Donald Trump has been quite strange when it has come to economics. It is clear from anyone who has heard him speak that he has little to no knowledge on the subject. often he contradicts himself or makes promises that simply cannot be fulfilled. He’s entirely reliant on others for information. When they advise him, it often contradicts something he has said previously. Due to this tremendous inconsistency, it’s quite difficult to define exactly what his economic views are.
If we truly look at how he things we end up with one simple conclusion: if he wants something he’ll try and come up with some way of doing it. As it is he seems to want massive public spending in terms of infrastructure, but also wants massive tax cuts for the rich like him. These two things are wholly incompatible. If you want huge public spending, you must have some way of paying for it. As it is, there doesn’t seem to be any plan for it.
Trump has spoken of the crumbling infrastructure of the United States. There’s little doubt in anyone’s mind that such a problem exists. Compared to China which has heavily invested in infrastructure, the US looks like a second world country (on the continuum between first and third world. Many in the US have called for such investment in the past, but have been met with great objection by economists and ideologues who are much further to the right. They touted their usual claims of socialism building in the country as a result of such plans.
It’s interesting to me to see the public support he’s gotten for infrastructure investment. Those who support Trump, aside from not being educated in economics, tend to be very right wing, and in opposition to everything, the government does. (With the noted exception of killing Black with police, and brown people with the military.) When Obama came to office he advocated a typical Keynesian spending scheme to stimulate the economy. Those rightist Americans railed about communism, infinite debt, and all other manner of hyperbolic nonsense. They railed for years that Obama was a secret communist for suggesting such a policy. Now, Trump is proposing the same thing. Yet, these same chicken little rightists are cheering him on for it. All of a sudden they’re in support of fixing the roads and bridges.
I think this just goes to show the typical ignorance of most Americans have when it comes to economic policy. They like a policy if they like the person who advocates it, the opposite is also true. I think this also demonstrates the American public votes as a popularity contest, not in the way an “informed democracy” would, to quote Neil deGrasse Tyson.
During the 2016 election, we saw a manifestation of scepticism among the capitalist class. Whenever his approval rating increased during his campaign, the stock market took a hit. Yet, now we see a very different picture. The stock market is doing much better than it has. In fact, right now, it is doing better than it ever has before. The Dow has closed at 22,000 for the first time ever. No doubt Trump has already congratulated himself for it. Of course, such an achievement means nothing for the average American who won’t see any of this wealth. Despite his promises to “get the bankers”, he has certainly just handed them whatever they want. His plans for deregulation and tax cuts have made the finance capitalists quite happy.
As a part of his campaign he’s promised to “bring the jobs back”. While it may be a tremendously popular promise, we’ve certainly seen nothing of the sort. Trump may wish to do this, but it’s clear he has no idea how to do it. More importantly, the industrial capitalists won’t be too happy about such a move. they’re quite happy with significantly cheaper Mexican and Chinese labour. In fact, he’s been unable to even stem the flow of jobs from the country.
What does all this amount to? A president that doesn’t have any idea what he’s doing. A president that has no idea how to do the things he wants to do. And, a president that seemingly doesn’t know what to do. It seems Trump just blurts out whatever crosses his mind.