President Trump: A Threat Without Any Break From A Republican Congress

The real loser may be America’s economic and legal system

The pain for Hillary Clinton, US Democrats and indeed democrats around the world may be intense, but the real loser is the entire economic and legal system of the largest economy in the world.

In the light of statements by Trump and the behaviour of Congressional Republicans the viability of the US Federal Reserve, the country’s central bank, and the Supreme Court are up for grabs. Jurists and economists are suffering a severe case of the sweats.

Trump threw the whole independence of the central bank into doubt during the campaign. Two months ago, he accused the Fed of acting in a political way and said that chairwoman Janet Yellen should be “ashamed” of herself.

During one of the presidential debates he ratcheted the volume up further saying the central bank was keeping interest rates low in order to boost the stock market and help the Obama administration. “The Fed is not doing their job. The Fed is being more political than Secretary Clinton.”

Economists had warned that Yellen would have to resign but given her reputation for unflappability, that is highly unlikely. She is used to slings and stones from economists so she can with those from a politician.

However, assuming that she does not quit, then he is almost certain to replace her when her term runs out in February 2018. The uncertainty will bring a whole new era of instability.

Meanwhile, there are two vacancies on the 12-person board as Richard Shelby, the Republican chairman of the Senate banking committee has blocked hearings on Barack Obama’s appointments.

Further down Constitution Avenue, the Supreme Court faces an equally uncertain future. The court is operating with eight rather than nine justices as Congressional Republicans have (again) blocked Obama’s appointment.

A Trump presidency and a Republican Congress will mean that the over time the balance of the court will swing to the right, making conservative judgements on issues such as abortion and gun control that could alter American society for the next generation - not just the next four years.

Trump may only last for four years but the new friends he puts into position on the court and the bank could have impact on the American and world economy and political system, not just for the next four years but for decades to come.

Phil Thornton

people no longer want politicians tinkering around the edges

The western establishment received another broadside this week in the form of Donald Trump’s election. This result was a shock even in a year of political unpredictability. The pollsters have once again failed to accurately predict the result, making them seem increasingly obsolete and only adding to the narrative that they were part of a liberal media establishment that was determined to thwart the democratic choice of the people.

One mistake many commentators are making is to assume that Trump is an isolated danger and somehow the Republican establishment is a sensible break on his excesses. The executive, legislative and judicial branches of government will soon be dominated by ‘conservatives’ who would be unrecognisable under that label in any western European state.

Most may not be as brash as Trump but many in his inner circle retain a deep desire to eviscerate any form of Government, including many sensible safeguards, regulations and what remains of a modest safety net in terms of healthcare and social security.

Then there is the ever present danger posed by a party determined to impose their own interpretation of Christian morality as well as a tendency for hawkishness in foreign affairs and a fetish for law and order that goes beyond reason and proportionality.

This has been a year for populism, simple answers to complex questions. The ‘establishment’ whether on the left or the right needs to realise that people no longer want politicians tinkering around at the edges and failing to offer meaningful change.

Trump’s populism is similar to Brexit in that it harks back to an idealised past and is primarily motivated by fear and exasperation. The only way to fight it is with a new radicalism, throwing the rulebook out and experimenting with positive future visions of society.

Historically it has always been a result of turbulence and destruction that has bred new thinking; we may now be reaching one of those transformative epochs.

Stewart Tolley

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