Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Obama, Pelosi, & Reid Could Learn a Lot from Donald Trump

Like most people, when I hear New York City and real estate in the same sentence, I think of Donald Trump. Donald Trump is a man many in our country might love to hate for his tremendous capitalistic success. Yet, this is still America, so many may in fact respect him for it understanding the intelligence, hard work, and risk-reward factor it took to get to the Trump level of success.

The Obama administration and most Democrats hold the “rich” like Mr. Trump up as the poster children for the class warfare they need to incite to continue their big government spending. They put the blame for the U.S budget deficit squarely on the rich. Their entitled logic says the rich have not and are not paying their fair share to support government spending. The truth is the top 5% of income earners pay well over 50% of the tax burden.

Democrats are counting on Americans making less than $200,000 per year to believe 50-60% or more income tax levels are acceptable as long as it doesn’t hit them. Has the average American abandoned the American Dream of opportunity to be the best you can be? Do they really buy into the need for a limit on success that President Obama once indicated? – “There comes a time when you have made enough money.”

Speaker Pelosi explained extending unemployment benefits is the best way to stimulate the economy as an answer to a struggling economy not too long ago. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid considered a job loss of 36,000 jobs to be “really good news” in February. Earlier this month, Reid put forth he had nothing to do with high unemployment figures as a re-election campaign point.

President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Senator Reid could learn a lot from Donald Trump. Mr. Trump understands the America Dream and knows it is not a life of government entitlements or cradle-to-grave government regulation (read permission) in your life. He realizes the true American character leads one to prefer an opportunity for an appropriate job over extended unemployment benefits. Mr. Trump knows Americans want a hand-up during difficult times. They don’t want a political expectation that they be happy with a hand-out as the only solution to unemployment.

Mr. Trump tells it like it is. He is proud of his success and comfortable in his own skin. He has been down in his career but never out. He is a fighter. He is tough and smart. He is optimistic and believes in America. He understands capitalism and that the free market creates wealth, not government and 2000+ pages of unread legislation being passed. Could you imagine him going on an American apology tour?

Like politicians, Mr. Trump is the master of self-promotion; yet it’s done with his own money, so good for him. Unlike most politicians, he is not tone deaf to the American character. NBC’s 2010 season of the Trump reality show “The Apprentice” started last week. This season’s theme is that all of the apprentice candidates have had hugely negative life changes caused by the recession. Mr. Trump’s take charge leadership style and confidence in his ability to create solutions for even big problems are showcased in his opening “The Apprentice” monologue.

“Two years ago it began – an economic crisis that swept the world and almost brought our country to another Great Depression. You may think the worst is over, but still, talented smart people are unemployed. They are looking for work. They have no prospects. I hate what I am seeing, and I’m going to do something about it.”

There’s nothing wrong with brilliant public relations. An empathetic, yet pull yourself up by your boot strap, approach to reality reflects American compassion and dignity. The recession hit candidate cast allows a personally relatable experience for viewers. The 16 apprentice candidates range from a structural engineer who now drives a tow truck and had to cash in his 401K to the candidate whom was listed as one of the top 30 Realtors under the age of 30 and is now struggling to make ends meet.

Politicians and Washington in general have been sheltered from any of the negative personal situations caused by prolonged unemployment. Their attempt, if any, at being empathetic to regular Americans hit by the recession most often seems feeble at best.

Even with the insulation of wealth, Donald Trump reflected sincerity and the American spirit in last week’s first episode’s opening board room scene with these words of understanding and encouragement to the candidates. “Life is tough. Life is mean. The fact is you thought you were doing well at one time. You can do better than that. You can really top it. That’s what I want to see out of you folks.”

Throughout the program the unemployed candidates’ expressed “It felt good to be back at work.” They were happy to be “working hard again”. The most poignant moment in the program came when the unemployed Michigan sales representative, with 5 children and a broken marriage, stepped outside to make his necessary call to the automated unemployment benefits line. He noted he was “shamed for the first time in his life” having to use the call-in system to be able to support his family. I hope Speaker Pelosi was watching the show.

I hope President Obama was watching. Front and center in the show was that each candidate was a professional capable and used to providing for themselves without any government entitlements or handouts. When billions in stimulus spending was done for “shovel-ready projects” and to ensure union members in the public sector and at GM were whole, did any of these dollars go to creating appropriate replacement jobs for the types of professionals represented in “The Apprentice” cast that were cut by companies reducing costs?

Do President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Senator Reid realize who the unemployed in America is that genuinely can’t find appropriate jobs right now – simply because they are not being created in the private sector? Do they care? Are the public sector and special interest union jobs the only ones that matter to politicians putting bigger government, more business regulation, wealth distribution, and eventually higher business and capital taxes in place? Do our political leaders understand which economic policies grow the private sector and which ones kill it?

A lot can be learned from Donald Trump, and business leaders like him, for they do know what policies will keep capital in the U.S. and move business and job creation forward. Perhaps Mr. Trump can bring real-world success to a job summit in Washington. He can provide an overview of business development planning and risk-reward business realities. He can speak to unintended consequences.

Mr. Trump is a survivor and a winner. He is calm, seasoned, savvy, brave, and compassionate. He is not aloof and removed when talking about the pain of this recession. He understands capitalism and why it is the only economic system that ensures continued innovation and net wealth for people and government. I would assert Mr. Trump would not be willing to settle for the “new normal” in America being a lower standard of living expectation for all non-politically connected Americans.

Mr. Trump knows spending $111 million to create 55 jobs in California would not be considered a job creation success. He knows people in charge should be held accountable whether in government or business. Mr. Trump walks the talk - If you don’t do a good job and you can’t support your performance with reasonable results – You’re Fired. Government in general and politicians in particular could learn a lot from Donald Trump.


  1. The city's private sector has lost about 100,000 jobs in the past year. The biggest losses are in financial and professional services, media and advertising, retail and entertainment, travel and tourism. All are key contributors to the economy of the city and to Harlem. The only job growth has been in health and education - sectors which depend on increasingly scarce public dollars.
    New York city economic crisis