Are we Making America Great Again?
Yesterday was a day for noisy but ultimately meaningless gestures from Republicans. The GOP controlled House passed their bill to destroy Obamacare, but that bill won’t even get a vote in the Senate. In the end, the only actual result from the House vote might be making it easier for Democrats to retake the House in the next elections.
Also yesterday, Donald Trump made a big noise about signing an executive order that he claimed was about religious freedom (but mainly if your religion is Christianity). But according to conservatives, “The religious liberty executive order is meaningless. No substantive protections for conscience. A betrayal.” Even the uber-conservative Heritage Fund called it “woefully inadequate”. As for liberals, the ACLU laughed it off, saying “We thought we’d have to sue Trump today. But it turned out the order signing was an elaborate photo-op with no discernible policy outcome.”
Meanwhile, all this noise obscured some real news. The government reported that US productivity declined in the first quarter of 2017 at an annual rate of 0.6%, which is worse than many economists predicted. During the Obama administration productivity gains averaged around 1.2%, which is weaker than the 2.1% average annual gain since WWII. So if Trump wants to MAGA, the economy is heading in the wrong direction. What’s worse is that the decline in productivity occurred at the same time that worker hours increased by 1.6%.
And a number of actions being made by Trump and the Republicans will likely hurt the economy even more. For example, Trump’s appointed head of the FCC announced its plans to kill net neutrality. In response, a group of 800 US startup companies (including some well-known ones like Y Combinator, Etsy, Foursquare, GitHub, Imgur, Nextdoor, and Warby Parker) sent a letter saying that the FCC moves would destroy them.
I guess even though new startups create most of the new jobs in this country, the GOP doesn’t care because startups don’t tend to make huge campaign contributions. Indeed, if the Republicans ever succeed at repealing the ACA, this will make it harder for startups to hire the employees they need.
A more obvious example, also lost in all the noise, was that this week a House committee approved legislation (on a strictly party-line vote) that would gut most of the Dodd-Frank law that was enacted to prevent another economic meltdown like the one we just had in 2008. The new bill now goes to a vote in the full House, where it is expected to pass.
The rape and pillaging of our country continues.