‘There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know’ John Heywood, 1546
“When Aetna ran through post-election expectations, the idea that Donald J. Trump would win the presidency and that Republicans would control both chambers of Congress seemed so implausible that it was not even in play.
“We started with a fresh piece of paper yesterday — we had no idea how to approach it. What we would have spent months doing if we thought it was even remotely possible, we had to do in a day.” Mark T. Bertolini, Aetna chairman and CEO, 11 November
In truth, however, it really wasn’t very difficult to see that Donald Trump could win the White House, and that the Republicans could control Congress, for the reasons I set out over a year ago:
“In the USA, the establishment candidacies of Hillary Clinton for the Democrats and Jeb Bush for the Republicans are being upstaged by the two populist candidates – Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump….Companies and investors have had little experience of how such debates can impact them in recent decades. They now need to move quickly up the learning curve. Political risk is becoming a major issue, as it was before the 1990s.”
But as I found in 2007-8 when warning of a likely US subprime crisis, most people chose to ignore the possibility. As one American commentator wrote in response to my analysis:
“I have a very, very, very difficult time imagining that populist movements could have significant traction in the U.S. Congress in passing legislation that would seriously affect companies and investors”.
Most companies and investors similarly chose to ignore the chart above from Real Clear Politics, which I published on the US Labor Day holiday (the traditional start of the election campaign) on 5 September. It showed that nearly two-thirds of voters were looking for change, as they felt the country was heading in the wrong direction.
DONALD TRUMP IS NOW PRESIDENT-ELECT
Now, of course, the election has taken place and Trump is the President-elect, with a Republican majority in Congress. And yet most commentators still remain in denial about what has happened. Even worse, the consensus view complacently believes that Candidate Trump will somehow be very different from President Trump.
This is why I feel it is important to highlight below, in full, the 100-day Plan that Mr Trump set out on 22 October in a speech at Gettysburg:
“What follows is my 100-day action plan to Make America Great Again. It is a contract between myself and the American voter — and begins with restoring honesty, accountability and change to Washington.
“Therefore, on the first day of my term of office, my administration will immediately pursue the following six measures to clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, DC:
FIRST, propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress;
SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health);
THIRD, a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated;
FOURTH, a 5 year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service;
FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government;
SIXTH, a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.
“On the same day, I will begin taking the following 7 actions to protect American workers:
FIRST, I will announce my intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205
SECOND, I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership
THIRD, I will direct my Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator
FOURTH, I will direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately
FIFTH, I will lift the restrictions on the production of $50 trillion dollars’ worth of job-producing American energy reserves, including shale, oil, natural gas and clean coal.
SIXTH, lift the Obama-Clinton roadblocks and allow vital energy infrastructure projects, like the Keystone Pipeline, to move forward
SEVENTH, cancel billions in payments to U.N. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure
“Additionally, on the first day, I will take the following five actions to restore security and the constitutional rule of law:
FIRST, cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama
SECOND, begin the process of selecting a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on my list, who will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States
THIRD, cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities
FOURTH, begin removing the more than 2 million criminal illegal immigrants from the country and cancel visas to foreign countries that won’t take them back
FIFTH, suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. All vetting of people coming into our country will be considered extreme vetting.
“Next, I will work with Congress to introduce the following broader legislative measures and fight for their passage within the first 100 days of my Administration:
1. Middle Class Tax Relief And Simplification Act. An economic plan designed to grow the economy 4% per year and create at least 25 million new jobs through massive tax reduction and simplification, in combination with trade reform, regulatory relief, and lifting the restrictions on American energy. The largest tax reductions are for the middle class. A middle-class family with 2 children will get a 35% tax cut. The current number of brackets will be reduced from 7 to 3, and tax forms will likewise be greatly simplified. The business rate will be lowered from 35 to 15 percent, and the trillions of dollars of American corporate money overseas can now be brought back at a 10 percent rate.
2. End The Offshoring Act. Establishes tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. tax-free.
3. American Energy & Infrastructure Act. Leverages public-private partnerships, and private investments through tax incentives, to spur $1 trillion in infrastructure investment over 10 years. It is revenue neutral.
4. School Choice And Education Opportunity Act. Redirects education dollars to give parents the right to send their kid to the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school of their choice. Ends common core, brings education supervision to local communities. It expands vocational and technical education, and makes 2 and 4-year college more affordable.
5. Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act. Fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with Health Savings Accounts, the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines, and lets states manage Medicaid funds. Reforms will also include cutting the red tape at the FDA: there are over 4,000 drugs awaiting approval, and we especially want to speed the approval of life-saving medications.
6. Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act. Allows Americans to deduct childcare and elder care from their taxes, incentivizes employers to provide on-site childcare services, and creates tax-free Dependent Care Savings Accounts for both young and elderly dependents, with matching contributions for low-income families.
7. End Illegal Immigration Act. Fully-funds the construction of a wall on our southern border with the full understanding that the country Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall; establishes a 2-year mandatory minimum federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering the U.S. after a previous deportation, and a 5-year mandatory minimum for illegally re-entering for those with felony convictions, multiple misdemeanor convictions or two or more prior deportations; also reforms visa rules to enhance penalties for overstaying and to ensure open jobs are offered to American workers first.
8. Restoring Community Safety Act. Reduces surging crime, drugs and violence by creating a Task Force On Violent Crime and increasing funding for programs that train and assist local police; increases resources for federal law enforcement agencies and federal prosecutors to dismantle criminal gangs and put violent offenders behind bars.
9. Restoring National Security Act. Rebuilds our military by eliminating the defense sequester and expanding military investment; provides Veterans with the ability to receive public VA treatment or attend the private doctor of their choice; protects our vital infrastructure from cyber-attack; establishes new screening procedures for immigration to ensure those who are admitted to our country support our people and our values
10. Clean up Corruption in Washington Act. Enacts new ethics reforms to Drain the Swamp and reduce the corrupting influence of special interests on our politics.
On November 8th, Americans will be voting for this 100-day plan to restore prosperity to our economy, security to our communities, and honesty to our government.
“This is my pledge to you.
“And if we follow these steps, we will once more have a government of, by and for the people.”
These are Trump’s plans. He has not been elected to maintain the status quo. He has been elected to bring about change. Effectively, he is tearing up the consensus established over 50 years ago in President John F Kennedy’s famous 1961 Inauguration speech, which set out to:
“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
You may, or may not, approve of President-elect Trump’s policies. You may, or may not, think that these policies are destined to fail. But they do confirm that the world is moving into a New Normal, which will inevitably create Winners and Losers.
The Winners are likely to come from those who accept that President Trump will at least try to introduce the policies proposed by Candidate Trump. And the Losers will almost inevitably include those who continue to believe he represents “business as usual”.