Absent a miracle, America may truly bounce back from the Trump Presidency. The cruel irony of the MAGA platform is that many of their preferred policy positions actually weaken, and certainly do not strengthen America. To be clear, America’s decline did not begin with Donald Trump, nor is it likely to end with him, but Trump’s policies have led the county down a path that have take the country no where except backward. Here is a look at the four key mistakes that this administration has made.
One of the signature positions of the Trump administration is a strong stance against immigration. Trump’s supporters would disagree, arguing that the administration has sought only to crack down on illegal immigration, but encourages legal immigration. This notion is not born out in facts and actions, however, as I he frequently pointed out. The Trump administration has sought to greatly curtail legal immigration.
The evidence is clear, Trump’s immigration restrictions and his rhetoric are keeping immigrants and foreign students away from the US. Words cannot describe how bad this is for America.
Future economic growth depends on the ability of the country to innovate, develop new technologies, and increase worker productivity. Non-Americans account for an astonishing 54% of masters degrees and 44% of doctorate degrees issued by American universities. Far from making America great again, Trump’s policies are actively reversing the flow of talent back to economic competitors like India and China.
I think we can all agree that driving chemical engineers, biologists, electrical engineers, data scientists, and other skilled students and professionals away from the US is bad policy, yet this is precisely what is happening.
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Life Expectancy and Healthcare
The ongoing healthcare crisis and the inability of America to restrain healthcare costs are making the population sicker and driving down wages. Instead of living longer, life expectancy in American is going in reverse. Meanwhile, the opposite is happening in much of the world. In developed and developing countries alike, people are living longer and America is slipping further and further behind.
Trump’s MAGA policies promised to reverse declining wages in America and restore economic vitality. But the American government has long failed to realize that while salaries haven’t risen, benefits expenses have. Much of would-be salary increases have been absorbed by the rapidly growing cost of healthcare that is laid at the feet of private employers. The solution to falling wages and rising prices rests in addressing America’s obscene healthcare costs. Trump, however, failed to present anything remotely viable solution to this issue.
Industrial Policy and Trade
The Trump administrations anti-trade stance has been an unqualified disaster. Trump’s trade wars have seen America’s exports to China, the worlds second largest economy, plunge. Trump pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade pact that would have given American farmers and industry access to rapidly growing economies in Asia. In the meantime, China has been doing the opposite, signing the world’s largest trade deals that will help its economy grow and prosper. Further, Trump’s insistence in doubling down on dying industries like coal, while neglecting growing industries like solar, has created opportunities for foreign countries to step ahead and fill the void.
Under Trump, America has been in retreat, withdrawing from many of the international institutions that it itself created. The Trump administration has withdrawn from the WHO, pulled out of the Paris Accord, and paralyzed the World Trade Organization, among others. Under Trump, America has lashed out, blaming these institutions for America’s own ills (a claim not based in fact). These institutions, however, do not die when America retreats. Instead, America’s retreat has provided other countries, namely China, an opportunity to increase their own influence. The cruel irony is that if these institutions were not under American influence before, they certainly are not now.
America Needs to Save Itself
Trump didn’t create America’s ills, but he certainly did worsen them. The rise of Trump is born out of frustration with a government that for generations has failed to find pragmatic solutions to national problems. Now is the time to change that. The solutions will not be easy, but admitting fault is the first step toward a national renewal. Whether or not America, under a Biden Presidency, will have the sense to take reasonable and pragmatic action remains to be seen.