Impeachment And The Economy

In a recent column, Paul Krugman opined that–among other benefits that some of us see (like potentially ridding ourselves of a severely mentally-ill President who has the launch codes)–the Impeachment inquiry launched by Democrats in the House will be good for the economy.

This seemed counterintuitive, since we have always heard that the markets respond negatively to uncertainty–and as we are seeing, Trump’s behavior when he is cornered is nothing if not unpredictable.

Krugman’s column anticipated Pelosi’s announcement, but applauded Impeachment’s probable effect on the economy.

If there’s one thing the tweeter in chief believes, it is that what’s good for Donald Trump is good for America. A little over a month ago (although it seems like much longer) he told a rally that “you have no choice but to vote for me,” because his electoral defeat would lead to a market crash.

But a funny thing has happened over the course of Trump’s latest terrible, horrible, very bad, no good two weeks. Suddenly, impeachment (though not removal from office) has gone from highly unlikely to highly likely. In fact, given the explosive nature of the now-revealed whistle-blower complaint, I don’t really understand how he can not be impeached.

And the financial markets have basically shrugged.

As Krugman notes, on the surface, this is strange. No matter what the outcome of the Impeachment proceedings, while they are going on, they are pretty much the only game in town: little or nothing else will happen. The administration’s legislative agenda will come to a screeching halt. Why doesn’t this worry investors?

The answer is, “What legislative agenda?”

Even when Trump’s party controlled both houses of Congress, he had only two major legislative initiatives. One was a big tax cut for corporations and the wealthy that will generate trillions in deficits but doesn’t seem to have done much for the economy. The other was an attempt to take away health insurance from around 30 million Americans, which didn’t pass.

It’s pretty obvious that, between watching Fox News and tweeting, Trump has had very little time for legislating, or for that matter, governing. (He has also given us ample reason to believe he has absolutely no idea how government works or how legislation is passed, which may explain his disinterest in both.)

To be fair, legislation isn’t the only way presidents can make policy, and the prospect of impeachment will probably exert a chilling effect on Trump’s ability to pursue policy through executive fiat. But here’s the thing: Since most of what Trump is trying to do is bad for America, whatever paralysis impeachment may induce is all to the good.

For Trump has, in effect, been waging a war on competence.

We’ve noticed.

In Trump’s vision of government, career diplomats who do actual diplomacy, experienced regulators who actually try to enforce regulations, researchers who produce objective data — up to and including weather forecasters whose predictions he doesn’t like — are all part of a deep state that’s out to get him. So Trump officials have been engaged in a systematic campaign to degrade America’s Civil Service, driving out people who know what they’re doing and replacing them with political hacks.

I’ve encountered a few members of Trump’s base, and their justifications for supporting him are consistent with Krugman’s description. Only “elitists” believe that people in government actually need to know something about governing, or  have experience or expertise in the subject-matter with which they are engaged. Any businessperson–well, any white businessman— can run  government.

Hell, you don’t need no fancy-shmancy degrees or experience. Just look at all those “best people” that Trump’s installed who are getting rid of all those silly rules and regulations that just get in the way of making a profit.

As Krugman says,

An impeachment inquiry will surely have a chilling effect on the Trumpian project of government degradation. It may not come to a dead halt, but Trump’s team of cronies will be distracted; they will be less brazen; they will be worrying about more potential whistle-blowers going public about what they’re doing.

In short, paralysis can be a very good thing. I’m rooting for it.


  1. “Dogs bark but the caravan moves on!” Never one for dog whistles, Trump has stepped into his own pile of doo-doo with the removal of our troops from Syria; is this another disastrous distraction from the impeachment inquiry or an unGodly move for his “America First” slogan? “America First” is his most dangerous dog whistle; destroying diplomatic relations with all of our allies of many decades and sucking up to our enemies who recognize him for the fool he is. His tariff wars seem to be turning the guns on him regarding this economy. “America First” is headed to “America Alone” and this country is at war internally.

