What is Donald Trump going to do in office? Beats me. For the most part, I’d ignore what he said on the campaign trail, since he said so many different things at different times. It’s obvious that (a) he doesn’t know much, and (b) he doesn’t truly care about very many things—and that means he’s going to be willing to negotiate. On that score, I mostly agree with Tyler Cowen, who speculates that “his natural instinct will be to look for some quick symbolic victories to satisfy supporters, and then pursue mass popularity with a lot of government benefits, debt and free-lunch thinking.”
However, this also means Trump is likely to follow the lead of Congress, which is completely in Republican hands and likely to follow the lead of Paul Ryan. Given that, I think there are a few things we can speculate about. Here’s a short list:
- The filibuster is toast. Republicans will get rid of it as soon as they need to.
- There are three Supreme Court justices who support Roe v. Wade and are getting on in years: Stephen Breyer (78), Anthony Kennedy (80), and Ruth Bader Ginsburg (83). Using standard actuarial tables, there’s a 60 percent chance that at least one of them will die during Trump’s term. That means there’s a 60 percent chance that Roe v. Wade will be overturned.
- Repealing Obamacare will be harder than Republicans think, and it’s possible that they’ll shrink from it when they truly have to face up to the consequences. For one thing, it’s impossible to keep the “good parts” (pre-existing conditions, community rating, etc.) and only get rid of the bad parts. In the best case, they’ll pass a bill that repeals Obamacare in name, but leaves most of it in place under a different name. But I doubt that. In the end, I think they’ll rip down the whole thing.
- There will be a recession sometime during Trump’s term. I don’t know what this means. But I’ll bet the Republican Congress will be a whole lot more eager to fix it with crude Keynesian pump priming than they were for Obama.
- Trump seems to really care about infrastructure, which makes sense since he thinks of himself as a builder. So we might very well get an infrastructure bill passed. I expect that a wall on the southern border will be part of it.
- Congress will pass a big tax cut for the rich. Not as big as Trump’s, I think, but plenty big anyway.
- Winners from a Trump presidency: rich people; pro-lifers; Paul Ryan, who will now be reelected Speaker easily; China; Wall Street; Vladimir Putin; James Comey; and CNN president Jeff Zucker, who did everything in his power to help elect a guy who could keep his ratings up.
- Losers from a Trump presidency: poor people; anyone on Obamacare; illegal immigrants; climate change; the white working class, which fell for Trump’s con but will get virtually nothing from his presidency; anyone who cares about human decency and national dignity; Barack Obama, whose presidency will now be considered a failure; and the Democratic Party, which has lost control of the presidency, the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, and most of the states.
Since I have the Reconstruction era on my mind right now, it’s hard to avoid the obvious comparison. Reconstruction lasted about eight years, and then was dismantled almost completely. Barack Obama’s presidency lasted eight years and will now be dismantled almost completely. I will withhold my opinion for now on the obvious reason for this similarity.