Worse for Poor Americans." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 09 Nov. 2016. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
Ydstie, John. "Who Benefits From Donald Trump's Tax Plan?" NPR.org. NPR, 13 Nov. 2016. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.
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