Proceed with caution, Republicans
This letter is in response to Glenn Beaton’s column “I’ll pay liberals to fulfill their promises to leave” (Jan. 8, The Aspen Times).
Glenn, I read your column Sunday. My first response was to write a blast — as you did. However, after reading of your background as a lawyer with a major firm, I decided that was an incorrect response. Instead, I will try to be civil.
First, I understand your unhappiness with the Obama administration and liberals. I did not vote for Clinton nor did I vote for Trump. I consider myself a middle-of-the-road voter. I worked for both President Gerald Ford and President Jimmy Carter.
I am an economist. I admire liberals from Samuelson to Krugman, who is a friend I met as a graduate student at MIT. I also admire many conservative economists. Milton Friedman was a great economist and was very polite in my few exchanges with him. I also treasure the thinking of William Buckley. I prefer dialogue, debate and discourse to disparagement and denigration.
Second, I have no trouble with changes in administrations. I have watched as an adult as we moved from Johnson to Nixon to Carter to Reagan to Bush to Clinton to Bush to Obama and now to Trump. The nation has survived in the past and will almost certainly survive this change.
I worry greatly, though, that Republicans are going to embark on a new and untried economic policy. In particular, the proposed change in the corporate tax to a cash flow tax risks creating an international financial crisis. I and others have written on this. My paper was funded by Koch industries, not a notoriously liberal institution. My concern is that the tax change will cause the dollar to rise by as much as 25 percent. The increase in the exchange rate could precipitate widespread bankruptcies across the globe, an international financial crisis and very significant loss in jobs in the U.S., just as the rise of the dollar did in the Reagan administration. Republicans will pay a heavy price for this experiment if it fails but seem determined to proceed.
I am sure you as a lawyer would never embark on such risky, untried approach at the start of a trial. Instead you would conduct depositions and prepare yourself. For some reason, though, Republicans are willing to take the risk.
Fortunately, Trump has not followed such a tack in foreign policy. Rex Tillerson is careful and meticulous in his approach. If allowed to lead on foreign policy the nation will do well — as it has for more than 200 years. The nation’s economic policy and its impact at home and abroad will be another matter.
I wish that you and other conservatives would counsel the Republicans in the House and Senate as well as President-elect Trump, to move slowly and carefully in changing policy, following the approach you used as a lawyer and Mr. Tillerson followed at ExxonMobil, rather than act rashly.
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With much sorrow I heard of the passing of a good friend Bruce Berger. He was a man for all seasons, a pianist, prolific author, environmentalist, and lover of Aspen.