It’s been noted before that Democratic Presidents don’t come into office with a clean slate. At least the last two – Bill Clinton and Barack Obama – have had to clean up significant messes from their Republican predecessors. It appears that the Democratic President who takes office in 2021 will have to do the same.
First, the economy. We’ve been on a record run since Barack Obama steered us out of the Great Recession which came largely as a result of Republican de-regulation, tax cuts for the rich and endless war. The good economy we enjoy now is due in large part to the groundwork Obama set in cleaning up W’s mess. But, to be fair, Donald Trump has played a part in keeping the economy going strong. The problem is, though, that Trump did this by priming the pump with an unnecessary tax cut that has added billions to the national deficit. If you believe in the boom/bust of the business cycle, then a President overseeing a good economy should have an eye ahead to the time when the cycle moves closer to bust. Any reasonable person should realize that when the economy goes down, then unemployment claims and other forms of assistance who are hurt by a downturn go up. This will naturally add to the strain on the federal budget. So, when the economy is going well, take the extra revenues you get from a stronger economy to get the country ready for the increased expenditures coming down the road. But that’s not what Trump did. He cut taxes and did it in a way to benefited himself and his rich friends. It has helped keep the economy going strong, but at a price of adding to the deficit. So, prediction? When President Warren takes office, she’ll be fighting against an economy heading into a downturn AND Republicans who all of a sudden think deficits are an existential threat to the country. It’s gonna happen.
Second, the government. Trump has been an especially bad example of how a Republican can mess things up when they take the presidency. He has understaffed the whole government and put absolute hacks into positions where they can do actual damage to the country with misguided ideological views on things (see Education, EPA, CFPB). It’s going to take President Harris a considerable amount of time to fight to get all of the spots filled. If the Senate is still controlled by Republicans, it’ll be that much harder. Plus, a President Biden is going to have to start on day one to reverse the steps Trump took to deregulate business, the environment and more. Endangered Species, Clean Water, Clean Air, the CFPB (a place close to my heart). There’s a long list here.
Finally, foreign relations. Just like Barack Obama had to repair relationships all across the world after 8 years of disastrous Bush policies, President Buttigieg is going to have to make friends again. And treat our adversaries as adversaries. Diplomacy has gone out the window under the Trumpies and it’s going to be a long hard slog to get it back.
So, that’s a lot. On the bright side, there may be a sign in all of this of a Democratic win in 2020. After 3 terms of Republicans in the White House (Reagan, Bush, Sr.), we got two terms of Clinton and a booming economy. After 2 terms of Bush Jr. in the White House, we got two terms of Obama with an economy brought back from the brink and the start of the current record of continuous job growth (started in 2010 under Obama). So, 3, 2, 1? One term of Trump and let’s get a Democrat in there before he does any more damage.