Why Economic Conservatives Must Stop the Donald at the 269-Vote Line

It looks increasingly like the causes of liberty, peace, free markets, fiscal rectitude, sound money and small government are getting a serendipitous last chance. That is to say, with Biden potentially going down in flames, we can now look to Robert F. Kennedy Jr and/or the 12th Amendment to the Constitution to assure that the Donald doesn’t get a reprise in the Oval Office, either.

At this point in the election season, it is already truly difficult to see how Biden can cross the finish line in the regular way through a popular vote and Electoral College majority. And that’s to say nothing of what may be the virtual impossibility of that after the Dems reenact the 1968 Chicago convention fiasco in the one and same “windy city” two months from now.

Trump’s War on C... Stockman, David Best Price: $17.04 Buy New $17.39 (as of 06:52 UTC - Details) As it happens, fully 88 of Biden’s 306 electoral votes from 2020 are now in play in eight battleground states. Yet he faces the exceedingly challenging task of retaining at least 52 of these votes to stay at the 270 margin required to carry the Electoral College.

The Biden/blue states in play and their electoral votes are as follows:

  • Arizona: 11.
  • Georgia: 16.
  • Pennsylvania: 20.
  • Michigan: 16.
  • Wisconsin: 10.
  • Nevada 6.
  • New Mexico: 5.
  • New Hampshire: 4

So Biden might well be stopped, but the fly in the ointment, of course, is that 38 or more of these in-play votes could go to Donald Trump, thereby bringing him to the magic 270 number (from 232) and back to the Oval Office. The job of small government, anti-war economic conservatives, therefore, is crystal clear. They must move heaven and earth to assure that as many of these battleground electoral votes as possible go to RFK, but that in no event do 38 or more go to Donald J. Trump.

The fact is, the Donald stands for none of the core values enumerated above. Yet the MAGA rank and file has greeted him like he was the second coming— if not of Jesus Christ, then at least Grover Cleveland.

We reference the great Grover Cleveland not only or even mainly because he was the one historic case of winning the White House (1884), losing his reelection bid (1888) and then winning again the third time around the track (1892).

Far more importantly, Grover Cleveland was the anti-Trump. He stood for something worth winning the White House to advance. That is, staunch adherence to sound money under the gold standard, free trade, budget surpluses, non-intervention abroad and a small Federal government in Washington.

Needless to say, the Donald is about his own advancement and glory rather than any of these principles. We dare say he has never made the acquaintance of most of them.

Indeed, without welfare domestically and foreign wars abroad, Cleveland was able to leave the $1.62 billion public debt he inherited 25% lower at $1.22 billion when he left office. That was a far cry from the Donald’s $8 trillion add to the national debt—more than the first 43 presidents during the initial 216 years of the republic managed to accomplish on a combined basis.

Indeed, the very antithesis of Trumpite statism—classic 19th century liberalism— was in its heyday during Grover Cleveland’s time, and Cleveland was the closest thing to its living, breathing embodiment to ever occupy the Oval Office. And that was notwithstanding the fact he was a Democrat to boot, albeit of the old-fashioned Jefferson/Jackson kind.

Needless to say, the Democrats gave up half of Cleveland’s classic liberal legacy under Woodrow Wilson and his foolish war to make the world safe for democracy aboard and government hospitable to interventionist progressivism at home. And the rest of it disappeared entirely when the greatest egomaniac to occupy the Oval Office prior to the Donald—Franklin Roosevelt–installed the permanent Welfare State and Warfare State on the banks of the Potomac during 1933-1945.

As it happened, the Republican Party of Congressman Howard Buffett (Warren’s father), Senator Robert Taft, Barry Goldwater, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan made worthy efforts to reclaim the mantle of Grover Cleveland during their time on the stage of American politics. But Cleveland’s only true heir in modern times was former congressman and presidential candidate, Ron Paul.

And that crystalizes the irony and tragedy of the current insipid GOP hero worship of a man who is no hero whatsoever when it comes to the true conservative gospel articulated by Grover Cleveland.

To the contrary, Donald Trump is the opposite of Ron Paul—a veritable anti-Grover Cleveland. That is, an egomaniacal big government Ceasarist who peddles a dog’s breakfast of protectionism, nativism, law and order demagoguery, monetary crankery worthy of William Jennings Bryan and fiscal profligacy that puts FDR, LBJ and Barrack Obama to shame.

Worse still, the foundation of his menacing brew of anti-liberty bromides, shibboleths and dime-store patriotism is an infantile egotism and obsession with “winning” that should leave any adult citizen—conservative or otherwise— cringing, if not downright nauseated.

