Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

For Libertarians, No Silver Lining With President Trump

There's been little sign that those who despise Trump are beginning to understand that the only real solution lies in radically shrinking the state.

Ron Sachs - CNP/Sipa USA/NewscomRon Sachs - CNP/Sipa USA/NewscomI confess I was indulging in wishful thinking when I thought I detected a silver lining to Donald Trump's election as president. That's what comes of being an optimist and a libertarian romantic. Beware apparent silver linings; they may be fool's gold instead.

The ultimate hoped-for silver lining was that having a man such as Trump—need I furnish a list of unflattering descriptors at this late date?—on top of the political heap would discredit the very idea of government itself. A scaled-down version was that with Trump in charge, the bloated presidency might finally receive the long-overdue inspection it deserves. After Trump, how could anyone want to see so much power and discretion, not to mention the nuclear launch codes, in the hands of one person?

In the past, people of the opposing party and ideological grouping asked that question but with an obviously partisan agenda in mind. Democrats and progressives railed at George W. Bush's imperial presidency, but they rolled over as soon as Barack Obama assumed the helm. At that point the dramatis personae smoothly changed roles with no hint of awareness of their hypocrisy. Something similar happened when the White House passed from John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson to Richard Nixon. The apparent principled protests against power were in fact no more than talking points from the out-of-power camp. In reality the worry was not the amount of power but only who exercised it. There was little appetite shown for institutional reform, presumably because each side wanted the power available the next time it held the White House.

I had naively hoped that might change into a principled disgust with power in the wake of Trump's ascension to the pinnacle of government. Unless I've missed something, I see no sign that those who properly despise Trump are beginning to understand that the only real solution lies in radically shrinking the state.

The problem is that the idea of the state is too deep in the psyche to be uprooted by a mere personality—even one as repugnant as Trump. In reality the state is a church (or, more precisely, states and churches have a common genus), complete with a dogma, rituals, and taboos that most people have no desire to question. Thus it would take more than a dangerously obnoxious president to get people to entertain fundamental questions about their faith. The easier coping mechanism is to tell oneself that the voters must work harder next time to get the right person into office.

If anything, Trump makes that mechanism seem even easier to use. He's the alleged outsider, the business tycoon without government experience who thought he could sort-of-autocratically run the state apparatus like the Trump Organization. Some but not all of Trump's shortcomings—not to put too fine a point on it can be attributed to his outsider-ness. So most people who oppose Trump can fall back on the excuse that all of Trump's problems stem from his failure to have risen through the political ranks. The lesson they will take away from the experience: next time let's elect a conventional politician who understands the art of governing first hand. That would have been harder to argue had an experienced politician with Trump's features (if such a person were possible) been elected, although some would have made the argument anyway. Let's face it: for them, any argument would be preferable to the libertarian argument against power per se.

Are there any silver linings to a Trump presidency on the policy front? Aside from some deregulation and modest tax reform (which other Republicans could have been expected to enact), I see none.

Some of Trump's campaign rhetoric might have fed a desperate hope for some challenge to the American empire, but look what's happened. No silver linings there, and that's unsurprising because Trump never had anything more to say on the matter than a few one-liners calculated to appeal to a constituency which likes believing the United States is the victim not the victimizer on the world stage. He's embraced NATO and Saudi Arabia, become belligerent toward Russia, and appointed the son of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's old friend—namely, son-in-law Jared Kushner, complete with religious and financial conflicts of interest—to mediate the Palestine-Israel conflict. Trump's also doubled down on the existing wars, including the genocidal war in Yemen, and upped the murder of noncombatants. The progressive opposition has been too busy vindicating Hillary Clinton via neo-McCarthyism to care.

Trumpsters who are celebrating the absence of wars against Iran and North Korea in 2017 might want to re-cork that champagne. It's a long way to Jan. 20, 2021.

This piece was originally published by The Libertarian Institute.

Photo Credit: Ron Sachs - CNP/Sipa USA/Newscom

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • wearingit||

    Tax reform? What tax reform did we see? I just saw our nation put 1.5 trillion on the credit card (at least) for a feel good time for a moment. You'd have been better off cutting spending first but surprise, surprise, that didn't happen huh?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You can change multiple ways. One is tax reform first and budgets in the same bill. Another is budget cuts only. Another is budget and then tax reform.

    Scaredy RINOs had to be dragged into tax reform first to see that the scarey minority Democrats cannot do anything to stop cutting government. Then comes ObamaCare repeal and budget cuts.

  • wearingit||

    Hahahaha. You think they're gonna repeal Obamacare? They tried 3 (maybe more) times and couldn't get over the finish line. You're clearly delusional if you think any worthwhile cuts will come from the Republicans. They care about "fiscal conservatism" only when a Democrat is in power.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I think the GOP needed something to show that most Americans do support Trump's agenda so Republicans are on the wrong side of history if they don't repeal ObamaCare and cut the fed budget.

    The tax reform legislation accomplished that.

    You are right that many Republicans are no better than Democrats with out-of-control spending but there are some influential Republicans who as somewhat fiscally conservative.

    Some Republicans are scared of the media's influence and think they will lose their seats in Congress if they do what trump wants. More and more of these RINOs are moving away from this fear which is scaring the hell out of Democrats.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I think the GOP needed something to show that most Americans do support Trump's agenda

    Where "most Americans" = "roughly 35 percent, and the downscale third at that"

  • Mark22||

    You think they're gonna repeal Obamacare?

    They don't have to: if they don't keep "fixing"/subsidizing it and provide free market alternatives, it will die in a death spiral.

  • shawn_dude||

    a) it *was* a "free market" insofar as we've never really had an actual free market and this one still relied on private insurers.
    b) the more they try to kill it, the more people are going to resist. The only thing keeping the fight alive is that Trump's constituents, many of whom already rely on various portions of the public safety net, have been convinced that they're not the "welfare queens" they hate. Karma's coming for them eventually.
    c) we never had a "free market" in the health industry because Federal law forces emergency care providers to provide "free" care and then charge that back to the public in the form of higher prices and tax writeoffs. If you want an actual free market, we need to let people die on the streets from curable diseases because of lack of payment.
    d) also... if you want a free market, you need real competition, which you aren't going to get as long as insurance is provided by employers who artificially limit consumer choices.

  • SimonP||

    You don't seem to understand that the Republicans have always promised tax cuts before budget cuts, which they then never deliver. That's how they fool dopes like you into supporting the initial tax cuts.

    Some of us pay attention.

  • buddhastalin||

    Increased government borrowing vs less government raping of my paycheck. If those were my only two choices, guess which one I'd pick.

  • buddhastalin||

    Increased government borrowing vs less continued government raping of my paycheck. If those were my only two choices, guess which one I'd pick.

  • SimonP||

    The one more likely to lead to a sovereign debt crisis?

  • Mark22||

    The one more likely to lead to a sovereign debt crisis?

    A sovereign debt crisis has two primary consequences: people who thought that government obligations were safe get burned, and the government finds it impossible to borrow more money. As a libertarian, I don't have a big problem with either of them. Bonus points if the federal government has to sell off federal assets/land as part of the crisis.

  • SimonP||

    A sovereign debt crisis has two primary consequences: people who thought that government obligations were safe get burned, and the government finds it impossible to borrow more money. As a libertarian, I don't have a big problem with either of them.

    Yeah, but in this case the "people who thought that government obligations were safe" include the entire global economy, which would lead to pretty devastating consequences for almost everyone here - including "libertarians" who feel comfortable opining irresponsibly from the comfort of a secure job and humming economy.

  • Mark22||

    Yeah, but in this case the "people who thought that government obligations were safe" include the entire global economy, which would lead to pretty devastating consequences for almost everyone here

    You're thinking like a progressive. In fact, there is no such thing as "the entire global economy", there's only individual winners and losers. If the US defaults on its debt or devalues its currency, the big losers are going to be public sector retirees and a bunch of foreign governments, foremost Japan and China. By avoiding a sovereign debt crisis, you are simply trying to tax me to buy votes for progressive politicians. I won't cry a tear of those progressive politicians can't fulfill their promises, which were irresponsible and empty to begin with.

    including "libertarians" who feel comfortable opining irresponsibly from the comfort of a secure job and humming economy.

    I have never assumed that my job is secure. I don't rely on pension plans or other irresponsible promises. And I don't buy treasuries on the assumption that they are safe, because they aren't.

    If there is a sovereign debt crisis or a major stock market crash, it allows me to pick up a lot of assets cheap. I have zero problem with that.

    I suggest you plan ahead as well because the crisis is unavoidable, the only question is whether it comes sooner or later, and how many tax dollars will be sacrificed to buy another year before the inevitable.

  • SimonP||

    You're thinking like a progressive. In fact, there is no such thing as "the entire global economy", ...

    It does not require a "progressive" mindset in order to acknowledge that the global economy consists of a variety of individuals and institutions that are intricately intertwined in a fabric woven by U.S. debt. A default on the U.S. debt would result in a profound shock to the financial system, massive hits to virtually every company carrying debt, rippling through to individual workers and consumers. The Great Recession would pale in comparison.

    If there is a sovereign debt crisis or a major stock market crash, it allows me to pick up a lot of assets cheap. I have zero problem with that.

    Yeah, and what are you going to buy them with? Gold mined from your Objectivist colony?

  • Mark22||

    It does not require a "progressive" mindset in order to acknowledge that the global economy consists of a variety of individuals and institutions that are intricately intertwined in a fabric woven by U.S. debt. A default on the U.S. debt would result in a profound shock to the financial system, massive hits to virtually every company carrying debt, rippling through to individual workers and consumers.

    Why would a debt default be bad for the people carrying debt? A US debt default would be bad for individuals and institutions who foolishly lent money to the US government: mostly the US government itself, a few wealthy foreign nations, pension funds, and some wealthy individuals.

    Exposing such foolishness all at once feels certainly worse than doing so gradually, but their foolishness needs to be exposed because sooner or later, the system must correct itself. The longer you delay it, the worse the crash gets when it eventually happens.

    Yeah, and what are you going to buy them with? Gold mined from your Objectivist colony?

    There are plenty of investments that do not rely on performance of the US dollar or US treasuries, investments whose value actually increases in a crisis.

  • shawn_dude||

    "Why would a debt default be bad for the people carrying debt? A US debt default would be bad for individuals and institutions who foolishly lent money to the US government: mostly the US government itself, a few wealthy foreign nations, pension funds, and some wealthy individuals."

    Holy cow. That's a shallow understanding of just how intertwined our financial systems are.

    The Great Recession started with just a cascading default on home loans that pushed millions out of work and out of their homes. You own a home, you're carrying debt. You default, you lose your home (and the equity and the debt and your future creditworthiness.)

    If your bank, which loans you money in the form of credit cards, fails, you might get your savings back, maybe, depending on how many others also fail. The stock market will plummet and there will be large losses in valuation. People will lose their jobs and the economy will shrink.

  • Brendan||

    Let's not pretend we weren't hearing there without the tax cut. The only effect of this latest action will be to bring about said crisis a bit earlier.

  • Brendan||

    Let's not pretend we weren't hearing there without the tax cut. The only effect of this latest action will be to bring about said crisis a bit earlier.

  • JFree||

    Increased government borrowing vs less government raping of my paycheck. If those were my only two choices, guess which one I'd pick.

    Those aren't the two choices. The two choices are government raping your children vs government raping your paycheck.

    And apparently you're perfectly fine with voting for your children being raped.

  • Mark22||

    That's how they fool dopes like you into supporting the initial tax cuts.

