by Stephen Moore; Arthur B. Laffer
When a president you don’t like is good for the American economy…
After a decade of avoiding almost all political news (some leaks through my best attempts at avoidance), I’ve recently started reading books about political figures. I find these books more informative and less stressful than watching the truncated opinionated commentary that passes for news on television these days. (I usually switch the channel when political news comes on. An autoimmune illness that knocks me down when I get stressed or upset is a compelling deterrent in addition to years of feeling hopeless that anything would change.) To be blunt, Trump was not the picture of my ideal political candidate; I was hoping for a Reagan reincarnation or a complete overhaul of the American political system. While I’ve been a Republican forever, over the past many years, I have found myself disenchanted and cynical about the elitism rampant in all the political parties and wishing for a viable independent candidate, a do-over, or something… Wishing for a party led by average Americans… Something… Something different.
Despite not really knowing what I was looking for in a candidate anymore, I just knew Trump was not it. He was unapologetically polarizing, I think comb-overs are a delusional vanity (has a comb-over ever looked good on anyone?), I wince at his tweets and lack of filter, and I haven’t trusted any politician to keep their campaign promises for a very, very long time. Strangely enough, Stephen Moore and Arthur Laffer admit they actually feel much the same about Trump. I can’t recall if they mentioned his hair, but they describe how they are more often disappointed by politicans than not, that even the voters find Trump’s behavior is unorthodox, brash, and combative, they don’t agree with all his policies, he is amazingly stubborn about what he’s willing to negotiate, etc. And yet they find him likable and charismatic and not “the bully or the egomaniac that he sometimes plays on TV or is portrayed as by his adversaries. (Yes, sure, he does crave affirmation, and he does have a big ego.)” They compare Trump’s ability to connect to others and “light up a room” to Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, whom they also found likeable and charismatic.
The intro to Trumponomics had me wondering if it was going to be readable as it seemed rather gushing in places, but the book settles down into a discussion of the process that involved the authors in Trump’s policies and how they provided input and structure over the course of Trump’s campaign, various roles they played, etc. As Trumponomics progresses you get a picture of a candidate and then president who was willing to learn and discuss policies, but who was firm about what points he was not willing to budge on. The authors were “attracted to Trump’s clever, gutsy, and long-overdue assaults against political correctness” and found him amenable to discussion, except on key points. When they debated the elimination of write-offs for interest payments, Trump said, “No way.” The authors “were a little surprised at how firm he was in this rejection. But after we argued for five minutes he put his foot down. […] ‘I hate this idea.’ End of argument.” That’s the integrity that has helped Trump fulfill more campaign promises than anyone could have hoped for.
When Trump ran for office and won, critics foretold an economic slump, a Great Recession that would last indefinitely, and disaster for America and the world economy as a whole. The authors assert “Whatever criticisms might be directed at Donald Trump eighteen months into his presidency—and there are admittedly plenty of missteps and misstatements—what we can say with certainty is that the NeverTrumpers were fantastically wrong about him and Trumponomics. No, he hasn’t ‘destroyed the world economy.’ No, the stock market hasn’t crashed. No, there is no recession.” The Dow is up 39 percent and the economy is as healthy as it has been in 20 years. “But we know from decades of experience that the economy is fickle and can turn on a dime, due to a multitude of factors, not least of which would be a trade war. Even more topsy-turvy is the stock market. So it is premature less than two years into his presidency to declare Donald Trump an economic savior. Ask us at the end of his second term about that.” “ Trumponomics is working. It is working so well that even we are amazed at the American economic transformation—both at the speed and the heights of the rebound.” “Trump is a more politically isolated figure [than Reagan], and yet his list of policy victories is impressive…” “The month before the 2016 election, the rating of the economy and jobs market was about 30 percent positive. In 2018 that number had soared to its highest level in 20 years, with 70 percent rating the American economy as ‘good or great.’”
The authors quote the Wall Street Journal, “which has hardly been kind to Trump since the day he announced for president, put it pretty well: ‘The only good thing about Donald Trump is all his policies.’” They go on to state that “The key to appreciating Trump’s economic accomplishments is to put aside for a moment your personal opinion of Donald Trump’s words and actions in office. Forty percent of voters have consistently disapproved of Trump’s behavior. Just judge Trump on his objective results.” “In April 2018 the unemployment rate hit its lowest level in nearly 50 years, and the black and Hispanic unemployment rates hit their lowest levels in almost 40 years. There are some 6 million more jobs in America than skilled workers to fill them.” Companies are returning and investing in America. Small business profits hit their highest level ever in 2018.
Trump may need a filter, but he appears to be just what the American economy and workers needed.
Highly recommended for those with open minds or a Republican/Trump bent. For those seeking a blanket condemnation of Trump’s policies, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
I received this book as an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the publisher through NetGalley. My opinions are my own.
Donald Trump promised the American people a transformative change in economic policy after eight years of stagnation under Obama. But he didn’t adopt a conventional left or right economic agenda. His is a new economic populism that combines some conventional Republican ideas–tax cuts, deregulation, more power to the states–with more traditional Democratic issues such as trade protectionism and infrastructure spending. It also mixes in important populist issues such as immigration reform, pressuring the Europeans to pay for more of their own defense, and keeping America first.
In Trumponomics, conservative economists Stephen Moore and Arthur B. Laffer offer a well-informed defense of the president’s approach to trade, taxes, employment, infrastructure, and other economic policies. Moore and Laffer worked as senior economic advisors to Donald Trump in 2016. They traveled with him, frequently met with his political and economic teams, worked on his speeches, and represented him as surrogates. They are currently members of the Trump Advisory Council and still meet with him regularly. In Trumponomics, they offer an insider’s view on how Trump operates in public and behind closed doors, his priorities and passions, and his greatest attributes and liabilities.
Trump is betting his presidency that he can create an economic revival in America’s industrial heartland. Can he really bring jobs back to the rust belt? Can he cut taxes and bring the debt down? Above all, does he have the personal discipline, the vision, the right team, and the right strategy to pull off his ambitious economic goals? Moore and Laffer believe that he can pull it off and that Trumponomics will usher in a new era of prosperity for all Americans.