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The disaster of Donald Trump

23 August 2017

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It would be difficult to imagine a man more ill-suited to high office than Donald Trump, nor a presidency so spectacularly disastrous a mere eight months in. Gung-ho gaffer George W Bush seemed almost statesmanlike in comparison. Even when Trump is calling for peace, love and unity, he gets it wrong.

Trump's campaign has whipped a nation up into a fervour and given oxygen to the most abhorrent of racist, white supremacist throwbacks to the darkest chapters of America's history. When violence spilled over in Charlottesville, Virginia, on August 12, culminating in what appears to be a white supremacist terror attack and the murder of civil rights activist Heather Heyer, Trump could only respond with a limp call condemning violence on all sides. It was only after a storm of criticism, including from within his own Republican Party, over his failure to denounce the white supremacist groups responsible, that he explicitly denounced the KKK and neo-Nazis. Only a day later, he changed his mind again, staging a press conference to defend some of the protesters at Charlottesville as "very fine people", presumably caught up with some very unfine people.

It is just the latest in a string of volte faces from the US president. Trump talks the big league talk on the stump, but as soon as he realises the challenge before him, he switches tack. We've seen it countless times before. The Mexican wall? It's political fluff, the Mexicans aren't going to pay. The Muslim ban? That was never going to work.

We are quickly building a picture of a POTUS who is all sound and fury. Even on tax reform, among his less off-the-wall proposals, Trump's policy proposals are already hitting the rocks. Business leaders will at least be breathing a sigh of relief that the Trump administration has abandoned plans for a border adjustment tax, even as multinational CEOs are distancing themselves in revulsion at Trump's response to Charlottesville. But how now will he be able to plug the revenue gap as he seeks to bring in sweeping corporate tax cuts? Moreover, as salacious Russian scandals circle closer and closer and one senior administration figure after another falls away, will Trump be in office long enough to see them through?

Taxpayers want stability more than anything else and that is the one thing Trump's shambolic administration cannot provide. Without that, all his corporate-friendly measures amount to little more than fake news if they never see the light of day. Sad.

Salman Shaheen
Managing editor, International Tax Review
salman.shaheen@euromoneyplc.com






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