    I'm fine with tax cuts without spending cuts. Why does that make me a dope? Why should I care one scintilla about the national debt?

    I think spending cuts are a good idea because the spending currently goes to programs that actively hurt people (welfare, social security, the military, etc.), but that is unrelated to tax cuts.

  • SimonP||

    I'm fine with tax cuts without spending cuts. Why does that make me a dope? Why should I care one scintilla about the national debt?

    Most people who oppose federal spending also oppose national debt, and so are "duped" by tax cuts made with promises that spending cuts will follow.

    You're apparently a dope for other reasons.

  • Mark22||

    Most people who oppose federal spending also oppose national debt, and so are "duped" by tax cuts made with promises that spending cuts will follow.

    What people say they want and what they actually want are two different things.

    If you look at how middle class taxpayers vote in the US, it's obvious that they want low taxes and high government spending on the things they care about, which translates into high government spending. That's the group targeted by the Republicans.

    Democrats, on the other hand, mostly target the poor and the rich, two groups that don't care about high income taxes, so they run on high taxes and high government spending.

    You're apparently a dope for other reasons.

    Well, it's obvious that you have the Democratic preferences. I won't call you a dope, I simply call you a greedy prick.

  • SimonP||

    Well, it's obvious that you have the Democratic preferences. I won't call you a dope, I simply call you a greedy prick.

    The fact that I am openly contemptuous of the intellectual bankruptcy of internet libertarians does not make me a person with "Democratic preferences."

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Democrats are greedy pricks.

    Republicans are half-educated, bigoted, superstitious, disaffected, backwaters-inhabiting goobers.

    Sigh.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    Piss off with the dead thread-fucking, artie poo.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    You offering pointers, goober?

  • CE||

    The budget is never cut.

  • shawn_dude||

    Trump is demanding an expansion, actually. More nukes!

  • Mark22||

    Tax reform? What tax reform did we see?

    Corporate and income taxes were lowered substantially.

    I just saw our nation put 1.5 trillion on the credit card (at least) for a feel good time for a moment.

    Not my credit card. I won't have to pay that back. The US will either handle it by default/devaluation or future generations will choose pay it back. I prefer either possibility to having the money taken out of my pockets right now.

    You'd have been better off cutting spending first but surprise, surprise, that didn't happen huh?

    The only way spending will get cut back substantially is when we can't borrow anymore to pay entitlements. The sooner we bring about that situation, the better, as far as I'm concerned.

  • wearingit||

    Awesome. Glad to see that kind of attitude- just screw everyone else after us. Sad to say that my kids and grandkids will get that bill just like I got the bill from my parents and grandparents. Lot of bullshit if you ask me. And here I thought libertarians were actually kinda sorta somewhat concerned about taxes and spending.

  • Mark22||

    Glad to see that kind of attitude- just screw everyone else after us. Sad to say that my kids and grandkids will get that bill just like I got the bill from my parents and grandparents.

    By the time I have retired, I will have paid several million dollars in federal income taxes alone and gotten next to nothing for my money. I've done more than my part helping to finance the federal government and its bloated and corrupt programs.

    The debt really just represents a fig leaf for forced redistribution in the present: governments promises massive handouts to pensioners and special interest groups to buy votes. Now they have three options: they can screw over current tax payers, screw over future tax payers, or break their promises.

    The best thing, in my view, is to break their promises, promises that should never have been made in the first place. But I'm not going to agree to being screwed over so that the unrealistic promises of vote-buying politicians are fulfilled.

  • I am the 0.000000013%||

    Libertarians are concerned with the role of government in individual's lives.

    Blaming libertarians for not knuckling under and accepting a terrible bargain when they had no say in how the bargain was reached is inane.

    People who put their faith in government are to blame, and if by some chance they are the ones who take the hit, I will be happy for that moment of justice.

  • Libertymike||

    To quote the one who is celebrated today:

    Justice delayed is justice denied.

  • CE||

    So tell them to tear up the bill. They didn't run it up.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Raise taxes now, we'll cut spending later was the sucker punch that Team Blue used on Bush Sr. The cuts never materialized. Both teams play this game.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    No doubt Drumpf's presidency has been a disaster for the entire planet. From completely tanking our economy, to the terrible Net Neutrality decision, to calling nonwhite countries "shitholes" — he's done so much damage in barely a year that it's difficult to imagine the world surviving until 2020 unless Mueller removes him from office.

    If there is a silver lining to this catastrophe, it's that people are finally beginning to realize that opposition to open borders is inherently racist. Think about it: the worst, most racist President ever ran on an openly white nationalist, anti-immigrant platform. From now on, whenever an American politician criticizes immigration, voters will be reminded of the Drumpf regime and how horrible things were.

  • GILMORE™||

    for the entire planet.

  • GILMORE™||

    i enjoy your work

  • Spinach Chin||

    Good satire.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    OBL, You should take these jokes on the comedy circuit.

  • DajjaI||

    I see no sign that those who properly despise Trump are beginning to understand that the only real solution lies in radically shrinking the state.

    Wow such whining. In fact Trump exercised the core American muscles of freedom and democracy. Hiltary would be passing 'hate speech' laws and banning 'incitement' videos on youtube by now. It's a great foundation for the libertarians to spread their message without being accused of 'treason'. And yes Trump discredited the state and people realize it even if they don't say it. Hard to admit you've been wrong all this time - and the libertarians were right!

  • Rockabilly||

    Hillary Clinton will NEVER be president.

    hahahahhahahahahaha

    Fuck her and her fucking PC globalist elite gun grabbing 'climate change' bull shit.

    Butt-Hurt Crying Hillary Voters Compilation

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grD_IINiH9c

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Guys like Rockabilly call others "elite" because even a guy like that recognizes, at some level, that the others are his betters, making people like Rockabilly society's lessers.

    The solution, for those who still have a chance to avoid being a lesser: Education over ignorance, tolerance over bigotry, reason over superstition, progress over backwardness, science over dogma, inclusivity over insularity.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    What is it about dead thread-fucking you don't get artie poo, you mindless twit?

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I am disinclined to take pointers from bigoted, belligerently ignorant, backward right-wingers.

  • juris imprudent||

    Sheldon on Sunday, Same ol' Shit.

    Trump is unintentionally diminishing the Presidency - libertarians could hardly ask for a better gift than that.

    His administration is scaling back regulation - what is not to like about that?

    Don Willett's judicial appointment more than offsets a couple of misfires.

    Now, where he has been a disappointment is not keeping his campaign rhetoric on foreign policy. Even there, he has (so far) not embroiled us in another foreign adventure (he just hasn't gotten us out of the Bush/Obama quagmires).

  • CatoTheChipper||

    I understand Richman's gloomy assessment.

    But Trump's being president means that Hillary isn't president.

    Things could be worse. It's far worse, for example, to bomb people at hospitals and wedding parties than to offend their sensibilities by calling their country a shithole.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    You would honk Sheldon would be too busy working on that CBS show about his childhood to whine about Trump.

  • Spinach Chin||

    "Are there any silver linings to a Trump presidency on the policy front? Aside from some deregulation and modest tax reform (which other Republicans could have been expected to enact), I see none."

    How about stacking the federal judiciary with loads of young textualists? Does that count?

  • GILMORE™||

    this is awesome

    especially because robby is on one side, slowly realizing that he's the subject being described as "completely useless"

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The ultimate hoped-for silver lining was that having a man such as Trump—need I furnish a list of unflattering descriptors at this late date?—on top of the political heap would discredit the very idea of government itself.
    One big flaw in your dream- the lefties do not want government to ever be reduced to anything close to small or limited. The lefties just hate Trump. If Team Blue ever gets someone in there, government will be great again.

    Some of the reasons that lefties hate Trump are:
    (1) He is trying to follow through on campaign promises, which potentially lock in future politicians to the same expectations
    (2) Lefties thought Trump was a Democrat even though he wan't
    (3) Trump is deporting illegals which the left has been courting for votes for decades
    (4) Trump's presidency is causing RINOs and bureaucrats that are lefties to leave government without a backfill of more politicians and bureaucrats that support lefty agendas
    (5) Trump is running circles around lefty media attempts to control him
    (6) Trump is making a palpable impact on reducing key government hurdles to economic growth
    (7) Many more....

  • GILMORE™||

    (3) Trump is deporting illegals which the left has been courting for votes for decades

    interesting theory.

    why was there no squawking when Obama was deporting them?

  • Spinach Chin||

    Easy to deport alot of illegals when you change the definition of "deport".

  • GILMORE™||

    I find this line of argument sort of silly.

    one group (open borders types) think obama was hitler because he deported people at all (or at least perpetuated the same policy everyone else has)

    others (conservatards) seem to think Obama was hitler because his deportation record *was faked* and not genuinely deporty-enough.

    my point is simply that there's little basis for congratulating trump for basically 'standing there while the same system does the same shit its always done'.

    I despise this popular idea that every time presidents exchange chairs, that somehow magically everything can be attributed to their presence / absence. I'll grant that the economy has perked up out of expectation of declining regulation and lower taxes, but the idea that everything changes when different presidents are in office is dumb. 90% of everything stays the same.

  • Mark22||

    my point is simply that there's little basis for congratulating trump for basically 'standing there while the same system does the same shit its always done'.

    Trump is standing there and saying "this b.s. isn't what the executive branch should do; I'm going to try to enforce the law as written, inconsistent as it is and given the resources I have, and beyond that, Congress should start doing its job".

  • Paradigm||

    Obama changed the definition of deporting to include turning people away at the border. That's not deporting. The notion that he was the "Deporter in Chief" is laughable on its face.

  • SimonP||

    (1) He is trying to follow through on campaign promises, which potentially lock in future politicians to the same expectations

    Fortunately for him, his supporters have the attention span of a chimp with ADHD, so no one can exactly remember what he'd promised or really cares whether anything he's actually doing is having the promised effect.

    (2) Lefties thought Trump was a Democrat even though he wan't

    The secret to Trump's success was that no one really knew what he stood for. He spoke for universal healthcare and then against it. For gun control and then against it. What was his campaign stance on abortion? On NATO? No one knew what he really believed and didn't, in fact, that much care.

    (3) Trump is deporting illegals which the left has been courting for votes for decades

    If "illegals" were such a great source for votes, why haven't the Republicans been courting them, as well?

    (4) Trump's presidency is causing RINOs and bureaucrats that are lefties to leave government without a backfill of more politicians and bureaucrats that support lefty agendas

    Yeah, it's much better when national drug policy is being set by a 24-year old recent college graduate.

    (5) Trump is running circles around lefty media attempts to control him

    Do you have any idea how much Fox News controls him?

    (6) Trump is making a palpable impact on reducing key government hurdles to economic growth

    Namely...?

  • Deflator Mouse||

    If "illegals" were such a great source for votes, why haven't the Republicans been courting them, as well?

    Because such courtship could not be done in secret, and would cost them a much greater amount of support from their anti-illegal-immigration base.

    Whereas Hildog could go to Wall Street and give a secret speech about how the economic leftism she was spouting was just prolefeed for the Dem base. Harder to round up all the illegals for a secret speech.

  • Mark22||

    If "illegals" were such a great source for votes, why haven't the Republicans been courting them, as well?

    Because they have been courting people who oppose illegal immigration. The way politics works is that there is a range of issues people care about, two opposing positions get staked out, each party chooses which to adopt, and gets some fraction of votes in return. The party that estimates these fractions better and reaches 50% wins. Republicans seem to have been pretty good at that recently.

    The secret to Trump's success was that no one really knew what he stood for.

