Last night, in a carefully scripted, carefully presented speech before a joint session of Congress, Donald Trump regurgitated some of his old campaign promises while delivering some new, outlandish ones to the American people.
“Dying industries will come roaring back to life.”
Trump repeatedly promised during his campaign that he would return coal workers back to their jobs. But with natural gas providing a cleaner and cheaper alternative to coal, it is difficult to see how even Trump can deliver. What other “dying industries” is he referring to? Perhaps the steel industry, even though Trump himself buys steel from China because it is cheaper. He referenced the Keystone Pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline and said: “I’ve issued a directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel.”
That would be great news for the steel industry, except there are no “new” pipelines proposed at this time. In addition, the Keystone Pipeline is a Canadian, not American pipeline.
“I am going to bring back millions of jobs.’
What jobs is he talking about? From where are they coming? He says that “Protecting our workers means reforming our system of legal immigration.” He then goes on to recommend a “merit-based immigration system” like Canada and Australia. “It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.” This sounds fine on the surface, but as we know, Canada has accepted thousands of Syrian refugees without asking if they are able to support themselves financially.
And what about the millions of migrant farmworkers, the ones who basically drive the agricultural economy, who are willing to do the jobs that most Americans refuse for wages far lower than most Americans would accept? Many, if not most, of these workers, are in this country illegally.
In fact, Trump said that “Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system will have many benefits: it will benefit save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families – including immigrant families – enter the middle class.” How, exactly, is it going to help the lower-skilled immigrant families enter the middle class if they are not allowed to legally enter the United States?
“…work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs and bring them down immediately”
Remember, this is a promise made by the same man who said just this weekend “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” The cost of prescription medication, coupled with the lengthy process of approval of new drugs by the Food and Drug Administration, is just one component of that “complicated” health care system. Perhaps he intends to re-institute the Nixonian wage and price controls, but should he do so, the results could be catastrophic. There are complex economic and geopolitical reasons behind the higher costs that Americans pay for drugs. This cannot be fixed “immediately.”
“Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved.”
These are lovely, feel-good promises, but you should believe them only if you believe that Santa Claus exists and the Tooth Fairy is real. Even Jesus Christ himself never went this far. In fact, even he said, “the poor will always be with us.” Does Trump really think that the best and the brightest could have solved the problems of poverty, crime, drug addiction, among just a few, if they had only tried? Yes, we have made great strides, particularly in the field of medicine, but there is no simple or quick fix to the many issues our country faces. It is not only disingenuous for Trump to make these promises, it is wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
“Our terrible drug epidemic will slow down and ultimately, stop.”
His argument supporting this claim appears in the phrases uttered just before making this claim. “that America must put its own citizens first….because only then, can we truly MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.”
Since Richard Nixon declared in 1971 that “America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse” every succeeding administration has struggled with a losing battle in the war on drugs. Remember Nancy Reagan’s “Just say No” campaign? Physicians, sociologists, epidemiologists, and politicians have attempted for generations to eradicate this problem. Does Donald Trump really believe that just by putting Americans first will somehow miraculously solve this problem?
Building his famous wall on our border with Mexico will slow down some of the drugs imported into the country, but many others are either brought in from offshore ships or manufactured in the United States. There are only two viable options available. Either finding an effective treatment to cure addiction or legalizing the drugs.
One important step that is supported by the majority of Americans, but actively opposed by Trump’s Attorney General, would be the legalization of marijuana. That would essentially eliminate a major market of the drug cartels and hit them hard. Then perhaps our efforts could then be concentrated on fighting far more dangerous drugs such as methamphetamine or heroin.
These are but just a few of the promises Donald Trump made in his speech last night. Rather than being a “presidential” speech, it was a continuation of his campaign speeches that promised anything and everything his audience wanted to hear. Compared to the cold, hard realism of a Hillary Clinton this was a key factor in his upset win.
Most people will continue to believe what they “want” to believe, rather than what they “need” to believe.
There WILL be a day of reckoning when Trump cannot fulfill his pie in the sky promises. And that will be the day when the bottom falls out from under his presidency.