We’re starting to see a pattern in the Trump administration. For every single problem there is only one prepared solution, and that solution is not a solution at all.
Let me illustrate.
On Wednesday, at Bloomberg’s Breakaway conference, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was posed with a very complex question — how does America address its education system?
Ross had a simple answer. “There are 40 agencies responsible for education, probably 39 too many,” he said, touting the advantages of a simpler, deregulated Department of Education.
It’s hard to see how deregulation has anything to do with forming education policy, and his answer makes it close to clear Ross hasn’t discussed education policy. But in this administration his response is going to have to do, because it’s light on policies. In fact, you could argue that they don’t really have any. It just has the broad strokes of conservative ideology to work with, and those broad strokes say “regulation bad, deregulation good.”
Policy v. Platitudes
Now you may be saying to yourself, ‘but Linette, America First.’
It’s true, Trump signed executive orders that say companies must put America first when it comes to energy — which essentially encourages off shore drilling — and when it comes to buying goods and hiring workers. But remember that all executive orders are just strong suggestions from the President on where to direct policy.
And ultimately the America First concept, especially when it comes to the whole ‘Buy American, Hire American’ initiative, is a vague set of platitudes about winning in trade deals and creating jobs. In the face of reality it crumbles. Take Trump’s handling of China for example. In exchange for the country’s help on North Korea, Trump has decided to put some trade differences aside.
Now you can argue that dealing with North Korea does put ‘America First,’ but that still means the whole thing is just a concept, not a policy.
Ross admitted that in his capacity as commerce secretary, his focus would be on going after alleged trade deal violators and encouraging manufacturing companies to keep their operations in the country. The latter point would mean “keeping 500 jobs here, 500 jobs there” — not really enough to make a real difference in America’s vast economy.
When pressed on how the administration would be making larger scale change he said simply “a lot of the benefits of this will come from deregulation.”
Trump’s administration has so far proven itself unable to create much of anything. Its greatest successes have been in tearing things apart. That’s because it lacks the experience to build detailed policies. Take the administration’s unveiling of its tax policy. Frankly, it wasn’t a policy. It was actually more like a small child’s Christmas wish list, especially since mum and dad (Congress) were not going to buy every single thing on it (definitely not the pony).
When it comes to government, you can’t just throw out a buzz word and watch things correct themselves. This isn’t Silicon Valley where every problem is solved by “disruption.” This isn’t Wall Street where every deal gets better because of the “synergies.”
Americans expect real solutions, and just throwing out the word deregulation won’t suffice for very long.
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