    That's not a secret, that's what politicians need to do.

    Yeah, it's much better when national drug policy is being set by a 24-year old recent college graduate.

    I'd prefer if it was being set by a trained monkey, but a recent college graduate will do.

  • SimonP||

    Because they have been courting people who oppose illegal immigration.

    This is just begging the question. People argue that the Democrats shape their policies in order to attract "illegal" votes. If they were such an attractive demographic, there's no reason why Republicans couldn't have done the same thing. That they've chosen not to do this is plain, but it's hard to square with the putative claim that there's enough to gain in soliciting "illegal" votes that the Democrats would be interested in doing so.

    I'd prefer if it was being set by a trained monkey, but a recent college graduate will do.

    I'm not sure I have much to say, in the way of reasoned discussion, with a person who openly embraces the idea that incompetent, destructive government is just as good as any alternative. I'm honestly not sure that's reconcilable with any coherent political philosophy, either.

  • Mark22||

    People argue that the Democrats shape their policies in order to attract "illegal" votes. If they were such an attractive demographic, there's no reason why Republicans couldn't have done the same thing.

    They could have, but they concluded that going for people opposing illegal immigration was a better bet. And Trump's win shows that they were right. This is one issue that turned me from a lifelong Democrat into an independent because as an immigrant I find the Democratic position on illegal immigration insulting and offensive, in addition to being foolish and dangerous.

    I'm not sure I have much to say, in the way of reasoned discussion, with a person who openly embraces the idea that incompetent, destructive government is just as good as any alternative

    That's because you cling to the absurd belief that "competent, constructive government" is a possibility; as a result, you worship government by experts and actually promote incompetent, destructive government. It's the traditional leftist trap.

    I prefer minimalist, simple government, government so small and simple that it can't do much harm and that can be administered by (note: hyperbole, sarcasm) a "trained monkey".

  • CE||

    Yeah, it's much better when national drug policy is being set by a 24-year old recent college graduate.

    Actually, it would be a lot better.

  • WoodChipperBob||

    I'm pretty sure if national drug policy were being set by a 24-year-old recent college graduate, that kid's first comment would be something to the effect of, "Dude, why the heck is weed illegal? Let's fix that right now."

  • Allutz||

    If "illegals" were such a great source for votes, why haven't the Republicans been courting them, as well?

    Because courting them means embracing full socialism.

  • Ken Hagler||

    The most important reason they hate Trump is that he's a billionaire Democrat from New York who ran as a Republican and beat their preferred billionaire Democrat from New York. To a religious fanatic there's nothing worse than an apostate.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The left thought election 2016 was a win-win for them because both candidates would do their bidding.

    Trump has not done anything the left wants, so far. The left is therefore pissed.

  • Moo Cow||

    Who thought this? No Democrat thought this.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "Right now I am petrified that Hillary is almost totally dependent on Republicans nominating Trump . . . she has huge endemic political weaknesses that she would be wise to rectify . . . even a clown like Ted Cruz would be an even money bet to beat and this scares the hell of out me. . ." -Clinton emails
    National Review

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Why Liberals Should Support a Trump Republican Nomination
    NY Mag

    I know, lefties sure are stupid.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "Trump presidency would probably wind up doing less harm to the country than a Marco Rubio or a Cruz presidency. It might even, possibly, do some good." -NY Mag

  • CE||

    The left (and the right) thought Trump was a joke candidate Hillary could beat easily. They never thought they would have to try to control him.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    That list of objections to Trump's performance omitted the reaction of decent, educated, informed, accomplished people to Trump's bigotry.

    Perhaps that point is beyond the apprehension of some folks.

  • shawn_dude||

    BEGIN STRAWMAN CONSTRUCTION...

    (1) He is trying to follow through on campaign promises...
    Us "lefties" think the majority of his promises are racist, reductivist, boondoggles that will ultimately cost a lot for little to worse results.

    (2) Lefties thought Trump was a Democrat...
    Nothing says "I'm a Democrat" like being an unapologetic racist and misogynist! Not. His fake Christianity is the cherry on that cake.

    (3) Trump is deporting illegals which the left has been courting for votes for decades
    Undocumented aliens cannot vote.The Left understands this.

    (4) Trump's presidency is causing RINOs and bureaucrats that are lefties to leave government...
    I might agree with you here... where the "R" (Republican) in "RINO" has now been redefined so far to the right that even Reagan wouldn't recognize the party any longer. When lifelong conservatives are no longer considered conservative enough to be a Republican, they're just the new Democratic center, I guess.

    (5) Trump is running circles around lefty media attempts to control him
    Trump cannot even control himself.

    (6) Trump is making a palpable impact on reducing key government hurdles to economic growth
    Well, air pollution sure was good for the healthcare industry! Fun fact: the coal industry is dying because of the free market and not due to "key government hurdles." If you try to prop up an industry the market is discarding, can you be considered "free market" any more?

  • Fifth_Disciple||

    How quickly we forget what the alternative was. Does the author propose that a Clinton presidency would be substantially better?

  • wearingit||

    I don't think many people take solace in having a turd sandwich instead of crap on a plate. Eventually you have to actually, you know, do something worthwhile.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    How long does Trump have to be president before every criticism is no longer deflected by a cry of "not Obama/Not Hillary"?

    It's the same as people who defended Obama with "Not Bush" and Bush with "Not Clinton/Not Gore".

  • Deflator Mouse||

    "Not Hillary" is a perfectly valid response to a claim that there is absolutely no benefit from the Trump presidency.

    It would not support a claim that the Trump presidency was great, of course, but that's not the claim we're dealing with.

  • Mark22||

    How long does Trump have to be president before every criticism is no longer deflected by a cry of "not Obama/Not Hillary"?

    At least four years.

    After 2020, it will likely be "not Warren/Gillibrand/Booker/Sanders" or whatever other lunatic the Democrats will likely nominate, unless Clinton runs again, of course.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    If you prefer a bigot to any Democrat, you are a bigot. Not just an appeaser, but a bigot.

    Wear it well, Mark22.

  • Mark22||

    Eventually you have to actually, you know, do something worthwhile.

    Yes, that's the progressive mantra. The problem is that "worthwhile" is in the eye of the beholder.

    Libertarians therefore generally prefer that government do as little as possible. Trump doesn't quite live up to that standard, but his combination of incompetence, brusqueness, and moderate conservatism still makes him unintentionally effective in that department, compared to other presidents.

  • GILMORE™||

    dude, gayjay would have totally fixed everything.

  • Paradigm||

    I hope you're joking.

    I'll probably get a pile on for saying this, but the Libertarian Party is kind of a fantasy. Like Nick Gillespie, they actually think they can either run on the everybody sucks ticket, or they can act like GayJay and pretend they can court both sides.

    They won't ever get significant voters from the left because...well...small government. They might peel off a few Republican voters if they drop open borders. There is no constituency for open borders that can propel a candidate to victory in a national election. And, most conservatives really don't care about gay marriage or pot or anything like that.

    Even if the LP were to have a president, he or she would just have to become a Democrat or Republican-lite to stay in office. And the mainstream media would savage them as an outsider and unfit for office. The only thing keeping that from happening now if that the left doesn't see them as a threat. Had GayJay been elected, the media would have played the video of him with his tongue out and the "what is Aleppo" gaffe ad nauseam until he was as beaten down as GW Bush.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yeah, that was in sarcasm font.

    Gilmore was joking.

  • SimonP||

    Part of the reason Hillary lost was because leftists didn't like her; they thought she would be too centrist.

    Clinton with a Republican Congress back in the 90's brought substantial, lasting welfare reform, budget surpluses, and a sustained period of economic growth. We seem to do best with a loyal-opposition Congress and a centrist President ready to deal. When all the levers of power are in one party's control, we see big, expansive uses of federal power and, when it's Republicans, rapid increases in corruption.

  • GILMORE™||

    ""Part of the reason Hillary lost was because leftists didn't like her;""

    indeed. bazillions of words were spilled hemming and hawing about the "lower white class vote" and how it rallied (because racisms) to Trump.

    nearly none was spent looking in detail why both Sanders-voters and blacks didn't turn out in the numbers they actually needed to ever win.

    the media was far more interested in finding convenient targets to 'blame' for trump rather than examine the weaknesses the democratic party faces when its fragmenting between establishment-pragmatists and hard-lefty prog types.

  • Philadelphia Collins||

    A lot of that economic growth was due to the Clintons' "affordable housing" scam. How'd that work out?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    "How quickly we forget what the alternative was. Does the author propose that a Clinton presidency would be substantially better?"

    That really isn't Sheldon's style. Logic and reason.

  • shawn_dude||

    Yes. Clinton would have been better. (Where "better" doesn't have to be even "good.")

    Clinton would have at least observed the democratic norms, constructed her government responsibly, and played the role of America's chief diplomat according to generally accepted principles shared by both conservative and liberal administrations of the past.

    She'd have also continued the unified anti-Democratic front of the GOP rather than watch them retire in large numbers out of disgust as we see today.

    We wouldn't be courting nuclear war with North Korea nor insulting our NATO allies needlessly. She wouldn't be uninvited from visiting allied countries either.

    Whatever strawman form you've conjured up around Clinton, she would have led to a government that wasn't surprising us on a daily basis with a new scandal. Hate her, love her, or ignore her, she was at least *qualified* for the job.

  • Ken Shultz||

    This site has become an embarrassment to libertarianism.

    I feel sorry for Sullum and Doherty.

    Trump has eliminated more than a dozen regulations for every new one. The Federal register has shrunk dramatically. He shrank two Obama era national monuments by 2 million acres, eliminated both the individual insurance mandate and the employer mandate, and, furthermore, slashed the corporate tax rate by 40%. He pulled us out of the Paris accord, a completely unconstitutional treaty entered into without a vote of the senate, . . .

    But you can't even find a silver lining for libertarianism in that presidency anywhere? You don't see the size of government shrinking in there anywhere?

    Here's an article about the Trump administration purposely slashing the number of employees at the Department of Education unit that enforces Title IX:

    https://tinyurl.com/y8t775c3

    If you don't see the government shrinking anywhere, it's because you don't want to see it.

  • Mcgoo95||

    I agree. This was a sloppy and pointless article...

  • Alcibiades||

    You left out one of his most important achievements; Neil Gorsuch.
    Just imagine a "Hillary nomination equivalent" and the damage it could have done for the next 40 years or so to the Constitution.

  • SimonP||

    Man, you guys are going to be in for a surprise when Gorsuch writes his first opinion. Maybe not Roberts-level dismayed, but just wait. Some of the stuff he's saying on the bench does not bode well for freedom.

  • Alcibiades||

    Yeah, a SCJ that interprets the Constitution and laws as written, what a nightmare that's gonna be.

  • SimonP||

    I'm less convinced by how Gorsuch might choose to describe his approach than by how he actually implements it. Like I said, I think you're in for a surprise.

  • Tony||

    The one achievement you people pathetically cling to is something that almost automatically happens, and that Trump outsourced more than most presidents. You're praising him for breathing.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Tony, citation.

    You lefties and your narrative talking points from HQ.

  • SimonP||

    Do you seriously think Trump sat down with Gorsuch and meaningfully evaluated his record, trying to find someone who would conform with Trump's views of what the courts should do?

    It was kind of obvious during the campaign that his only plan, when it came to judicial appointments, was to run down a list of candidates pre-approved by conservative think tanks and vetted by his subordinates. Conservatives loved that plan! But it's not like Trump ought to get credit for it. The only criterion Trump ever thought to add to the process was a demand for loyalty.

