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Bush’s 3rd term (a fantasy)

Summary:
Let’s assume that Jeb Bush wrapped up the 2016 GOP nomination after a spirited contest with Trump, who ran a campaign focused on ending the trade deficit and stopping illegal immigration. Jeb is elected in the fall and it is widely seen as George Bush’s 3rd term. Jeb goes on to repeat all the mistakes of his brother: 1.Like his brother, Jeb enacts a big tax cut that increases the budget deficit. Just as in the early 2000s, the deficit sucks in foreign savings, ballooning the trade deficit. But Jeb doesn’t care about trade deficits, he’s a supply-sider—a free trader, not a mercantilist. 2. Just as his brother botched Katrina, Jeb’s handling of the Puerto Rican hurricane is extraordinarily incompetent. Thousands die as a result, and the electrical system is down for

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Let’s assume that Jeb Bush wrapped up the 2016 GOP nomination after a spirited contest with Trump, who ran a campaign focused on ending the trade deficit and stopping illegal immigration. Jeb is elected in the fall and it is widely seen as George Bush’s 3rd term. Jeb goes on to repeat all the mistakes of his brother:

1.Like his brother, Jeb enacts a big tax cut that increases the budget deficit. Just as in the early 2000s, the deficit sucks in foreign savings, ballooning the trade deficit. But Jeb doesn’t care about trade deficits, he’s a supply-sider—a free trader, not a mercantilist.

2. Just as his brother botched Katrina, Jeb’s handling of the Puerto Rican hurricane is extraordinarily incompetent. Thousands die as a result, and the electrical system is down for months. Jeb benefits from media fatigue as, unlike with Katrina, the media mostly ignores the scandal.

3. The tax cuts spur faster economic growth, which creates a strong labor market. As in the late 1990s and 2004-06, the strong labor market draws in many more illegal immigrants. Congress offers to appropriate funds to build a wall on the border, if Bush is willing to compromise on immigration reform. But Bush doesn’t want a wall, and refuses to compromise with Congress. Hence no wall is built. The following graph shows arrests at the border, which white nationalists view as the best metric for the pace of illegal immigration:

By February 2019, illegal immigration was out of control with 76,103 detentions, twice the normal levels. Then it got even worse:

“This is the worst crisis the Border Patrol has ever faced in the history of the Border Patrol and we’re going back to 1924,” Judd told WMAL radio host Vince Coglianese.“In my 21-year career as a Border Patrol agent, I’ve never seen it like this and I’ve worked in the busiest locations..In the history of the Border Patrol it’s never been like this before. This is the worst it’s ever been and if we don’t do something it’s going to continue to get worse.”

Judd’s comments come after the Department of Homeland Security announced that there were 100,000 apprehensions at the southern border in the month of March and 76,000 in February. The numbers for both months were the highest in ten years.

The 100,000 figure for March was literally “off the charts”, and suggested a catastrophic increase in illegal immigration. Jeb seemed unconcerned, assuring the public that this was a sign that his pro-growth policies were working—more and more people wanted to live in an America that was finally “great again”, after the sluggish Obama years.

But GOP voters were not placated by these bland assurances, and by 2020 the white nationalists had taken over the party, with their protectionist, anti-immigration policy agenda. They decide that they don’t want a “great America”, as a great America will be an increasingly populous and cosmopolitan America that is full of immigrants, and also an America that replaces manufacturing with services and high tech. The white nationalists that take over the GOP abandon their support for capitalism.

Of course this is just a fantasy. It didn’t happen.

Or did it?

PS. I recently noted that the Mueller report was a win for Trump. But I was laughed when I also mentioned that we might want to look at the full Mueller report before reaching a final conclusion. Now people on the Mueller team say Attorney General Barr misrepresented their findings. Why am I not surprised?

PPS. Watch commenters say that we can trust the Mueller report, but not anything that the Mueller team says about their report.

PPPS. The same commenters who told me “at least Trump is picking distinguished economists to serve on the Federal Reserve Board.” File the following undernot from The Onion“:

Trump plans to announce his selection very soon, said three people, who asked not be identified discussing the nomination because it hasn’t been announced. Cain would fill one of two open seats on the board; the president plans to name Stephen Moore, a visiting fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a long-time Trump supporter, for the other.

This is how banana republics operate, as I told you all two years ago.


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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".

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