Some of the most respected American economists have come together to oppose Donald Trump in the upcoming presidential election. In an open letter, some 370 economists called the Republican presidential candidate “dangerous” and “destructive.”
“He misinforms the electorate, degrades trust in public institutions with conspiracy theories, and promotes willful delusion over engagement with reality. If elected, he poses a unique danger to the functioning of democratic and economic institutions, and to the prosperity of the country. For these reasons, we strongly recommend that you do not vote for Donald Trump.”
The economists include several Nobel Prize winners and “represent a broad variety of areas of expertise.” They are especially concerned about Trump’s misleading language regarding NAFTA and international trade. Trump insists that American needs to renegotiate or withdraw from NAFTA and pursue trade cases against China in order to make America more economically competitive. But the economists remind us that:
“In fact, manufacturing’s share of employment has been declining since the 1970s and is mostly related to automation, not trade. … [Trump] has no plan to assist their transition to well-compensated service sector positions. Instead, he has diverted the policy discussion to options that ignore both the reality of technological progress and the benefits of international trade.”
Other points of contention include Trump’s rhetoric regarding America’s place as an international economic power. Trump’s “Make America Great Again” sloganeering is partly based on the idea that, as he claims:
“We don’t make anything anymore.”
But the economists, again, set the record straight:
“He has misled the public by asserting that U.S. manufacturing has declined. The location and product composition of manufacturing has changed, but the level of output has more than doubled in the U.S. since the 1980s.”
Finally, the letter pokes holes in the logic of Trump’s proposal to shutter agencies that safeguard and promote public interests in order to eliminate the national deficit:
“He has lowered the seriousness of the national dialogue by suggesting that the elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Education would significantly reduce the fiscal deficit. A credible solution will require an increase in tax revenue and/or a reduction in spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or Defense.”
Trump’s camp fired back almost immediately, saying:
“You don’t need Econ 101 to know Hillary Clinton’s plan to raise taxes, increase regulation, raise energy and electricity prices by shutting down our fossil fuel industries, and continue to ship our jobs and factories overseas through bad trade deals will reduce growth, continue stagnant wages, and leave our government without the economic growth it needs to pay for everything from new infrastructure to national defense.
“You don’t need a Ph.D. in economics to know Trump’s plan … will significantly increase growth, boost wages, and generate trillions in new tax revenues.”
You don’t need Econ 101. You don’t need a PhD in economics. In the parallel universe where Donald Trump is king, what this really means is that you don’t need critical thinking skills of any kind. This is why Trump “loves the poorly educated.” Trump is banking on people feeling so intimidated or threatened by impersonal economic forces that they’ll abandon all reason and just vote for him.
The letter isn’t the first time economists have crunched Trump’s numbers and found they didn’t add up. Watch Laura Tyson, former Chair of the US President’s Council of Economic Advisers under President Clinton, explain how the Trump economic plan falls short:
Featured image: screengrab via YouTube video.