After all, upon single-handedly losing the US House in 2018 and the presidency and Senate in 2020, what even minimally self-aware politician would have greeted a conference of motivated conservatives (CPAC) as the Donald did in February 2021 with words of pure self-adulation? Yet slobbering all over the flag upon taking the podium, the Donald blurted out—

“Hello CPAC Do you miss me yet?” Mr. Trump said. “Do you miss me?”

Of course, the Donald was just getting started. After pages and pages of semi-coherent blather about immigration, trade wars and his alleged victories over both Biden and the Covid (via dangerously rushed to market vaccines), the Donald let loose a word salad of pure Ceasarist self-glorification:

Thank you. Thank you very much. So nice. I started that hearing, we really where … we’re getting word of that, hearing that during some of the rallies, especially the latter rallies where we set records. We had 56 unbelievable packed rallies. And nobody’s ever had anything that we had. And we started hearing, “We love you.”

And I asked somebody because we really like Ronald Reagan, right? He was a great president. We had others. But I said, “Did anybody ever say that to Ronald Reagan

Well, to paraphrase Senator Lloyd Bentsen from the 1992 vice-presidential debate: We knew Ronald Reagan, but not in a million years would that deeply principled and thoroughly humble man have uttered such narcissistic dumbassery.

Yes, the 2020 national election was probably among the worst ever conducted in the US owing to the state- and locality-run electoral system’s complete unreadiness to handle 66 million mail-in ballots out of more than 155 million votes cast. The incidence of inappropriately tabulated ballots may well have exceeded even that of the 1960 election when the Democrat presidential ticket was helped by an unusually large turnout in Chicago’s Grant Park Cemetery and also by 95% vote pluralities in the far-flung precincts of Texas, which were bought and paid for by Lyndon Johnson’s operatives.

Still, Trump did lose the popular vote by 8 million. And he did lose by 37 votes in the Electoral College (and therefore the election) by a total of just 42,900 out of nearly 12 million votes cast in the states of Arizona, Georgia and Wisconsin.

Yet he found no way to effectively contest these outcomes even though there were Republican governors, secretaries of state and legislatures in Arizona and Georgia and no serious claims that the Dem’s fiddled with the election rules and machinery in Wisconsin.

So by February 2021—to say nothing of May 2024—Walter Mondale’s famous slogan from the 1984 election about “where’s the beef” had become dispositive.

But that hasn’t interfered with the Donald’s same old megalomaniacal bluster that issued until his very last day in the White House.

Nevertheless, having claimed to have won an election that the practical machinery of the American electoral process in the end said he lost, the Donald then let loose with a barrage of bile, braggadocio and babble on that CPAC conference occasion that was just plain insensible. And it hasn’t stopped for a moment during the three years since then.

Contrary to his delusional claims, the Donald did not start a popular uprising around principles and purposes that transcend his own cult of personality. He only rubbed raw popular discontent with the reigning liberal ruling class without offering any remedies to the abandoned denizens of Flyover America.

Again, the level of verbal incoherence is one for the record books:

And for us, it’s our movement. As I said, a movement, like has never been seen. I think we can probably say, never been seen anywhere in the world. And nobody’s ever seen a movement like this. I’d grow out and I’d watch somebody who came in second in New Hampshire or first in Iowa and that was the end and they became famous for the rest of their lives. We won the election twice. I mean you know think about it. The task for our movement and our party is to stand up to this destructive agenda with confidence and with resolve… That’s why the party is growing so rapidly and is becoming a different party. And it’s becoming a party of love. You have to see outside the streets. I mean, there’s such love. The flags … Amazing.

Thereafter came a recitation of the Greatest Economy Ever myth and the delusions of grandeur in which it is embedded.

And this gets to the meat of the matter. The GOP is supposed to be the guardian of the preconditions for capitalist prosperity and sustainably rising wealth and living standards. These key enablers include sound money, fiscal rectitude and minimum intervention by the state’s regulatory and police powers.

None of those things got the time of day during the Donald’s tenure. The great economic successes he claimed to the CPAC convocation were nothing more than the business cycle reaching its peak about one year before the end of his term—-a peak that was weak by all historical standards. And, in any event, it was the work of tens of millions of workers and businesses on the free market, not anything which emanated from the Oval Office.

Over the past four years my administration delivered for Americans of all backgrounds like never before, like never before. We built the strongest economy in the history of the world…

The fact is, presidential terms and the business cycle do not coincide with each other and in the era of massive money-printing by the central bank and the resulting destruction of honest price discovery on Wall Street, the stock indices measure little more than the egregious financial bubbles emanating from the Eccles Building.

Still, while the Donald is obsessed by his own scoreboards, even they do not prove what he claims. That’s especially the case when you don’t let him off the hook owing to the deep economic setbacks of 2020.

After all, it was not the Covid-19 which clobbered the US economy. The culprit was government ordered Lockdowns—a folly that rose directly from Donald Trump’s panicked actions in March 2020.

