Wall Street Might Be Only Group Happy With Trump

Posted: Feb 24, 2017 12:01 AM
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WASHINGTON -- After little more than a month in office, President Trump's sweeping tax-cutting reforms have had a huge impact on the economy, both here and abroad.

In anticipation of across-the-board, revenue-neutral tax legislation, U.S. stock markets have shot up to historic gains, signaling that Congress is preparing to shake off eight painful years of economic lethargy under President Obama and shift into a higher, pro-growth gear.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was nearing 21,000 this week, a level that seemed inconceivable over the past decade, with other indexes rising sharply, too. That triggered strong advances in Europe, as well.

Don't let the Democrats fool you into believing that the stock market's rise is only benefiting the rich. Millions of middle-income Americans whose employers offer IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement plans are benefiting as well from the stock market's surge.

Tax reform is still a work in progress on Capitol Hill, but House Speaker Paul Ryan has already announced that it will be ready and acted upon sometime in August.

And on Thursday morning, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin went on CNBC, the widely watched business channel, to underscore that tax reductions for businesses large and small, and for all individual taxpayers, remained the administration's highest priority.

Mnuchin also made clear that he has Treasury officials crunching the numbers on all aspects of the plan, saying that he was confident it would lead to 3 percent economic growth, or even higher.

That is a pace the Obama economy never fully reached throughout its interminably sluggish eight years, remaining perpetually frozen in an anemic 2 percent range. The U.S. economy grew by a pathetic 1.6 percent during his last year in office.

But if the Trump rally on Wall Street is giving Americans plenty to cheer about, the president is beset by troubles in the rest of his agenda, thanks to his combative, vindictive demeanor and his habits of exaggeration, misstatements and wildly false statistics that end up being corrected on the nightly news.

That has made him, in little more than a month, one of the most unpopular presidents in modern history.

Last week, the highly respected Gallup Poll reported that Trump's approval rating had plunged to 35 percent, though it rose to 42 percent six days later.

Real Clear Politics says Trump's approval average is at 44.4 percent, based on 10 major surveys throughout the month of February. More recently, a Quinnipiac University poll found that only 38 percent of voters approved of his performance as president, while 55 percent disapproved.

Trump's controversial plan to slap a "border adjustment tax" on Mexico's exports to the U.S. has sparked protests from U.S. employers, who say it would hurt them and result in widespread employee layoffs.

Trump has called Ronald Reagan's North American Free Trade Agreement "the worst trade deal in history." In fact, it is responsible for the creation of many new U.S. companies along the border, and elsewhere in our country. Such companies send raw materials to plants in Mexico for partial assembly or some finishing work, and those plants then send them back here, frequently without duties. That allows us to sell the products to consumers at a lower price.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that about 6 million American jobs depend on trade with Mexico. Trump's border tax (better called a consumer tax) would destroy many of these jobs, and hurt many U.S. communities.

Meanwhile, Trump still insists that Mexico will pay for his wall along the U.S. border, which is estimated to cost over $20 billion. But it turns out that's never going to happen.

Instead, the president and his allies in Congress are cooking up a border tax on imports that will end up being paid by most Americans one way or another.

Many U.S. retailers are already suffering from declining sales, and retail giants like Walmart and Macy's would be forced to raise their prices to cover the tax, hurting hard-pressed consumers and employers alike.

But it isn't just Americans who are unhappy with Trump on a range of issues.

Earlier this week, British lawmakers debated whether Britain should rescind its plans for a state dinner when the president visits England later this year. The debate was triggered by a petition signed by more than 1.8 million Brits.

In a rancorous debate in Parliament's Westminster Hall, where a Labour Party member called Trump "a petulant child," lawmakers argued whether he should be given just an "official" visit, instead of the grander state visit with all the trappings.

Personally, a fish and chips dinner should be enough. The more luxurious state dinner will no doubt come when he visits his buddy Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin.