The economy surges forward—billing at a later date

Bret Stephens is one of my favorite commentators. Today in the Times he wrote about the mistakes the Democrats are making as they keep trying to lay the final “gotcha” on Trump—Russia, prostitutes, emoluments, etc. The party is especially misguided, Stephens says, when it comes to the economy. Which is booming.

As a rule Mr. Stephens has little use for Donald Trump, but his words merit scrutiny.

Apple announced last Wednesday that it will repatriate most of the estimated $274 billion that it holds in offshore earnings. That’s a $38-billion tax windfall for America. In addition Apple will add 20,000 new U.S. jobs and build a new campus.

Thank you, Donald Trump.

Total dollars cached away offshore is close to $3 trillion—more than the cost of the Iraqi/Afghanistan War. In other words, you could buy a 2018 BMW 6 Series 650i xDrive Convertible for every man, woman, and child in Connecticut and Massachusetts and still have enough left over to buy that Pacific island you’ve had your eye on…before it sinks beneath the waves. All three trillion may not come back, but some will.

Thank you, Donald Trump. Your new tax bill has the stock market ablaze and industry humming. Of course you won’t be around when the bill comes due. Neither will many of us. But our children will open the envelope.

I was wrong last year when I said a Trump presidency would mean financial disaster. So were a lot of Democrats. But only because we forgot to insert the word immediate.

Immediate disaster is not in the cards, but it’s coming.

There’s no secret to the fact that relaxing regulations has been the prime mover in the current boom, but the whole drift away from regulation is a fool’s errand. Making it legal to spew pollutants into the atmosphere, to dump sludge near—or into—waterways, to relax all rules on carbon emissions will obviously assist industry. Any company that no longer needs to fret over environmental strictures will have a lot more cash to play with.

But down the road, as more illnesses take hold from the breathing of industrial emissions, and as more children suffer learning disabilities from their ingesting of lead and other metals, and as rising sea levels inundate more and more of our coastline, the bill will come due. The money for Trump’s wall will become levees for Florida, a Maeslant Barrier for New York City, and countless new medical centers to treat the sudden and “inexplicable” rise in lung diseases and brain disorders.

Thank you, Donald Trump.

Of course you will be gone. Scott Pruitt will be gone. Ryan Zinke will be gone. All the conspirators and sycophants and henchmen responsible for the festering of America will have taken their profits and gone home, leaving the next generation to straighten out the mess. It’ll be the 1960s again and someone will say, “you know, we should clean up this planet.”

It will have a familiar ring to it, and there will be enthusiasm and commitment. It may be too late for either.


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