December 22, 2016

Trump in Transition (v10)

Some additional appointments from The Apprentice to catch you up on from the past week.

There's former Texas Governor and occasional presidential candidate Rick Perry, who last week was tapped to be Secretary of that Department he wanted to eliminate, you know the one, right?

Um, oh boy, um, you know, the one that's all about peppiness, um, shoot. Not the Department of Memory, that's not the one. Heck I wish I had the energy to remember this stuff. Oh wait, is that it? Energy? Yeah, that's the one.

And there's the tapping of  Navy SEAL and one-term Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke to be Secretary of the Interior, even though it seems, according to this report in Salon, that Zinke may have lied about his travel while a member of the vaunted SEAL Team 6, saying he was traveling for business when it was to remodel his house or visit his mom.

Or the fact that Zinke, who has a geology degree and two Masters' degrees, has an abysmal 3% rating from the League of Conservation Voters for his supporting special interests over protecting the environment, making him yet another Trump appointee who seems to have opinions and principles in conflict with the agency he was tapped to run. But not to worry, according to the announcement from the Transition team:
America is the most beautiful country in the world and he is going to help keep it that way with smart management of our federal lands. At the same time, my administration's goal is to repeal bad regulations and use our natural resources to create jobs and wealth for the American people, and Ryan will explore every possibility for how we can safely and responsibly do that. 
At least we now know we don't need to #MakeAmericaBeautifulAgain - whew!

And then there was the announcement about a new White House National Trade Council (NTC),
The formation of the NTC further demonstrates the President-elect's determination to make American manufacturing great again and to provide every American the opportunity work in a decent job at a decent wage. 
And, we're told,
The mission of the NTC will be to advise the President on innovative strategies in trade negotiations, coordinate with other agencies to assess US manufacturing capabilities and the defense industrial base, and help match unemployed America workers with new opportunities in the skilled manufacturing sector.
Mind you, I think that "defense industrial base" would include Lockheed Martin and the F-35s which, back in 2011 we learned from this article in The Atlantic, cost more than Australia, or would they be excluded because #TweetingatDawnDonald just asked Boeing to give an estimate on a mess of F-18s which he thinks might be cheaper, since he already scapegoated Boeing into dropping the price on two Air Force One planes? Oh dear, my head hurts.

But is that what they mean by 'trade' council -- to 'trade' defense contractor A for defense contractor B? Um, no, that's not it.
The NTC will also lead the Buy American, Hire American program to ensure the President-elect's promise is fulfilled in government procurement and projects ranging from infrastructure to national defense. 
Unless, of course, see Lockheed Martin and Boeing.  But wait - that little-word, campaign slogan stuff, Buy American, Hire American (which, to my delight, is #BAHA) is not all there is to this.
The NTC will work collaboratively and syngeristically with the National Security Council, the National Economic Council, the Council on Councils, and the Domestic Policy Council to fulfill the President's vision of peace and prosperity through military and economic strength. 
Oops. I got carried away for a second, that Council on Councils doesn't belong there, sorry. Back to the real stuff.
For the first time, there will be a council within the White House that puts American manufacturing and American workers first, and that thinks strategically about the health of America's defense industrial base and the role of trade and manufacturing in national security.
So: a council to end all councils, except the councils it meets with supercalifragilistcally, to make sure our military/industrial complex is keeping us peaceful and prosperous, except for expensive military stuff? And to come up with cool new trade-deal stuff?

Two things come to mind. One, the POTUS-elect is the master of the Art of the Deal, so I'm surprised he would need a council to help him with deal-making.

And two, do these folks understand where our manufacturing jobs have gone, other than the ones in the military contracting field? Trump campaigned on this, but promises and facts are different things, according to an article in the Financial times.
The US did indeed lose about 5.6 million manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2010. But according to a study by the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University, 85% of these job losses are actually attributable to technological change - largely automation - rather than international trade. 
The think-tank found that although there has been a steep decline in factory jobs, the manufacturing sector has become more productive and industrial output has been growing.
 Don't buy the robots are taking our jobs part? Think there's something else behind it? OK.

Ask Trump why he makes his stuff in other countries, and why his daughter does. Is it because they want to make a bigger profit and that's easier to do that when the products you sell are made for hands full of pennies and sold for fists full of dollars?

Maybe it's education, or the lack thereof? We've seen reports for a while now about American factories not being able to fill jobs because kids getting out of high school, or even college, aren't capable and companies are unwilling to invest the money and effort in training them if they're just going to quit - or fail - anyway.

Or maybe, we just want to save money and would buy the cheap stuff at WalMart even if we were making enough money to buy the more expensive, American-made stuff?

Lots for the new NTC to think about, well beyond China and bad trade deals. Maybe the Council on Councils I made up earlier in this post can work on all that other stuff, so we really understand what we need to do to bounce back, other than ordering a few dozen more F-35s.