On the eve of change
On the eve of the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States. The world holds its breath, in the hope that the hatred and division that the 45th President has fomented, does not result in anyone being injured or killed. At what should be a time for the celebration of democracy, the outgoing president is behaving like the spoilt child we all know him to be. Even now, he would accept a military coup, to remain president, were that possible. Make no mistake, the man represents probably the most serious threat to US national security in decades. He and his criminal family, are a walking talking traitorous disaster waiting to happen. He and by association they, will be under enormous financial distress, as they find it increasingly difficult to raise finance and loans are called in. This represents a clear and present danger, in the form of potential collusion with malicious foreign actors, in return for finance. The fact that we are even considering this, is beyond comprehension to me, but that’s where he’s taken the country. His history of stiffing people has simply extended.to stiffing America. The imperative must be to ensure he is never able to run for public office again and that ALL his malfeasance in office is prosecuted. In addition, anyone complicit in his actions MUST also be held to account. No unity without accountability.
The optics of the inauguration have probably never been as bad to the outside world. It's almost like the sharks in the water can smell the blood. US adversaries are no doubt ecstatic that America has been reduced to swearing in a president within a fortress. You simply can't explain the repetitional damage these types of optics impose. When you consider it didn't need to be this way, it is a sober warning that never again, should a man or woman receive the nomination to be president with the type of track record of Donald Trump. He was unable to raise finance in his own country, he had numerous bankruptcies under his belt and a slew of questionable behaviour. His history would have barred him from most employment opportunities, but yet he was handed the keys to the White House and the nuclear football. It makes absolutely no sense. His own party said it out loud again and again during the primary process, but once he won, Republicans were all in.
Enough of Donald Trump, as of tomorrow there's a new captain at the helm. I've said it many times, Joe was not my pick to be nominee, I was a Pete Buttigieg man. However, having had time to reflect and better get to know the man, I do believe he is the right man for the moment.
His sense of honour and decency, his integrity and sense of empathy makes him eminently qualified for the moment. If you add Kamala Harris to the mix, Joe's stock rises yet further. If there is anything we've learned over the last four years, it's that the GOP places no value in anything other than greed and power, Their lack of empathy and decency has allowed them to become ruthless in their approach to the political process. When Obama was elected to the White House, it shook Republican politics to its foundation. They were incandescent with rage that a black man had been elected president. Their sole purpose from that point on, was to obstruct every step Obama took. The whole premise of their opposition to his two terms in office were predicated on racism. It's an indictment on the GOP and yet it has evolved even further to the point of it now being shouted out loud in the corridors of power.
There is little point speculating on what may or may not happen tomorrow. There are more important things to discuss. Regardless of the colour of the administration, the challenges ahead are almost beyond comprehension, Whilst it is generally accepted that the new stimulus proposal by Biden will help, all it will do is build a firebreak to allow for fiscal planning to be refined. It remains a bandaid over a arterial bleed. The reality is, that if you are out of work and have say 8 months of rent arrears, common sense tells you, that there is NO WAY a few months postponement of catastrophe is of much comfort. The reality is, that the amount of fiscal distress for the most vulnerable in society is unimaginable. The same extends to small businesses, who are equally on the edge of disaster. As the Covid crisis is not going to disappear anytime soon, how on earth is kicking household debt down the road going to help vulnerable families. It has not escaped my attention that landlords are by default dragged into insolvency as a result of tenant's inability to pay rent. Mom and pop landlords that are maybe renting to get by themselves, are in as much, if not more pain than their tenants. They don't have access to the resources of large corporate landlords, so need special help.
My initial thoughts on this, at the time the $600 direct payments were being agreed, can be found in this tweet
As I'm not familiar with property law, the following may be beyond the scope of the law. If it is, then the law is seriously flawed. I understand that debt forgiveness and rent forgiveness is against all that capitalism stands for, but capitalism is a little like policing, it's done by consent. I am looking at the US regulatory framework as I write this, so allow me a little latitude. Let me begin by saying, I’m not suggesting forgiveness as a way of abdicating fiscal responsibility, it would need to be targeted and be provided as part of a one off Covid measure to prevent eviction, by covering any period of unemployment, that was as a result of the pandemic.
Already I can hear you shouting, it will be impossible to administer. My answer to you is, if it were corporate America with it's begging bowl out, history tells us that they are never sent away hungry. The choice is simple, which cost would you prefer? To keep people in their homes, allowing them to contribute back to society at the end of the pandemic, or clear land all over the nation to setup refugee camps for the homeless? That's the stark reality of what's coming down the pipe.
I would shift the debt to the government balance sheet. The sort of reverse, of handing Corporate America a $3 trillion tax giveaway. I would have the government pay small landlords say 80-90% of the outstanding rent. Then let corporate landlords and mortgage providers negotiate a settlement with government, for repayment of the remaining debt. That way the government can underwrite the debt, if the providers are prepared to take a fiscal haircut. I suspect this can be done, but it won’t, because banking and property interests will scream and shout. The reality is, these people can’t pay what they don’t have. As the saying goes, 'You can't get blood from a stone'.
The outgoing Administration has failed the American people on so many levels it is an embarrassment. The unemployment rate is at 6.7% as apposed to 4.7% when Trump took office. Those filing for unemployment in 2017 stood at 2,494,547. By December 2020 it was 5,237,096, a rise of 109%. Now let's look at the fortunes of those at the top. In January 2017 the Dow Jones was at 19,732. By January 18 2021 it has exploded to 30,814. This represents at 56% increase for the top 2% of the nation. Here's the real kicker, US debt surged by $7 trillion under Trump to $27.8 trillion. This is likely to go much higher under Biden, as he has to invest to repair the damage done. The US deficit grew by a staggering 429% under Trump and the GOP only now, decide they are fiscal conservatives once again. I'd call that the height of hypocrisy, but they have form. Trump's promises of infrastructure amounted to absolutely NOTHING, as he literally stormed away from a $2 trillion bipartisan deal. Hate crime rose almost 20% from 6,121 in 2016 to 7,314 in 2019. So any assertion that everyday Americans have benefitted from the Trump years is yet another, in a long line of lies. It's therefore not surprising that those who said they are proud to be American plummeted from 81% to 63% during his tenure in office.
Putting this into some perspective though, the burning question is, had the pandemic not come along, would Trump be starting a second term of office tomorrow? I would remind you, that his approval ratings pre pandemic, were at 41%, the lowest of any president on record. In 1458 days he made 30,534 false or misleading statements. The turnover rate of senior White House officials was 915, not to mention, that 9 people from his inner circle were indicted. This suggests, that you would have to be an idiot to think that Trump would be given another 4 years. However, there is a little voice in my head saying, he might well have won. Why? because his messaging machine had infected a huge section of the population. His appeal to base greed instincts and selfishness, had traction. The 'I'm OK f..ck anybody else, had been normalised by his hateful self serving rhetoric. There is the argument that says, Biden ran a responsible campaign, which was cognisant of the risk to people from traditional campaigning. This effectively tied his hands, against an opponent that was quite literally having Covid parties up and down the country. I suppose it really doesn't matter. Dems won the White House, control Congress and now the Senate and that is some repudiation of Trumpian values. However, make no mistake, the war waged by Republicans against Obama's vision for a better more inclusive, equitable society is alive and well and now poisoned with QAnon members. Vigilance will be the order of the day.
Tomorrow, I'd like to look at infrastructure and green job opportunities, as the opportunity to move America forward. It's time to put outdated, primarily Republican fiscal models in the trash where they belong and re-imagine an America that takes bold steps to created better paid green new jobs. Thanks for stopping by and stay safe out there.