Friday, June 16, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He announced changes to US policy on Cuba that will help his personal hotel businesses at the expense of competitors.

The actual changes Trump proposes to make to the Obama-era diplomatic and economic re-engagement with Cuba were mostly undetermined at the time of his announcement on Friday, pending as-yet unwritten regulations. Given the uncertainty about what exactly--if anything--Trump means to change, the high-profile announcement was interpreted by some in the media as a publicity stunt meant to shore up Trump's standing with the influential Cuban-American community in the swing state of Florida.

But at least one detail was clear: Trump's new policy directly targets the hotel companies that have taken advantage of President Obama's policies and invested in Cuba, by making it illegal for Americans to stay at those properties. In effect, Trump's policy would hurt competitors to his own hotel empire by punishing them for beating him to the market. The Trump Organization, run by Trump's sons and political surrogates, Eric and Donald Jr., directly profits Trump himself, who retains full legal control over it and is kept fully aware of its dealings. Trump pledged to avoid doing further "new deals" in foreign countries while president, although he has not kept this promise

Trump's interest in the Cuban market is not a hypothetical. His speech today was highly critical of the Castro regime and the ethics of doing business with it, but in 1998, Trump conducted business in Cuba in violation of American law.

Why is this bad?

  • American foreign policy shouldn't be conducted solely based on how it financially or politically benefits the president.