Suggested “First Things First” for Trump

Working in liberal academia as I do, I’ve been dealing with an avalanche of comments from colleagues expressing profound shock at the result of the presidential election, expecting me to agree. I have to throw cold water on their comments — and place myself in suspect status — by saying, “Actually, I’ve been speculating for months that the polls have been underestimating Trump’s support, due to a ‘Bradley Effect’ [in which Trump supporters are reluctant to admit it to pollsters].” I never predicted a Trump victory, but I maintained that it was much more likely than the pollsters and the press were saying.

Even on the day of the election, 4 pm California time, one very erudite colleague dismissed the LA Times/USC poll, which had consistently shown stronger support for Trump than what other polls had indicated, as an “outlier,” and claimed that any Bradley Effect was in the other direction (women reluctant to admit they supported Hillary for fear of angering right-wing males in the household). Just four hours later, NPR was reporting that Trump had all but won.

Because I saw a Trump victory as quite possible these last few months (and to some degree because I am a Bernie supporter), I’ve had time to think about what he ought to do in office. Not that I have any influence on that, but still I’d like to make some suggestions to the president-elect:

  • Focus on solutions, not retributions. Resist the chants of “Lock her up!”, for instance.
  • Choose cabinet members and advisers who reflect the needs of those who voted for you. Please, not the likes of Grover Norquist. I was so disappointed in 2008 when Obama, who promised so much economic change, chose as advisers the same old people who arguably were major contributors to the Financial Crash, e.g. Rubin and Summers. And no matter how well-qualified your chosen advisers are, actively seek opinions from the other side on important issues.
  • Do NOT go headlong into the health care issue early in your term. It’s the new Third Rail, as seen in the huge midterm election losses experienced by Bill Clinton and Obama, largely due to controversy over health care. Yes, Obamacare is beginning to run into some serious problems, but go slowly on this one. And remember, many of those who voted for you have found Obamacare to be the solution to scary situations they had found themselves in.
  • On the immigration issue, borrow from the 1992 Clinton slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid.” Due to your views on immigration, you have been unfairly accused of racism and xenophobia. You need to remind people that these are indeed economic issues, and by the way, that affect far more people than the press gave you credit for. The 1997 NRC study found, for example, that immigration costs the average California family $1500 extra in taxes per year. Thus, this is a practical issue, one that you should solve humanely but effectively. Moreover, there are Executive Branch steps you can take in this direction:
  • Take a balanced, practical approach to unauthorized immigration. Assure people that you don’t plan to be any more aggressive in deportation than Obama has been; the ethnic activists say even that has been far too much, but you will get much credit if you give some assurance to the actual people at risk. On the other hand, take steps to solve the jobs and fiscal problems caused by the illegal inflow. You’ve threatened to withhold federal dollars from Sanctuary Cities, who after all, are flouting federal law. I agree with that (with a “devil in the details” disclaimer), but how about going further, doing something on the same lines for E-Verify? For instance, press cities and states to require that any business seeking a license utilize E-Verify in its hiring; to not do so amounts to encouraging hiring of the unauthorized, again flouting federal law, thus providing justification for your action.
  • Take executive action to help fix the rampant abuse of the H-1B work visa and employment-based green cards. Each year, dole out the 85,000-visa H-1B allocation according to offered salary; those who wish to hire cheap labor will likely come up empty-handed. This simple step would go a long way to stemming the abuse of H-1Bs as cheap labor. Roll back Obama’s action to extend the Optional Practical Training time for foreign students. Order your National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health to give grant funding priority to graduate programs with higher percentages of domestic students. And again, listen to the IT workers who supported you, and whom you had speak at some of your rallies, rather than solely taking advice from Peter Thiel.
  • “Kiss and make up” with Senator Elizabeth Warren. My phrasing here may be humorous, but my point is dead serious. She doesn’t like it, but millions of your supporters are the same people whom Sen. Warren has so tirelessly and courageously stood up for throughout her career. Don’t let yourself become a tool of the big banks.

And good luck, Mr. Trump. All those Democrats who (correctly) complained that the Republicans were stonewalling any and all of Obama’s efforts will now do the same to you.


22 thoughts on “Suggested “First Things First” for Trump

  1. Norm, I disagree on the health care issue. Our premiums increase $500 per month next year and the total is approaching 25% of our net income. Drug costs are an issue; one of the suggested is not on the formulary at the cost of $8,000 per year (needless to say, he will do without); several others we pay for are $100 per month. Deductibles are $4,000 for a policy costing $625 per month and that is for only one of us. And we are in better shape than most.

    If you work for a company or government agency (including schools) where health insurance is paid benefit, you do not understand the pain others are feeling. Our K-12 teachers are griping about their pay but they have a health insurance plan worth nearly $10K per year plus another $5-6K in flex benefits, plus tenure. The effective salary for a first year K-12 teacher is over $65K based on their working 3/4 of a full time 12 month employee’s time and then there are the retirement benefits. This is great in a state where the average worker makes about $35K per year. Forget IT, be a high school math teacher.


