Pondering Economic Policy Implementation over the Next Four Years

From Reuters today:

“It’s becoming increasingly difficult to attract good people to work in this administration,” said one senior official. “In other cases, veteran people with expertise are leaving or seeking posts overseas and away from this White House.”

As of today, of the 557 key positions that are presidential appointments, 455 have no nominees, 24 are awaiting confirmation, 49 are formally nominated, and 29 are confirmed, according to The Partnership for Public Service

A slightly older tabulation (April 24) shows the progress by department. There was no nomination for undersecretary for domestic finance, no assistant secretary for economic policy, financial institutions, financial markets, financial stability, intelligence and analysis, tax policy (!!!). Kevin Hassett has been announced for CEA Chair (but not yet formally awaiting confirmation, as far as I know). One would think with tax cuts a priority, one would get Hassett (a tax expert) and a Treasury AS for tax policy pronto. Commerce is pretty much a blank slate as well; as of 4/24, only Wilbur Ross had been confirmed.

Now, I had thought that the slow filling of posts was due to general incompetence in developing a system of identifying and vetting candidates during the transition and afterward. However, I am now beginning to think that there is also a supply problem — that is who wants to work in this Administration?

I’m of two minds here. The lack of filled positions at a policy level has serious ramifications. Career staff cannot make decisions without guidance from above. This is problematic for every-day, long term policy implementation. However, it can take on heightened import if there is a need for a targeted stimulus through tax policy, or a financial crisis, either domestic or international. So we need reasoned and informed policy level people. On the other hand, consider if the economic nominees are like General Flynn (of whom Donald Trump once asked whether a strong dollar was a good thing). Putting into place policy level economic policymakers who for instance believe in self-financing income tax cuts might be more damaging than having nobody in place.

38 thoughts on “Pondering Economic Policy Implementation over the Next Four Years

  1. Julian Silk

    Dear Menzie,

    There is also the possibility that nominees may be asked to sign on to “alternate facts”, which will damage employment opportunities later. There are more than hints that even Kellyanne Conway is dissatisfied with what Trump is making her do, while H.R. McMaster appears to be signed up and will go down with the ship if it sinks. Do you have any ideas about the difference between “it could work under certain circumstances, and so I will defend it” and “I know it will never work, but I hate the opposition so much I will argue for it”?

    Julian

    Reply
  2. PeakTrader

    There are indications the Trump Administration wants to shrink government bureaucracy, including with smaller budgets. And, some Democrat bureaucrats are against the Trump Administration. Republicans also want a smaller government.

    One reason there may be a “supply problem,” which I don’t believe, is the politically charged environment caused by the Democrats and the media intent on destroying the Trump Administration, and the lack of experience playing political games, which is so important in Washington, by Trump.

    Reply
    1. dilbert dogbert

      The Republicans will pass a budget shrinking government at the same time they will shrink the DOD.

      Reply
      1. PeakTrader

        No, the media didn’t go after Obama – he got one pass after another.

        Trump gets no slack for his lack of political experience – his biggest weakness.

        Trump is being exploited by the media and the rest of the Democrat machine for the good of the Democrat party at the expense of the country.

        Reply
        1. sherparick

          The forgettery involved in your statements is simply evidence of insanity. (See definition of insanity, No. 4: a foolish, senseless, reality defying statement. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/insanity?s=t)

          Fox News and Right Wing talk radio gave Obama a pass in 2009? Are they not media? The Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post editorial page (which in 2009 was mostly right wingers) were they not media?? Also, Obama did not spit on the Constitution and the Emoluments clause to accept revenues streams in the millions at his hotels and resorts from foreign Governments, politicians, and business men or using his weekend golf outings to pay himself through his resorts millions of tax dollars every weekend. (If you are currious, here is the “left wing” “liberal” Merriam-Webster definition of “emoluments.”)

          Just as a side note, public sector employment, despite economic and population growth that occurred from 2009 to 2017 declined by 200,000 jobs during Obama’s two terms of office. see http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2017/03/public-and-private-sector-payroll-jobs.html Again, being a right winger means being insane, to believe things that are not true and have zero evidence in support of their propositions.
          Again, we see another example that Movement Conservativism and Libertarianism cannot fail, they can only be failed. The right-wing in this country is driven for the desire of power and the overthrow of democracy in the service of ideology consisting of insane, reality defying, beliefs. But your credulity has made some grifters from Limbaugh, to Coulter, to Hannity, to Ailes, to O’Reilly, to Murdoch, immensely rich.

          Reply
          1. PeakTrader

            Being a far left winger explains your biased and ignorant views. The mainstream media, including the press, is overwhelmingly to the left. The New York Times, for example, is farther to the left than Fox News is to the right, which had more in depth reporting of all the scandals in the Obama Administration, which I’m sure you didn’t hear much about from your media.

    2. 2slugbaits

      This is truly delusional. Republicans only want to shrink the part of the federal government that protects the bottom 99%. They want to expand the parts of government that protect their favorite monopolies and protect the wealth of the top 1%. And you’ll have to look long and hard to find more intrusive government than what you’ll find in GOP controlled state legislatures.

      And apparently it’s the Democrats’ fault that Trump has been throwing such juvenile temper tantrums than no one wants to ruin their reputation by associating with a loser. And apparently it’s the Democrats’ fault that 7 months after the election Trump still hasn’t even submitted nominations for 80% of the executive posts. Yes…obviously the fault of Democrats. And clearly it’s the Democrats’ fault that three of his choices for service secretaries withdrew their names. It must be the Democrats’ fault if you heard it on Fox Noise.

      I don’t think the media has to try too hard to destroy Trump. The Chile President is quite capable of doing that all by his lonesome. Insiders report that even Jared Kushner has had enough of Trump’s cray-cray and is ready to bail…notice that we haven’t seen much of Jared and Ivanka lately.

      Reply
      1. PeakTrader

        The top 1% overwhelmingly contributed to Hillary during the campaign – the crony capitalists.

        The Republicans care much more about the 99%. That’s why they’re against failed policies.

        Everyone knew Trump is Trump and voted for him anyway.

        Reply
        1. 2slugbaits

          And the Russians contributed overwhelmingly to the Trump campaign.

          A clear majority voted against Trump. He’s only President because he managed to bamboozle a few key precincts of desperate, low information voters that thought he would bring back their jobs. Trump was right about one thing…his supporters would be with him even if he pulled out a gun and shot someone on 5th Avenue.

          Trump is toast. Given his temperament I expect him to resign rather than be told “You’re fired!” In his narcissistic view the country let down Donald Trump, so he will show us all by depriving us of all of his wise counsel. By golly, that’ll show ’em.

          Reply
        2. sherparick

          More insanity from Peak Trader.

          1. “Everyone” knew Trump is Trump and voted for him anyway. “Everyone” apparently does not include the 54% who voted for someone else, including the 48% who voted for Mrs. Clinton.

          2. Of the .001%, 61 out hundred gave to Republicans and Trump. https://www.opensecrets.org/overview/topindivs.php, either individually or through organizations. https://www.opensecrets.org/overview/toporgs.php

          (I must admit though having looked at the list, I am surprised at the numbers of rich people giving to Democrats based on their views and beliefs, and not their self-interests since a good portion stand to gain immensely from the Republicans tax cuts.)

          Reply
          1. PeakTrader

            Everyone who voted for Trump voted for him.

            He won. Get over it.

            The Democrats represent the rich more than the Republicans, which represent the middle class more.

        3. mike v

          The top 1% contributes overwhelmingly to every national candidate. Trump’s top donors and superPACs are loaded with mega-wealthy people: https://www.opensecrets.org/pres16/contributors?id=N00023864
          And his cabinet is worth between $5 and $15 billion.

