The Art of the Deal

There is no doubt that what we are looking at regarding the US is a far more practical approach to public policy than we have seen for quite some time. The academic policy wonks will be even more ‘wonk’ as opposed to this outsized influential body of progressives scattered all over various Federal agencies and super connected ‘progressive ‘ think tanks. It was interesting the other night watching C-Span in the US as a number of wonks from these leftist think tanks were holding forth with a small audience trying to come to grips with the new reality of a Trump Presidency. And boy were they confused. These so called experts were really muddled and bewildered.

It seems to me the overriding principle of this new Administration will be what works for the USA in real specific terms.

The multi national approach in trade deals ,for example , seems dead . Trump wants bilateral trade deals and ones that in future are demonstrably advantageous to the US and jobs etc. He is willing to leave the Clintons alone and have something short of a wall at the Mexican border , but that does not mean he will change on trade and jobs . There is all this talk about China now taking the lead on international trade agreements but lets not forget that the US is the third most populous nation and the largest economy . The reason for Trump’s success was economic , especially in the big mid western swing states . He will not forget this and will need them again in four years.

So from a Canadian perspective the softwood lumber issue is even more difficult now  and NAFTA will not be one of withdrawal , but one of renegotiation on specific points that enhance the US position. Musings by Prime Minister Trudeau were ,to say the least , unhelpful . In over his head, I suspect. Hopefully, someone will help him out on this.

You can say what you like about Trump but he has done many deals and he will have sharpe , able negotiators . To underestimate him would be a big mistake. And the XL Pipeline is an interesting issue now. No doubt he would be inclined to approve it. But remember he has already said on the first day of his administration regulations on energy production will be relaxed and that means likely a more favourable environment for shale production and that oil means oil in competition with Canadian oil. One caveat though on this is that a lot of refiners in the Gulf Coast are set up for heavy oil like Alberta oil. So , this is worth a close watch over the weeks and months ahead.

Your can see now with his appointments so far that Trump is serious about applying many of the principles he described. Today further confirmed this with his appointment of the Education Secretary who is a strong advocate of school choice and opposed to the Common Core policy of the Obama administration.

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