Markets were on edge this week as Trump’s health care overhaul was projected to fall short of the required votes needed to pass the house. Thursday was the originally scheduled vote; but, it was clear that Trump did not have enough supporters; so, once again, the vote was delayed until Friday. On Thursday evening, an aid ventured over to the capitol and announced that, regardless of the situation, Trump demanded a vote on Friday. This received little press but seemed characteristically Trump.
Friday approached; and, as C-SPAN ratings spiked, it slowly became clear that once again the president didn’t have enough support to push through reform. Despite his tough talk just a few hours before, around 3:00pm in the afternoon, the president pulled the bill and surrendered to the complexities of politics.
Like most, I am more fascinated with the current political events than ever before. On one hand, what we witnessed this week was the brilliance of our founding fathers’ vision. Despite a Republican majority in the house, not a single person – not even Trump, can push something through government without significant debate and deliberation. Of course on the other hand, it is this same process which makes getting things done so very difficult.
As outsiders, we often look upon Washington and scoff at just how incompetent our politicians seem to be; when, in reality, it is a system that is designed to move incredibly slowly. When you have hundreds of congressmen representing a melting pot of citizens’ needs, there is not one magic pill that cures all.
Trump is now realizing that his typical ‘get ‘er done’ attitude isn’t going to fly in Washington. His response is precisely what you would expect out of a successful entrepreneur. He’s dusting off his shoes and moving on. It is not a surprise to me that, when it looked as if he wouldn’t win, he pulled the bill and is moving on to the next item on the agenda. Failure is inevitable in business and any entrepreneur quickly realizes that, once you fail, you must not dwell on this but rather pivot and move on very quickly. Trump is a master at this strategy. Unfortunately, he will face the same challenges with tax reform as he did with health care.
My guess is the markets will not respond favorably to this action. Since November, we have seen a market advance based on an idea of pro-growth, tax reform, infrastructure spending and, in general, getting things done. This week shows us that, in spite of the positive mood, it’s still politics.
Despite this presidential setback, it is my view that any market weakness will eventually become an opportunity rather than a top. We raised a bit of cash recently and will wait patiently to redeploy this in our favorite areas. We will be watching the action very carefully and take steps as required. US politics should take a backseat as we roll into April, and all eyes will soon turn towards the French election, as Marine Le Pen is the latest in the global populist movement trying to really shake things up. Grab your popcorn and enjoy the theatrics. Politics is a messy, messy business Welcome to Washington, Mr. Trump.