To Republicans who are livid, fearful, anxious and/or unhappy about the prospect of a Donald Trump nomination and a Donald Trump presidency, consider this.
He claims his wealth allows him to self-fund, putting him in a position to downsize and de-corporatize crony government in a way unrivaled in political history. It takes about $1 billion to run — and win — the presidency, and fundraising normally occupies much of the candidates’ time. To get that kind of money, the average candidate spends time courting and currying favor with “special interests.” This means unions, environmentalists, corporate welfare-ists and others give money and, in exchange, expect their interests to be at the very least listened to, if not carried out once in office.
For example, rich, profitable corporations such as Boeing and Royal Dutch Shell have, over the years, received billions of dollars in tax subsidies. Some of the money comes straight from federal grants, with most of the money coming from state and local governments in the form of tax credits or abatements, or for “training” their employees — something they can and should do with their own darn money. Money-losing boondoggles like Amtrak defy logic, common sense, and Economics 101 by (SET ITAL) still (END ITAL) receiving billions from taxpayers. Government unions and government agencies, just like private corporate interests, grease the palms of politicians.
One of the prime reasons for the housing meltdown was the power and influence of government-sponsored entities like Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, both of which, over the years, gave millions of dollars to the very politicians who supposedly were overseeing them.
Dairy producers are guaranteed a profit through taxpayer giveaways to mostly wealthy producers. A program that began during the Great Depression persisted and grew bigger, disproportionally benefiting wealthy producers and artificially jacking up the price of milk. Same with sugar. We subsidize a handful of wealthy sugar producers, guaranteeing them a profit — while artificially boosting the wholesale price of sugar in the U.S., making it more than double the average price in the rest of the world.
Ethanol is a completely unnecessary product produced by manufacturers who get taxpayer incentives to continue making the stuff. Because ethanol produced in the U.S. is made from corn, it crowds out land that would otherwise be used for other crops, artificially jacking up their prices, too. And it reduces the corn available for sale as animal feed, increasing the production costs for meat, poultry, dairy and eggs.
Right now, billionaire Sheldon Adelson is reportedly deciding whether to back Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz. In the last election cycle, he gave $15 million to the candidacy of Newt Gingrich. In exchange for his millions, do you think Adelson would expect a President Rubio or a President Cruz to return his calls? Years ago during the so-called Keating Five scandal, a reporter asked banker Charles Keating, a man at the center of the controversy, whether he thought the money he gave politicians bought influence. He replied, “I certainly hope so.”
Because of Trump something may (SET ITAL) finally (END ITAL) get done about our borders, “catch and release,” sanctuary cities and so-called birthright citizenship. A lot of influential Republican-supporting big businesses — whose money Trump doesn’t need — (SET ITAL) want (END ITAL) cheap labor. That alone makes his candidacy important.
As to minority voters, one poll — and it may be an outlier — last September found that in a hypothetical head-to-head against Hillary Clinton, Trump would get the support of 25 percent of the 100 voters who identified themselves as black — four times the amount Mitt Romney received. And, despite his “hostility” to Hispanics, the same poll found Trump getting about as much of their support — 31 percent — as did Romney.
Yes, Trump takes a lot of dumb, populist positions. His attack on free trade is Bernie Sanders-like. His support for the Supreme Court’s Kelo decision, which allows government to take land from a private owner to be used by a different private owner for private, for-profit purposes, is also flat-out wrong. But he spent his career making money, not analyzing policy positions. Advice to Trump’s Republican detractors: If he becomes the guy, make him better on substance.
Urge him to hire the best and the brightest. Imagine a Secretary of State John Bolton. Or a Secretary of Defense David Petraeus. Or a secretary of treasury like the American Enterprise Institute economist Stephen Moore. Americans pay $2 trillion a year on regulations, according to Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla. Many of these regulations are completely unnecessary but persist because large corporations want them and make contributions to shape and perpetuate them. While regulations cost money, they also create a barrier to entry by new competitors.
Trump could do something about this merry-go-round. He doesn’t need their money to run — and win.
Republicans should make him a better candidate — not change his style, which voters find refreshing, entertaining, even endearing, but change his policy positions. Urge him to take more of a policy-principled, low-tax, light-regulation, free-trade stance. Ronald Reagan evolved from a left-wing Hollywood unionist into, well, Ronald Reagan.
So could Trump.
Larry Elder is a best-selling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an “Elderado,” visit www.LarryElder.com. Follow Larry on Twitter @larryelder. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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