In the days following the death of former President George H.W. Bush, there have been a lot of obituaries with different takes on his legacy. The left has tended to criticise his Cold War foreign policy interventions and relationship with the CIA and its activities. The right has praised his handling of the Gulf War and the breakup of the Soviet Union. Both these kinds of takes have focused on Bush’s foreign policy legacy. I want to focus on a different part of the story–Bush’s position in domestic politics as the last Republican president in the postwar tradition of Dwight Eisenhower.
All over the western world, anti-establishment movements are pushing for immigration controls. They argue that immigrants from developing countries are willing to work for too little and there are too many of them. Because there are so many and they are so cheap, these immigrants take jobs which might otherwise go to native-born westerners. The workers who support immigration controls are right to point out that they have not been receiving a fair shake in the last few decades, but this is not due to immigration–it’s due to capital mobility.
I’m no great fan of state of the union addresses (as long-time readers are sure to know). They are platitudinous affairs in which presidents tell a long series of anecdotes about particular people they claim their policies have helped. The responses from the opposition are no better, full of vague rhetoric that sounds as if it were recycled from old 90s stump speeches. I won’t review all this nonsense–it’s a waste of your time and mine. But I will offer you my review of Donald Trump’s first year. It’s a review focused on what the president has done, not on what he’s said. My interest is in large-scale policy that affects real people–not in scandals and tweets. If that still sounds interesting to you, come along for the ride.
We’re seeing lots of good pieces which point out that many of the claims the Republicans are making about their tax plan are not true, that the plan favors the rich at the expense of the middle. But today I want to make another point about the plan, one that doesn’t seem to be getting the attention it merits. You see, it’s not just that the Republican plan helps the rich and hurts the middle. Those distributive consequences are real, and they matter, but this goes deeper than that. The Republican plan specifically targets liberal and left-leaning groups in the country for tax increases. It is an assault on the political neutrality of the tax system.
The original title was “In Praise of Unionism: What the European Left Can Learn From America,” but we souped it up a bit. It’s a bit longer and more comprehensive than the stuff I usually do here. The folks at CA are delightful to work with. They’re putting out some really terrific long-form pieces that dig into things more deeply than a lot of what we see on the web these days.