The New York Times put out an op-ed today explaining the delusions of Mr. Trump. The delusions that somehow he is competent enough to lead the most powerful nation on the face of the planet. The article was written by Paul Krugman and goes to explain how voters (Republicans, that is) have misplaced their faith in Donald Trump on economic policy making. He begins writing that he was shocked that Americans favor Donald Trump on the economy to Hillary Clinton. Yes, this is perfectly logical if you believe business and economics are the same thing and exclude how Donald Trump inherited his fortunes and didn't declare bankruptcy numerous times. Krugman not just criticizes Trump's policies, but also the media:
This is pretty remarkable given the incoherence and wild irresponsibility of Mr. Trump’s policy pronouncements. Granted, most voters probably don’t know anything about that, in part thanks to substance-free news coverage. But if voters don’t know anything about Mr. Trump’s policies, why their favorable impression of his economic management skills?
The answer, I suspect, is that voters see Mr. Trump as a hugely successful businessman, and they believe that business success translates into economic expertise. They are, however, probably wrong about the first, and definitely wrong about the second: Even genuinely brilliant businesspeople are often clueless about economic policy.
An aside: In part this is surely a partisan thing. Over the years, polls have generally, although not universally, shown Republicans trusted over Democrats to manage the economy, even though the economy has consistently performed better under Democratic presidents. But Republicans are much better at promoting legends — for example, by constantly hyping economic and jobs growth under Ronald Reagan, even though the Reagan record was easily surpassed under Bill Clinton.
If people bothered to look at the facts, then clearly they would realize that they benefit from a Democratic president. But the Republican Party has managed to misconstrue this to make the American populace believe that the economy does better under Republicans than Democrats.
To continue with the article arguing against Mr. Trump, Krugman writes that the Donald has built his campaign around this idea that he is a brilliant businessman. This, despite the reports that Trump is actually worth less than he says he is, which can't be disproven since he refuses to release his tax returns. Side note: Richard Nixon released his tax returns during an audit. Mr. Trump, you are shadier than Richard Nixon, the guy who took America's trust in its government and obliterated it. Anyways, Krugman also notes that Mr. Trump inherited his wealth saying, "Remember, too, that Mr. Trump is a clear case of someone born on third base who imagines that he hit a triple: He inherited a fortune, and it’s far from clear that he has expanded that fortune any more than he would have if he had simply parked the money in an index fund."
Krugman now addresses the basic principles that are being debated, does business success equate to economic success. Spoiler alert! The answer is no. While he admits that their is no historical record to go off of, considering that the only president with business experience was Herbert Hoover and the economy was ready to break when Hoover took office, it's quite obvious that business does not equate to economics. His example for this is Trump's view on wages (or his former view rather):
Here’s a specific, and relevant, example of the difference. Last fall, the now-presumed Republican nominee declared: “Our wages are too high. We have to compete with other countries.” Then, as has happened often in this campaign, Mr. Trump denied that he had saidwhat he had, in fact, said — straight talker, my toupee. But never mind.
The truth is that wage cuts are the last thing America needs right now: We sell most of what we produce to ourselves, and wage cuts would hurt domestic sales by reducing purchasing power and increasing the burden of private-sector debt. Lower wages probably wouldn’t even help the fraction of the U.S. economy that competes internationally, since they would normally lead to a stronger dollar, negating any competitive advantage.
The point, however, is that these feedback effects from wage cuts aren’t the sort of things even very smart business leaders need to take into account to run their companies. Businesses sell stuff to other people; they don’t need to worry about the effect of their cost-cutting measures on demand for their products. Managing national economic policy, on the other hand, is all about the feedback.
Krugman clarifies his position saying that he isn't saying that business experience disqualifies someone in the realm of policy making, stating that a humble tycoon can do well as an economic manager. He asks, "But does this describe anyone currently running for president?" He ends his article with the line that it is ludicrous to say that Donald Trump knows how to run the US economy. He wonders, though, whether voters will even listen to him.
The answer to that question is no. Today's voters do not feel the need to fact check their candidate and vote based on how they feel when they approach the poll. Donald Trump is tapping into how voters feel. More specifically, Donald Trump is tapping into Americans' fears and anxieties about immigrants, the economy, and foreign affairs. While we can see through this veil and see that Donald Trump is a demagogue, other Americans can't or simply refuse to. It is up to us, those that can see through this veil, to instruct the ignorant, not berate them. It is up to us to reframe their ideas and show how it is in their best interests to vote against Donald Trump, not for him. It is up to us to do whatever it takes to stop this demagogue from reaching the White House.
Comments are closed on this story.