For the umpteenth time, Donald Trump is no conservative. He is an economic populist. When asked to name the top three functions of government, he said national security, health care and education. Two of the three named “duties” one does not find in Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution.
This puts him exactly where the country is politically — center-left. Americans talk the talk as to their alleged concern for ever-increasing debt. But when asked, “Which programs to cut?” the same complainers look as blank as Homer Simpson when asked to help Bart with his algebra.
Trump says he wants to “fix” Social Security. For a time, President George W. Bush wanted to allow those under 55 to “invest” part of their payroll taxes into personal retirement accounts. Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., could not have been happier, knowing that such a plan scared much of America, no matter how many times Bush tried to assure those over the age of 55 that their Social Security “would not be touched.” Bush’s poll numbers dropped and he abandoned his plan.
On trade, Trump is wrongheaded, but no more
wrongheaded than Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
Trump flat-out proposes protectionism to stop jobs from being “shipped out” and to impose tariffs on our trading rivals to stop them from “cheating.” The problem is most Americans believe that other countries exploit by protecting their markets and “manipulating” their currency. Assuming this is true, economist Milton Friedman, a Ronald Reagan advisor, said protectionism simply protects against cheap prices for American consumers. So on trade, Trump is wrongheaded, but no more wrongheaded than Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump recently pulled a 180 on the job-destroying minimum wage, first saying he opposed an increase, now saying he might support one. But this puts him on the same side as not only Democrats, but with Republicans like Dr. Ben Carson, former Sen. Rick Santorum and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
As with socialist Bernie Sanders, economic anxiety fuels Trump’s candidacy. After eight years of Obamanomics — raising taxes, increasing regulations, “stimulus” and “investing” taxes on failed “green initiatives,” most of the country says that economically we are on the wrong track. Their near-stagnant paychecks, unemployment and underemployment tell many Americans that this recovery is the worst in their lifetime. Given the shared grievances of Sanders supporters and Trump supporters, Sanders voters may, in some number, turn to Trump over Clinton.Read the rest of Elder's op-ed HERE.
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