Wednesday, February 24, 2016

How is this Man a Popular Republican US Presidential Candidate?

We all know that Donald Trump has said some extreme and hateful things, but here he is in the videos below condemning the 2003 invasion of Iraq (in the first), and also admitting that he was once a supporter of a single payer health care system in the US. It is unclear exactly what his current health care proposal is, but it would seem that he wants (1) universal access and (2) to provide a heavy dose of government funding for anyone who cannot afford private health care.

These things are strangely out of step with the mainstream Republican party positions on these issues. Or is it that the mainstream Republican party is out of step with ordinary Republican voters?

If you go to the comments sections of these videos on YouTube, you will find some American conservatives (and I assume Republicans) venting their spleen at Trump for his “socialism” and “Big Government” policies. Nevertheless, the man is doing very well indeed in the Republican primaries. How to explain this?

Also a man who openly praises Britain’s “socialist” NHS is a very odd Republican indeed (see the video below in his comments about Scotland).

On Syria, Trump stands out as calling for some kind of de facto support for Russia and not inciting World War 3 over Syria.

Unlike other Republicans, he is also openly scornful about current free trade agreements (even if he pays lip service to the concept of “free trade”) and raises the issue of the collapse of US manufacturing and the trade imbalance with China. On these issues, he weirdly similar to Bernie Sanders.

Finally, I think I can understand why some Republicans love Trump: even with the loud-mouth talk on foreign policy (typical of other Republicans), he is the only fresh thing on the menu (if you can excuse that metaphor). He is a vehemently anti-establishment Republican and an economic nationalist, and this is very appealing.

I regret, however, Republicans might be disappointed with Trump. If Trump becomes president, what will his economic policy look like? Trump’s plan to cut taxes (heavily for the rich) but severely slash government spending will crash the US economy and possibly drive it into a deep depression. However, perhaps Trump is much smarter than this. Perhaps when he gets into office he will be the new Ronald Reagan: that is, he will cut taxes and increase government spending big time, driving the US into deep deficits. That will stimulate the economy, and make him a Keynesian big spender like Reagan, but such policies will cause the US government debt to continue to grow.

P.S. before I get idiots in the comments section this is in no sense an endorsement of Trump.


  1. Yes, but why should an increase in US government debt be a problem anyway?

    US is not going to face a capital flight as Spain and Italy did during the Eurozone crisis or as the Asian economies did during the Asian crisis of the 1990s.

    Nor will a large US government debt result in a massive sell-off of dollars, because much of the whole world trades in dollars anyway.

    1. One can only laugh at the thought of an American corporate leader coming into office (after talking tough on the budget) and then turning into a Keynesian big spender partying on borrowed money. lol

    2. If you compare US 'debt' with Spain and Italy then you are already comparing apples with pears.

      You can compare Spain and Italy with Alabama and Nebraska, but not with the US as itself.

      There isn't really such a thing as 'capital flight' in floating currency systems. The dollars can't go anywhere. They just get exchanged.

  2. As a supporter of his, I wouldn't say I support every policy, such as the temporary Muslim ban, but for the most part, everything else he has said has been reasonable.

    The thing is many Liberals would hate to admit that Trump supports the same policies as he does, but it is true.

    I expect him to keep using the 'debt' line, but if he is president, he would be a huge Keynesian like Reagan.

    1. John Q. Taxpayer,

      Thanks for your comment. I find the comparison with Reagan very apt: because Reagan was originally an outsider and was *not* an establishment candidate, since the Republican establishment back then supported George H. W. Bush.

      But anyway, if you knew for sure that Trump was going to be a big spending Keynesian, would you still vote for him?

      And any thoughts on his health care plan?

  3. Yes, debt it will be but less military than social keynesian. He would be remaking the party.

    1. You think he won't spend big on the military? Will he go for infrastructure?

    2. He's blasted pretty badly the Neo-conservative foreign policy wing of the party, and while he's decidedly not in the dovish wing that Ron/Rand Paul were in, it's fair to say he probably won't be huge on military/defense spending.

      On the other hand he has talked about wanting to spend big on infrastructure "to rebuild our highways, roads, bridges", etc.

      He also says he wants to cut taxes for rich people and cut spending while keeping Social Security, Medicare, and give poor people health care. So something will have to give, and i'm betting it'll be a nice-sized deficit. Although if he reduces the trade deficit with China, a lot of revenue could come through that.

  4. I could write reams on this. This is not about issues. It's about culture, contempt, the sense politics is a rigged game. The key words are Eloi and Morlock. Elite culture holds much of America and its culture and its people in contempt. This is worse in the democrat party but it's bad enough in in the gop. Trump does not.

    Clive Crook gets it.

    I would go further. I believe that increasingly since I (a Canadian citizen) moved to the USA to work I have seen the development of a class system. I think this is a goal of a large section of the democrat party: to create a class system. PC and pomo are part of the techniques used by the would-be over-class. Trump is the first serious pushback on that. I am very glad to see the pushback, but not to see it lifting Trump himself.

    Here's a good cynical point from Ann Althouse: "If a Democratic candidate were drawing in the sector of the American public that is going for Trump, they would be bragging about their appeal to the working class, the salt of the earth."

