Thursday , February 23 2017
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Who will control Trump?

Summary:
This caught my eye: During that sit-down, on Nov. 29, Mr. Cohn briefed Mr. Trump on what he regarded as the chief hurdle to expanding the economy, according to people who were briefed on the discussion: a stronger dollar, which would undermine efforts to create jobs. Mr. Cohn also argued that the bold infrastructure projects that Mr. Trump envisioned would need private-industry partners, those people said, in order to avoid weighing down the government with costs. That got Mr. Trump’s attention. The president-elect turned to the other people in the room — his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon; his chief of staff, Reince Priebus; and Steven T. Mnuchin, his campaign’s chief fund-raiser and Mr. Trump’s nominee to be Treasury secretary — surprised

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This caught my eye:

During that sit-down, on Nov. 29, Mr. Cohn briefed Mr. Trump on what he regarded as the chief hurdle to expanding the economy, according to people who were briefed on the discussion: a stronger dollar, which would undermine efforts to create jobs.

Mr. Cohn also argued that the bold infrastructure projects that Mr. Trump envisioned would need private-industry partners, those people said, in order to avoid weighing down the government with costs.

That got Mr. Trump’s attention.

The president-elect turned to the other people in the room — his son-in-law, Jared Kushner; his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon; his chief of staff, Reince Priebus; and Steven T. Mnuchin, his campaign’s chief fund-raiser and Mr. Trump’s nominee to be Treasury secretary — surprised that his infrastructure ideas had such a potential downside.

“Is this true?” Mr. Trump asked the group, according to those people. Heads nodded. “Why did I have to wait to have this guy tell me?” he demanded.

.  .  .

Mr. Cohn collaborates frequently with Mr. Kushner, who is now a senior adviser to Mr. Trump. Along with Mr. Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, Mr. Cohn recently helped persuade the president not to pursue an executive order that would have rolled back rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

On domestic policy, I see a battle between the “bad guys” like Bannon, Miller and Navarro, who want to “let Trump be Trump”, and the “good guys” like Cohn and Kushner, who want Trump to be more like an ordinary Republican.

Things look worse in foreign policy:

President Donald Trump intervened at the last moment to deny Rex Tillerson his pick to be deputy secretary of state — former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams.

The president overruled his secretary of state — following meeting with Tillerson, Abrams and son-in-law Jared Kushner — after reading news reports about their meeting, which included references to Abrams’ criticisms of Trump during last year’s presidential campaign, according to people familiar with the decision. Though his staff was aware of Abrams’ statements, the president was not — until he read news reports about their meeting earlier this week.

.  .  .

One Republican senator worried that foreign leaders look to a secretary of state to have a strong personal relationship with the president — and this is not the way to show the strength of that relationship.

“Now everybody knows he doesn’t have any juice with Trump,” said the GOP strategist. “He can’t even get his own people in.”

And please don’t embarrass yourself by telling me that Abrams is a bad guy.  I know that.  It’s the process, stupid!  Any competent foreign policy expert is going to have said bad things about Trump during the campaign.  If they didn’t, then they obviously are not competent.

PS.  Here’s something useful that Trump could do—reduce the amount of paperwork required to comply with FATCA:

Who will control Trump?The numbers are still low in absolute terms, but the trend is not in the right direction.


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Scott Sumner
Scott B. Sumner is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, the Director of the Program on Monetary Policy at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and an economist who teaches at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. His economics blog, The Money Illusion, popularized the idea of nominal GDP targeting, which says that the Fed should target nominal GDP—i.e., real GDP growth plus the rate of inflation—to better "induce the correct level of business investment".