Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Exposing the Fantasy of Trump's Policy Positions on Energy and the Economy

Donald Trump has laid out his vision for both energy and economics and independent assessments of his policy positions suggest that he is either profoundly ignorant or a bold faced liar.

His energy policy seeks to expand dirty energy and while that would benefit the fossil fuel industry it would condemn the planet to a climate apocalypse. In a policy speech to the Detroit Economic Club, on Monday, Aug. 8, 2016, Trump said that his presidency would deliver "a complete rethinking of our energy policy." This translates to unmitigated expansion of domestic fossil fuel extraction. If the US were to ramp up its production of oil, gas, and coal it would bring an end to decades of efforts that has culminated in the signing of a global agreement to combat climate change at COP21 in Paris last year.

While Trump referred to Koch-funded Institute for Energy Research, he ignores research that shows how the transition to clean energy will provide jobs and economic growth. He did not mention the even the Koch brothers do not support him. He also referenced research from Exxon-funded Heritage Foundation. He did not mention Exxon's outrageous deceit nor did he explain that the Heritage foundation is a conservative organization that has been a stalwart supporter of climate denial.

Trump promises to put coal miners back to work. What he does not mention is the fact that markets for coal are drying up. Nor does he mention the health care costs associated with burning coal.

What he and the fossil fuel industry fail to acknowledge is the fact that there are massive costs associated with climate change. From sea level rise to extreme weather, failing to reduce global emissions is far more expensive than transitioning away from fossil fuels.

As explained in a Thinkprogress article, if we continue with business as usual, climate change will cost the US 36 percent of its GDP by the end of the century according to ICF International and NextGen Climate Action. By 2060 the cost of climate change will be $44 trillion according to Citigroup.

Like so much of the information coming out of the Trump campaign, his positions on energy and the economy are premised on faulty assumptions (aka lies).

While he portrays himself as the candidate of the future, nothing could be further from the truth. He is regurgitating the same tired line that has been the bedrock of GOP presidential nominees in the last three election cycles. George Bush and Mitt Romney both stood on the same energy platform. 

Trump tries to spin his rehash of GOP's fossil fuel obsession as an energy policy that is good for America's future. In fact all of the Republican presidential hopefuls have ties to the fossil fuel industry. If you want to understand the GOP relationship to dirty energy all you need to do is look at their funding. A science oriented assessment of this policy shows it will actually spell disaster for the US and the world. Destroying environmental regulations and doubling down on fossil fuels will not provide the economic boom that he promises. It will make Americans sick and drive the economy into recession.

Trump has promised to kill President Obama's executive actions including his carbon rule and water protections. However as reported by Thinkprogress, President Obama's Climate Action Plan would lower electricity bills and the Waters rule protects small farmers against pollution from big agribusiness.

Nor can he construe more drilling, more pipelines and anti-UN efforts as anything but a reiteration of the GOP's longstanding policy position.

Trump claims renewable energy "is not working so good" again he could not be more wrong. Trump does not mention that investors are growing increasingly worried about the risks associated with the fossil fuel industry. Nor does he mention that investments in renewable energy have eclipsed fossil fuels. In fact Trump seems hopelessly out of touch with energy issues in 2016.

The renewable energy revolution is unstoppable. The signing of the COP21 agreement has bolstered  renewables which were already among the fastest growing industries in the world.

“Donald Trump’s energy proposals read like a gift registry for the fossil fuel and financial industries,” Greenpeace executive director Annie Leonard said in a statement. “If a U.S. president would attempt to enact any of these proposals it would not only undo the the progress millions of people around the world have achieved on climate change, it would set this country on a path to economic ruin and environmental devastation.” 

As reported in another Thinkprogress article, Trump's tax cuts alone would cost the US economy $9.5 trillion in revenue over 10 years.The eradication of trade deals and the tariffs that Trump talks abouty would cost somewhere between 3.5 million to 7 million jobs and risk a recession.

If Trump implements his promise to massively deport and block immigrants it could reduce GDP growth by $1.6 trillion and shrink the economy by 6.4 percent. This does not include the estimated $400 and $600 billion it would cost to deport immigrants.

As explained by Thinkprogress, an analysis from Moody’s Analytics, indicates that Trump's economic policies would result in the loss of millions of jobs (almost 3 million in his first term) and it would push the US into the longest recession in the nation's history. Trump's policies would not improve wages for the average American family. His policies would however cause housing values and the stock market to decline. The analysis further indicates that the deficit would grow to nearly $1 trillion by 2020.

Trump has laid out his xenophobic attitudes in an address on terrorism. However Thinkprogress reviewed a report from Economist Intelligence Unit which claimed, "the negative economic impact of a Trump presidency would be on par with the threat of rising global Islamist terrorism."

A number of economists have stepped forward saying that Trump's economic policies are pure fantasy. As reported by Politico, economists say that Trump's policies would increase the price of goods and this would "would hurt the very demographic that supports him in the greatest numbers: less educated voters struggling in a tepid U.S. economy."

According to Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Analytics and an adviser to John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign, if Trump's policies were enacted it would be some form of disaster for the economy. If you force 11 million undocumented immigrants to leave in a year, you would be looking at a depression. It would not help the people he is talking to, they would be the first to go down."

Mark J. Perry, a professor at the University of Michigan at Flint and a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute said that "cheap imports benefit American companies that hire American workers to finish the production process. Trump is really harkening back to the outdated mercantilist positions of hundreds of years ago."

Heather Boushey, chief economist at the progressive Washington Center for Equitable Growth said "He [Trump] takes a very populist tone on taxes, but when you look at the plan it is very much weighted to cutting taxes at the very top."

The problem with Trump is that his assertions are, "not based on economic reality."

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