Daniel Franklin: It's difficult to separate the show from the substance.
You have to understand that in our political system the president is both a head of state and a head of government, the two roles which are separated in a parliamentary system. On the one hand, the president is supposed to be a paragon of virtue, and on the other hand the president is supposed to be a politician, and sometimes these two worlds kind of conflict. In his personal life, the president is not really a very elevating personality, I think most people would agree that he does not live an exemplary life. But then again, on the other hand, the Queen of England and the Royal Family is not always, you know, the paragon of virtue, either, but it doesn't necessarily affect the government. If we can get past the president as a person and start talking about his performance in government — that's a different story.
I would say that the president has had accomplishments, I think he has underperformed, given the fact that he has a majority in both houses of Congress. But on the other hand, he has accomplished a number of things.
Sputnik: What do you think was his most successful performance? With the majority in both houses of the Congress and the White house he should be able to do everything he wanted to do.
Daniel Franklin: That's why I say he underperformed. It's not that he didn't have a lot of accomplishments — I would suggest that, for example, President [Barack] Obama was in the same position […] in his first two years in office, and he accomplished a lot more than this president has done. On the other hand, there were a lot of accomplishments, particularly not so much in the legislative area (there was one major accomplishment — that, of course, the tax overhaul, and also the appointment of Supreme Court judge). But in terms of executive action, it depends on which cabinet official you are talking about, some of this appointments were very effective.
Sputnik: So do you think that tax overhaul was his biggest accomplishment?
The projection is that the tax cut will add one and a half trillion dollars to the debt in the next ten years; it sounds like a lot of money, one hundred and fifty billion dollars a year, but in the context of 3,500-billion dollar budget, it's truly not that much money. I think, truly, the disagreement is in terms of who actually pays for it. But we'll see.
Sputnik: Do you think that we've seen any positive response from the US economy after passing the tax overhaul?
Daniel Franklin: Yes, yes, I think that people and corporate people respond to incentives, and there are certainly incentives for the companies to repatriate money. Where that money goes is not entirely clear, and that's the part of the complaints: for example, if Apple is going to bring back money — which it is saying it's going to — but then distributes it between its executives and its stakeholders, then it may not actually end up stimulating the economy very much. But if they build new infrastructure, if they invest in more employment, then yeah, it makes a difference.
These things have a long-term effect, so we won't really know for a while.
Sputnik: Let's talk about his other election promises, for example his promise to get rid of or overhaul Obamacare. With immigration he has been to some extent successful, with the travel ban, but what about the wall that he keeps saying Mexico will pay for?
Daniel Franklin: He is a salesman. He can sell the increase in funding for border security as a metaphorical wall and he can suggest that in some sense the Mexicans somehow paying for it. There is a way to spin these things; there's truth and there's also different levels of truth.
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