Trump Pushes Economic Berlin Wall, Republicans Shrug


After deploying the full force of federal carrot-and-stick to threaten, wheedle and cajole Carrier into keeping 1,000 jobs in Indiana, Donald Trump took to Twitter to threaten another company over the weekend:

“Viciously”? Trump has outsourced for years. He has used illegal labor at his establishments. He bragged openly during the campaign that he was brilliant for avoiding taxes. And now it’s “vicious” for a company to act in its own economic self-interest, preserving American jobs by remaining competitive in a global marketplace by outsourcing some labor?

But this is what we can now expect from Trump: the economic totalitarian impulse fused with the power of the federal executive branch, all under the rubric of nationalism and the false flag of conservatism. Trump followed up that threat to a private company with this:

Note: “OPEN FOR BUSINESS” signs do not usually have an asterisk, followed by superscript reading “and if you don’t do business here, we’ll threaten to destroy you.” This is the erection of a Big, Beautiful Wall to keep American businesses in – a sort of economic Berlin Wall. If Trump truly cared about merely creating a positive business environment for American businesses, he wouldn’t have to threaten American companies. And if he understood basic economics, which he obviously doesn’t, he wouldn’t be stumping for tariffs that dramatically raise the price of goods for precisely the blue collar people he claims to want to help, or pushing for brutal “retribution” against companies that want to remain operational by competing.

Mark Levin hits the nail squarely on the head:

Economic authoritarianism has now arrived; sorry, there is no other way to put it. I am reminded of Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, both of whom used the power of the federal government to intimidate and even crush legitimate, law-abiding businesses for failing to abide by their political demands. This is a disgrace, and we should all object to it. It concerns me to no end that there are putative Republicans and conservatives who rally around such un-American and destructive strong-arm tactics. And the fact that it is declared by a recent convert to the Republican Party, as opposed to a Democrat, doesn’t excuse it; indeed, it should be even more alarming.

But it’s not just Trump embracing Bernie Sanders’ trade policy. It’s now putative conservatives like Vice President Mike Pence, the fellow conservatives were supposed to trust to steer Trump in the right direction. Now Pence is cheerleading economic fascism. Pence told The New York Times last week, “The free market has been sorting it out and America’s been losing.” To which Trump added, “Every time, every time.” In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, as Jim Pethokoukis of American Enterprise Institute points out, Pence said “that a Trump White House would eschew many of the free-market principles that have guided prior Republican administrations, including injecting itself into the personnel and long-term operating decisions of individual companies.” And on Sunday, Pence said Trump would decide “day-to-day” on whether to leverage companies or not. Pence then lied, “I don’t think it’s picking winners and losers at all. What the president-elect did with Carrier was simply reach out, one American to another, and just ask them to reconsider.”

Sure. So if I had called Carrier and asked them to reconsider, they likely would have taken a $65 million operating loss in exchange for a $7 million tax credit. Uh-huh.

But the fact that Trump’s economic policies – now endorsed by the top conservative in the administration – are markedly leftist and tyrannical is fine. It’s all fine! That’s because Trump is supposedly the Great Savior of America, and we must therefore celebrate what once we criticized. Here’s libertarian Glenn Reynolds, celebrating the Carrier deal in terms that should stun anyone familiar with Reynolds’ usually excellent work:

Trump then went ahead and delivered. A conspicuously kept campaign promise that benefits the little guy sends a signal of caring that talk of macroeconomics does not. FDR knew this. His New Deal economic policies were mostly snake oil — according to a study by UCLA economists, they actually prolonged the Great Depression by seven years. But FDR made people feel like he cared, even though he was a rich man from New York who had never been poor himself. Now another rich man from New York seems to be repeating the formula. FDR gave the Democrats two decades of political dominance. Today’s Democrats should be worrying that Trump could do the same for the Republican Party.

Why, pray tell, shouldn’t Republican worry about Republicans now parroting FDR’s policies? Or is political victory the only measuring stick for Republicans, no matter what policies they then pursue?

Or perhaps Republicans will just deceive themselves. Here’s the editorial board of Investor’s Business Daily:

It means an end to eight years in which President Obama, instead of supporting U.S. companies, arrogantly scolded business leaders and treated businesses as either piggy banks to be raided or as enemies to be brought to heel through regulations and mandates.

Wait, what? That’s precisely what Trump did with Carrier. But when there’s a big T on a bunch of Democratic policies, Republicans are supposed to keel over in joy.

Forget it. If you want Trump to be a good president, Republicans have an obligation to call him out now when he does bad things. Not later. Now. But it seems that Republicans are willing to go anywhere Trump leads. And that doesn’t speak well for the future of conservatism inside the Republican Party.