    The Trump/Kim Jong Un love affair has ended, his BFF Putin is sitting back and laughing at him and this entire foundering nation, Iran is openly against the man and his administration and he is now leaving our allies to fight against the resurrection of ISIS in Syria. He has dropped to the level, long overdue, that Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham are both Tweeting and speaking out loud and clear against him. And Pat Robertson sent his warning that Trump is endangering his place in heaven with this removal of troops from Syria; will Pence’s evangelicals follow suit and trump Trump?

    Stay tuned!!!

  2. Speaking of cronies….. How about Mick Mulvaney’s latest expostulation that Trump will win 45 states in 2020 if he’s impeached. Really! He said that.

    Then, I can’t get my head around the fact that Mike Pompeo graduated first in his Naval Academy class. I guess he slept through the patriotism thingy.

  3. I’m not sure they will be “less brazen” or not. I think our market-loving Krugman wishes they would become “less brazen.”

    Once again, those of us with a conscience behave differently than those without a conscience. Sociopaths don’t feel remorse or guilt for their actions. They certainly don’t sit around, and self reflects the decisions they made yesterday to ascertain if they’ve hurt anybody with their words or actions.

    Trump threw the Kurds under the bus, and Turkey started lighting up the sky with bombs in Northern Syria. I hope our troops got out of the way before the bombings.

    He even channeled the Great Wizard of Oz by throwing around his “unmatched wisdom” above mere mortals. Only Donald knows the outcome of his decisions. No one else dares provide input.

    The market rallied when Trump gave corporations a free pass with their foreign cash accounts. They bought back stocks which ramped up the price, but since then, his tariffs and meddling have hurt capitalists. Stripping away regulations only helps a few rotten apples in dirty industries. The negative consequences of his actions will trickle down to the people. There are no positive trickles.

    Democrats are better for Wall Street because Wall Street owns them. Bill Clinton made that a permanent move in the 1990s.

    Wall Street made their move with Joe Biden, and the press jumped aboard. The people have Sanders/Warren remaining in the race.

  4. The western powers started all of the problems in the middle east nearly 100 years ago by making determinations about which nation states would be allowed to exist and which ones wouldn’t, without reference to any knowledge of the region. Now we are in the position where we have a moron in charge at a time when we need someone who is clever enough to make a deal for a new nation state called Kurdistan.

    The only good that has come from the latest snafu in Syria is that it has outraged Republicans in the Senate and apparently has caused an infusion of spine in the previously spineless toadies who inhabit that august body. Maybe it will feel good enough that they will want to hang onto that feeling.

  5. We should not and cannot conflate the financial markets with the economy; This should be civics economic lesson 101.

    Just witness how Krugman’s convoluted and contorted his reasoning becomes when he tries.

  6. FYI: Pompeo graduated first in his class at the West Point (Army), then was editor of the Harvard Law Review.

    Second, inaction in Washington is only partially attributable to Trump’s cluelessness. Mitch McConnell is determined to maintain the ossification he imposed on Congress during the Obama administration. His goal is to set an all-time record for Congressional stasis, and he has at least another fifteen months to enhance his already enviable record. That, by the way, is an agreed upon strategy by the party that works to convince the American people that they can do without a functioning government and that government is helpless to help them unless they express their daily adoration of the Betrayer in Chief. If you don’t understand that point, find a Puerto Rican to explain it.

    Third, I’m not convinced of the possibility that Trump’s impeachment process will have a negative effect on the economy. Business leaders have been expecting that outcome for so long that they may take it for granted and won’t be concerned as long as Pastor Pence survives the turmoil.

    Fourth, while I understand that Pelosi and Shiff’s strategy is to keep the impeachment issue so narrow that even an average American mind can comprehend it, I’m deeply disappointed that we will not be building several new federal prisons to house all the criminals that Trump has lured to Washington to make a mockery of democratic government. Trump’s refusal to confront Russian election meddling was his original sin as president, but his impeachable offenses are so prolific as to require a mainframe computer to track.

  7. Krugman’s purpose is to reassure the 1% that the Corporate Democrats can be counted on to allow business as usual on Wall Street. This simply means the Proles will continue to be screwed.