          I follow the policy world pretty closely – conservative, liberal, libertarian, technocrat, etc.
          And, in no universe is “The Republicans care much more about the 99%” true. In the last 8 years, I have not seen one ounce of evidence, based on the policies they espouse, that this is true. Not even close.

          How can you watch this healthcare bill evolve, with a $275billion tax cut for people in the top 2% of income combined with an $800billion cut to Medicaid, and call them “pro 99%”?

          Reply
          1. PeakTrader

            Democrats are much more politically active than republicans (which also explains why more democrat women are in politics).

            The Republicans want a middle class tax cut and fewer regulations, including Obamacare, which harmed the middle class.

            How does creating and defending wasteful and failed systems help the 99%? Everyone has suffered in this depression, since the recession ended in 2009.

            I’m not surprised you cite only super PACs on Trump. Hillary had much more money:

            https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/2016-election/campaign-finance/

          2. PeakTrader

            Of course, Trump’s cabinet is richer, because it has successful businessmen, rather than lawyers or career bureaucrats/politicians.

          3. baffling

            no peak, republicans want a tax cut for the upper class. and they sell the middle class the trickle down economics theory. i have family who have bought into this con for decades. they still argue how they benefit from the tax cut their boss gets-while collecting their unemployment checks. the con is truly amazing.

    3. Noneconomist

      Shrink government by hiring 10,000 new ICE agents and adding $55 billion to DOD? You need a new definition of “shrink”.

      Reply
      1. PeakTrader

        Trump and Republicans want to shrink some parts of government. I’m sure, the Republicans, at least, believe it’s a spending problem rather than a revenue problem.

        Reply
  3. Steven Kopits

    Really. Four years? You think the planning horizon is four years.

    Here are a couple of words to get used to: “President Pence”

    Reply
    1. Jeffrey J. Brown

      http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/17/mike-pence-president-trump-238525

      Not since the release of the Access Hollywood tape, in which Donald Trump bragged about groping women by the genitals, have some conservatives thought so seriously, if a bit wistfully, about two words: President Pence.

      The scandals clouding Trump’s presidency — including, most recently, his firing of FBI Director James Comey, his alleged leak of classified information to Russian officials, and reports that he urged Comey to drop an investigation into a top aide — have raised once more the possibility that Trump could be pushed aside and replaced by Vice President Mike Pence.

      “If what the [New York Times] reported is true, Pence is probably rehearsing,” one House Republican who asked not to be named quipped Wednesday. “It’s just like Nixon. From the standpoint that it’s never the underlying issue, it is always the cover-up.”

      Reply
  4. Jeffrey J. Brown

    Excerpt from a column by David Brooks, “When the world is led by a child”

    “We’ve got this perverse situation in which the vast analytic powers of the entire world are being spent trying to understand a guy whose thoughts are often just six fireflies beeping randomly in a jar.”

    Reply
    1. PeakTrader

      The same thing could’ve been said about Theodore Roosevelt.

      Of course, he didn’t have a hostile media and a monolithic Democrat party using the legal system as a sledgehammer on every questionable action.

      Reply
      1. Jeffrey J. Brown

        What’s interesting is that David Brooks, who wrote the column “When the world is led by a child,” is a conservative columnist.

        And at the above Politico link, following is the headline and sub-headline:

        Conservatives begin to whisper: President Pence
        With Trump swamped by self-inflicted scandals, Republicans find solace in the man waiting in the wings.

        Reply
      2. sherparick

        You really are an insane. After Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and John Quincy Adams, Teddy Roosevelt was the probably the most educated we have had. He wrote books that are still read!! He wrote most of his own speeches. He took real risks, both as rancher and soldier, traveled the world, and did not live a hot house world of New York socialite. And of course he was a liberal and progressive who laid the foundation of the modern U.S. Government which Trump and the Conservative Movement want to destroy. Even Conservapedia recognizes this TR. http://www.conservapedia.com/Theodore_Roosevelt#Conservation

        Reply
        1. PeakTrader

          TR was a progressive Republican when government was too small. Trump may have done the same at that time – you don’t know. TR had strengths and weaknesses, like Trump. They were both compared to children, which was my point, which you apparently missed. All your insane comments are in left field.