It was Trump who called for the original economy- and liberty-killing stay-at-home mandates. And it was Trump who unleashed Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, the CDC, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the rest of the Virus Patrol to wreak havoc with normal economic function and to foster a level of public hysteria wholly unwarranted by the actual facts of the disease.

In fact, after an entire year of unprecedented emergency conditions during 2020, the Covid had generated IFRs (fatality rates among those infected by the disease whether sick or not and symptomatic or not) that were only slightly higher than those calculated by the CDC for the influenza seasons of 2017-2018. Among the non-elderly, the CFRs are virtually identical as shown below.

That gets us to the bottom line. The truth of the matter is that the real GDP growth rate during the Donald’s term was the absolute lowest of any presidential term since 1950, and by a country mile in virtually all cases. The Greatest Economy Ever claim just doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

Real GDP Growth Per Annum During Presidential Terms Since 1950:

  • Eisenhower (1953-1960): 2.52%.
  • Kennedy-Johnson (1961-1968: 5.19%.
  • Nixon-Ford (1969-1967: 2.73%.
  • Carter (1977-1980): 3.19%.
  • Reagan (1981-1988): 3.55%.
  • Bush the Elder (1989-1992): 2.21%.
  • Clinton (1992-2000): 3.81%.
  • Bush the Younger (2001-2008): 1.75%.
  • Obama (2009-2016): 1.94%.
  • Trump (2017-2020): 1.25%.
  • All Presidents, 1954-2016: 3.00%.

Of course, what the Donald did excel at was running up the Federal debt like never before. Even compared to the previous three big spenders in the Oval Office, the Donald won the prize for shackling future taxpayers, born and unborn, with heretofore unimaginable amounts of new debt:

Average Annual Increase in the Public Debt:

  • Clinton: $203 billion.
  • Bush: $655 billion.
  • Obama: $1.132 trillion.
  • Trump: $2.334 trillion.

Likewise, the modern Fed needs no encouragement from the White House to expand its balance sheet aggressively and thereby pump fiat credit into the canyons of Wall Street, where it mostly lingers to inflate the prices of financial assets skyward.

But in the Donald’s case, he not only encouraged a reckless rate of money-pumping from the Eccles Building; he incessantly demanded it in relentless, bully-boy fashion.

Accordingly, the data below is the true skunk on the wood pile. At the end of the day, sound money is the sine qua non of capitalist prosperity, and the GOP is its designated watchman in the context of America’s two-party democracy.

On that score the Donald failed miserably.

Per Annum Change in the Fed’s Balance Sheet, 2000-2020:

  • Bush (2001-2008): $185 billion.
  • Obama (2009-2016): $295 billion.
  • Trump (2017-2020): $750 billion.

Even on the matter of the Forever Wars, which the Donald at least verbally condemned while he was in office, he couldn’t leave well enough alone. Cancellation of the Iranian nuke deal was a screaming error. Yet that foolish action did more to keep the Warfare State in business than all of his verbal jousting with the interventionists follies of his predecessors combined.

Actually, Iran’s tiny $26 billion defense budget, which amounts to just 2.7% of the Pentagon’s massive haul, is no threat to the American homeland whatsoever. Indeed, compared to the 10% 0f GDP levels under the Shah prior to 1980, military expenditures by the mullahs who now control the Iranian government have fallen to nearly a de minimus 2.0% share of GDP in recent years.

In fact, the Iranian/Shiite side of the age-old Islamic schism has never launched an attack upon or even threatened American soil. That was the work of their bitter enemies on the Sunni side of the aisle—enemies that were more often than not financed and sanctioned by Washington’s so-called allies in the region.

Moreover, even the official NIEs (national intelligence estimates) of the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies have conceded that beyond a small research program abandoned in 2003, the Iranians have never pursued the development of nuclear weapons. That truth was confirmed by the IAEA report after the nuke deal was signed by Obama in 2015—and was reinforced by the fact that the Iranians lived up to the strict letter of the deal until the Donald unilaterally cancelled it to please the Netanyahu fifth column in his inner circle.

Of course, the Donald had no affinity for a peaceful, non-interventionist foreign policy in the first place. His rap on the Forever Wars was just a way of dinging the foreign policy establishment which had first snubbed him to a man, woman and they; and was also a way of pitching his tiresome line that his predecessors were stupid deal-makers, not even remotely in his own self-vaunted league.

But the problem in the middle east and around the planet was not bad deals by prior presidents. The culprit is an imperialist foreign policy that drains the nation’s blood, treasure and moral authority for no good reason of homeland security.