    As far as a withdrawal from Syria is concerned it is about time. The USA should never have sent any troops there to begin with. Yes, the Kurds maybe kicked under the bus. This is our fault for encouraging them to begin with.

    The movie Predator offers us an explanation:
    What happened to you, Dillon? You used to be someone I could trust.

    I woke up. Why don’t you? You’re an asset. An expendable asset. And I used you to get the job done, got it?

    So in the case of the Kurds, they are/were an expendable asset, just like the Hmong people in Laos and Montagnards in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Used and abused and tossed aside.

    Given President Agent Orange he can always reverse course and say he never ordered a pull-out.

    It is amazing to me to watch, and listen to the Neo-Cons Republican and Democrats lamenting the withdrawal of American Troops in Syria. Because a withdrawal from Syria was hatched in President Agent Orange’s head the Democrats have through torturous, and convoluted process must oppose it.

    All these talking heads that oppose a withdrawal of American Troops from Syria, say so from the comfort of a studio – Let them saddle up and go to the front lines.

  8. Back when I was working toward a BA in Economics with a minor in Political Science, we were told that corporate success depended upon corporate performance. That seems to be a minor consideration these days when the bottom line depends upon government largess and political maneuvering of “the market” with WTOs, tariffs, and other protectionist schemes, all of which have done great damage to classical theories which gave us invisible hands, free markets, laws of comparative advantage etc. Thus corporate accountants (having no slots for gifts) had to account for the Trump-Ryan giveaway gift (aka tax) act of December, 2017, as “earned income.”

    Earned? Gifts are earned? Result? The Dow doesn’t tell us much anymore about performance – it rather reflects how things are coming along with its 30-company lobbyists in D.C. and how the economies of China and the EU are faring, matters especially of note among both our import and export industries.

    Perhaps the market is “shrugging” because after Trump’s assaults there is nothing left that can go wrong from their perspective – so they’re safe. If so, they’re wrong. Trump, for instance, could be reelected and/or decide to help the Turks finish the job in North Syria. Crazy suggestion? Sure, but we’re dealing with a crazy man in a situation the 25th was designed to solve, a constitutional means of ridding ourselves of pathology at the top but one we are too gutless to employ. Our immediate task > Impeach and remove Trump as soon as possible; not doing so only tells his sick brain that he is indeed the messiah. We got trouble, Houston, and we got work to do, and undo.

  9. recent words,rick perry, wanting to change the board for the natl owned gas company in ukraine, for a less hostile situation and have Amerrican influence,in a forigen goverment..rick wants to sell LNG liq,natl gas and ship it it ukraine. buisness deal? hardly, south of Houston has one of the biggest LNG plants in north America,just built, (i delivered pipe there)online,and it needs customers,why not intimidate someone to buy it? like the nordstream 2 pipeline,russia to germany.. again the russians and ukraine have their own supply, and really dont see a need to buy,ship and again, give some of the profit to americans,er, war supplies? think about it? nothing like a buncha ceos running every goverment eh?

  10. I’m not sure from where and how the notion came about that accepting donations from “Wall St” (whatever that’s even supposed to mean) disqualifies any politician from competence in governing especially given that getting elected is a prerequisite to governance and millions in campaign donations is prerequisite to getting elected. As Willy Sutton implied they have to go where the money is.

    We depend on a mixed economy for jobs to pay the bills for families to bring about and up children to populate the next generation. Jobs and people to do them are the fuel of progress.

    What Agent Orange and his army of authoritarians have forgotten is that socialism and capitalism complement each other and both are successful or fail together. Capitalism depends on regulation protecting all stakeholders, progressive taxes, educated and healthy workers, and careful management of natural resources and so does socialism. The deference is that capitalism requires competition but socialism prevents it so each works best in specific markets depending on the reality of natural competition or not.

    Republicans are failing to govern now simply because power has seduced them as Lord Acton predicted it always does.

    A decade or two time out ought to be about right for them to learn that and for Democrats to start to feel that seduction. After that perhaps we can go back to an effective two party system that’s ultimately essential for political competition.

Comments are closed.