Après moi . . .

16 February 2018

NEVER mind what comes after, just let me be re-elected. The nightmare that is Donald Trump’s presidency became unaccountably worse this week. The United States’ fiscal programme that was revealed this week indicates that the President who, according to Michael Wolff’s book, never intended to get elected is now laying the ground for a second term. In brief, the combination of tax cuts and infrastructure investment announced in this week’s $4.4-trillion budget means that, in the short term, the US is being programmed to move into a boom economy. The plan appears to be that, when President Trump is up for election in 2021, unemployment will be low and personal spending power will be high. Consequently, a happy electorate will re-elect the architect of its good fortune.

There are two problems with this. The first is inflation, the fear of which has already introduced a new volatility on the world’s stock markets. Any increase in inflation will undercut the gains that are being paraded. Second, the US cannot afford it. Increases in government spending are not being matched by cost savings. The rhetoric of making the US solvent within ten years has been dropped. Thus bust will follow boom as night follows day. The prospect that President Trump will still be in the White House to deal with a bust economy is no comfort.

President Trump has found one federal department that he can cut to fund his plans. The Environmental Protection Agency will lose one third of its budget. Can there be anything more cynical than building your political hopes at the expense of the planet?



THE General Synod debate about closing the gap between the Methodist and Anglican Churches struck the right notes. Having the lessons of past attempts at union before us, it would be unwise to gloss over the challenges posed when trying to bring together two bodies separated for 230 years, which, for much of that history, have defined themselves in part as not like the other. As one speaker pointed out in the context of “bearable anomalies”, however, we currently live with the anomaly of disunity, which can never be accepted as bearable — although this does not mean that a bilateral relationship should be freighted with all our hopes for the reunion of Christendom. This week’s lectionary readings at morning prayer from Galatians seem apposite. When considering the conditions under which the two ministries might be made interchangeable, the debate must not resemble the wrangle described by St Paul between “the circumcision” and “the uncircumcision”.

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