  • Mark22||

    It was kind of obvious during the campaign that his only plan, when it came to judicial appointments, was to run down a list of candidates pre-approved by conservative think tanks and vetted by his subordinates.

    Good!

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Why would a libertarian want right-wing authoritarians to be involved in identifying judicial nominees?

  • SimonP||

    Trump has eliminated more than a dozen regulations for every new one. The Federal register has shrunk dramatically.

    You don't seem to understand much about regulation. If the agencies were rolling back regulations, creating new exemptions to longstanding regulatory requirements, etc., the Federal Register would be bulked up, not skimmed down. The fact that the Federal Register is leaner just means that they're not doing much of anything that would show up there - new regulations or repealing regulations, both.

    He shrank two Obama era national monuments by 2 million acres,...

    Since when were libertarians in favor of crony capitalism?

    ...eliminated both the individual insurance mandate and the employer mandate,...

    What you need to understand about the way the individual mandate was "eliminated" was that it wasn't; rather, the "tax penalty" was zeroed out. You're technically still required to have insurance; there's just no effective enforcement mechanism. You still have the putative exercise of federal power over individual insurance decisions, and it can be reversed easily in any future tax bill.

    And the employer mandate is still in place.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I hope you're not getting lost in some irrelevant semantic minutia.

    "As we continue to watch the president's progress on his economic priorities, it's interesting to compare Trump with previous presidents, namely Ronald Reagan. Under Reagan, both regulations and Federal Register pages (where agency rules and regulations are published) dropped more than one-third. So far, Trump has reduced the flow of regulation even more.

    . . . .

    * The Federal Register stands at 45,678 pages. Last year at this time, Barack Obama's Federal Register stood at 67,900 pages. (Obama's 2016 Federal Register set an all-time-record: 97,110 pages).

    * Compared to Obama at this time last year, Trump's page count is down 32 percent so far in his first year.

    * It took a few years for Ronald Reagan to achieve his ultimate, one-third reduction in Federal Register pages following Jimmy Carter's then-record Federal Register. So by this metric, Trump is moving much faster.

    ----Competitive Enterprise Institute

    "Red Tape Rollback: Trump Least-Regulatory President Since Reagan"

    https://tinyurl.com/ybbb23x9

    I don't have to look hard to find a libertarian silver lining, there. In fact, that isn't a silver lining. That's the libertarian beacon of deregulation for deregulation's sake. Any libertarian who can't see it is being willfully blind.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Though the federal register is the list of new regulations taking place, I believe. Not the actual full set of federal regulations. So it is a slowing moreso than reversal. Which is probably as good as one can hope, but doesn't disqualify the point SimonP made.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Let's not lose sight of the fact that the Trump administration is reportedly eliminating 12 federal regulations for every new one.

    That might suggest that 12 times the federal register has been eliminated in regulation this year.

    He only promised to eliminate 2 regulations for every new one. Even if he were only doing that, he's deregulating like mad.

  • Robert||

    The simplest real measure (not so precise as to impact, though) would be the length of the Code of Federal Regulations. However, that doesn't get updated frequently other than via inserted patches. When the CFR annual comes out, we'll see.

    What I think is happening is that regulatory change has slowed way down, & of that the overwhelming majority is now deregulatory, which could be the aforementioned 12:1. The Fed. Reg. is shorter because total changes are down, & maybe because public comments on the changes have been short. It would take a long time to make a significant dent in the CFR lengthwise, but we're seeing what's probably a good start. Some regulatory changes take a long time, so there's always a lag.

    Remember that some additions to the CFR represent increases in freedom. That's because of licensing. That is, the statute says you're not allowed to do such & such w/o a license. Every time a new drug, medical device, or pesticide gets licensed (permitted, allowed, no longer banned, which is the default) for inroduction into interstate commerce, that's a new entry in both Fed. Reg. & CFR. The agencies can't amend the statutes to make freedom the default; only Congress can do that.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    And my point, to play off yours, is that this argumentation is very confused due to many of the reasons you just cited. And so saying the federal registry is shorter is not equivalent to their being less regulation. I'm even willing to say it's good to have slower rollout of regulation even if it's not absolutely less. I have no issue saying that. My biggest problem is that there is confusion over the stat being cited that needs to be rectified for further debate

    And I think Robert made a nice attempt at that.

  • Alinsky||

    "but doesn't disqualify the point SimonP made."

    Yeah, it really does. Add to that, his point was kind of stupid in the first place.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    No, SimonP's point seems to be that rescinding of a regulation also appears in the Register, so you would expect it to be growing in size if regulations were really disappearing.

    I don't know if that's true, but even if it is, I would think that a rescinding would just take one line, "Regulation ABC123 is hereby rescinded", while a new regulation would have to include the entire text of the regulation. so the size of the FR would decrease even if there were a boatload of rescindings combined with fewer new regs.

  • Robert||

    No, to rescind a reg they have to announce a proposal to do so, state the reason, solicit & publish comments from the public, give their rxns to the comments, then publish their final rule.

  • SimonP||

    I don't know if that's true, but even if it is, I would think that a rescinding would just take one line, "Regulation ABC123 is hereby rescinded", while a new regulation would have to include the entire text of the regulation.

    Not that the Trump administration isn't trying it, but "rescinding" rules in this way would be a plain violation of the Administrative Procedures Act and would result in the courts throwing out the rescission. You have to provide just as much reason and analysis - and so, just as much bulk - in the Federal Register, justifying a rule change as you do for a new rule.

    The reason we have the APA and the Federal Register is to provide a meaningful check on regulatory activity. The point is to provide a public record, accessible to all, that allows us to measure the administrative agency's compliance with the authorizing statute enabling them to impose the regulation in the first place. That's true for every kind of binding regulatory action - new rule, rule rescission, rule revision.

    Try reading the Federal Register for once. Most of the bulk has nothing to do with the actual text of a rule. A typical rule proposal might have a rule that takes up 2-3 pages, but be accompanied by dozens of pages analyzing why the rule is needed, its economic impact, its paperwork impact, and so on. A lot of that bulk is the direct result of Republican legislation designed to constrain regulatory activity.

  • Robert||

    And if they do not give a certain reason for a change, if someone takes it to court, that reason can't be used in the decision. Well, not that a judge absolutely couldn't take new matter like that, just that it would be considered judicial activism, so usually they want to consider in an appeal only what's already on the administrative record.

  • SimonP||

    It's not an "irrelevant semantic detail" to note that every rule revision or repeal has to go through the same exact process as any new rule: notice and comment rulemaking. The proposal has to be published in the Federal Register, with an explanation for why the proposal is being made. A comment period has to be provided, and then the final rule is announced, with a full accounting of all the meaningful comments received. That's a lot of bulk, in itself. If the agencies aren't publishing anything in the Federal Register, that means that they're not doing anything with respect to the existing administrative code.

    Never mind that the way that a lot of statutes are written provide the agencies with discretion to exempt market actors from broad proscriptions that are in the statute. So, if the statute says that "no one may do X unless the Department of Such-and-Such says you can," then the lack of regulation means that the statute continues to apply only a broad prohibition, without any exceptions. In that case, we want more regulations, because it allows more market activity.

    Simply counting Federal Register pages is just... stupid.

  • SimonP||

    ...furthermore, slashed the corporate tax rate by 40%....

    And, in so doing, increased the complexity of the tax code, making various command economy-type judgments about who should "win" and who should "lose" under an entirely re-arranged set of tax incentives.

    He pulled us out of the Paris accord, a completely unconstitutional treaty entered into without a vote of the senate, . . .

    Because it was a non-binding commitment to take steps that would have to have been pursued through legislation anyway. The Paris Accord was more about the U.S. taking a leadership role in combating climate change and influencing the future regulation of carbon dioxide emissions. By abdicating that role, the U.S. economy is orse off, not better.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "And, in so doing, increased the complexity of the tax code, making various command economy-type judgments about who should "win" and who should "lose" under an entirely re-arranged set of tax incentives."

    If taxation is theft, corporate taxation is double theft.

    Are you suggesting that higher taxes are better for corporations if the code is less complicated?

    That's ridiculous.

    Communism is when the corporate tax rate is 100%. Do you imagine communism is better than lower corporate taxes because a corporate tax level of 100% is uncomplicated?

    Lowering the tax rate is better.

    And the complicatedness isn't Trump's fault. He could only sign a bill that congress would pass. If that's the best bill that congress would pass, then he was right to sign it.

    It might be a good time to note, too, that Hillary Clinton wouldn't have signed it. She also wouldn't have gotten rid of the individual mandate, the employer mandate, or shrank the size of government land holdings in Utah by 2 million acres either. She wouldn't have deregulated, wouldn't have shrank the Federal Register . . . all of these things only happened because Donald Trump was elected president. That's a fact.

    Regardless of whether you like Donald Trump, intellectual honesty requires us to acknowledge the facts. The libertarian arguments you make against Trump must be made in spite of these facts--you can't just deny them.

  • Alinsky||

    "Are you suggesting that higher taxes are better for corporations if the code is less complicated?

    That's ridiculous."

    Thank you Ken.

  • SimonP||

    Are you suggesting that higher taxes are better for corporations if the code is less complicated?

    I'm saying that libertarians should care just as much about the burden of tax code compliance, the kinds of opportunities it provides for gaming and corruption, and the bizarre economic incentives it creates, as they do overall rates. The tax bill created a lot of perverse incentives and opportunities for tax structuring that will impact the way our economy functions - for no good reason, other than to pick winners and losers.

    And the complicatedness isn't Trump's fault. He could only sign a bill that congress would pass. If that's the best bill that congress would pass, then he was right to sign it.

    Sure it is. He's the one who demanded a bill - a "win" - before Christmas. He could have shown leadership and laid out a rational plan for tax reform. The recklessness of the final bill is almost entirely his fault.

  • Mark22||

    I'm saying that libertarians should care just as much about the burden of tax code compliance

    Lower corporate taxes reduce that.

    and the bizarre economic incentives it creates

    Lower corporate taxes reduce those.

    The tax bill created a lot of perverse incentives and opportunities for tax structuring that will impact the way our economy functions

    No, it didn't.

    Here's a hint, Simon: taking a libertarian argument and switching some of the words around doesn't give you another libertarian argument.

  • SimonP||

    Lower corporate taxes reduce that.

    Tell that to the thousands of people who tried to pay their property taxes for 2018 in 2017, in order to take advantage of the SALT deduction, the millions who will need to double-check their withholding this year as the IRS's new withholding tables might lead them to under-withhold, and the virtual entirety of the taxpaying public who will have no idea what their tax liability for 2018 will be until they do their taxes in 2019.

    Lower corporate taxes reduce those.

    Reducing a single tax rate for corporations to 21% does not eliminate the many other economic incentives the tax bill created, eliminated, or shifted. How many people do you think, right now, are trying to figure out if they can restructure their employment situation to take advantage of the pass-through break?

    No, it didn't.

    Sure it did.

    As long as we're giving unsolicited advice, maybe you could try familiarizing yourself with the bill and engaging in an actual discussion without summarily dismissing what the other person has said?

  • Mark22||

    Tell that to the thousands of people who tried to pay their property taxes for 2018 in 2017

    That's corporate tax... how?

    the millions who will need to double-check their withholding this year

    So, not a long term complexity in the tax code, but a simple transitional issue.

    Reducing a single tax rate for corporations to 21% does not eliminate the many other economic incentives the tax bill created, eliminated, or shifted.

