Friday, January 29, 2016

We’ll go through the issues here (thanks to Conservative Review for a handy guide to Trump’s positions as well). We report, you decide:

Immigration. After a career of flip-flopping on immigration (he ripped Mitt Romney in 2012 for being too harsh on illegal immigration and in 2013 said he hired illegals at his golf courses), Trump has famously taken the most right-wing position on illegal immigration in this race. I wrote about it when Trump released it on his website. Trump wants a wall, shutting down remittances garnered from illegal wages, and foreign aid cuts. He wants strong deportation policies and an end to birthright citizenship. Because many Republicans feel that the immigration issue is the prerequisite for any continuation of a small government republic, Trump has made hay on this issue.

Meanwhile, Trump flipped on Muslim refugees. Originally he said the U.S. would have to take in Syrian refugees; then he said he would take in no Muslim immigrants at all. That position has proved surprisingly durable with the conservative electorate.

Foreign Policy. Trump’s been all over the place here. He’s said we should leave the Islamic State to Russia and expressed sympathy for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, but also said that we should “bomb the s***” out of ISIS. He has both said that he would topple Bashar Assad and that he would not arm the Syrian rebels. In the end, he said he had a great idea for defeating ISIS, but wouldn’t tell anyone what it was. He’s said that he wouldn’t immediately get rid of the Iran deal, but he stumped against the deal. He’s talked about how he admires China, but then explained he wants to put a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods. Trump wants to expand the military, but how he would use that expanded military is far from clear.

Abortion. Trump says he’s pro-life. Bethany Blankley of Live Action News gives a solid roundup of the timeline:

1999: Trump says he is “very pro-choice” and said he wouldn’t ban partial birth abortion.

January 2015: Trump says he is “pro-life, with the caveats. You have to have the caveats.” What would those caveats be? He explains: “life of the mother, incest, and rape.” Asked repeatedly whether abortion outside of his “caveats” would be murder, he says, “it depends when.”

August 2015: Trump tells CNN’s Chris Cuomo, “Maybe some of the things [Planned Parenthood does] are good and I know a lot of things are bad… I mean, it’s like an abortion factory, frankly.” He then says he is pro-life and reiterates his “exceptions.” He tells Sean Hannity:

There’s two Planned Parenthoods, in a way. You have it as an abortion clinic. Now, that’s actually a fairly small part of what they do, but it’s a brutal part, and I’m totally against it. They also, however, service women. Maybe unless they stop with the abortions, we don’t do the funding for the stuff that we want. We have to help women. So we have to look at the positives, also, for Planned Parenthood.

Eventually he told Breitbart he’d oppose any government funding for Planned Parenthood.

During the first Republican debate, Trump says that he became pro-life sometime over the last few years, stating:

Friends of mine years ago were going to have a child, and it was going to be aborted. And it wasn’t aborted. And that child today is a total superstar, a great, great child. And I saw that. And I saw other instances. I am very, very proud to say that I am pro-life.

Jamie Weinstein of The Daily Caller asked Trump if he’d have become pro-life if the kid had been a “loser.” Trump said no.

October 2015: Trump says he would appoint his sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, to the Supreme Court – even though she has ruled in favor of partial birth abortion. As to overturning Roe v. Wade, Trump says, “you need a lot of Supreme Court justices, but we’re gonna be looking at that also very, very carefully,”

This week, Trump said that he would think about pick pro-choice former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown for his vice president. He has never said that he would ban all abortions except for his exceptions – he’s left vague how early he’d ban abortion.

Same-Sex Marriage. Trump says he’s anti-same sex marriage but that it’s the “law of the land.” In August, he said, “Some people have hopes of passing amendments, but it’s not going to happen. Congress can’t pass simple things, let alone that. So anybody that’s making that an issue is doing it for political reasons. The Supreme Court ruled on it.” In December 2014, he reportedly told gay activist George Takei that he’d gone to a same-sex wedding and found it “beautiful.” Trump did say that he didn’t think Kentucky court clerk Kim Davis should have been jailed.

Religious Freedom. Trump pledges to uphold religious freedom but has not commented on the Indiana Religious Freedom and Restoration Act or any other similar act protecting religious practice in the face of leftist non-discrimination laws designed to quash religious observance.

Entitlements. Unlike virtually all the other Republican candidates, Trump has said he wouldn’t touch entitlements. He says that any Republican attempts to touch these programs will end in electoral defeat. His website currently carries an article from The Daily Signal titled, “Why Trump Won’t Touch Your Entitlements.” He said then, “I’m not going to cut Social Security like every other Republican and I’m not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid. Every other Republican is going to cut, and even if they wouldn’t, they don’t know what to do because they don’t know where the money is. I do.” He bashed Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)56%
’s plans for entitlements for being “too far out front with the issue.” Trump has, however, said that certain parts of Social Security could be moved to private accounts – although he then says that he will save Social Security without cuts by discovering magical barrels of money: “I know where to get the money from. Nobody else does.”

