Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Why Trump couldn't 'close the deal' in Iowa

One of the things people appreciate about Donald Trump — whether you support him or not — is his blunt talk. He says what’s on his mind, regardless of who it offends or how it helps or harms him politically. Or does he?

In the waning hours of the Iowa caucuses, when it was starting to look like Ted Cruz might pull off the upset, Trump did something he rarely does. He pandered. He told an audience in Waterloo (ironically) that Ted Cruz will “destroy your ethanol business 100%” He said if Ted Cruz wins, the ethanol industry “will be wiped out within six months to a year.”

Despite the scare tactics, Ted Cruz went on to win not only Iowa but Iowa’s heaviest corn-producing counties. How did he do it? He told the truth.

Trump tried to portray him as some Texas oil man who was trying to destroy the competition. In a 7-minute long discussion with an angry corn farmer, Cruz laid out his plan and, in the end, won the man over. The Cruz plan is the conservative plan. It eliminates any subsidy for any energy source, whether that be oil or solar or wind or ethanol. It also eliminates the EPA’s limit on ethanol blends so any gas station in America can stock whatever blend their customers want.

Trump backer Ann Coulter was on my show the day of the Iowa caucuses. I pointed out the conservative heresy in supporting government subsidies. She justified the ethanol subsidies by saying Trump was creating jobs. “I’d rather pay another ten cents to fill up my car if my fellow Americans can have jobs.” Sounds like liberal logic to me.

That seems to be the Achilles heel of the Trump supporters. They’re too able to look past his not-so-conservative positions thinking the end justifies the means. I don’t know that it does. They believe Donald Trump will make America strong again and I don’t doubt that he can. What I doubt is that he’s the only one who can.

Supporters point to his plan to build a wall as if it’s a brand new idea. It’s not. In fact, Congress appropriated money for a barrier a decade ago in the Secure Fence Act of 2006. They never finished it. Studies showed that border crossings where the fence was constructed were down significantly, but they stressed that illegal invaders (also known as undocumented Democrats) just went around the fence. Of course, we could solve the problem if there is no “around” to go.

Point being, most Republicans support securing the border, even Marco Rubio. The problem with Rubio is he has supported securing the border “first,” meaning “second” would be amnesty. People act as if Trump invented the issue of illegal immigration. What’s he’s done — and quite successfully — is tap into the public’s frustration over it. I’ve certainly cheered him on for doing so, but there are other things about Trump that trouble me.

I have to admit that his interpretation of eminent domain scares me. In the famous Kelo decision, the Supreme Court decided it was fine to take the land of private homeowners and give it to another private entity for the purpose of a hotel-retail-condo “urban village.” The irony is the developer went belly-up and the development was never built. Now the property sits vacant. On the Kelo decision, Trump told Neil Cavuto of Fox Business “I happen to agree with it 100 percent.”

Do we sacrifice liberty for security with Trump? As Ben Franklin famously said, if so, we deserve neither.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, The Phil Valentine Show.

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