Trump’s Wall is on the Fence

by Serban V.C. Enache

Trump’s Government hasn’t put in a single mile of new wall, pardon me, fence, in the clear part of the US-Mexico border in the 30 months since he took office. And no, Mexico didn’t pay for it either. Is it any wonder that ‘white nationalists’ like Richard Spencer are totally disillusioned with Donald Trump? And even conservatives like Ann Coulter are equally disappointed by the “wimp.” Only Alex Jones, who in the past equated Trump to Moses, remains unshakable in his support for the president. But with his vile character assassination campaign against Ilhan Omar, effectively equating her with Satan, Jones proves how dishonorable he can be and a complete shill for Netanyahu and his Apartheid regime to boot. He only manages to cast a more negative light on Donald Trump, which is what the Mainstream media craves really. But I digress…

Last week, the Customs and Border Protection confirmed that all the fencing done since Trump took office is “in place of dilapidated designs,” because the existing fence required replacement. The agency said it built 51 miles of steel bollard fence with funding given in the last two fiscal years. But while the funds were meant to both replace outdated barriers and put new ones in, only the replacement projects were carried out.

Of course, the Democrats obstructed and the approval process for environmental and zoning permits is a bureaucratic drag, but still… Trump’s other deals with the traditional oligarchic interests, within and without the US, were not only given the green light faster, but they were also brought to completion or are nearing completion. Last year I gave some suggestions with regard to how Trump can boost demand, revive manufacturing, and get things done without getting bogged down with the [arbitrary] fiscal and debt to GDP ratio constraints.

Trump’s 2020 campaign kicked off last year at a rally in Texas with the slogan, “Finish the Wall.” Utterly duplicitous; he really thinks we’re all fools, including his base. Finish the wall that you haven’t started? Try starting it first, building at least 50 percent, then you can proudly say, let’s finish it. He didn’t give the crowd any ‘wall’ numbers, though. When Trump doesn’t have numbers to back up his claims, he makes recourse to hyperbole – even when reality is diametrically opposed to his claims.

Currently, if the Iranians don’t take mercy on him and agree to a slightly edited JCPOA, like Mexico and Canada did with NAFTA/USMCA, he’s going to look foolish, a softer war hawk than Bolton, but a war hawk nonetheless and one without bearing. By the way, while Trump is busy not building a wall or a fence, the CIA is busy training MEK [Mujahedin-e Khalq] mercenaries/terrorists in Kosovo and Macedonia to use against Iran.

Meanwhile, Trump’s foreign policy toward South America is creating more economic migrants and refugees. If it really is entirely the fault of countries like Venezuela, why does the US bar economic agents from these countries from trading with its economic agents and with the rest of the world, particularly the West, over which the US has tremendous political and military leverage? Economic warfare produces suffering and casualties and creates migrants and refugees. To correct the president, socialism hasn’t been faithfully implemented in Venezuela [since the private sector still accounts for most of the GDP], but US-sponsored economic sabotage has certainly been faithfully implemented – especially since Trump took office.

The Trump administration was sued this year after diverting 6.6 billion in military and other department funds to use for border wall construction. The Supreme Court is expected to rule in the next few weeks. Why get mired in so much technical and legal stuff to achieve a very simple, albeit unpopular objective with more than 51 percent of the country? Trump could send the Army Corps of Engineers to build the fence immediately, if he really did regard it as a national security issue. Ditto for the lead-water poisoning in Flint. As for money, he could just issue a Government loan toward the institution tasked with the project. The loan would appear on the asset side of the Federal Government’s balance sheet, so it wouldn’t add to the fiscal deficit or the national debt. The accounting is no different than when a regular bank makes a loan to a customer. When the loan is approved, the bank doesn’t take a hit to its equity. For that to happen, the loan has to go bad first, all things being equal. Since a wall, pardon me, a fence, doesn’t have a money yield attached to it, the institution who received the loan won’t have the funds to pay it back – but who cares? Let the bankruptcy court take care of it, and any exposure to the Federal Government will be handled, in the usual, technical, boring manner in the future; but at least the barrier and Trump’s campaign pledge will be complete.

There are numerous gimmicks Trump can pull to bypass financial constraints on the Executive. Another way would be to have the Federal Reserve purchase IOUs emitted by the agency responsible with building the fence. The FED would accept the IOU and in turn, credit the agency’s account with reserves. No budgeting rules broken. Just like the FED needed no political agreement from the two branches of Government, when it decided to engage in an Alphabet Soup of special lending programs during the Great Financial Crisis.

In conclusion, Trump is a master of dissimulation. He has failed on many of his promises, while on others he did complete 180s. Where’s that declassification of the 9/11 report? I’m sure the families of the victims and they’re friends are still waiting. At this point, all I’m hoping out of Trump’s first term is a smaller death tally compared to his predecessors. I’m hoping that Trump was and is the lesser evil.

The Duran: US-Mexico Deal

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the tariff deal reached between the United States and Mexico to “stem the tide of migration”. Donald Trump announced that the tariff threat in response to a surge in illegals from Mexico to the US has been suspended. Both men emphasize this fine detail. For its part, the Mexican Government has agreed to restrain migration through its territory and toward the Southern Border. House leader Nancy Pelosi had her own thoughts on Trump’s big PR win, saying: “Threats and temper tantrums are no way to negotiate.” Christoforou and Mercouris also discuss the past trade relationship between the US and China, pointing out that while American blue collar workers suffered as China’s trade surplus with the US grew, the US political establishment saw this and did nothing.

My Comment: Alexander Mercouris is exactly right that US elites [republicans and democrats] did nothing to protect blue collar workers from cheap Chinese imports. This graph clearly illustrates this, and, like Mercouris pointed out, it wasn’t China’s fault. Big US capital was happy to profit.

As the Chinese were selling more and more net wealth to the US in exchange for US dollars, this not only impacted the quantity of trade, but also the composition of trade, the makeup of domestic industry, its associated labor segment and remuneration. It’s also important to note that, even with fewer labor inputs, US manufacturing output did grow over time.

And despite Trump’s bogus claims that the economy is booming like never before, the country’s output capacity has yet to recover to pre GFC levels. This next graph shows us that.

The relative good economy now is due to private debt growth, not anything else. By the by, dollar reserves obtained by China [earned through trade and unearned via interest from US treasury bonds] even though being owned by the Chinese central bank, these dollar accounts sit at the Federal Reserve’s ledger. In case of serious conflict or just whim [like in the case of Venezuela], the US central bank can freeze these accounts or delete them outright, which would deny China’s ability to use these funds to purchase output [from vendors legally allowed to sell to Chinese firms]. No amount of tariffs, however, can replace domestic investment in infrastructure, R&D, and education.

Many people think the Chinese got the competitive advantage because they allowed foreign capital to come in, rape the environment, neglect workers’ rights and labor conditions and pay them slave wages. But there are other countries on the globe that do the exact same things, yet they are not manufacturing powerhouses. The key difference is that the Chinese state invested in education and infrastructure, including hospitals. And at long last, it seems the Chinese leadership is determined to focus more on domestic consumption, rather than exports.

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