May 8, 2016

A Businessman in the White House?

For a long time, I've heard conversations about putting a businessman in the White House.  Heck - I've even participated in them.

You know the drill -- we need someone who's actually run a business, met a payroll, fought through countless ridiculous regulations, someone who knows how to balance a budget, someone who understands the real world ramifications of what policy changes mean, someone who is accountable to auditors...  And maybe most importantly, someone who is accountable to customers and shareholders.

I say the last two - customers and shareholders - are possibly the most important, because if nothing else,  those of us who bother to register and actually vote  year in and year out are the customers and shareholders of all politicians, even though they don't seem to act like as if that's the case.

A person who could do all of those things a businessman does, whether it's in a small seasonal marina and fishing camp owned by my sister-in-law and her partner, or at a mid-size business like the upstate New York health insurance/health care provider I've worked at for some 26 years, or something much larger, like a GE or TimeWarner, a successful businessman has a special skillset that boy, would sure look good at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, right?

Yeah, well, maybe not so much, or maybe not this particular businessman, the one who, barring something really crazy like a friend of mine has suggested, will become the Republican Party's official nominee this summer in Cleveland.

Perhaps the businessman we need isn't one who's filed bankruptcy multiple times, and who suggests that perhaps the way to handle the national debt is to pay pennies on the dollar to our creditors.

You read that right. Donald Trump told us, in an interview on CNBC,that
I would borrow, knowing that if the economy crashed you could make a deal. And if the economy was good, then it (the borrowing) was good. So, therefore, you can't lose.
Let that sink in for a minute:  We'll borrow a boatload of money to finance lord only knows what, and if it doesn't work out, we'll just "make a deal" and move on.

In his piece on Vox, Matthew Yglesias pointed out that
With his statement, Trump not only revealed a dangerous ignorance about the operation of a national monetary system and the global economic order, but also offered a brilliant case study on the profound risks of attempting to apply the logic of a private business enterprise to the task of running the United States of America.
Apparently the term for working out deals to repay less than you owe on business deals that don't work out is called a 'haircut', and per Yglesias it makes sense in Trump's real estate development world but not in the global economic world:
Every assessment of risk in the financial system is based on the idea that the list risky thing is lending money to the federal government. If that turns out to be much riskier than previously thought, then everything else becomes much riskier too. Business investment will collapse, state and local finances will be crusher, and shockwaves will emanate to a whole range of foreign countries that borrow dollars.
And you can hear these phone calls, right? I mean, you can hear the words as he would speak them, can't you?
Hey, China? You know that $1.25 trillion we owe you?  Well, see, we're going to cut that by 40% even though we love that General Tso, great chicken! We love the General!
Russia? Your $82 billion? Cut that by 30%. We love the beautiful women over there, in all of the Russian countries, with those fur hats. We love the Russian women! They're almost as pretty as Slovenian women!
Japan? Your $1.15T we're cutting by only 25% because we love the Japanese, we love sushi.
Close allies, like Canada ($66.8B), Germany ($81.6B)? 15% off the top, because we love hockey, and we love the Mercedes.
The UK ($210.6B), we'll cut yours 20%. It would have been less but you elected a Muslim mayor in London, and that's just crazy. And those people in Scotland, gave me a fight about my golf course. 
Trump also suggested in another interview, referenced in the same Vox article, that Puerto Rico file bankruptcy, even though legally it's not possible, and even though Republicans don't want there to be a change in the law to allow that to happen.

Here's how Trump boast about his business tactics:
As a very successful person, I would buy companies, thrown them in a chapter, bankrupt it, negotiate - I would do great deals, I didn't use them for myself, I used them as a businessperson. Many of the top people in my category use the laws. I know more about debt than practically anybody, I love debt. I also love reducing debt, and I know how to do it better than anybody.
So - is this the businessman we need in the White House, one who's unaware of the laws, unclear on the situation, and who in response to just about every question anyone asks can only say how much he "loves" some bucket of people, or how much some bucket of people love him, and who can only point to what he did as a businessman? One who would even suggest putting the full faith and credit of the United States Government on the negotiating table?

No. This is not the businessman we need in the White House.

And even though I never contemplated this particular businessman as leader of the free world,  I'll go back and revisit the reasons why I thought that, conceptually,  it might make sense in the first place.