    • We don’t disagree at all. As I said, Obamacare has serious problems. The fact that it has been quite helpful to many people, which I applaud, doesn’t change that.


    • In my area of the country with the level of experience I have ( 30 years ) teachers make 100-120K per year, 50K pension with full benefits and the summer off. This includes music, art and drama teachers. Unfortunately my son just applied for college as a Computer Science major.


      • Perhaps he can get a double-major with puppetry. I heard that some young people are hoping to make a living off a degree in puppetry. I suppose NEA grants are available for that sort of thing.


      • My data is for early career teachers since I have comparable data for early career engineers.

        My 10 year old granddaughter wants to be an electrical engineer. She prefers math and science in school and robots and Snap Circuits to American Girl dolls (to her other grandmother’s great dismay) at home. I am trying to steer her subtlety into thinking of health related professions that are needed in the military because I believe that is one of the “sure thing” careers. She has a microscope and gets biological science kits and books as gifts. It should be noted that she is a military brat and wants even at this young age to follow her father to a well known military college.


        • Unfortunately, those who are promoting interest in STEM in kids are taking that to mean robots. We’ll have a huge oversupply of robotics specialists in a few years. Yes, I know it motivates kids, but it is actually harmful, because they won’t interested in things with more subtle pleasures.


  2. “Each year, dole out the 85,000-visa H-1B allocation according to offered salary; those who wish to hire cheap labor will likely come up empty-handed. This simple step would go a long way to stemming the abuse of H-1Bs as cheap labor.”

    This is so obvious that it should be completely non-controversial except among those looking to hire cheap labor. If we have to have an H-1B program, this is how it should work, and it is what politicians love– a compromise that might even let them be both for and against something at the same time.


      • Because the whole purpose of the H-1B is to find cheap compliant sheep to work when an American would tell them to take this job and shove it.

        To really understand what is happening with the H-1B, you need to look at all applications for FY 2016 sorted by the wage they will be paid.

        In this year, there were 29,678 applications that showed the H-1B would be paid $60,000.00 per year (look at the report and you will see that this was the most often paid salary followed by 65K, 70K, and 75K

        Some will say that is not so bad, but here is the part that most do not know.

        Those paying those wages DO NOT put the number of hours that person was forced to work on their pay stub.
        Which in most cases mean that instead of making $28.84 per hour, they are working for $14.42 per hour if they work 80 hours per week ($60,000 divided 52 weeks, divided by 40 hours, divided by 2 to get 80 hrs per week)

        As an American citizen, could you afford your home on $14.42 per hour and would you work 80 or more hours per week?


      • Indeed, an excellent idea and very common-sense. If employers are truly in need of a “special talent” hire, then the offered salary would prove it. So by doing a “Dutch Auction” of H1-B visas, the most talented people would get hired.

        There should also be a follow-up each year to ensure that the salary offered was actually received by the visa holder; I’m sure there are some crooked employers who would cut the offered salary after the visa was approved.


  3. Great points, I agree to try to heal the divisions in this country. I would hope to deal a bit more aggressively with overcoming Obamacare since as a Software Developer I have not seen a paycheck for over a year and my wife’s Business Analyst salary has been reduced by over 33% because of mass immigration. Healthcare takes half of our income once you account for paying my daughter’s college tuition. I also disagree with making amends with Sen Warren since she is for regulation on banks, which is exactly what the big banks want to put the smaller banks out of business making her a pawn for the elite.


  4. I have only one disagreement with you, and it’s about ObamaCare.

    ObamaCare was not a well thought out beast, and some including myself, feel it purposely was meant to be so absolutely horrible, that nationalised healthcare would quickly happen.

    It has negatively affected our economy, whipsawing its way through virtually every job, and it continues to do so years later.

    My wife was just laid off this week in a massive headcount cut that was announced as a direct result of ObamaCare. Ironically this pharma-related company was one of the biggest boosters of ObamaCare when it was being made into sausage by the Democratic Congress.

    I’m not in the income group that supposedly benefited from ObamaCare, but I find it interesting to hear very negative comments in both Arizona and SoCal from that economic group. I have yet to hear any boosters for it.

    The most popular pieces such as coverage for pre existing conditions and allowing children to continue on parents’ medical plans were proposed by Republicans prior to 2008, so there would be no problem keeping them.

    I won’t propose alternatives here, but believe significantly changing ObamaCare should be a top priority if only to address our economic ills.


    • A single-payer system is the obvious solution, one that I support. But unfortunately, it is counter to American culture and history. I don’t think it has any chance.