Campaign Finance Reform. Trump is for it, and he routinely attacks super PACs. Just last week, he said, “I think you need it.” He added, “Somebody gives them money, not anything wrong, just psychologically when they go to that person, they’re going to do it. They owe them. And by the way, they may therefore vote negatively toward the country. That’s not going to happen with me.” Campaign finance reform places outsized influence in the hands of the government and unions and quashes free speech.

Government Involvement In The Economy. Trump accuses Ted Cruz of being a Wall Street insider because his wife works for Goldman Sachs. Trump himself supported Obama’s 2009 stimulus, TARP, and the 2008 auto bailout. He said in 2009, “I think [Obama’s] doing very well. You do need stimulus and you do have to keep the banks alive.” He’s admitted over and over to paying elected officials to grease the skids on his deals – although, in fairness, he says that’s just how you have to work to get business done. In 2009, he said that the government should cap executive pay. Trump supported the Supreme Court’s egregious Kelo v. New London (2005) decision, in which the court absurdly declared that the government could seize private property and turn it over to another private party so long as the second party paid additional taxes on it. Trump explained, “I happen to agree with [the decision] 100%.”

Education. Trump opposes Common Core but has flip-flopped on whether he’d do away with the Department of Education; he told the South Carolina Tea Party last year that he wouldn’t dump them completely. “Certainly you could cut [that] way down,” Trump said, but added that he’d keep it alive for “coordination,” as Conservative Review points out.

Healthcare. Trump says he’d dump Obamacare but then praises the nationalized health care system of Canada and Great Britain. In 1999 and 2000 he endorsed nationalized health care openly; in 2015, he praised Scotland’s plan while appearing with David Letterman. He has proposed dumping restrictions on health care portability but continues to pump up nationalized health care systems. In September he told Hannity:

As far as single-payer and all — there’s so many different things you could have. Honestly, Sean, to do, to have great health insurance. The one thing I do tell people, we’re going to have something great. We’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare, which is a total disaster.

Tax Plan. Trump’s tax plan is certainly conservative. He proposes lowering the top tax bracket to 25 percent, drops the capital gains tax to 20 percent, dumps the death tax, and drops the corporate rate to 15 percent. The Tax Foundation states:

Our analysis finds that the plan would reduce federal revenues by $11.98 trillion over the next decade. However, it also would improve incentives to work and invest, which could increase gross domestic product (GDP) by 11 percent over the long term. This increase in GDP would translate into 6.5 percent higher wages and 5.3 million new full-time equivalent jobs. After accounting for increased incomes due to these factors, the plan would only reduce tax revenues by $10.14 trillion.

That’s different from his past positions on taxes, which include fighting the flat tax and proposing a wealth tax that would force owners to liquidate their property to pay taxes every year.

Trade. Trump is for international tariffs, including an extraordinarily heavy tariff on Chinese goods, in the mistaken belief that this somehow helps the American economy. Tariffs certainly benefit protected sectors, but they hurt American consumers and destroy American purchasing power. Trump also wants to leave mandatory union dues alone – or at least he hasn’t commented differently on the issue for several years.

