Can Trump’s Promises Create American Greatness?

Can Trump’s Promises Create American Greatness?

Last night, Donald Trump delivered his first address to Congress. For the first time, Trump actually appeared both presidential and optimistic as he delivered an upbeat message that called for unity and bipartisan action. But was it just a facade? Can Trump possibly deliver on his ambitious promises of generous tax cuts, massive infrastructure investment and immigration reform? After all, just hours before his speech promised “clean air and clear water” for all Americans, he signed an executive order dismantling EPA protections for lakes and waterways in the U.S. There are already cracks in the facade and many unanswered questions.

The BBC’s 5 Live asked me to share my perspective as Britain woke in sleepy amazement to this presidential performance.

Report by Alison van Diggelen, host of Fresh Dialogues

Listen to the BBC Podcast (starts at 21:36) or to the 4 minute clip below:

 

Here’s a transcript of our conversation, edited for length and clarity.

Colletta Smith: In the last few hours, the U.S. President Donald Trump delivered his first speech to Congress. He covered some familiar themes like job creation and infrastructure investment….The Silicon Valley journalist Alison van Diggelen is on the line this morning. Good morning Alison!

Alison van Diggelen: Good morning, great to join you.

Colletta Smith: Thank you for joining us again. You’ve been helping us with this whole story over the last year of Trump’s (campaign and) election. This would not normally make the headlines: a president outlining potential budget negotiations. Yet it has with Trump, because we were expecting a surprise. And perhaps the surprise is that there wasn’t really a surprise in the speech that he gave?

Alison van Diggelen: His performance tonight was a sharp contrast to the chaotic first 40 days of the Trump presidency. He was very presidential tonight. He stuck to his script and he had a much softer approach. He had a lot of “gifts” for everyone. He’s proposing what he calls “massive” tax relief for the middle class, cuts to corporate tax; $1 Trillion in infrastructure spending and a military spending increase of $54 Billion, which to put in perspective is the entire annual budget for UK military.

Colletta Smith: When it comes to adding up those sums…do we have any more details as to how he plans to finance those extra boosts?

Alison van Diggelen: That is the big question. It’ll be interesting to see how the markets respond. There are so many outstanding questions:

  1.  How is he going to pay for these tax cuts and infrastructure spending?
  2.  Can he get these measures through Congress?
  3. Will the Federal Reserve undermine his actions by increasing interest rates?
  4. Will he start a trade war with his tariff plans and threats to renegotiate multilateral trade agreements like NAFTA?

There are so many questions unanswered, so many details unanswered. There’s a big question mark over what the future holds.

Colletta Smith: At what point does the electorate, his supporters demand that detail?

Alison van Diggelen: The stock market is on a roll right now. The market is up 10% in the ” Trump rally” since the election. Who knows if that can continue? As we all know, the stock market can turn on a dime. It depends on optimism and if the market keeps that optimism. One analyst said, “The market likes to trade on hope,” and all these issues – tax cuts, deregulation, infrastructure spending – they’re all boosts to economic growth, but at some point if he’s not able to push ahead and make progress in Congress, there may be an adjustment of that optimism and people will say: these wonderful (economic stimulus) “carrots” are not going to happen, and then things could take a nose dive.

Colletta Smith: Alison van Diggelen, Silicon Valley journalist. Thanks as ever for joining us and giving us your analysis this morning.

Read more on Trump’s speech from the BBC and The Guardian

“According to a CNN/ORC poll of about 500 speech watchers, 57% said they had had a very positive reaction to President Trump’s Congress address, with seven out of 10 saying they believed his policies would move the US in the right direction.

His popularity, however, has hit a historic low for modern presidents after a month in office – just 44% of Americans think he is doing a good job, according to RealClearPolitics.

Mr Trump’s young presidency has been overshadowed by missteps including a high-profile court defeat to his controversial travel ban and the firing of a top aide.” BBC News

BBC Dialogues: Fear and Uncertainty in Silicon Valley as Trump is Inaugurated

BBC Dialogues: Fear and Uncertainty in Silicon Valley as Trump is Inaugurated

By Alison van Diggelen, host of Fresh Dialogues

On this historic inauguration day – that most of us thought we’d never see – I was invited by the BBC to opine on Trump’s likely impact on the economy, Silicon Valley tech in particular. My remit: to balance some of the pro-Trump hoopla from other guests, businessmen from the U.K. and U.S. who seem to believe that he will “make America (and the UK) great again” overnight. You can listen to the BBC podcast here. Our conversation starts at 20:50.

Here’s a transcript of my conversation with the BBC’s Colletta Smith and Mickey Clark on the program “Wake Up To Money” (edited for length and clarity):

BBC’s Colletta Smith: Also joining us is Alison van Diggelen, a Silicon Valley journalist. Good morning Alison.

Alison van Diggelen: Good morning. Good to join you.

Colletta Smith: You’re in Silicon Valley where businesses have voiced quite a lot of concern about the incoming president. What are your feelings this morning, waking up in Silicon Valley ahead of what’s going to be such a momentous day?

Alison van Diggelen: It’s going to be a very historic day…But the fact is, over 140 tech leaders signed a letter saying Donald Trump is a danger to innovation* and as you know Silicon Valley is an innovation hub, it’s one of the engines of growth for the United States. So there’s a deep feeling of malaise and fear…but at the same time business leaders are pragmatic, they’ve accepted that he will be our president and there’s a “business as usual” mentality amidst that underlying feeling of fear and uncertainty.

*The exact words of the letter were: “Trump would be a disaster for innovation. His vision stands against the open exchange of ideas, free movement of people, and productive engagement with the outside world that is critical to our economy — and that provide the foundation for innovation and growth.”

Continue listening to the podcast

We also discuss Trump’s protectionist, anti-science, anti-environment stance, the fears of a trade war; his cabinet picks and his potential negative impact on jobs, especially clean tech jobs.