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Professor Homer is Not Happy About Trump Panel Discussion at Elizabethtown College (includes unsolicited response)

Apr 27th, 2016 | By | Category: Features, Front Page

Editor’s note: Sanjay Paul is an Associate Professor of Economics at Elizabethtown College.  As for Homer, we are not exactly sure who he is.  He may be the ghost of the ancient author or, perhaps, the human manifestation of the popular television personality.  Many scholars believe that Homer may not be a single person and they hypothesize that he may represent several of the many personalities with whom Dr. Paul travels. 

April 25, 2016

Homer attended a panel discussion on the Trump phenomenon the other day. Held in Elizabethtown College, the event featured speakers from different disciplines. One of the speakers, an economist, used the occasion to discuss Trump’s economic policies (or “positions,” using a term from Trump’s website). Homer thought the discussion was unfair.

Homer was incensed, though hardly surprised, by the attack on the leading GOP candidate. Trump is of course a highly successful businessman, a real-estate mogul, a founder of universities, a purveyor of fine wines, a seller of steaks, a renowned author, a devoted family man, a fan of Two Corinthians. His accomplishments are legendary, and his opponents have been flailing wildly in their deplorable attempts to cast doubt on them and to diminish his very personhood.

But the attack on Trump in an august academic setting was of a different nature. The economist began by reviewing Trump’s position on taxes. Like any good conservative, noted Homer approvingly, Trump is calling for lower taxes and a smaller number of tax brackets. He also seeks to reduce the corporate income tax rate and eliminate estate taxes.

Trump has claimed that these tax cuts would benefit the middle class, but the gains for the richest Americans are likely to be far greater. Even hedge fund managers, whom Trump has referred to in demeaning terms, stand to gain handsomely from the tax cuts.

The massive tax reduction will also increase the budget deficit each year. Over 10 years, Trump’s tax proposal is estimated to increase the national debt by $9.5 trillion.

Which brings us to the economist’s second complaint. Trump has declared that he will eliminate the national debt which, even without his tax cuts, stands at $19 trillion. The debt held by the public is $14 trillion, but Trump claims that he will make the entire $19 trillion disappear.

How exactly? Trump has vaguely alluded to negotiations with trading partners which will bring the U.S. trade deficit down, although how this will eliminate the national debt (which is all the borrowing done by the U.S. government in the past) is not made clear.

Trump could of course declare bankruptcy, a favorite technique of his in past business dealings, but the effect of such an action on financial markets, the U.S. economy, and the global economic system could be calamitous.

Trump has declared that he would repeal Obamacare and replace it with a better system. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is a target of every GOP candidate, and Trump has used his “repeal and replace” line to raucous cheers at his campaigns. What has gone unstated, however, is that repealing the ACA would mean that millions of Americans would lose health insurance.

The decline in the number of uninsured Americans from 49 million in 2010 to 29 million in 2015 has resulted in an uninsured rate of 9.2%, the lowest in decades. All these gains would be in jeopardy if ACA were repealed. As for replacing it with something better, no GOP candidate, certainly not Trump, has yet proffered a meaningful alternative.

The panelist also decried Trump’s obsession with China. China is alleged to have devalued the yuan against the dollar, thus providing an unfair advantage to its exporters. As punishment, Trump has threatened to impose import tariffs of up to 45% on Chinese goods, an action that will lead to higher prices of goods for American consumers, and will likely elicit retaliatory trade policies from the Chinese government.

Such a stringent China policy is not conservative orthodoxy, although some Republicans (and many Democrats) have favored a more muscular approach to China on trade matters. Also, in opposition to Republican thinking, which generally favors increased globalization, Trump has made his distaste for trade agreements very clear. Sounding like Bernie Sanders, Trump has argued that NAFTA and the more-recent Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) leave American workers worse off, and should be renegotiated.

Trade agreements like TPP involve the interests and concerns of several countries, and negotiations typically occur over several years. A new president, even one who has mastered the art of the deal, would find it difficult to tear up these agreements and bring the trading partners back to the drawing table for renewed negotiations.

The panelist ended his talk with unflattering remarks about Trump’s university. When Trump founded his university a few years ago, noted Homer, he had stated his reasons for doing so. It was not the allure of the $35,000 tuition that drew him to the endeavor. No. It was the opportunity to “give back.” Trump wanted to share his real-estate wisdom with the masses so they too could become rich like him. And for this noble mission, thought Homer darkly, the man was being vilified.


Editor’s Note:  Ideas sometimes incite violence.  We received the following response to this article.  The source is unknown:

Sanjay Paul is Not Happy About Professor Homer’s Reflections on Trump Panel Discussion at Elizabethtown College

Apr 27th, 2016 | By Homer | Category: Features, Front Page

Author’s note: Homer is a wandering minstrel. We are not sure who Sanjay Paul is. Many hooligans believe that Paul may not be a single person and they hypothesize that he may represent several of the many personalities with whom he has coffee at Folklore.

Paul read Homer’s views on the Trump discussion, and almost spat out his coffee.

“What the bloody hell!” he said to a passing EJ editor, “Why do you print such unsubstantiated garbage?”

The editor tried to flee, but it was too late. Paul was in full flow. He also had a hand on the editor’s jacket. He thundered, “Don’t you guys have any standards? And this guy Homer—he claims to be a professor. Have you asked for his credentials? Have you seen his PhD diploma? Do you even care?”

The EJ editor finally managed to shake loose. He ran out of Folklore and got on his titanium bike and pedaled away madly in all directions.

The life of an EJ editor is not an easy one.

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