Some Musings On The Candidates In General & Donald In Particular

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September 1, 2016 · Posted in Commentary 

Randy Reis wrote:
So tell me as a well to do property owner, Mr. Big Mouth, why is voting for Donald Trump against my self interest?

Doug Weiskopf responded:

First a qualification: Voting for Mr. Trump is not voting against your self-interest because your vote won’t mean a damn thing in a California, which isn’t a swing state. His election as President–and that alone, would, however, be against your self-interest because the economy would likely suffer and you and me along with it.

As for the Hillary Clinton’s bad character, it should be obvious by now that character is a highly overrated virtue when it comes to politics and is prized only where people are not being honest with themselves. For example: Bernie Sanders was probably told by his economic adviser(s) if not by someone around him with just a lick of common sense that a $15 per hour minimum wage throughout all of the U.S. was not only unwarranted but would have a devastating impact on the economy. Nevertheless, Bernie Sanders, being the principled nut bag that he is, championed it anyway. He was being “honest.” He was also probably told that much of the Dodd-Frank legislation from 2008-2009 was directed towards and succeeded at curtailing risky investments on the part of banks and that breaking up the banks into smaller units was unnecessary in view of what Dodd-Frank had accomplished and and would, moreover, be bad for the economy. (The big U.S., German, and British banks often lend to smaller countries. To the extent that the U.S. banks do this, it adds to the nation’s prestige and provides yet another reason why the dollar is the world’s currency. Splitting up our banks would put the British and German banks ahead of ours.) But Bernie Sanders is highly principled and, of course, doesn’t see it that way.

Here’s what I believe about Hillary Clinton:

She says she’s for a national minimum wage of $15 per hour. I don’t believe her for a second; but that’s just the way she needs to tell it.
She says she’s for breaking up the big banks. Doubtful she really means it. But that’s just the way she needs to tell it.

Republicans in Congress want to lower the corporate tax to 15%, which is the average for other First World nations. President Obama would lower the tax rate incrementally, first by lowering it to 25% (from 35%) for corporations not involved in manufacturing and to 20% for corporations involved in manufacturing. Hillary Clinton has said nothing about lowering the corporate tax rate and may even have said that she’s for increasing it. Unfortunately, she has to continue to cozy up to the Bernie Sanders screwballs. (Incidentally, there was an excellent article in the Opinion Section of the August 15, 2016, issue of The Wall Street Journal, which discussed the relative positions on the corporate tax rate of Ms. Clinton, the sitting president, and most of the Republicans in Congress. Which makes me wonder why with the President being behind a rate cut and the Republican led Congress also supporting a rate cut, just why the fuck it hasn’t happened yet.) The reality, however, is that Mrs. Clinton will, once she’s elected–as she certainly will be–support a corporate tax rate cut just as her husband got behind the lowering of the long term capital gains rate to 15%.

She says she’s for reigning in Wall Street. I don’t believe that, and neither does Wall Street. Donald Trump was complaining a few days ago in one of his many speeches directed mostly to the people he loves the most–the undereducated–that Hillary Clinton raised $50,000,000 from Wall Street hedge fund managers over the last few weeks, and Trump only received $19,000. He’s fudging the numbers, of course, as he so often fudges the facts; but the reality is that the financial community supports her and not Mr. Trump. Why? Because the financial community knows that Ms. Clinton is doing an act when she pretends to be the enemy of Wall Street and that Trump is just too unstable to be counted on. Remember, the stock market loves stability and eschews radical change. As do real estate investors. Also, does anybody think for one moment that Hillary Clinton would give up the likelihood of future mega-fees from Wall Street once her eight years in the White House are up? No fucking way. Donald Trump, on the other hand, said early in his campaign that he’s for raising taxes on hedge-fund managers? Why? Because they’re not smart, according to him, and because, again according to Mr. Trump, they were all supporting either Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush. And, of course, the yahoos–who are his base–ate it all up, and his poll numbers went up.

If I believed that Mrs. Clinton were honest about taking positions advocated by Bernie Sanders and that she intended to implement them once elected, I would start by throwing up and then voting for the Libertarian running, who seems like a pretty good guy regardless. But Hillary, while she doesn’t hold a candlestick to Trump when it comes to parsing the truth when it comes to the facts of the world around us, is a master at taking positions that she doesn’t believe in for the single purpose of gaining traction with the electorate. Surely you must know by now that fitting your message to appeal to your supporters is the way it’s done and has always been done. The world’s first great politician–the Roman Cicero–even wrote a book about it. What else is new?

