Take Back the House – Simon Johnson

MIT Sloan Professor Simon Johnson

MIT Sloan Professor Simon Johnson

From Moyers & company

The House is designed to reflect public opinion, and this can shift quickly — as we have seen throughout the past two centuries, and under Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama.

Future historians will trace the unwinding of Trump’s presidency back to a speech at Gettysburg on Oct. 22, in which the candidate made some very specific commitments (watch from the 16-minute mark in this video). Specifically, President-elect Trump faces three serious problems rooted in the way political realities — Republican control of Congress — will force him to govern.

First, Trump will not deliver on what he has promised because he can’t.

His first Gettysburg promise was to “propose a constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress” — and there were great cheers in the crowd when he said this. Last Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said term limits will not happen (“We have term limits now; they’re called elections”). There is no way the president can force the Senate Majority Leader (or the Speaker of the House) to bring legislation to the floor. Check the Constitution on that.

Source: Getty Images

Source: Getty Images

Trump’s broader commitment is to create jobs, particularly in manufacturing, and raise middle-class incomes. The main policy push in this direction will be a cut in both personal and corporate taxes, and this will be skewed strongly toward higher-income Americans. Senate and House Republicans have long been quite specific about this.

The firmly held belief among the Republican political elite is that such tax cuts will boost growth — and they will mandate official economic forecasts supporting this idea. But the reality will be just the same as it was under Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush: Tax cuts for the rich primarily benefit the rich. The deficit and national debt will balloon, just like it did in previous tax-cutting episodes and in direct contradiction to what Trump has promised. James Kwak and I wrote a book that details the consequences of Republicans undermining federal public finances; the title seems more apt than ever: White House Burning.

Read the full post at Moyers & company.

Simon Johnson is the Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management, where he is also head of the Global Economics and Management group and chair of the Sloan Fellows MBA Program Committee.

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