Trump Is Obama On Steroids

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David Benkof Contributor
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Republicans are rightfully thrilled we’ve finally regained most levers of power. But we need to acknowledge the price: leadership by an out-of-control dilettante whose policy whims and massive ego threaten the well-being of the party, the country and the world.

Just because he’s our demagogue doesn’t make him any less a demagogue.

If to you, President Donald Trump is a refreshing breeze sweeping away the stink of the Obama years, look closer. The new president is busy tracing much of his predecessor’s governing pattern – he’s more conservative, sure, but his executive style suggests Obama on steroids. Even those who think Trump has the makings of a fine president (and I do not) should challenge him when he communicates, operates, and governs like the previous occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Think about it:

  • We complained of Obama’s inexperience, but Trump seems frequently baffled as to the workings of our government, perhaps because he has never served in it.
  • We were appalled when Obama threatened to act unilaterally on taxes and immigration (“where Congress won’t act, I will”), but Trump repeatedly bypasses the legislative branch and seems comfortable violating properly enacted laws in areas such as immigration and agency speech.
  • We were offended that Obama successfully marketed Obamacare only by constantly repeating a calculated lie (“if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor”), but Trump obsesses over the ludicrous zero-evidence proposition that Hillary Clinton would have lost the (mythical) “popular vote” without millions of illegal voters.
  • We cried “states’ rights” when Obama tried to federalize health and environmental policies, but Trump’s approach to sanctuary cities and regulation suggests he wants more centralized power in Washington.
  • We ran to court when Obama abused his power with an executive order exempting millions of illegal immigrants from deportation, but Trump has embraced executive orders as a tool for extending the power of his office.

And that list only describes the ways their presidential styles match up. Some of Trump’s policies, too, mimic Obama’s because – there’s no other way to say it – they’re liberal.

When Obama brought us a $787 billion stimulus package, we opposed it because of wasteful spending and using big government instead of the private sector to solve economic challenges. Surely the same logic applies to Trump’s coming trillion-dollar infrastructure bill.

The proposed border wall with Mexico is an example of Trump acting like a Democrat. If a grand physical barrier was necessary to fight immigration (and I don’t think it is), a conservative approach would be to start with a wall on 50 miles of the border instead of 1,000. We could then get a better handle on cost and especially on effectiveness.

Instead, Trump is prepared to start spending perhaps tens of billions of dollars for a massive construction project that may end up being little more than a symbol. When the emotions of liberals are aroused over national problems, they start throwing around money. We’re better than that. We spend money with logic and caution.

Similarly, conservatives should know better than to allow our president to back away from free trade. Anyone with a passing knowledge of economics and American history knows that a 20 percent tariff on imports will hurt the economy. Sure, there will be some winners, but for the nation as a whole, protectionism is a loser.

Executive power grows – it doesn’t shrink. The Democrats who supported Obama’s overreach on immigration didn’t consider how a Republican president might use the same tools against them. We shouldn’t make the same mistake. The legacy of a Trump Administration marked by overspending, an imperial executive, and centralized national power will be a conservative’s nightmare the next time Democrats regain control. Which they will.

Sorry, but this is not going to end well. More charter schools, fewer environmental regulations, and an embassy in Jerusalem are poor consolation prizes for a government regime marked by a degree of consolidated power, arrogance, and truth-mangling that rival what we suffered under Obama.

This time, it’s on us.

David Benkof is a columnist for the Daily Caller. Follow him on Twitter (@DavidBenkof) or E-mail him at DavidBenkof@gmail.com.