J■ By Richard Flores / Contributed
an. 20, 2018 marked Trump’s one year in office as President of the United States of America. It is only fair to review what he has accomplished throughout the year to “Make America Great” and to allow the American citizens to consider and judge for themselves his actions, his accomplishments, and the impact on the short and long-term interest of our nation and our democratic form of government.
During the 2016-2017 presidential election cycle, the public became aware of the Russian election meddling into the U.S. presidential election. This issue is the most serious challenge American democracy and our Constitution have had to deal with.
The Russian election meddling issue was corroborated by the FBI and 14 other intelligence agencies of our government and affirmed by Facebook, Twitter, Google and the Christopher Steele dossier. The Russian meddling into our democratic election system forced Congress to establish four committees to investigate and come up with solutions to prevent it from happening in the future.
The Justice Department also established a special counsel to determine if any Americans had been involved in helping the Russians’ efforts to undermine the principles of our democratic form of electoral government by being responsible for the spreading of disinformation, fake news, racial chaos, disunity and confusion in general among segments of American society.
Today, we are living in a cyber world that necessitates verifying delivered information and ascertaining the truth of the matter. Yet, Trump, instead of fully supporting the investigations, has done everything within his power to divert the attention of the public: calling real news fake news and trying to sabotage the congressional investigations with the support of his Republican Party minions.
He has fired people that were directly involved in investigating the issue. He has threatened to fire the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and keeps yelling and tweeting that there is no collaboration and obstruction between the Russians and his presidential campaign. Even though he must know that the current investigations have not yet been concluded. Unless he has a crystal ball that allows him to see into the future, I would say that he is lying—again.
My question to the American public is: Are Trump’s attempts to obstruct and dismantle the Russian-U.S. election investigations a way to “Make America Great?” Is he hiding his collaboration with the Russians?
Trump has done many other things in his first year in office, including withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Global Climate Change Agreement, a pact that included 195 countries from around the world. Lloyd Blankfein, CEO for Goldman Sachs, stated the matter correctly when he called the decision “a setback for the environment and for the United States leadership position in the world.” Does Trump’s decision—leading to more polluted air, water and streams—”Make America Great?’
Trump also withdrew from the “North American Free Trade Agreement” known as N.A.F.T.A., an economic trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States. Trump has stated that he will renegotiate the agreement sometime in the future. This, of course, makes America look like an unreliable partner and fuels the perception that the word of the U.S. government cannot be relied upon.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Canada was the top buyer of American export products and Mexico was second. Both countries account for 34 percent of the U.S. export market. So far, the agreement has not been renegotiated and a better deal has not been had.
Does such an action add to “Making America Great?”
Trump has also abandoned the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Withdrawing from this economic agreement has resulted in the withdrawing of U.S. leadership in the Asia region, further isolating the U.S. from global economic affairs and leaving a vacuum for China to step in.
Concerning the president’s signing of executive orders, NBC has reported the signing of more orders by Trump in his first 100 days than any other president in recent times—going all the way back to FDR. From January 2017 to October 2017, Trump signed 50 executive orders. This is in spite of the fact that he used to accuse former-President Barack Obama of overuse of the executive order process saying that the use of executive orders was was no way to run the government.
The first executive order was to eliminate Obama’s mortgage rule designed to help first-time home buyers. Alissa Walker from Curbed.com news outlet stated that FHA rule of lowering the premiums of mortgage insurance was estimated to help the one million homeowners who have FHA loans and save the homeowner an estimated $500 per year.
Some of Trump’s executive orders are meant to roll back U.S. environmental regulations, including the authorization and completion of the Keystone XL oil pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline, that runs from North Dakota to Illinois, and another pipeline that runs through the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Nation. The Sioux are concerned with protecting their sacred land and water from pollution.
Another Trump executive order is intended to open up millions of acres of federal water preserves to oil and gas leasing in the Arctic, the Atlantic, and Pacific oceans. But most important to the American public, who own the public national parks, is Trump’s executive order overturning a 20-year uranium mining ban in order to allow mining in the Grand Canyon.
And according to the Washington Post, the White House plans to shrink the boundaries of at least four national parks and modify six others. The four included: Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou, Nevada’s Gold Butt, Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bear Ears. Trump’s intention is to open up some portions of the parks to oil, gas, and mineral exploration and extraction, increasing pollution and destruction of land concerns.
Another Trump order is intended to roll-back the financial-banking industry regulations of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act that was enacted in 2010 to address the 2008 financial crisis. Sherrod Brown, of the Congressional Banking Committee, warned against potential rollbacks of the Act, saying, “Any action to undermine the protections will encourage Wall Street’s risky behavior and leave taxpayers and our economy exposed to another financial catastrophe.”
Do these executive actions by Trump “Make America Great?”
Racial remarks attributed to Trump have marred his first year in office. Insensitive remarks about the Muslim Gold Star family that lost their son in Iraq, his assessment that a latino judge cannot judge his legal case because he was of Mexican descent, calling for a Muslim immigration ban and calling white-national supremacists that marched in Charlottesville “very fine people.” This is in spite of the fact that their views do not represent American values and principals, they were chanting, “You will not replace us” and “Russia is our friend, “ according to the local paper, The Daily Press.