      • Norm, I don’t the details but I’ve been told that both Switzerland and Singapore have good health care systems – we need to examine them and others. Some links:

        Click to access 1857_mossialos_intl_profiles_2015_v7.pdf

        We should also examine Chile for a reform for our Social Security:


      • The problem with single-payer is that it is also single-denier. If the bureaucrat in charge of your case gives you a “No”, then you either pay or die. There is no incentive for an unelected bureaucrat to care about your needs or mine; instead, they will likely receive a “performance bonus” for “cost control”. This happens in the NHS in Britain, where hospitals receive a bonus for putting people on the LCP – Liverpool Care Pathway. This is another way of saying, “Sedate and starve the patient to death, to save money.”

        In other words, RATIONING will occur, not because of a shortage, but because it becomes in the best interest of the government agents to do so. Thus we have the same situation under government-pay as we do under corporate-pay: people who need expensive treatment will end up paying out of pocket, going into deep debt, or dying.

        The difference is this: with multiple payers, and the public having a choice among many insurers, the ones that are the “stingiest” will lose customers. Thus we need, not fewer payers, but many more. Many small providers of any personalized product (and nothing is more personal than an individual’s health needs) is the way to have a self-regulating market and no rationing. The markets become inefficient when there are only 2 or 3 huge conglomerates from which to choose insurance.


  5. Norm, I agree with all except lets tweak the 1st point.

    We need new laws to ensure that the current and any future “Clinton Foundations” are not misused to buy the favors of government officials!


  6. Comments of “Lock her up” in the manner done may be misplaced, but as I believe was shown with Nixon and Ford’s subsequent pardon, I feel it’s a mistake to continuously let high-ranking officials avoid consequences of “wrong-doing” that we so-called lesser beings may be forced to submit to. Think of the change in this country had Ford at least allowed a trial of Nixon before granting a pardon – why pardon someone if they are determined innocent; why set a precedent that The Truth may be buried under a premature pardon?

    This principle should apply to all those in positions of authority – local prosecutors as well as senior govt officials. You are granted the authority, but under scrutiny. Abuse of position is not acceptable. The concept of absolute immunity sets an undesirable precedence of “Too important to be guilty” and a free pass for criminal behaviour on the part of officialdom.

    I don’t believe Director Comey said Ms Clinton was deemed innocent (in spite of what several of my H supporting friends suggested), he said he wasn’t recommending prosecution – but that’s not his job and possibly stated solely because of her standing in national politics at the time – and the apparent conflicts of interest with DOJ which are not pertinent to this comment.

    What Ms Clinton has been accused of could possibly be construed as treason. High crimes indeed. These alleged crimes do need investigation – and if found guilty, then “Lock her up” is one of the milder punishments for the severity of several of those crimes. I’ve held high level security clearances and the penalties imposed for seemingly casual violations are strictly enforced – at least at my level. Her alleged violations were of a much higher severity and at a much higher risk to national security. Her position as Secy of State implies a higher standard, not lesser. If we are a nation of “justice for all”, then this principle should apply at all levels (I know – I’m still too idealistic)

    Since she is no longer a Presidential candidate, maybe the election hoopla will no longer get in the way and a proper investigation can be held … although it seems the evidence publicly presented – if verified, and it seems to have been so – makes a guilty verdict is inevitable.

    “Lock her up” indeed.


  7. Obamacare increases of 25, 30, 40% were announced just before the election. This, as much as anything, let to Hillary’s loss.


  8. Obamacare is broken. The first step of a doctor’s oath is, “First, do no harm.” The system is deteriorating so fast, for 2017 here in Tennessee there is only one insuror for most of the counties, and most hospitals are not “in-network” for that insuror — even the only hospital in that county! Neither are most doctors. It’s some kind of “redlining” and the government just winks. “First, do no harm” means “Freeze the 2016 plans in place”. That would mean at least enough time for Congress to come up with a solution before people start dying out here. One year of government covering the costs to keep the 2016 plans in place is not going to bankrupt America, but one year of the 2017 plans is going to up the body count.


  9. Of course, he will first do what he can through executive authority, e.g. begin, within available appropriations, to enforce existing immigration laws, put on leave or outright dump those in DoS and DHS who have not been doing a conscientious job. The latter would improve “checks”/”screenings” fairly quickly (within the first couple months). Appropriations exist for fence-building, but most of them have been diverted, so that may take a while, but maintenance contracts could probably be issued within a few weeks.

    The big question to me is not whether the Clintons should be locked up for his well-known dozens of capital and several lesser felonies and her over 10K well-known felonies. The big questions start with how quickly a federal grand jury can issue true bills of indictment, how long the trials will drag on… And then Supermax or traditional Leavenworth? If I knew of a max security federal facility north of Minot, I’d go with that. Limited civil asset forfeitures of ill-gotten gains could begin January 21.


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