    Reducing the corporate tax rate eliminated a lot of incentives. It didn't create any new incentives.

    How many people do you think, right now, are trying to figure out if they can restructure their employment situation to take advantage of the pass-through break?

    Lots of them: the point of that tax reduction is after all that people take advantage of it.

    maybe you could try familiarizing yourself with the bill and engaging in an actual discussion without summarily dismissing what the other person has said

    I'm not having a "discussion" with you. I'm correcting your incorrect statements.

  • Philadelphia Collins||

    It's Armageddon!!

  • shawn_dude||

    "Reducing the corporate tax rate eliminated a lot of incentives. It didn't create any new incentives."

    Pass-through rules changed dramatically. That creates a number of incentives towards restructuring some corporations into pass-throughs in order to take advantage of an even lower tax rate.

    "I'm not having a "discussion" with you. I'm correcting your incorrect statements."

    No, you're not. SimonP is correct. Love or hate the new tax code, ignoring it's negative impacts is foolish and that's just what you're doing. It may do all these things you think are good too, but you're pretending there's no downside. So, in a way, you're right, there's no discussion here because you're the equivalent of fingers in your ears singing "la la la -- I'm not listening to you!"

  • Robert||

    If your tax is low enough, an extra hour having to work the forms is relatively costly. If you're a big firm owing a lot in taxes, paying somebody for that job is cheaper than a simplifying tax increase would be. When it comes to the vast majority of state & federal tax $, convenience is a very small factor in overall cost. If there were a Form 1040EZ option for most firms, they wouldn't take it.

  • SimonP||

    It might be a good time to note, too, that Hillary Clinton wouldn't have signed it.

    Not the god-awful bill that Congress passed, no, but it wouldn't have shaped out that way had Hillary won.

    Had Hillary won, and had the Republicans in control of Congress sought to govern, I think what we would have seen would have been a more moderate, bipartisan bill, that Hillary would have signed without hesitation. Ironically, the more likely outcome would be Republicans refusing to do anything, instead occupying their time with go-nowhere "investigations" and more of the obstruction they engaged in during the Obama years. That is, after all, why they were so ill-prepared to actually repeal the ACA or pass a coherent tax cut bill when they actually got the opportunity.

  • Mark22||

    Had Hillary won, and had the Republicans in control of Congress sought to govern, I think what we would have seen would have been a more moderate, bipartisan bill tax increase on the rich, with Pelosi gloating that Republicans were going to see it after it passed.

    FTFY

    go-nowhere "investigations" and more of the obstruction they engaged in during the Obama years

    Obstruction is good, in particular of progressive policies.

  • Alcibiades||

    The Paris Accord = a massive transfer of wealth from productive economies to basket-case economies accompanied by the hamstringing of the former for an "outcome" that's within the error margins of the "models".

    Trump's "Fuck You" is the only rational response to the above.

  • buddhastalin||

    making various command economy-type judgments about who should "win" and who should "lose"

    The only way to avoid this is to abolish the corporate and personal income taxes entirely or else have a flat tax with no deductions. Since that ain't ever happening, then stepping toward abolition by reducing the rate necessarily, under current constraints, requires rejiggering winners and losers. The alternative is to do nothing, keeping the rate high and retaining previous judgments of who should win and lose; why is that better?

  • SimonP||

    Since that ain't ever happening, then stepping toward abolition by reducing the rate necessarily, under current constraints, requires rejiggering winners and losers.

    It's not a "step towards abolition" to keep the existing tax structure entirely in place, lowering selectively a few rates - chosen not because of any demonstrable need to provide specific tax relief - and layering on a bunch of new complications that just make the tax code worse.

  • CE||

    No, but stealing 150 billion less a year is a step in the right direction.

  • shawn_dude||

    Most corporations paid a lower tax rate due to large numbers of deductions. They could have simplified the corporate side--removing deductions and lowering rates to create a revenue neutral result--without charging it all off on the national credit card.

    I'd even support staged reductions in certain personal tax deductions like mortgage interest with an eye on eventual elimination. This might have allowed for some tax cuts or debt reductions.

    There are near infinite options between abolishing tax entirely and the chaos they created last December.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    The Paris Accord was more about the U.S. taking a leadership role in combating climate change and influencing the future regulation of carbon dioxide emissions. By abdicating that role, the U.S. economy is orse off, not better.

    How does that make the economy worse off?

  • Ken Shultz||

    By "abdicating that role" he means not abiding by an unconstitutional treaty that was never even voted on, much less ratified, by the senate.

  • Alcibiades||

    The Paris Accord was not (see above) about the U.S. taking a leadership role in combating climate change and influencing the future regulation of carbon dioxide emissions. By abdicating that role, the U.S. economy is orse off, not better.

    The US' carbon footprint has been declining for years now and that has precisely zero to do with the anti-business, wealth redistributing crap pushed by the likes of the Paris Accord and everything to do with capitalism and technology = fracking. It's also taken us to within a hairsbreath of energy independence, something promised and never delivered by all the usual suspects.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The US took a leadership role and said fuck you to all the socialists out there that are trying to control the USA.

    China currently has double the carbon emissions that the USA does and China will never do what other socialists want because they are ruled by authoritarian communists.

    So, the socialists go after the USA to bring us down to their economic level.

  • SimonP||

    Because the rest of the world will continue to move in the direction of controlling carbon dioxide emissions, and they'll impose those rules in a way that will impact American economic actors. We just won't have a seat at the table, when they do so, any more.

  • Alcibiades||

    Let 'em fuck up their own "economies", more power to 'em I say.

  • SimonP||

    Yeah, American economic actors only really need to market their products to American consumers. No worries if Europe/the rest of the world impose, say, higher mile/gallon requirements on cars or bans internal combustion engines outright or if they impose carbon-minimizing technologies on agricultural producers.

    I mean, seriously - do you think that Europe and China are going to craft carbon regulations in a way that doesn't try to box out American economic actors? If I'm representing China or European powers in the Paris Accord discussions, I'm thinking of ways I can use carbon dioxide regulations as a way of favoring domestic manufacturers specifically to the detriment of U.S. economic power and American economic actors.

  • Alcibiades||

    Jesus Christ, you're one naive dude. Europe and China will act in their own interests regardless of what the US does.

    Europe, that large business sector that considers GDP increases that we consider dismal as oustanding economic performance.

    And as for China and government-controlled economies...

  • shawn_dude||

    Speaking of naive...

    In a three-way negotiation where one party can't be bothered to show up, guess which party gets screwed?

  • Brendan||

    I guess you missed all those cities and states clamoring for media attention with their announced proposals to reduce emissions following the announcement of the plan to withdraw from the accords.

    It may surprise you to learn that people, cities, counties, and states can all reduce their emissions even if we're not part of the accords.

  • Alinsky||

    "And, in so doing, increased the complexity of the tax code, "

    Wait, you CARE about that despite the tax being cut?

    Are you my mother in law? She's an unrelenting bitch when good news arrives like you are...

  • SimonP||

    Are you my mother in law? She's an unrelenting bitch when good news arrives like you are...

    Yeah, like you're a peach.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    From this point forward you will be referred to as RepubliKen.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Maybe I should refer to you as an intellectually dishonest asshole?

    The fact that Trump has done some remarkably libertarian things--regardless of whether you oppose him for other reasons is a fact.

    Sheldon Richman claiming that there isn't even a libertarian silver lining is laughably dishonest.

    If you ignore the libertarian things Trump does in the name of libertarianism, then you're intellectually dishonest, too.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    RepubliKen, RepubliKen
    Defends Trump over and over again!

  • Ken Shultz||

    I'm not even sure Crusty Juggler thinks of himself as a libertarian. I don't usually pay attention to what he writes because it's mostly quips, trying to be funny or something. I remember disagreements I had with Sevo from years ago--but I couldn't tell you what Crusty said yesterday. Like I said, I'm not even sure he's a libertarian. He seems to be more like Shrike, where he found someplace on the internet that recognizes him, and engaging with smart people makes him feel smart--even if he's just making a fool of himself and making stupid quips.

    Maybe he is a legit libertarian who genuinely believes that deregulation, etc. isn't a libertarian silver lining or that we're all supposed to ignore the facts if the facts imply that there's anything good about Donald Trump. I wouldn't know. Like I said, I mostly ignore his comments. They don't generally say anything. Just quips that aren't interesting or informative or funny.

    But ignoring the libertarian things Donald Trump has done in the name of libertarianism really is intellectually dishonest. And acknowledging that fact doesn't make me Republican--although it might suggest that I'm intellectually honest, which, like I said, is kind of a hallmark of libertarianism.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Pithy as usual, RepubliKen.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Crusty just spends its time with neat little links and snappy comebacks.

    To each their own.

    Ken, keep up the good work discussing Trump's libertarian-ish agenda items that he gets done. Trump has had an impressive 1 year rolling back government. If RINOs in Congress did more to rollback, Trump's record would be more impressive.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Sad to see leftytarians reduced to schoolyard insults.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Mine was a syllogism.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Sad to see the faux libertarian right-wingers embracing drug warriors, bloated military spending, disdain of science and history to flatter dogma and superstition, militarization of the police, diffuse bigotry, micromanagement of certain health care facilities, attacks on free expression and free inquiry, whittling of the Fourth Amendment, xenophobia, and the other pillars of the Trump-Republican-conservative political coalition.

    Carry on, clingers.

  • Ken Shultz||

    In addition to that, he signed a bill to cut corporate income taxes by 40%, is deregulating like mad, etc., etc.

    If Donald Trump is awful in other ways, that doesn't make the the libertarian things he does any less libertarian.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    "If," Ken?

    Can't bring yourself to denounce bigotry, or boorishness, or right-wing authoritarianism?

    Are you still masquerading as a libertarian?

  • Tony||

    You haven't discovered a libertarian where a mentally ill orange racist raper stood. You're inventing feeble excuses for defending the Republican president, despite said flaws. A rational person wouldn't want such a horrifyingly ridiculous person attached to any policy you liked.

  • Ken Shultz||

    People aren't libertarian or not based on whether you like the color of their hair and accuse them of rape.

    Presidents are libertarian to the extent that they do libertarian things.

    Calling me names doens't change that fact.

    Calling Donald Trump names doesn't change that fact either.

    Being intellectually dishonest is about ignoring facts because you don't, won't, or can't account for them, and that remains a fact regardless of any name you call me, Donald Trump, or anyone else.

  • Tony||

    Everyone agrees with libertarians about something. Thus, every president will accidentally do some libertarian things. This is already the least successful president in modern history by any measure. Do you really want him anchored to your ideology? I mean, maybe some polite applause, but this enthusiastic masturbating? You can't really think this is going to end well.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Trump isn't deregulating by accident.

    Trump didn't accidentally sign a bill to cut the corporate tax rate by 40%. He fought for that bill.

    Trump didn't accidentally sign EOs to get rid of the employer mandate and the individual mandate either.

  • Tony||

    He did that because the insane billionaires who control the Republican party used him in his infinite idiocy as their puppet to secure them their loot. That libertarianism endorses this is its own problem.

  • Mark22||

    He did that because the insane billionaires who control the Republican party used him in his infinite idiocy as their puppet to secure them their loot.

    Billionaires don't care about income tax breaks.

    And that the US corporate tax was far too high was clear to everybody except the economically illiterate.

  • CE||

    I hope Trump continues to be unsuccessful. "Successful" presidents are the ones who accomplish things that should never have been attempted, or get us into wars that could have been avoided.

  • The Last American Hero||

    Least successful by any measure?

