Monday, May 21 , 2018, 2:28 pm | Mostly Cloudy 66º


Brian Goebel: Transforming (Some of) Donald Trump’s Plans into Positive Policy Changes

Let’s start with corporate tax reform and stay engaged.

We were critical of President-elect Donald Trump’s candidacy and did not advocate for his election. Nevertheless, he won, and there is nothing to be gained by protesting his election or the existence of the Electoral College, or rooting for him to fail.

If you are unhappy with the election result, do not cut off your nose to spite your face. Instead, actively engage the political process to transform the palatable and well-intentioned parts of Trump’s plans (and there are a handful) into positive policy changes.

This can be done. Citizens just aren’t used to doing it. Notwithstanding the attempted aggrandizement of power by both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, we do not, thankfully, have an imperial presidency or unitary executive. But we still have a do-nothing Congress and an acquiescent and apathetic public.

But it is the Congress that has the power to make federal laws in this country. And it is the public that has the power to tell Congress what legislation should be enacted. So, it is to Congress and the legislative process that we must turn to jujutsu “Trumpism.”

This will require Congress to do its job and us to do our civic duty.

Fortunately, there is at least one policy in Trump’s 100-day plan that the public should actively support and Congress should implement: Corporate tax reform.

As we have discussed repeatedly, corporate tax reform is the closest thing there is to a policy no-brainer in Washington. If Congress were serious about doing its job, it could implement this reform in less than a week. Standing alone, this reform would produce an economic stimulus — well more than $1 trillion — larger than any other proposed tax reform, infrastructure spending or funding for research and development.

Not surprisingly, it has broad bipartisan support. If we want to jolt our economy back to life and get Washington working — and most voters do — there is no better way to start than with bipartisan corporate tax reform that would benefit all Americans, regardless of race, ethnicity or religion.

This is not necessarily Congress’ No. 1 priority, however. For some members, there are partisan scores to settle and other fish to fry.

At a time when the nation is deeply divided and still enduring economic malaise, allowing members to indulge these retributive impulses would be a mistake. We therefore urge you to write your representative and senators and tell them that the first piece of legislation to be passed after Trump takes office is corporate tax reform.

In fact, tell them that literally nothing else should be worked on or passed until corporate tax reform is approved.

Supporting one of Trump’s policies does not mean turning a blind eye to the rest of his platform. To the contrary, we should aggressively pursue legislative and legal processes to defeat his divisive, unlawful and unwise campaign pledges and proposed presidential actions, as John Oliver and others have urged us to do.

Here too, we must start with Congress. Yes, Congress is controlled by Republicans. But that does not mean they will rubber-stamp Trump initiatives.

Not only does Congress have institutional interests that should prevent acquiescence in any effort by Trump to unilaterally dictate domestic policy, but Republicans are not a unified party behind Trump.

Both House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have made it clear that many of Trump’s worst campaign pledges are DOA on Capitol Hill, and public opposition to Trump policies could further strengthen their resolve.

And even if the Republicans were to close ranks behind a terrible Trump idea, that does not mean it would necessarily become law — Democrats (at least for the time being) can filibuster in the Senate; the media can resume its role as the “fourth estate” (a novel idea, we know); public interest organizations can educate voters and shape public opinion; and lawyers can challenge unlawful actions, regulations and laws. Vigilant citizens and civic institutions are the best defense against an abusive government.

We will be watching the Trump administration and Congress very closely in the weeks and years to come, and engaging as necessary to achieve positive outcomes and avoid negative ones, and we urge you to do the same, starting with your expression of support for corporate tax reform.

If you are worried about the next four years, engagement, rather than detachment, is the best preventative medicine.

— Brian Goebel is editor in chief of the nonpartisan 2040 Matters, a Santa Barbara-based public policy blog dedicated to restoring the American Dream for “Generation X+” and future generations by combating declining civic engagement and offering alternatives to political polarization. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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