January 14th GOP Primary Debate

Maria Bartiromo and Lou Dobbs wrapped up their questions and the candidates made the evening’s riveting final statements. “Ouch!” I didn’t notice the steaming water as I blindly ran some dishes under the tap. A burning hand snapped me out of my slack-jawed ponderings; I had been deep in thought following Thursday evening’s GOP debate. Once again, Donald Trump dominated the stage, receiving the balance of questions and attacks, and dishing out the balance of pithy comebacks and political hyperbole. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio were a clear 2nd and 3rd place, if ranked by camera time and talking point conveyance. Some pundits felt that Governor Christie had a strong showing, while Bush, Kasich and Carson were almost universally panned for lackluster, low energy showings. (If there was anyone else on that stage who I forgot to mention, than it’s safe to say they somehow fared worse than the last three mentioned.)

Shortly before burning my hand, I was trying to decide, “What did I take from this debate outside of entertainment value? Whose policy ideas and positions on issues really stood out to me?” That’s more difficult to answer than it should be. Cruz, Rubio and Christie all have such convoluted positions on immigration, abortion, the 2nd amendment and education, that I am unsure what these candidates true beliefs and ideas are, and what they would actually do if elected. On the other hand, it’s very easy to understand Trump and Carson’s positions (current) on issues, but both of them are also high on hyperbole and low on specifics. Ultimately, I found myself buying what the Donald was selling more than anyone else.

While I don’t agree with all of his bluster, I do support his views on illegal immigration and increasing the integrity of our borders. I support temporarily scaling back on Muslim immigration, although I would have framed the idea as temporarily banning immigration from countries with a higher incidence of terrorism, in order to avoid the “he hates Muslims, he’s a racist” attacks from the PC police. But it was Trump’s strong views on US-China trade relations that really got my attention. Trump claims that he will get tough on China, using tariffs and other means of leverage to convince the Chinese to allow the Yuan to more naturally appreciate against the USD.

For many years now, the Chinese have pegged their currency to ensure it never rises above the dollar (in relative valuation). Fixing their currency keeps Chinese exports cheap and gives their labor & manufacturing an unfair advantage vs US labor & manufacturing. In economics theory, within a free trade system, trade deficits should never exist in the long run; however, artificial currency manipulation does not allow for the natural re-balancing of currency valuations that would correct a trade imbalance. This imbalance exacerbates American job loss and manufacturing flight overseas, adds to individual and US debt as Americans continue to buy cheap Chinese goods and the Chinese government and private entities buy up US Treasuries, stocks and commercial real estate. While Chinese investment in these assets is generally a good thing, if the imbalance grows too large over time it could give the Chinese leverage over US policy making, both foreign and domestic. Unfortunately, imposing tariffs and restricting free trade with China would severely hurt US consumers and businesses requiring Chinese goods. However, a smart administration should act while we still have means of leverage (like tariffs), and convince the Chinese to allow their currency to float freely, or to at least allow for greater appreciation.

The fact that Trump understands business, finance and international trade gives me hope that if he can behave himself, he could do wonders for our economy, much in the same way I felt about Mitt Romney’s background.. We don’t need another community organizing senator, whose greatest exposure to business was operating a lemonade stand as a kid. A strong US economy is the ultimate cure-all for so many of the other issues being debated today. With a robust economy, people get back to work, unfunded liabilities of social programs decrease, our debt ratio diminishes, there’s more money for education, medical research and infrastructure, and financing the war against a hydra of radical groups becomes more manageable. As a nation, we need to stop voting in candidates based on their charisma, entertainment value, gender, skin color and position on divisive social issues, and start voting in candidates who have serious track records in leadership, administration, business and economics; leaders who have shown they are capable of delegating to experts in areas like foreign policy, national defense, education, healthcare and the justice system. We have seen too many presidents who think they have all the answers and know what’s best for the American people. They appoint “yes men” to the various secretary positions, Attorney General and even the Supreme Court. A real leader realizes there are experts in every field, and knows how to harness their talents to America’s benefit.