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Is Bait and Switch a Signature Trump Move?

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Message Arshad M Khan

People voted for Donald Trump under the assumption that Mexico would be paying for your border wall. Then why should the people pay now in this bait-and-switch game, when hardly any of their concerns are being addressed? It is a question that has led to a government shutdown (now partial) in the US.

Roads are potholed, bridges crumbling, trains mostly ancient, and the American Society of Civil Engineers regularly grades our infrastructure at barely above a failing F (D+ in 2017). Americans are still waiting for that "beautiful healthcare"; in the meantime, a simple Medicare-for-all will do. And whatever happened to the promised middle-class jobs? The minor tweaks in NAFTA made little difference to the factories humming on the other side of the southern border.

A tariff war with China is hardly a way forward. It is seeing its first major casualty in Apple, down to 145 from its summer highs of 230+ when it became the world's first trillion-dollar company. Its sales in China, its third biggest market after the US and EU, failed to meet expectations. Following the news at the end of the trading day on Wall Street, Asian stock markets opening shortly thereafter went into a slide. Jaw-jaw is better than war-war said Churchill whose bust now adorns the Oval Office. It applies to trade wars also as former President Carter wrote in a Washington Post op-ed on the subject.

On the 2000-mile border wall, one has to wonder if anyone in the White House has examined the consequences. What will the migrants and their "coyotes" (people smugglers) do next? Water, air and tunnels are options. Perhaps El Chapo, the drug lord on trial, ought to be employed as a consultant. He managed a steady stream of drugs into the insatiable US market.

The North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in his annual New Year's address to the nation mostly discussed the economy. The country is still under US sanctions although Kim Jong Un has said repeatedly that he is committed to denuclearization. He warned, "If the US does not keep its promise ... and insists on sanctions and pressures on our republic, we may be left with no choice but to consider a new way to safeguard our security and interests." What did Trump promise him? Was this another bait and switch? Kim's words have been described as conciliatory but firm, with the implication that if sanctions are not eased in 2019, North Korea might return to its nuclear-testing program ending the present hiatus. He also added he was always ready to meet Mr. Trump again.

This president has been in office for two years during which time his party held the presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Democrats have only just regained control of the latter following the November election. Hence a final question on Trump's border wall. Why did he not request funding while his party was in control of the House plus the two other organs of government?

The Democrats opposed to the wall have refused, and the subsequent impasse has led to a government shutdown. Mr. Trump claims the wall is necessary for national security and blames the Democrats. The Democrats blame Trump and remain against the wall. Meanwhile, the migrant caravan about to storm the border has disappeared from the news. Whatever we have on the border now has successfully impeded them.

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Arshad M Khan is a former Professor. Educated at King's College London, Oklahoma State University and the University of Chicago, he has a multidisciplinary background that has frequently informed his research. He was elected a Fellow of the (more...)
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