Donald Trump would be the tweeter in chief if he were elected, communicating daily with his hard core nut bag supporters and right wing talk radio to keep the nonsense going. Congress doesn’t want to move against the illegal aliens in this country fast or hard enough? Then he will tweet his followers that they should join him in moving against those in Congress whom he doesn’t like (most of whom will likely be Republicans.) Or he will threaten to make a Supreme Court appointment who isn’t sufficiently pro-life or may even be agnostic when it comes to abortion just to show Congress who’s the boss. Or he may veto a budget that Congress passes. Just as Ted Cruz tried to shut down the government (he succeeded for a few days as I recall) over Obamacare, Trump as President would do or at least threaten to do the same thing in order to get his way. So what, Trump says, if the United States can’t meet its interest payment obligations? Trump has said he’s OK with the U.S. defaulting on its debt. How crazy is that? After all, how many times has he defaulted on his obligations? And, according to him, he would make everything come up roses by renegotiating our debt just as he’s renegotiated his. Long story short: He’s been a first class deadbeat and would apply the same business practices to our country. Our bonds would then be further degraded, and the dollar would no longer be the world’s first currency. Could he get away with putting the country into default? Maybe. If he were to veto the budget passed by Congress, it would take a two thirds majority of both houses to override a Presidential veto. If Mr. Trump had just one vote over a third that he could count on, then Congress could not override his veto. Suppose there were just 34 senators as crazy as Mr. Trump and a corresponding number in the House of Representatives. Wouldn’t be pretty. As you know, if the budget doesn’t pass, then the bills don’t get paid, and as the most powerful First World country on the planet we take on the trappings of a nation of clowns, i.e. a Third World Banana Republic

Or more likely America does not default on the debt, despite that Trump would enjoy seeing it happen just so that he could have the pleasure of fucking with the nation’s creditors the same way he’s done so many times with his own. But it’s the threat of doing shit like that which could be used by him as leverage to implement other policies for which he has an affinity and that are just terrible ideas, such as, for starters, the deportations he’s advocated. When a country loses population, that has a negative impact on the economy in general and real estate in particular. Entire communities would have their real estate markets devastated, particularly in California, if the illegals/the undocumented were made to disappear. Communities like the City of Oceanside–where previous efforts to make it illegal to rent to the undocumented were successfully resisted the San Diego Apartment House Association through court action, thus saving the apartment house industry from chaos– would see real estate values plummet, and that would have a rippling effect throughout the state. I won’t go into why, but I’m sure that you, as a successful real estate person, can figure it out.

Trump would also enact trade barriers, which, based on his rhetoric, would be such as we’ve never seen before. To the extent he would be able to achieve that, it’s worth bearing in mind that most of the economic problems of Greece resulted from that government’s protectionist policies towards that nation’s less efficient industries. Every economist worth his salt has rightly concluded that Trump’s “bringing the jobs back” by enacting protectionist policies would have a devastating effect on our economy. Penalizing corporations because they choose to do their manufacturing abroad? Is he kidding? What ever happened to economic freedom?

Trump would coddle the Russians. Vladimir Putin has stated several times that the greatest geo-political disaster of the 20th Century (in his opinion) was the collapse of the Soviet Union. He would bring back the good old days when his missiles and tanks gave the Russians the power to rob Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, etc., to support the fucked-up Soviet economy. Guess what? As John McCain put it, “Russia is nothing but a glorified gas station.” Their economy is still fucked up, and they’d like nothing better than to start once again stealing from our trading partners in Eastern Europe. Good for Russia, bad for America in general and for our economy and prestige in particular. We can’t let it happen, no matter how much money Trump owes the Russians and that he’s got to pay back or else. I believe it to be the case that the banks have soured on Donald Trump given the history of his many bankruptcies and other business failures and that he has had to borrow money from other sources, including but not limited to the Russians, who are likely putting lots of pressure on him. I would give you odds that his income tax returns, his privacy with respect to which he is obviously guarding far more zealously than his wife’s reputation, would reveal that he owes hundreds of millions to the Russians. It is no wonder then that Donald Trump has stated that it’s OK for us to not honor our commitments to NATO and to let the Russians have the Baltic States, including but not limited to Poland. NATO came to the aid of America after 9-11 when NATO troops joined us when we went after Bin Ladin in Afghanistan. With Donald Trump thinking we have no obligation to NATO and might just as well pull out, Ronald Reagan is spinning in his grave.

Two more points: Hillary Clinton says that she’s against TPP. To her credit, she’s just playing to the Sanders people and likely agrees with the President and most of the Republicans in Congress on the value of the Trans Pacific Partnership. Accordingly, it is possible, perhaps even likely, that TPP or a version of it will pass with the help of the Republicans–God bless them for this and perhaps only this–and the sitting president after Hillary Clinton is elected but before she takes office. We need TPP. Especially California, to open up wider the Asian markets particularly for California’s greatest export, food.

Last point: In 1984, I visited an old girlfriend in Manhattan after she got a job with the Morgan Bank (after J.P. Morgan). She told me that the bank specialized in managing portfolios (nothing under $5,000,000 at that time) and in making loans to developers. “Do you make loans to Donald Trump?” I asked her. “No,” she said. “Why not?” I asked. “Because he doesn’t pass the smell test.” Nothing’s changed since then.

This has been fun. But Randy, I do want you to vote for Donald Trump anyway. He’s barking mad, but who gives a shit? Anyway, I didn’t mean any of the above. I was just being sarcastic.
–Doug Weiskopf

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