    2009 and 1933 called.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Dr King would want you to judge Trump based on the content of his character rather than the color of is skin.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Tony's name calling is directly proportional to how backed into a corner it feels.

    Libertarians on Reason have been pummeling Tony's leftist nonsense lately, so Tony's been ripping thru his sock puppets at an alarming rate. It takes its toll on Tony, so he just resorts to 3 year old shit.

  • Tony||

    I hate to break this to you, but you're a moron and everyone here thinks so.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    No one thinks that. Except maybe the voices in your head.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Where are the libertarians?

    Mostly, I see backward, authoritarian, intolerant, stale-thinking conservatives.

    The kind of "libertarians" who support -- and support officials and a political party that supports -- drug warriors, border walls, bigoted immigration policies, subsidization of our depleted rural and southern stretches, massive military budgets, micromanagement of abortion-related facilities, torture, voter suppression, militarization of police, right-wing belligerence across the globe, whittling of the Fourth Amendment, endless detention without trial, pre-emptive invasion (of the wrong country), and structural amplification of our yahoo voices in the Senate and Electoral College.

    In other words, faux libertarians -- sheepish conservatives masquerading in unconvincing libertarian drag.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Also, Libertarianism is more than just actions it is a philosophical groundwork. So, if marijuana is legalized because the government wants more tax revenue, then that might be a good outcome from a libertarian viewpoint, but it's not a libertarian reasoning.

  • Ken Shultz||

    But I wouldn't say there wasn't even a silver lining for libertarians if recreational marijuana were legalized nationally.

    That isn't a statement about the philosophical groundwork.

    If recreational marijuana were legalized nationally because of the tax revenue, saying that there wasn't even a silver lining for libertarians would be intellectually dishonest.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    "...it's not a libertarian reasoning."
    If you consider Libertarians all or nothing.

    Sure, more taxation is not good if it were a complete vacuum. The context is an unconstitutional drug war that various vested interest cannot admit defeat after decades of failure. The current fix is for states to legalize and tax marijuana sales. This will effectively end the federal war on drugs in the end or at least limiting it to such an extent that the WoD does not impact every part of American life.

    After reigning in the government from "needing" so much money for the WoD, you can cut their budgets easier because they don't have anything to go after like they did with drugs.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Sure, but that does not make the president a libertarian by any means. For example, one often used libertarian ideal is lessening the impact the war on drugs. Many progressives, not all but many, also discuss this now.

    The progressives are not now libertarian, and vice versa, just because they agree on a point. Because the policy itself is not libertarian. The policy is a result of a philosophical worldview.

  • grrizzly||

    What happened to you, Crusty? You used to be alright.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I'm still the guy coming up with witty, appropriate nicknames.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    meh

  • Bacon-Magic glib reasonoid||

    meh

  • Robert||

    Why not call me Roblican?

    Trump's been much better than the GOP generally on the national scene, but the GOP on avg. has been far better for decades than either Democrats or independents, & that's true whether you poll the grass roots or weigh the actions of their office holders. In the middle 1990s, Don Ernsberger (co-founder of SIL) examined Congressional votes, expecting to find the Democrats better on "personal" liberty, Republicans better on "economic" liberty. Instead he found out they were equal on personal liberty, but the GOP incomparably better on economic freedom. Polls of voters show similarly. The GOP is very significantly better for libertarians than any other major party or the mass of independents.

  • shawn_dude||

    It's hard to imagine that the GOP is better on personal liberty given it's stance on homosexuality and marijuana. Now the middle 1990s is where the Democrats started to shift leftward on those two subjects so if we're looking at both parties 20 years ago, at the birth of the (publicly available) internet, then maybe. But since then, the GOP has gone further to the right and further away from personal liberty, especially where the Christian Right has been a strong limiting factor.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    An awful lot of the commentariat here despise Trump far more for his appearance, style, and personality, than anything he's actually done.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I repeat, this site has become an embarrassment to libertarianism. Regardless of whether you disagree with any particular president, we need to be intellectually honest. Intellectual honesty is a core libertarian value. Believing that rational thinking leads to pro-liberty positions--so we're not afraid to be intellectually honest--has been a foundational principle of libertarianism since forever. And if Reason.com is leaving that feature behind, it doesn't mean intellectual honesty is no longer a core libertarian value. It means that Reason.com is no longer libertarian.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Good one, RepubliKen!

  • Ken Shultz||

    Do you disagree that any of the libertarian achievements I listed aren't actually libertarian--you intellectually dishonest asshole?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    RepubliKen does it again!

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Crusty, that doesn't actually answer the question.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    Yes, I do. If certain things happen that line up with libertarian outcomes then that is not equivalent to Libertarianism taking off.

    Also, you keep reacting to disagreement from people with claims that they are only disagreeing because they're intellectually dishonest. At that point, let Crusty name call. It's precisely what you're doing but you're doing in a way that let's you pretend you're smarter than others.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I might take issue with the suggestion that libertarian outcomes aren't really libertarian if they aren't sought for libertarian reasons, but the things I listed were libertarian outcomes for libertarian reasons.

    For instance, he isn't deregulating because he wants to increase the size of government interference in the economy.

    He's deregulating for libertarian reasons. He thinks government regulation is strangling economic growth, and that should be libertarian enough for anybody.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Crusty is just doing what Crusty does which is why some of us dont take him seriously.

    Ken is smarter than some on here. Ken wants to discuss things including Trump libertarin-ish accomplishments. Crusty gives snarky replies. Some others come to Crusty's defense.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Maybe Ken's fondness for Trump is a sign of a very stable genius who is the least racist person and like, very smart!

  • Robert||

    Don't you know the syllogism?:

    1) Radical libertarianism is very unpopular. (Of course ignore the fact that all radical -isms are unpopular in Amer. at least.)

    2) Therefore liberty always loses.

    3) Therefore any apparent wins for liberty are either illusions or accidents caused by no particular people's actions.

    4) Therefore the politician who seems to put one over like that is especially nasty.

    5) Poor us, always losing. Give us some sympathy.

  • Robert||

    Actually it's libertarian movement turf defense that's been going on since the beginning. Promoters have to keep distinguishing their product. The biggest threat is from those most like you, because they're your closest competitors. So they have to keep running away from any sector that's identifiable outside their own as it moves toward them. The more libertarian Trump gets, the more they have to say he's not.

  • Jerryskids||

    For I was hungry and you gave me a crumb, I was thirsty and you gave me a drop, I was a stranger and you asked for my papers, I needed clothes and you gave me a tissue, I had cancer and you gave me an aspirin, I was in prison and you waved at me.

    Blessed be the name of the Cheeto Jesus, for truly it is the least He could do.

  • Sevo||

    "...Cheeto Jesus..."
    How
    .
    .
    .
    juvenile.

  • Jerryskids||

    I'm sure Little Marco, Lying Ted, Crooked Hillary, and Sloppy Steve would agree with you, but I'd expect Sleazy Sevo to have more respect for our President.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    But those are true. Hillary is crooked.

    Trump's skin color is not currently orange. It was after some tanning bed incidents and therefore apropos.

    Didn't John Kerry have orange skin at one point?

    Block yo-Momma is funny though.

  • Sevo||

    So full retard? You and Mike ought to take your show on the road. First-graders and dimwits nation-wide would be howling with laughter.

  • Sevo||

    On 11/10/16, my hope was simply that we had dodged a bullet regarding at least one SCOTUS appointment. Well, I've been pleasantly surprised:
    1) DeVos
    2) Gorsuch
    3) Ajit Pai, end net price fixing
    4) Major reduction in the growth of regulations "By one key measure of regulatory growth -- the page count of the Federal Register, which lists all new rules -- Trump reduced regulation by almost 50 percent in 2017.
    https://www.realclearpolitics.com
    /articles/2017/12/30
    /trumps_2017_top_
    10_achievements_135885.html
    5) Dow +30%
    6) Unemployment at 4.1%
    https://unemploymentdata.com/charts
    /current-unemployment-rate-chart/
    7) "The US Manufacturing Index soared to a 33 year high in this period which were the best numbers since 1983 under President Reagan."
    http://www.thegatewaypundit.com
    /2017/04/draft-complete-list-of-president-
    trumps-accomplishments-
    in-his-first-100-days/

  • Sevo||

    8) Got repeal of the national medical insurance mandate.
    9) Withdrawal from Paris climate agreement.
    10) ? Not sure about the tax reform; any "reform" that leaves me subsidizing Musk's customers is not what I hoped for. Let Musk run a company for once.
    11) "In the waning days of 2017, the Trump administration pulled its support for the $13 billion Hudson Tunnel project."
    https://reason.com/blog/2018/01/02
    /trump-administration-tells-new-york-new
    12) "The Incredible Shrinking Trump Administration - More than 16,000 jobs have been cut from the federal leviathan".
    https://reason.com/blog/2018/01/02
    /the-incredible-shrinking-trump-administr#comment

    He'll never be confused with a libertarian, but by mistake, accident or design, he's done better than any POTUS I can remember.

  • Tony||

    Nobody cares.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You care Tony.

    You are wiping away tears as you type.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Poor Tony. The hag lost and he just can't accept it. Now he has a hole in what passes for his heart that no amount of pederasty can fill.

  • DajjaI||

    2018 will be a great year for Drumpfencücken whineries. Cry on baby, cry on:

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Trump 2020! Trump 2020!

  • Sevo||

    "Drumpfencücken"

    One more 'tard heard from.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    I don't think so -- the map is very much in favor of the GOP in 2018. Dems have to win 10 out of 11 battleground races in order to take back control of the Senate.

    On the other hand, 2020 is shaping up to be a bloodbath for the GOP, especially if Trump runs for reelection and the Dems nominate someone palatable.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Correction, they need to win all 11 of the battleground races to take back the Senate. Forgot about Pence.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    2020 will depend on the economy and how well Trump has done reforming immigration. Although if he sticks to his guns and th democrats are seen as the villains it could end up hurting them instead.

  • The Last American Hero||

    2020 is difficult to see. A recession would cause Trump trouble, as it would any president. A surge of terror attacks could have unpredictable consequences. And we don't know the Team Blue alternative. So far, the choices are:

    Hillary
    Warren
    Biden
    Harris
    Oprah???

    If that's the depth of the Blue Bench, Trump may cruise to victory.

    Speaking of a lack of bench depth, I'm sure Team Red will lose House seats in the fall, but I'm not sure if it will be catastrophic. See, when you don't control state legislatures, you don't have much of a bench to run national candidates. If things are kind of sort of like they are now in 10 months, there may be more salty ham tears to fill my cup. Team Blue thought they were going to run the table in November until the week of the election when, they thought they'd get just the senate and the White House. Gotta run decent candidates, or hope Team Red runs a bunch of Roy Moores in every race.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I would add things in foreign policy, too.

    Being willing to work with Putin on ISIS in Syria was a big deal. Hillary Clinton couldn't have and wouldn't have done that either. She was prepping for a big role in Syria, and Trump actively worked to avoid that. He campaigned on collaborating with Putin to accomplish what he did, and when he was elected, that's what he did.

    There as a great interview the other day in which the Foreign Minister of Pakistan announced that the United States was no longer an ally of Pakistan because of the terrible things Donald Trump had said and done. What terrible thing did Trump say and do?

    "Washington said Thursday that security assistance was on hold "until the Pakistani government takes decisive action against groups, including the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network." The suspension could freeze more than $2 billion in U.S. assistance to Pakistan, including about $1.2 billion to pay for military equipment and training and $900 million given to aid Pakistan's counterterrorism operations, according to the National Security Council."

    https://tinyurl.com/ya3jhgjj

    LOL

  • SimonP||

    Being willing to work with Putin on ISIS in Syria was a big deal.

