Monday, August 08, 2016


Donald Trump was always a phony, opportunistic populist, but you'd think he might try to maintain the facade throughout the election, just because it seems to have worked for him.

Nahhh -- the Trump described by Vox's Timothy Lee is just too lazy.
Donald Trump had an opportunity to be a different kind of Republican. Trump openly disdained traditional conservative elites -- making a populist case that resonated with working-class white voters. He won the Republican nomination with hardly any support from conservative intellectuals.

But now, he appears to have decided that their ideas aren’t so bad after all.

"All Hillary Clinton has to offer is more of the same: more taxes, more regulations, more bureaucrats, more restrictions on American energy and American production," Trump said Monday in an economic speech delivered in Detroit. Of course, this critique goes both ways: With the important exception of trade, Trump’s economic agenda is little different from the one Mitt Romney ran on in 2012.

Trump’s speech contained a number of ideas that have become staples of conservative thinking, including repealing the estate tax or reducing the number of regulations in the federal register. The working-class voters who seem most attracted to Trump don’t particularly benefit from many of these ideas.

... in most ... respects, Trump’s economic agenda has been utterly conventional. Trump has proposed big income tax cuts whose benefits would flow primarily to the wealthy. He wants to eliminate the estate tax. And he argues that the economy is being strangled by excessive regulation.
Politico describes Trump's plan as
a kind of Frankenstein’s monster, stitching together old ideas from the left and right.

The plan, which many said defies ideological classification, includes a heavy dose of trickle-down tax cuts mixed with old-fashioned protectionism, reform-conservative social policy and a deregulation plan that should make Wall Street rejoice.
But it doesn't really defy classification. It's mainstream conservatism with a pinch of reform conservatism (e.g., a proposal to make the cost of child care fully tax-deductible, which helps the rich and not the poor), along with ongoing skepticism about trade, which comes more Pat Buchanan-style paleoconservatism than from leftism.

Why so much mainstream conservatism? Why the supply-side tax cuts? Why the elimination of estate taxes and gutting of regulation?

Because Trump is too lazy to follow through on his original populism, so he handed the job of putting this plan together to the usual Republican hacks, who came up with the usual Republican hackwork.

Which is exactly what would happen if Trump became president.

Economic policy in a Trump presidency would be Paul Ryan's economic ideas with, at times, Trump's infantile pique ladled on top. If he remained angry at China, he'd punish China, or at least he'd try to. Beyond that, he'd just leave the details to the same old policy geniuses who've been wrong about everything since the Reagan years. As I've said over and over again, a Trump presidency would be an ordinary Republican presidency -- which would be bad enough -- except Trumpier, which would be horrible. A few policies would be formulated out his anger, narcissism, desire to settle scores, and lack of impulse control. The rest would be turned over to corporate lobbyists.

It's unlikely we'll get to experience a Trump presidency -- but if you think his likely loss in November will be a populist opportunity missed, you're not paying attention.


Victor said...

SOT, different messenger...

Anonymous said...

I can't believe anyone on the would-be left ever fell for the Trump As Populist crapola the media has been shoveling for months. He's not a foe of free trade, he just believes that he's a master dealmaker who can get all of the benefits of globalization with none of the detriments because he's just that awesome.