          Reply
      3. Jeffrey J. Brown

        Another conservative columnist comments:

        Bret Stephens: ‘The Flight 93 Election’ Crashes Again

        https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/17/opinion/flight-93-election-trump-conservatives.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&_r=0

        In recent days, the radio host Michael Savage has acknowledged “the administration is in trouble.” John Podhoretz in the New York Post and later The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page each compared Trump to Jimmy Carter — the most damning of all conservative indictments.

        Then there’s Ann Coulter. In an interview with The Daily Caller, the author of “In Trump We Trust” said of the presidency that “it has been such a disaster so far,” and that it was possible that “the Trump-haters were right.” She even dropped the f-bomb — “fascist” — to describe Trump’s hiring of his relatives to senior White House posts. . . .

        That is the Trump reality. A man with a deformed personality and a defective intellect runs a dysfunctional administration — a fact finally visible even to its most ardent admirers. Who could have seen that one coming? Who knew that character might be destiny?

        To reread “The Flight 93 Election” today is to understand what has gone wrong not only with the Trump presidency, but also with so much of the conservative movement writ large. In a word, it’s become unhinged.

        I

        Reply
          1. Jeffrey J. Brown

            Very interesting and compelling interview. Of course, I’m sure you recall that Tony Schwartz tried to warn us before the election.

            An item in Vanity Fair on P.T.S.D.—President Trump Stress Disorder:

            http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/05/graydon-carter-donald-trump-first-100-days?mbid=nl_TH_591e025e20de9f4aea8eebca&CNDID=17768489&spMailingID=11062184&spUserID=MTMzMTgyNDA2NzI2S0&spJobID=1161601492&spReportId=MTE2MTYwMTQ5MgS2

            His presidency is effectively doomed—it’s only a question now of how and when it will end. Treason? Impeachment?Incapacity? Until that day, you should be forgiven if you think you are suffering from extreme, full-blown P.T.S.D.—President Trump Stress Disorder. You are not alone. A serial liar in the office or home is one thing—and stressful enough. But a serial liar in the highest office in the land is something else altogether. Couple that with an erratically fragile ego, a severely diminished mental capacity, a lacerating temper, and access to the nuclear codes, and it’s going to get a whole lot hotter in here.

    2. Jeffrey J. Brown

      Our infantile Commander in Chief throws a tantrum at the Coast Guard Academy:

      Trump to graduates: ‘No politician in history… has been treated worse’
      http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/17/politics/trump-coast-guard-speech/

      President Donald Trump, amid his own swirling controversies, advised United States Coast Guard Academy graduates that while things aren’t always fair, “you have to put your head down and fight, fight, fight. . . . “

      “No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly.”

      Reply
    3. PeakTrader

      Quotes about Theodore Roosevelt:

      “Don’t any of you realize there’s only one life between that madman and the Presidency?”–Republican National Chairman Mark Hanna, as TR was nominated for vice-president

      “Now look! That damned cowboy is President of the United States!”–Mark Hanna, after McKinley’s assassination

      “You must always remember that the President is about six.”–Cecil Spring-Rice, the British ambassador

      Reply
      1. Noneconomist

        While you’re at it, why not compare TR’s ideas on physical activity with Trump’s.
        Roosevelt did, of course, become a famous Rough Rider. I suppose the same could be said of Trump if we’re referring to riding the elevators in Trump Tower.

        Reply
  5. John Lott

    The Democrats have fought a delaying action over each and every nomination. Requiring 30 hours of debate for even the most noncontroversial nominees. Kevin Hassett should be a noncontroversial nominee and with the tax bill he should be confirmed as soon as possible, but the Democrats like leaving Hassett in limbo.

    Reply

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