    Well, once you drop any opposition to Assad's being in power indefinitely, there's little reason to take a different tack on ISIS in Syria. Trump's decision to abandon the idea of American opposition to tyrannical rulers slaughtering citizens is certainly a departure from longstanding American foreign policy and what Hillary would have done, but whether it represents an improvement of matters remains an open question...

    Trump also threatened to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority.

    A move opposed by Netanyahu. So it's, uh, more than just a "scared cow" you're talking about here.

    I don't think Trump has a dogmatic libertarian approach to foreign policy, but at least he understands a cost/benefit analysis and the idea of merit pay. Your annual review came up short this year, Mr. Abbas.

    You'll want to think about this a little more carefully. Trump's threat came after the PA opposed his decision to declare Jerusalem the capitol of Israel, which was clearly putting a thumb on the scale of Jerusalem's final status, despite all of his attempts to say it wasn't. So the threat to withhold funding had nothing to do with Abbas's "performance," but with Abbas's opposition to a clearly anti-Palestinian move - a threat that would undermine Abbas's tenuous control of the PA and increase Hamas's legitimacy.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Trump's decision to abandon the idea of American opposition to tyrannical rulers slaughtering citizens is certainly a departure from longstanding American foreign policy

    It really isn't. cough cough Saudis cough cough.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Well, once you drop any opposition to Assad's being in power indefinitely, there's little reason to take a different tack on ISIS in Syria."

    Are you or aren't you willing to go to war over removing Assad from power?

    It wasn't going to happen any other way--certainly not since before Trump took the White House.

  • SimonP||

    Are you or aren't you willing to go to war over removing Assad from power?

    I don't know the best solution to the Syrian situation, and for the record I don't think Obama did a very good job of handling it. All that I'm saying is that, once you drop the particular bargaining chip that Assad must go, it's a lot easier for Russian and American priorities in the region to align.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Dropping the bargaining chip was in America's best interests at this point, and being willing to do that--because it was in America's best interests to do so--is a credit ti Trump and his pragmatic foreign policy.

    I doubt Hillary Clinton would have accepted anything other than the ouster of Assad, which, as I think the relationship you're alluding to implies, means that she preferred war to what Trump did.

    The neocons preferred Hillary over Trump for this reason.

    John McCain preferred Hillary over trump for this reason.

    We should always keep in mind, too, that if the drug war and the occupation of Iraq taught us anything, it's that no policy is so futile or expensive that presidents can't choose to pursue it indefinitely. Trump could have pursued a futile policy of regime change in Syria--he chose not to, and he deserves credit for that.

  • Kazinski||

    Once the Russians went in and made it plain they wouldn't let Assad be ousted then there wasn't any benefit to insisting Assad go, because it wasn't going to happen. Especially when no one knows just what would take his place.

    Qaddafi was pretty bad but Libya is worse off now that he is gone. We should learn our lesson about interventions just because it feels good.

  • damikesc||

    Qaddafi was pretty bad but Libya is worse off now that he is gone. We should learn our lesson about interventions just because it feels good.

    Obama and Hillary's Libya policy didn't just destabilize Libya beyond repair...it also killed off disarmament as an option ever again.

    Progs often forget that Qaddafi had disarmed. He had done what we requested...and we STILL turned on him.

    For all of his faults, Kim Jong-Un isn't so dumb as to not have noticed what happened and based his behavior and plans upon that,

  • Ken Shultz||

    Trump also threatened to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority.

    Everywhere I look, I see sacred cows slaughtered. If Rand Paul were president, I'm not sure it would be reasonable to expect him to do much better.

    I don't think Trump has a dogmatic libertarian approach to foreign policy, but at least he understands a cost/benefit analysis and the idea of merit pay. Your annual review came up short this year, Mr. Abbas. Here's some areas where we need to see some improvement. A raise? No, you don't get a raise for substandard performance. Work on these areas, or you might get fired.

  • CE||

    Rand Paul would be better on foreign policy, civil liberties, and domestic spying, by a mile.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    I don't think you can overestimate the impact of Trump's not having anyone he owes favors to. He's free to just do what he thinks is best in every situation. Not that I agree with him on all or even most decisions, but at least it's coming from his own judgement rather than the need to do a favor for a benefactor.

    Of course, the political, bureaucratic, and corporate classes absolutely DO NOT want to see that become a trend.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    You can see the Democrats, RINOs and bureaucrats squirming in their seats because they don't want politicians doing what they promise nor unencumbered presidential candidates winning and they tearing down all their corrupt hard work.

  • Robert||

    No, apparently he owed something to The Little Keebler's people. But few others. It was a popular uprising that will likely continue.

  • Tony||

    He's not free to piss off Russia, which is blackmailing him.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Hard to be blackmailed when there's already so much negative information out there about him.

  • Tony||

    Not all. Whether his dumbfuck supporters care that he engaged in some serious international crimes and treason is an open question.

  • Kazinski||

    They've been investigating for over a year and they don't have shit. So far the investigation has hurt the FBI and DOJ more than It's hurt Trump.

    It's put up or shut up time. The Russian collusion fantasy was just the excuse they came up with for losing to Trump and the Deplorables.

  • Tony||

    If I wanted the Fox & Friends take I'd watch it, or read the president's tweets.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    "It's put up or shut up time."

    Right-winger goobers offering pointers to the Office of Special Prosecutor, and relying on the integrity and veracity of Donald J. Trump?

    How cute.

    Carry on, clingers.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    "He's not free to piss off Russia, which is blackmailing him."

    You're thinking of Hillary. Tony, the hag lost. Get over it.

  • Tony||

    The solution to the Trump problem is to radically shrink government. What a coincidence, that's the solution to literally every problem! Including my hangnail!

    This is why you aren't taken seriously as a political philosophy. Maybe the solution to the Trump problem is to shrink the power of the presidency but to increase the power of another part of government. But that doesn't comport with orthodoxy, so you end up sounding like dumb scientologists.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Of course, my real solution is completely different from anything I've been saying for years and years! Because I am in no way a hypocrite!

    Vote for whoever's D, 2020!

  • Tony||

    Have you seen what the Rs have been offering up lately? My work deserves a Nobel prize.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Vote D: even a stupid Scientologist can do it!

    You'll take me seriously after my Nobel Prize for that one!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Tony, remember when the Nobel commission gave Obama a Nobel Peace prize and then Obama bombed all sorts of innocent people?

  • Tony||

    Remember when you claimed to care about bombing civilians before Trump started doing it and killed more civilians in his first year than Obama did in 8?

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Trump started doing it and killed more civilians in his first year than Obama did in 8?

    Link?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    DM, I don't think Tony can link to the voices in his head.

  • CE||

    Hey, if Krugman and Obama won them...

  • Deflator Mouse||

    One thing that shrinking govt won't help: Tony's idiocy and dishonesty.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The funniest thing is that the lefties cannot shrink government to stop Trump because this would help do what Trump is already doing.

    The lefties are just fucked. They cannot control Trump via the media because Trump and most Americans ignore the media.

    The lefties cannot prevent Trump nominees from being appointed because they don't control the Senate.

    The lefties cannot impeach trump because they don't have national support nor control Congress.

    The lefties cannot coup Trump because American would slaughter their ass with all the guns that we have.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Unfortunately I think it's the opposite.

    The leftists own the bureaucracy and the lower federal courts (thanks to the 2014 Dem nuclear option to pack them full of Dem partisans). So they can stall Trump's actions indefinitely. The pattern has been set: Dems will ram things through whenever they have control over elected offices, and then use unelected offices to obstruct any attempt to roll those things back when they don't have control over elected offices.

  • Tony||

    So if the government undergoes a constitutional procedure to remove an obviously dangerous and unfit president, you're going to murder a bunch of people.

    The most brilliant political philosophy ever, ladies and gentlemen.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    Almost as undemocratic as the electoral college!

  • Tony||

    Things should be judged on their outcomes.

  • Incomprehensible Bitching||

    And democracy, or else your an authoritarian asshole! QED!

  • ace_m82||

    "Lonesome stranger" fallacy. Utilitarianism is a moral atrocity!

  • Brendan||

    Since when are coups considered to be a constitutional procedure?

  • Tony||

    He means impeachment.

  • Brendan||

    Really?

    The lefties cannot impeach trump because they don't have national support nor control Congress.

    The lefties cannot coup Trump because American would slaughter their ass with all the guns that we have.

    Pretty obvious that he means coup as something different than impeachment.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    The Dem leadership would never impeach Trump. That would just put Pence in office, and Trump is really the only recruiting tactic the Dems have at this point.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Why would Democrats provide any votes to convict Trump (impeach him, sure, to pummel him, but not for conviction)? He is branding Republicans and conservatives with bigotry and backwardness for at least a generation. He blusters a great deal but accomplishes little.

    Perhaps, as part of a comprehensive deal that includes Vice. Pres. Pence's resignation and a consensus replacement, some Democratic votes could be made available to remove Pres. Trump. But Republicans broke this, and the cost of Democratic assistance in fixing it should be substantial.

    I am content to watch young Americans develop their lifelong voting patterns during a period in which Republicans and conservatives embrace ignorance, superstition, diffuse and stale intolerance, backwardness, corruption, greed, and authoritarianism (drugs, abortion, gays, the military, policing). This is occurring as America's electorate improves -- less religious, less bigoted, less rural, less white, less backward -- daily.

    Carry on, clingers.

  • Sevo||

    Tony|1.14.18 @ 12:02PM|#
    "The solution to the Trump problem is to radically shrink government. What a coincidence, that's the solution to literally every problem! Including my hangnail!"

    Shame it's not a solution to your imbecility, but that's probably not gonna get fixed.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I keep telling him to drink Drano. That would end all his problems

  • Hank Phillips||

    See? This is what comes of using cowardly euphemisms. If you say replace coercion with voluntary cooperation, looters will still whine the same way about you not being taken seriously by parasites, but now they are the ones advocating men with loaded guns looking for people to kill. Integrity works!

  • buddhastalin||

    Maybe the solution to the Trump problem is to shrink the power of the presidency but to increase the power of another part of government.

    AKA federalism/decentralization/states rights, long part of libertarian thought. Oops but that's rayciss!

  • DajjaI||

    Trumpkins got cucked so hard it's not even funny. I love how they now have to pretend to be libertarians.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Since Trump is doing Libertarian-ish rolling back of government....go Trump!

  • Hank Phillips||

    In Teddy Roosevelt's day they had to pretend to be christian national socialists. This is proof we have passed a point of inflection.*
    * (Inflection: the second derivative has changed signs, therefore the curve will gradually change direction away from collectivist coercion, like the way The Pill meant a point of inflection in the population graph--it was asymptotic to vertical, but now it's visibly flattening, despite mystical efforts to ban the pill).

  • Elias Fakaname||

    .....and Hank is off his meds again. Babbling about unrelated shit from the early 1900's for no discernible Reason.

  • Sevo||

    "Trumpkins"
    More 'tard. Way to go 'tard!

  • Robert||

    Trump doesn't have a silver lining, he is the silver. He's not the gold, but still easily the most libertarian POTUS since Reagan, arguably much earlier. So of course most of the opposition he arouses is from authoritarians.

    His att'y gen'l is no great shakes, but he's no Ed Meese either. (Certainly no Janet Reno!) Trump's kept us out of war with/in Syria. He's fostering the smartest Mideast policy since at least Eisenhower.