Guns. Trump has become progressively more pro-Second Amendment over time. His website states: “The Second Amendment to our Constitution is clear. The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed upon. Period.”
Should Christians support Donald Trump?  No.
We have sifted through the most popular arguments in defense of Trump and listed them below along with our own take.  Here they are:
1. “Trump is a leader we can trust”
While we share much of the frustration over the failure of the GOP to make significant progress, we are reminded of Republicans’ once oft-quoted criticism of President Bill Clinton: character matters.
Donald J. Trump left his first wife and married his mistress, only to leave her a few years later for another mistress. Reportedly he left his second wife by leaking the news to a NY newspaper and left the headline on the bed for his wife to find. In his book, The Art of the Deal, Trump bragged about having sex with many women, including some who were married. He has appeared on the cover of Playboy Magazine with a model wearing only his tuxedo jacket. He has mocked the disability of a NY Times reporter. He belittled John McCain for being a prisoner of war. His casino in Atlantic City was the first in the country to open up a strip club. His Twitter account is a running barrage of insults, lies, and personal attacks on anyone who disagrees with him. And did we mention he famously cheats at golf? Now who does that remind you of?
Now ask yourself: does this man have the character becoming of the President of the United States?
2. “Trump can’t be bought because he is rich!”
Trump is a salesmen, and salesmen don’t buy, they sell. So he won’t be “bought.” Instead he will sell out everyone and anyone when it benefits him, as he has his entire career. He was a liberal democrat, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-universal health care, pro-government bailouts, and a financial backer and friend of Hillary Clinton until he decided to run as a Republican last summer. He is the definition of an opportunist with no guiding principles.
3. “Trump is a leader who will get things done”
Trump markets himself as an effective leader who will get things done simply by making “smart deals.” He refuses to explain precisely how he intends to deliver results, and more often than not, promises to use force or work around or outside the law. Such a leader mirrors what we currently see in the White House. It would be incredibly harmful to our system of government, which is limited by our Constitution — even if we like the policy outcome. We must be a nation of laws. For Trump, it is all about power. For a Christian, the presidency should be about service.
4. “Trump is a successful businessman who will make great deals”
If you believe the headlines, you would assume everything Donald Trump touches turns to gold.  Not so. Trump has only demonstrated an ability to make deals that benefit him personally. Four times he bailed on his own casinos to shield himself from their impending bankruptcies. And then there is Trump Magazine, Trump Airlines, Trump Steaks/Steakhouse, Trump Vodka, and most famously Trump University, to name only a few — all bankrupt or closed, and massive failures.  “Losers” as Trump is fond of saying.
He has constantly cozied up to big government to trample the little guy, either by abusing private property rights, or selling out small contractors and vendors, many of whom lost their life savings. Just ask elderly widow Vera Coking, whom Trump attempted to displace via eminent domain laws to make way for a limousine parking lot for his New Jersey casino — the same casino he put into bankruptcy. Vera stood tall against the politically-connected billionaire Trump for years in court, enduring his practice of belittling personal attacks. She eventually won and called Trump a “maggot, a cockroach, and a crumb.”
5. “Trump will end illegal immigration”
Trump has pledged to build a massive wall on our southern border and to make Mexico pay for it. Meanwhile he has promised to deport 11 million+ illegals, without explaining how, then plans to allow them all back in legally according to criteria he has yet to fully explain.  
We agree illegal immigration is a problem that must be solved. Trump’s solution is delusional, strikes us as xenophobic — and truthfully, will never happen. If anything, Trump’s demagoguery on immigration showcases the emptiness of many of his promises. As President Obama has learned, American presidents don’t dictate laws. The Senate and House would have to pass any change of this magnitude, and such a solution has little to no chance of being approved. Border security and immigration enforcement are realistic fixes. Rounding up 11 million+ people and sending them back to Mexico is not practical or realistic, let alone humane. Those who rightfully want to solve the problem of illegal immigration deserve more than crowd pleasing platitudes. And it’s certainly worth noting that Donald Trump criticized Mitt Romney for being too harsh on immigration back in 2012. This is just another issue where Donald Trump had a very recent and rather convenient conversion.
Several other presidential candidates have outlined more realistic policies to deal with problem. And that’s what real leaders do. They outline solutions and build consensus. Hyperbole and demagoguery are tools of salesmen (see above) out for your money or your vote. Trump’s lack of detail reminds us of another famous politician who proclaimed: “we have to pass the bill before you can see what’s in it.”
6. “Trump will fight the Establishment!”
This defense of Trump is somewhat rich, given the irony that Trump himself has boasted of playing the game, paying off politicians and enriching himself from the very system he now purports to reform. Case in point: in the past week a growing number of so-called “establishment Republicans” have warmed to supporting Trump, people like Bob Dole and Trent Lott — including establishment Republicans in Iowa like Gov. Terry Branstad. Why? Because they believe, rightly in our view, that Trump doesn’t have any principles at the end of the day. He’s someone who will wheel and deal — and you and I will be stuck with the bill.
Electing Donald Trump would send the pro-life movement back to the 1990s, when the Republican Party wanted to run away from defending the unborn. In fact, Trump recommended his own sister, Maryanne Trump Berry, for the Supreme Court. She’s the federal judge who overturned New Jersey’s ban on grisly partial-birth abortions. The next President may choose as many as three or more new justices. Trump’s suggestion of his pro-abortion sister as an example ought to worry anyone who cares about the Court. And let’s not forget he once said Oprah would make a great Vice President. Enough said.
7. “Trump is one of us”
Trump’s political conversions have all happened at very convenient times. As recently as 2000, Trump was firmly “pro-choice,” even refusing to oppose partial birth abortion! He was in favor of gay civil unions. He is open, even now, to subsidizing abortion giant Planned Parenthood with our tax dollars. He considers gay marriage a settled issue and has offered no plan to protect religious freedom. He is pro-universal health care, supported the stimulus package and government bailouts, supported gun control and a host of radical positions. Trump is like many Democrats we know. He is a political opportunist.
Trump is right about something — it is time for a change. We do need to shake things up and make America great again. And his awakening of working class voters who are often sidelined by terrible policy and poor leadership is a lesson every Republican must take seriously or they will lose in November.
But the power to change does not require a fear mongering business mogul, appealing to our worst fears instead of our best hopes.
With other good candidates in the race, we encourage our members to look beyond Trump.
This is an historic opportunity to win back the White House with someone we can be proud to have as President.
Iowa, New Hampshire… we’re looking to you to lead the way.

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Only Positive, Appropriate Comments Please! -Joseph