What’s the method in Trump’s madness?

Roundup
tags: election 2016, Trump



E.J. Dionne writes about politics in a twice-weekly column and on the PostPartisan blog. He is a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, a government professor at Georgetown University and a commentator on politics for National Public Radio, ABC’s “This Week” and MSNBC. He is the author of “Why the Right Went Wrong."  Follow @EJDionne

... At a meeting with industry leaders Monday, he sounded like a standard-issue conservative Republican on steroids, insisting that “we are going to be cutting taxes massively” and promising to cut regulations by 75 percent or “maybe more.”

Yet he also said he would impose a “very major” border tax to discourage companies from moving jobs outside the United States.

In principle, it’s possible that Trump is returning to the days of William McKinley and Calvin Coolidge. From the 1890s to the Great Depression, Republican presidents pursued policies that were simultaneously pro-business and protectionist.

McKinley won votes from industrial workers in his reelection campaign of 1900 by arguing that he had delivered “The Full Dinner Pail.” Trump could be following McKinley’s lead, as Coolidge did. “Cheap goods,” Silent Cal said, “meant cheap men.”

But it’s also possible that he will offer mostly words on one side of this equation and a lot of benefits on the other. Given the proclivities of the Republican Congress, his agenda on taxes and regulation is far more likely to sail through Washington than are his plans for moving jobs home. And so far, his announcements about jobs “kept” in the United States under his pressure have been largely symbolic, involving relatively small numbers in an economy where 152 million people are working. ...




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