He also commented that immigrants coming from Mexico were rapists, criminals and brought drugs with them. Recently, when talking about U.S. immigration policy, he reportedly called Haiti and countries in Africa, “sh**thole countries.” He is also calling for a “Merit-based immigration system.” If this plan were to have been in effect when the great European migration occurred at the turn of the century, I estimate that 90 percent of the nation’s ancestors would not have qualified to migrate to America. This system would also have the effect of denying some of our college graduates from obtaining technological and professional jobs because said jobs will most likely be taken by merit-based foreign immigrants.
Do those actions “Make America Great?”
Trump’s first year was also marked by a sizeable amount of women accusing Trump of sexual misconduct. And recently, information surfaced about hush-money to stop a porn star from revealing a sexual encounter while he was married at the time and just weeks before the general election..
A major distinction of Trump’s attitude is his propensity to lie. Politico measures how many lies Trump told over the course of 4.6 hours of speeches. They found that he lied, on average, once every five minutes. The Huffington Post catalogued his lies over the course of just one town hall event and they came up with 71 lies. I would submit to the public that if Trump lies 10 times a day for a year that figure would amount to a gulping 3650 lies. Is that setting a good example for our young people and leadership positions around the world?
Does having a pathological lying president, “Make America Great?”
Finances and family
From day one, Trump and his family have had a financial conflict of interest in violation of the constitutional “Emoluments Clause,” which states, “No person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the congress, accept any present, emolument, office or title, of any kind whatsoever, from any king, prince or foreign state.
Trump has sold properties and condos to Russian oligarchs, advertised the selling of Trump steak and Trump wines. His daughter sold bracelets from the White House and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is trying to obtain foreign loans for his 666 Hotel in New York City from countries like China and Russia.
Does that qualify as “Making America Great?”
And last, the Trump tax cuts were hastily rammed through the Republican Congress in the middle of the night without adequate hearings or a bipartisan tax plan. The bill cut corporate taxes form 35 percent to 21 percent. Due to corporate loopholes and business deductions, most corporations were already paying only about 14 percent in real taxes. Now that Trump’s reduced the tax burden of corporations by 14 percent, major corporations will end up paying 0 percent in taxes. The federal budget will have less money to work with and the government will not be collecting the estate tax because that has been eliminated.
John Harwood, CNBC Editor-at-Large, states that the GOP tax and budget plans would require the government, already projected to borrow $10 trillion over the next 10 years, to borrow even more as baby boomers draw their retirement checks and benefits.
Paul Van de Waters, an economic analyst at the center on Budget and Policy Priorities, stated, “Federal spending and taxes will have to grow significantly.” He continued by saying, “This is not a statement of political values. It’s a reflection of basic realities.”
The young people of the United States will inherit higher budget deficits and much higher national debt than the $20 trillion our nation holds today. Today’s young people will be settled with debt that political leaders like Trump and the Republican Party leadership are creating today.
Due to Trump’s tax cut plan, $1.5 trillion will be added to the 2018 federal budget deficit of $487 billion over the next 10-year period. In my opinion, tax monies could have been better spent investing in infrastructure repair and job training programs. But instead, Trump’s tax cuts give the majority of the money to the ultra-rich and major corporations, including Trump himself.
Is that going to “Make America Great?”
Russia, Russia, Russia
The Russian meddling has exposed a big problem that has to do with the lack of U.S. legislative laws and safeguards to protect our constitution and our democratic form of government. Trump is following the Putin playbook on how to turn a democratic system into an oligarchy form of government. Just recently, Trump, with the help of Devin Nunes, Head of the House Intelligence Committee, have conspired to disclose a top-secret memo to discredit the Russia investigation and attack the FBI. The memo is also trying to protect a probable Russian agent and Trump foreign advisor that has been under U.S. surveillance since 2013 by the name of Carter Page.
If the Republican Party members in Washington are supporting Trump’s political strategy of obstructing the Russian meddling investigation, attacking our democratic institutions, weakening our form of government, and refusing to enact legislation to protect us from future Russian meddling, what does that make them? patriots or traitors?
Some people are still saying that we should give Trump more time to continue his political agenda. I think that after one year in office, we know what Trump’s racial and political agenda looks like. The truth is that the Trump presidency has brought the American people a deeper more active (SWAMP). I do not think that the United States and the American people can afford to let the Trump presidency continue on its present destructive course.
I will definitely state that his actions and political policies do not “Make America Great,” but “Make America Worse.”
The American people must rise up and vote to alter the present destructive course of our nation. I, for one, cannot support the Trump agenda, and therefore, will submit to the public square that Trump and the Republican Congress are doing great harm to the American people and our standing around the world, and therefore, a Trump impeachment is in order and/or possibly criminal charges; before it becomes too late to save the values and principles of our constitution, our American way of life and the security of our nation.
Richard S. Flores, The Latino Political Organizing Committee