President-elect Donald Trump. Yeah, we're still shocked and horrified. Yeah, writing those once-unspeakable words is weird and painful.
But as I told my Republican friends when Barack Obama trounced John McCain and Mitt Romney, get over it. Rather than wringing our hands over the fate of our nation, our continent, our world and our soon-to-be-jobless friends in Washington, let's think about our hometown.
What does a Trump presidency mean to the Pikes Peak region? How will our daily lives, our pocketbooks and our future be affected? Which of our many fears will be realized, and which are unlikely to come to pass?
Counting Social Security payments, active duty and retired military pay, income from employees of military contractors and other indirect impacts, as much as 50 percent of the regional economy is dependent upon defense spending. Some of that spending is locked into the budget — no president would ever tamper with military retirement pay or health benefits.
Trump has embraced two apparently contradictory notions: to lower America's overseas military profile and increase defense spending. If he follows through, expect increases in active-duty personnel at Carson, Peterson, Schriever and other local facilities, as well as new construction.
The president-elect also has proposed a $2 trillion federal investment in infrastructure that, combined with lower corporate and individual income tax rates, would give the economy a real shot in the arm. We don't know where the money will go, but it's reasonable to assume transportation will be at or near the top of the list. Interstate 25, anyone? You can bet that our severely conservative Congressman Doug Lamborn already is on the case.
Interestingly, this neo-Keynesian economic stimulus program is exactly the kind of measure that, if proposed by President Hillary Clinton, would have been scornfully dismissed by Beltway Republicans. But Trump has turned the political world upside down, so it'll likely get done. And if we know anything for sure about the Donald, it's that he's not afraid of debt.
What about other stuff on the national Republican agenda, like turning federal lands over to the states, drilling everywhere, defunding the Environmental Protection Agency and easing automobile mileage standards? I don't know, but remember Trump owes nobody — not lobbyists, not bankers, not billionaire donors, not political party hacks. He assembled a rag-tag crew of has-beens like Chris Christie and Newt Gingrich and never-weres like Corey Lewandowski and Hope Hicks and got himself elected (at least by the electoral college). He owes the voters — specifically, the white working class in Ohio, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan and other Rust Belt/Appalachian states. He has to figure out how to make their lives better.
That won't be easy. Middle-aged white men often don't have marketable skills (one reason many have stopped looking for jobs), so an expanding economy may not benefit them much. Bringing manufacturing companies back to the U.S. may not help, thanks to automation. Robot welders pay for themselves in a couple of years, never get sick and are on the job 24/7.
That's Trump's problem, not ours. But as one whose campaign may have benefited from Vladimir Putin's clever cyber warfare, he ought to understand the problem. That should mean more funding for the sector, and a lot will flow to Colorado Springs. As I pointed out in a blog for the Colorado Springs Business Journal, Trump's antipathy toward government regulation may well persuade the EPA to drop its demand that Colorado Springs pay a multimillion-dollar fine as punishment for violating the Clean Water Act.
Those are the positives. So how about the negatives? That depends upon how Trump implements the larger themes of his campaign. Will he be stupid enough to begin mass deportations, kill off Obamacare without a seamless transition to Trumpcare, require electric utilities to switch from natural gas to coal or withdraw from NAFTA and send the economies of the United States, Canada and Mexico into lasting recession?
Call Trump what you will, but he's not stupid. He wants to lead us from the slough of despondency (drain the swamp!) to the sunny uplands of prosperity. He's not much for long-term planning and wants immediate success and adulation, especially from his erstwhile opponents.
As he might say, it's simple. Borrow a shitload of money, put millions to work on thousands of infrastructure projects, preside over national prosperity and spend the weekends in New York City.
D.C.? Are you kidding?
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