Is Donald Trump a Businessman or a Politician?
Business leaders solve problems. Every day presents new challenges and problems whether issues arise with product development, marketing, competition, regulators, or employees; there is no shortage of problems to be dealt with. Failure to resolve problems leads directly to unsatisfactory performance.
Politicians appear to be evaluated by what they say and not what problems they solve. The U.S. Congress seems to rarely solve any problem, but the Congressmen and Senators are regularly reelected.
Donald Trump is a businessman. He has shown an ability to solve corporate problems, but his approach to the nation’s problems appears more political than business like. His proposed solutions do not make sense, but he persists. This is likely why the typically Republican business community has not been more supportive of the Trump candidacy.
A few of the nation’s problems and Trump’s solutions follow.
- The nation is running an annual budget deficit of about $540 billion. Trump claims he will eliminate the deficit by eliminating the Department of Education and much of the Environmental Protection Agency. The entire budget for the Department of Education is $78 billion including student loans. The entire budget for the EPA is $8 billion. The Trump numbers don’t add.
- Trump recently told the Washington Post he would eliminate the nation’s entire deficit of $19 trillion in 8 years. He claims he will achieve this by renegotiating trade deals more favorable to the U.S. It is unclear why foreign countries would agree to renegotiate existing deals to terms more beneficial to the U.S. or how any change in trade accords would impact the Federal budget deficit. Trump also said he could sell $16 trillion of U.S, assets. The total value of such assets appears to be $3.2 trillion, excluding national parks. Trump’s claim is nonsense.
- Much of future deficits are due to entitlement spending, specifically Medicare and Social Security. Trump proposes not to change any entitlements but to save Medicare by negotiating the price paid for Medicare patient drugs. The entitlement programs cost about $2 trillion per year. Trump’s claim he will save $300 million a year on drug purchases will be a challenge since the entitlement programs only spend $78 million a year on drugs.
- Trump wants to cut taxes significantly, which could add trillions to the deficit according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget office. He wants to increase military spending too, and he is predicting a massive near term recession, which will reduce tax revenue. Nothing adds.
- On immigration, Trump proposes rounding up the 11 million undocumented residents and moving them out of the country. Logistically, this is impossible. He wants a taller, longer wall on the Mexican Border and claims Mexico will pay. The Mexican Government has been emphatic in rejecting such a claim.
- On the country’s degraded infrastructure, Trump wants to expand infrastructure spending without raising taxes or other revenue. This will take pure magic or Devine Intervention.
The country has many real problems. Donald Trump, the businessman, offers no credible solutions. Donald Trump, the politician, offers solutions that clearly don’t work, but voters seem forgiving perhaps because they are accustomed to politicians promising things they cannot deliver.
I wonder when we as a nation decided to accept a lower standard of behavior and performance from our political leaders than our business leaders.