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My job is not to represent the world but to put America’s interests first, says US President Donald Trump

On international commerce, Trump said he believed in free trade but brought up his criticism that it was not currently fair and led to loss of millions of American jobs

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America's new President Donald address a rally
Trump addressing a debate, wikimedia

Washington, March 1, 2017: Stepping away from decades of US insistence on engineering the world according to its perceptions, President Donald trump said his job is not to represent the world but to put America’s interests first while respecting the right of nations to chart their own course.

In his annual State of the Union Address to the joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, Trump said: “My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the US.”

Presenting a gentler version of his America First policy, he said Washington will “respect the sovereign rights of nations”.

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“Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people — and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path,” he said.

“But we know that America is better off, when there is less conflict — not more.”

Instead of isolationism, the President said: “Our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust and meaningful engagement with the world.”

For this, he said: “America is willing to find new friends, and to forge new partnerships, where shared interests align. We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict.”

As for American leadership, he said it will be “based on vital security interests that we share with our allies across the globe”.

These elements of his emerging foreign policy mark a break from previous Democratic and Republican administrations’ policy of nation-building and exporting democracy.

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In practice, though, these policy claims mired the US in wars even as they exposed the hypocrisy of supporting dictatorial regimes where it suited the economic or foreign policy interests.

Tuesday’s speech also toned down the strident ‘America First’ agenda that he presented at his inaugural address on January 20.

But he reiterated his promise “to demolish and destroy” the Islamic State, which he described as “a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, women, and children of all faiths and beliefs”.

“We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet,” he said.

While offering continued support to the NATO and other allies in an attempt to allay fears, Trump reiterated his condition they should meet their share of the financial obligations.

“And now, based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning to do just that,” he asserted.

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 “We expect our partners, whether in NATO, in the Middle East, or the Pacific — to take a direct and meaningful role in both strategic and military operations, and pay their fair share of the cost.”

On international commerce, Trump said he believed in free trade but brought up his criticism that it was not currently fair and led to loss of millions of American jobs.

“I am not going to let America and its great companies and workers, be taken advantage of anymore,” he said.

“I am going to bring back millions of jobs. We must create a level playing field for American companies and workers.” (IANS)

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Economy to Overcome Other Issues in 2020, says Trump

President Donald Trump is hoping that simple message in 2020 will help foil his eventual Democratic Party challenger. 

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President Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump attends a Keep America Great Rally at the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S. VOA

“It’s the economy, stupid” has been a catchphrase of U.S. presidential politics since the 1992 campaign, when Bill Clinton unseated incumbent George H.W. Bush. Nearly three decades later, U.S. President Donald Trump is hoping that simple message in 2020 will help foil his eventual Democratic Party challenger.

Trump — in tweets, at political rallies and in remarks to reporters — constantly emphasizes the performance of the U.S. economy, stock market surges, low unemployment rates and his tax cuts to boast he is doing a great job as president.

Economists and political analysts are divided on whether that message will enable the incumbent to stay in office beyond January 2021.

Culture war, partisan split

Ever since Clinton, “we’ve all kind of assumed that should be true. And I think for the most part, it is,” said Ryan McMaken, senior editor and economist at the Mises Institute, a politics and economics research group in Alabama. He cautioned, though, that Trump finds himself on one side of a culture war that his predecessors did not have to confront, as well as a deep partisan divide on consumer confidence.

Walmart Supercentre
Balo Balogun labels items in preparation for a holiday sale at a Walmart Supercenter, in Las Vegas. Black Friday once again kicks off the start of the holiday shopping season. But it will be the shortest season since 2013 because of Thanksgiving falling on the fourth Thursday in November, the latest possible date it can be. VOA

Policy analyst James Pethokoukis at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, a public policy research group, also is cautious about the economy prevailing over all other issues.

“Just having a strong economy is not going to guarantee you re-election,” he said. “People often point back to the 2000 election, which occurred after a decade of tremendous economic growth any way you want to measure it — gross domestic product, jobs and wage growth. And yet, [Clinton’s vice president] Al Gore still lost that election to George W. Bush.”

McMaken questioned whether voters in key swing states — such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio — who cast ballots for Trump in 2016 were experiencing enough of the touted economic performance to vote again for the president.

Overall, however, “it’s not a bad economy to run on if you’re Donald Trump,” said Pethokoukis.

Trump, said to have concerns about the direction of the economy ahead of next November’s election, will likely push for more tax cuts, passage of a renegotiated North American trade pact and continued pressure on the country’s central banking system, the Federal Reserve, to lower interest rates.

A LB Steel LLC's employee manufactures a component
A LB Steel LLC’s employee manufactures a component for new Amtrak Acela trains built in partnership with Alstom in Harvey, Illinois, U.S. VOA

Trouble ahead?

There are rumblings of economic storm clouds on the horizon. The impact can be seen in Trump’s trade war with China, which has hurt U.S. farmers and raised prices for consumer goods. It’s also reflected in the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Index, an underperforming U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index and a ballooning record national debt, in addition to the worrying level of money owed to creditors by middle-class Americans.

“We’ve actually been in a sort of a manufacturing recession, seen a shrinkage of factory jobs, the exact kinds of jobs that I’m sure that people voting for the president thought would be a lot better now,” said Pethokoukis.

So far, none of this has prompted a major stock market correction.

“There seems to be a lot of adaptations in the markets to Trump’s America. That may work to his advantage,” said the Mises Institute’s McMaken.

Analysts note a lack of emphasis on economic platforms so far by the leading Democratic U.S. presidential candidates seeking to oust Trump next year.

But such a platform is likely to be touted when the opposition party holds its convention next July in Milwaukee and picks its campaign ticket. Pethokoukis suggested the Democratic Party should devise a plan with a goal to boost American worker productivity, which has flatlined for years.

The great divide

McMaken pointed out that the widening chasm between the well-off and those struggling economically in the United States makes Trump vulnerable — something emphasized by left-leaning Democratic presidential contenders such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Donald Trump says the economy isn't doing well
Tents and tarps erected by homeless people are shown along sidewalks and streets in the skid row area of downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S. VOA

“On the ground level, I would say just in general, the economy isn’t doing as well,” concluded McMaken.

ALSO READ: Greed For Power May Demolish The Democracy

Amid an impeachment drive by the Democrats, Trump is repeatedly hammering on a specific message to those questioning his suitability for office while being impressed with the performance of their pension accounts during his presidency.

“Love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me,” Trump said at a rally in New Hampshire in August, warning that Americans’ investments portfolios would go “down the tubes” if he lost next year’s election. (VOA)