In a mere few hours it seems DC insiders are trying to unravel the policies that got Donald Trump elected. Exhibit A: Rolf Lundberg as director of ‘trade reform’. What’s wrong with Lundberg? He’s been a longtime legislative lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce: the organization that supports increased immigration, all free trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific-Partnership, Chinese imports, etc.
In other words, policies that Trump has specifically opposed.
For years Lundberg’s been well paid to lobby for the Chamber’s issues. It takes magical thinking to believe this man has had a sudden, solid 180-degree conversion to Mr. Trump’s views.
Perhaps Lundberg wrote a substantial check to the Trump campaign. All that means is he wrote a check – it’s no proof of loyalty, considering his relationship with the Chamber.
What damage could Lundberg do?
If I were Lundberg, my goal would be to slow-walk all trade and immigration changes.
This is easily done.
The initial year of a new presidency will be jam-packed with activity. First up is producing a State of the Union address in January and then a budget shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, cabinet secretaries will trudge through the Senate confirmation process, as well as the lower ranks who also need confirmation. Finally, the White House personnel office has to place people in jobs that don’t require confirmation.
And, most importantly, a President Trump will need to nominate a justice to the Supreme Court to replace the late Antonin Scalia.
Years two and three are when people roll up their sleeves and get serious about policy. Year four is all about the reelection.
Meanwhile Lundberg will have a legion of slow-walking supporters among the career State Department employees. These State folks will earnestly advise their Secretary not to bring up that touchy immigration or trade issue as it will damage the upcoming meeting with Country X.
One iron-clad rule is DC is: there’s always an upcoming meeting to provide an excuse for caving into (or at least being sympathetic to) the other country’s demands. The cause is the State Department’s horror of bad press in the other nation’s news media and in The New York Times.
The best outcome for Lundberg would be to avoid notice on trade and immigration issues until year four – which leaves a very small window to address them. And if the slow-walking strategy works, Trump’s reelection would be at risk. The promises Trump made to fix immigration and trade will not have happened.
If Trump loses his re-election campaign, I doubt it would make any difference to Lundberg. There are industries aplenty who would reward handsomely a successful slow-walker.
My modest proposal is to ask Rolf Lundberg take a lie detector test (easily arranged as intelligence agencies have plenty of ‘boxes’ and box operators). If he says no, he’s out. If he says yes, then ask him direct questions about his support for Trump’s positions on immigration and trade.
The zigs and zags on the lie-detector tape might shed some light on whether Lundberg truly shares Trump’s views or is merely a mole for the DC business lobby.
I’m placing my chips on the mole.