So Trump’s Iranian fiasco was just another casualty of the kind of persistent “threat inflation” by the Deep State that keeps the fiscal gravy train flowing. In fact, a peaceful democracy would never maintain a $900 billion defense budget—more than the next 15 nation’s combined—unless its elected representatives had been endlessly marinated in false threats to the nation’s security.

That is, such as the trumped-up case that Iran was and is attempting to get the nuke or that it is the foremost state sponsor of terrorism merely because it was aligned with Shiite-based governments in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere. Stated differently, the only foreign policy Iran is allowed to have, apparently, is one that is vetted and approved by the Washington neocons.

The fact is, the real threat to peace in the region is the brutal economic sanctions on the Iranian economy imposed by the UniParty—first under the Trump Administration and then by Biden. These measures are causing immense hardships for the everyday Iranian people and amount to illegal international brigandage that blackens America’s good name.

But the Donald seems to think (if that’s what his mental peregrinations can be called) that making economic war on a nation for no good reason is simply part of the “Art of the Deal” and that non-intervention is apparently just for wusses, traitors and clueless business people:

At the same time, the new administration unilaterally withdrew our crippling sanctions on Iran, foolishly giving away all of America’s leverage before negotiations have even begun. Leave the sanctions, negotiate. Does anybody understand what I’m saying here? Are there any good business people? You don’t have to be a good. Are there any bad business people? They took off of the sanctions. They took off the sanctions. They said, well, we’re going to not have any sanctions. Let’s negotiate a deal. I don’t know, Matt Schlapp, I don’t think you would have done that. Do you think so, Matt? I don’t think so. Mercedes wouldn’t have.

He also apparently thinks that his massive defense increases helped strengthen America’s homeland security. Not at all. They simply funded massive boondoggles for the military industrial complex that even the spenders on Capitol Hill had long resisted.

Stated differently, the Donald was about as lazy and ill-informed Commander-in-Chief as Washington has ever seen. He simply got bamboozled by the same old “readiness” and obsolete equipment canards that the Warfare State has been plying chief executives with since Ronald Reagan.

They weren’t true then, and they certainly are not valid now with the Soviet Union having long ago been swept into the dust bin of history. What the Donald did was simple pile another $250 billion per year of defense waste and excess on a national debt that is now utterly out of control: Rich Man Poor Bank: Wh... Quann, Mark J Best Price: $11.47 Buy New $16.95 (as of 04:33 UTC - Details)

And it means a strong military and taking care of our vets, but a strong military, which we have totally rebuilt, we have rebuilt it. And our military has never been stronger than it is today. It was tired, it was depleted, it was obsolete. And now we have the best brand-new equipment ever made and it was all produced right here in the USA. Isn’t that nice?

No, it is not nice at all. The total cost of defense, international affairs and veterans benefits is now a staggering $1.3 trillion per year. In constant dollars (FY 2023 $) that is 2.3X the $550 billion great Dwight Eisenhower thought was necessary to contain the Soviet Union at the peak of the Cold War, when he delivered his famous warning about the military-industrial complex in his 1961 Farewell Address.

At the end of the day, the Donald’s only real policy was the rank demagoguery about the hordes of alleged criminals pouring over the Mexican border–a theme that he stumbled upon when coming down the escalator of Trump Tower way back in June 2015.

But it was ugly nonsense then and remains so whenever he unloads more of the same rabid hysteria and about criminals, drug dealers and wards of mental institutions allegedly pouring across the border and threatening to “contaminate our blood”.

The truth, of course, is that 95% of the arrivals on the southern border are job seekers, who are forced to pretend that they are asylees because Washington to too stupid and dysfunctional to establish a proper large-scale Guest Worker program. The latter could be run in an orderly manner from the dozens of US embassies and consulates spread around Mexico and Latin America, not the banks of the Rio Grande and deserts of Arizona.

Indeed, the only criminals coming across the border are the brutal spawn of Washington’s demented war on drugs. So end the war on drugs and let the flowers and poppies bloom stateside. What will then line up at US consulates south of the border are powerfully motivated people looking for work.

And contrary to the Donald’s toxic immigrant bashing, America’s great capitalist prosperity was built on just that—the bent backs of foreigners looking for honest work and a better life.

So, was Donald J. Trump ever a real conservative hero?

No, not remotely. He was and remains just a self-promoting loud-mouth who had all the right enemies, but pursued all the wrong solutions and emitted a toxic patter that has set back the real conservative agenda irreparably.

Since the foolish remnant of the Grand Old Party has decided to roll the dice yet again anyway, we can thank out lucky stars for RFK’s courageous decision to pursue the presidency as a third-party candidate.

At the end of the day, only RFK can likely stop Trump in the Electoral College and send the election to the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in 200 years. The latter seems like a dangerously long-shot way to save the Republic, but. alas, it’s the last best shot that remains.

Reprinted with permission from David Stockman’s Contra Corner.