    Note that he has not done an Ed Koch-like turnaround on marijuana. Although Trump hasn't talked in (just) a few yrs. about legalizing narcotics, he hasn't repudiated a laissez faire stance on pot.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Absolutely true.

    I always look for motive when people say things. The lefties don't like Trump because he is making their lives harder to take control.

  • Deflator Mouse||

    Trump is not silver. At best he's doped silicon.

  • Robert||

    N or P?

  • Deflator Mouse||

    I would guess P because of his fondness for holes

  • Hank Phillips||

    Good points. I suspect he chose Beauregard as A.G. as a Pyrrhic offering to the televangelists who slobbered and holly-rolled all over his candidacy. Once it is demonstrated that economy-destroying looter prohibitionism (of energy in 2016, of alternative drugs in 2018) is a losing proposition, the dustbin of history will welcome them within. Gradually, election after election, libertarian spoiler votes will guide those ignorant looting thugs in the right direction like iron filings in a magnetic field.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Lemme guess: Shelley listened to flacks for God's Own Prohibitionists dinning into his ears that unless you're on board with the fascist turd sandwich or the commie giant douche, you lose. Change the "unless" logical operator to "if" and the statement becomes true. Weak-minded fools swayed by the loudest shrieks waste their votes and reap communo-fascist socialism. We who invest spoiler votes and get 6 to 500 times the law-changing clout in return are confident the losing looter will seek to change its platform to make it less coercive.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Do you have your hackneyed and repetitive phrases like 'God's Own Prohibitionists' hotkeyed? Or do you actually type out that drivel each time?

  • Mark22||

    Trump has delivered regulatory rollbacks and appointed judges that aren't completely given over to progressivism or theocracy. His belligerent personality and incoherent speeches have meant that he only managed to pass one major piece of legislation, a tax bill that lowers taxes. Trump is not a libertarian and never claimed to be, but that's more libertarianism than the Libertarian party has ever managed to deliver, and a lot better than Obama, Clinton, or Bush. Much as I dislike the man, that's certainly a "libertarian silver lining".

    What I find increasingly "repugnant" is faux libertarians like Richman and other Reason writers. Trump's presidency has revealed these people for what we have to assume they were all along: progressives who despise classical liberalism and instead simply disagree with other progressives over policy details while accepting the general morality and ideology of progressivism (positive rights, government by experts, utilitarianism, scientific racism, etc.).

  • Hank Phillips||

    Trump said he likes libertarianism. Next thing ya know he's nominated by what was the klan (Nixon) and nationalsocialist (Bush I & II) party, and gets the job! Behind the scenes, the LP got over 4 million votes. Libertarian votes spanned the spoiler vote gap in States casting 89 electoral votes, 15% more than the total number of electoral votes separating the party that got the pelf and political pull from the one that chose to hobble electrical energy production instead of repealing prohibition. In plain English, the Dems had the slightly more totalitarian platform and lost because of libertarian spoiler votes. The Dems have a chance in the mid-terms to add "REPEAL" to their platform, as they copied from the Liberal Party in 1932, and win--provided they are not again Gored by massagynist econazi planks to ban electricity. The Trump election is proof of the law-changing power and effectiveness of 4 million LP spoiler votes. We're the 3%!

  • Mark22||

    Next thing ya know he's nominated by what was the klan (Nixon) and nationalsocialist (Bush I & II) party

    You need to familiarize yourself with history: the Democrats were both the Klan party and friendly with European fascists. Hillary Clinton's mentor and close friend, Senator Byrd, even was a Grand Wizard in the KKK. And please don't bleat "Southern strategy" or "Prescott Bush" as if that were an argument.

    Libertarian votes spanned the spoiler vote gap in States casting 89 electoral votes

    The spoiler vote gap was bridged, as always, by the people who chose not to vote for either candidate. Like me.

  • Robert||

    No, they're not that. They're just defending their turf. What reason would people have to back, say, the LP or even the Reason Found'n if Trump could deliver more of the product? So they have to keep saying, no, we're not like him, therefore he's not like us.

  • CE||

    Wow, an Acura!

  • Sevo||

    Tony|1.14.18 @ 6:59PM|#
    "Not all. Whether his dumbfuck supporters care that he engaged in some serious international crimes and treason is an open question."

    This imbecile claims to know something of the English language, but has yet to learn the definition of "treason".
    Q: How dumb do you have to be to continue to do that?
    A: As stupid as Tony, which is pretty fucking dumb.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Indeed. Also, everyone knows that the democrats are the ones who have just about cornered the market in treason. Based on their hatred of America.

  • Sevo||

    BTW, it's easy to notice that those who see positives in Trump's efforts listed them and showed them as positives to those of us not imbecilic lefties.
    Those who griped about Trump seem to have two specific arguments:
    1) He's got a bad artificial tan.
    2) I (the griper) think he's a big poopyhead!
    'Nuff said.

  • Kazinski||

    I'm not a Trump fan but the whole idea of being pro-Trump or Anti-Trump is missing the whole point, if he does the right thing support the policy, if he does the wrong thing oppose the policy.

    Win the next election if you don't like it.

  • JeremyR||

    Eh, AFAIK, he actually hasn't started any new wars. That's something.

  • vek||

    As fucked up as Trump is, he is the most legit president during my lifetime. In many ways I think he will end up trying harder to actually do conservative/libertarian reforms than Reagan. I was born while he was in the white house, but don't really remember his time in office from my own memory, but my opinion is that Reagan talked a good game, but never really tried to deliver on a lot of stuff. Trump seems to really be trying. He may not succeed, but he's giving it the old college try.

    As far as most of the bad things about him, they're mostly still no worse than anybody else who could have conceivably ended up winning. So it sucks, but whatever. And some of his authoritarian streaks are things that aren't libertarian, but I somewhat agree with on a personal level. Like immigration.

    I might concede that on some moral level Cosmotarians are right about freedom of movement blah blah blah, but in the real world it is just a bad idea. Whoever first thought that the most morally righteous decision ALWAYS has to have the best practical results is a moron. That is not the case. Sometimes murdering somebody and stealing their shit to feed your family is in YOUR best interests, despite being immoral. Same thing with things like immigration, or a number of other things. I'm down for letting small bad things happen to allow more freedom, but biggies like destroying your entire civilization... Not so much.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Reagan tried to deliver a lot of stuff. He was hamstrung by a democrat controlled house, and a speaker (Tip O'Neil) who went back in his deals. That said, we had tax reform, and broke the Soviet regime.

  • vek||

    Yeah, I know he tried on some things. And he delivered on some things. Definitely better than many other recent presidents. But from the reading I've done on a lot of issues it seems like it was typical say one thing but do another, or rather don't do anything.

    I could be wrong since I don't remember the play by play battles on account of my age, but that seems to be what a lot of other truly dedicated conservative/libertarian types think as well. Taking out the Soviets was of course a good thing, as were taxes, and killing runaway inflation! So as I said, better than most presidents of late.

  • Tony||

    Trump works from 11 to 6 and has spent half his presidency on the golf course. The other half he spends bitching about things on Twitter. He tries harder. Jesus.

  • vek||

    He delegates. I prefer the micro manager type personally, but types like him are half of the most successful people in the world. Warren Buffett doesn't manage all the businesses he owns, he just tries to pick good guys to head up the businesses. Same as Trump. As long as the guy at the top is picking worthwhile goals to put his guys to task on that's the most important thing.

  • tlapp||

    Silver lining? Yes there is on most of the judicial nominees. 4 years of Hilary's progressive nominees and there would be no constitution left to defend. Trump was never a libertarian.
    Now let's start winning at the local level in 2018.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    We also need to start the attrition of progressives.

  • King Lamoni||

    "Are there any silver linings to a Trump presidency on the policy front? Aside from some deregulation and modest tax reform (which other Republicans could have been expected to enact), I see none."

    So therefore the author DOES see two silver linings. The definition of a silver lining is that there is a sliver of good underneath the behemoth of bad. If you discount any sliver of good that you see by declaring that someone else could have done it, and then say you see no good at all, you are being dishonest with your readers, but mostly yourself.

    We all recognize all the destructive things Trump has done... Jeff Sessions, and juvenile twitter tantrums are two of the easiest examples. However, we should all celebrate the current growth in our economy, the ability to keep more of what we earn, and fewer rules and regulations at the federal level. We shouldn't stop criticizing every wrong decision, but let's try to pretend to be fair and stop sweeping the good under the rug simply because we dislike the person in charge.

    As a note: I realize the president doesn't control the economy, but there are enough stories making a clear correlation between the reduction in regulations with the expanse of business that it is hard not to give Trump some credit for releasing some of the chains that businesses were under. I will applaud each federal regulation that is removed.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    When did this site become haven for the kind of "libertarians" who disregard -- even embrace -- the Trump administration's authoritarian conduct and statements with respect to policing (abusive policing, militarization of police), abortion (pandering to authoritarian, superstitious zealots), drug warriors, torture, right-wing Israeli belligerence and corruption, treatment of gays and transgendered citizens, immigration, endless detention without trial, military spending and belligerence, censorship (banning words, advocating restrictive laws governing expression), and the like?

    Could anyone recommend a genuine libertarian site, or is this paltry right-wing facsimile the best that can be identified?

    Thank you.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    When did this site become haven for the kind of "libertarians" who disregard -- even embrace -- the Trump administration's authoritarian conduct and statements with respect to policing (abusive policing, militarization of police), abortion (pandering to authoritarian, superstitious zealots), drug warriors, torture, right-wing Israeli belligerence and corruption, treatment of gays and transgendered citizens, immigration, endless detention without trial, military spending and belligerence, censorship (banning words, advocating restrictive laws governing expression), and the like?

    Could anyone recommend a genuine libertarian site, or is this paltry right-wing facsimile the best that can be identified?

    Thank you.

  • King Lamoni||

    I am afraid that posting a reply to your comment gives it more credibility than it deserves. You have these wild accusations without sharing any shred of evidence. Search Reason for any one of those topics and provide examples. In the process you will find that they almost always come down on the side of individual liberty.

    If you are upset that Reason hasn't published either endorsing or criticizing every statement from Trump, then you need to readjust your expectations or find another news source like the dailywire. Most articles here on Reason involve a moderate level of reason, logic, evidence, and perspective. You can't do that while trying to reply to every statement on twitter.

    On the other hand, many items on your list are either not defined or not a part of any libertarian platform. I know many libertarians with opposing views on Israel, abortion, and gays. Even if you believe we should give no money to any foreign government, it is still possible to support moving the embassy to Jerusalem. Even if you support gays' individual rights, you can oppose the government forcing people to behave against their beliefs.

    Stop kicking people out of the libertarian tent when they don't think 100% like you do.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    Let's hear the libertarian argument for gay-bashing, or for supporting Israeli settlements and cluster bombling, or for criminalizing abortion.

    Plenty of the so-called libertarians who comment here appear to be libertarian precisely so far as right-wing orthodoxy is congruent with libertarianism, and precisely so authoritarian as is consistent with conservative preference.

    In other words, they're faux libertarians, just conservatives masquerading in unconvincing libertarian drag.

    Carry on, clingers.

  • Rob Greggs||

    That's pretty much the way it is these days. Like how far-right Republicans go around calling themselves "libertarian". The further to the right you are the more libertarian you are. I think what they are mainly is Wall Street Objectivists. The worst is part of it is the ridiculous idea that right-wing judges are going to have any inclination to rule in favor of the individual over the state.

  • FrankInFL||

    Every silver lining has a cloud.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online