    And this on Trump and PC has some interesting points

    (Note to idits. Providing a link does not mean I endorse the argument, or every word of it, or every word the writer ever wrote, or the policies of every party he or she ever voted for.) (Yet Hedlund or Huben will still assume so.)

    1. Very interesting. I imagine his very strong anti-PC stance and anti-immigration policy resonates with ordinary US Republicans, especially when, say, they see so many of their leaders in favour of mass immigration?

      Also, Trump's foreign policy is curious. It is very interesting that the hardline neoconservatives hate him with a passion. Poor old William Kristol has threatened to start his own party and leave the GOP!

  5. To answer your question explicitly: the gop is out of step with its voters. I told friends a long time ago -- when I still thought Trump wouldn't win the nomination -- that he should scare the living shit out of the gop leadership.

    1. "To answer your question explicitly: the gop is out of step with its voters."

      It seems so. This is like Reagan's nomination all over again. Or Barry Goldwater.

      Question is: what will Trump's economic policy be. Supply side Keynesianism mark II?

    2. At any rate, Trump made mince meat of Jeb Bush (the establishment man?) and this was a highlight of the whole campaign as far, in my opinion.

    3. Yes, and of the idea that money is all that matters. Over at Coyne's site there was a long stunningly obtuse article on Trump concluding this proves money is all that matters. Trump spent half what Kasich or Christie spent, a tenth of what Rubio spent. He spent less than Carson. And Bush spent $150,000,000. That is not a typo.

      Trump's economic policy? I fear protectionism and tariffs. I expect big spending. I hope for more sensible big spending than what we have seen recently.

      BTW LK, did you see my platform on my blog?

    4. $150,000,000?!?

      And he still got hammered.

      Of course, it didn't help he had to get his mom to endorse him:

      Poor old Jeb. Far too nice for a Republican candidate, really.

      Also, his whining about Trump's attacks on his family made him look like a weak ass, I suspect too.

    5. "BTW LK, did you see my platform on my blog? "

      Your platform? You mean here:

      Very interesting. War in the middle east but ... peace-loving hippie hits from the bong at home?

      I'd like to know more about your presidential candidacy, Ken B!!

    6. More seriously, Ken B, I can't quite understand your position. Coming from where you are, wouldn't you be in favour of Trump's ban on a certain religious group? Or does this go way too far even for you?

    7. Well I think that has been misrpresented. What Trump said was a temporary band until "our leaders can figure out what is going on." (Read this ) I believe the socialist president of France took even more drastic action and closed the borders entirely for a while didn't he? Trump is suggesting a temporary measure along those lines. Longer lived but less drastic.

      I don't see it as a useful or plausible policy.

      I do support profiling however. As really in different contexts does everyone. Police seek a rapist; should they pay the same attention to a group of teenage girls as a car with a young man in it? Profiling implies a certain heightened scrutiny, not a ban.
      I think your arguments about economic migrants imply profiling. Haven't you remarked on the remarkably high percentage of able bodied young males amongst the migrant groups? You're a good Bayesian, right?

  6. The whole thing is interesting. Look at Bernie. He's been in office for decades so he is actually part of the establishment, but he's *seen* as the outsider, and is doing pretty well considering he never really even tried to win.

    I think it incompatible with the rule of law and a decent polity to support Clinton. I would have a hard time supporting Trump though. I have never supported a third party candidate for president before, but might well do so this time.

    Trump will either win big or lose big. Scott Adams, the Dilbert guy, whose record on Trump is a lot better than mine, predicts a Trump landslide.

    1. Ken B,

      Who is your preferred Republican?

      Or even favourite Republican over the last 16 years since the 2000 election?

    2. Of those left, Kasich. Of those who started this time, Christie. Over the past 16 years: Romney. But Rudy has a spot in my heart.

    3. Is that because they were quasi-libertarian on economics?

    4. They seem to be small but responsible government types. Also not part of the religious faction, able to work with democrats, tolerably hawkish, and with proven records of competence.

  7. As I've said of you on the Marginal Counterrevolution, Lord Keynes, you are a very Trumpian Berniebro.

    I absolutely despise Christie and Rubio. Kasich and Rmoney are somewhat less bad, but still probably worse than Obama. Ken B is nuts.

    The deficits under Reagan were surprisingly small for the rate of unemployment existing at the time. Monetary policy (NGDP) almost always matters more than fiscal.

    Trump is also unique among Republicans in that he wants to preserve social security and medicare as they are, without reform.

    Give me three examples in which slashing both taxes and spending have been bad for the economy. I know of none. Slashing spending and taxes at the same time is very good for the economy, especially in the long run.

  8. 60-s total increase in public debt to gdp= -20 percent

    70-s total increase in public debt to gdp= -6.2 percent

    80-s total increase in public debt to gdp=+ 20 percent

    so you still think that reagen deficits been surpsingly small 20 percent increase debt to gdp ratio is surpisingly small amount?

    now when you are saying its always been good cut deficits and taxes in the same time what exactly do you mean?

    cutting taxes and deficits in the same proporation?

    (so the deficits to taxable income ratio will stay the same?)

    in this case you would do nothing

    or you want to have surplus budget?

    in this case the best examples of surplus budgets been in the 20-s before the great depression and in the 90-s before dot com bubble and eventually before 2008 crisis as well.

  9. Not taxable income but amount of tax money

  10. "so you still think that reagen deficits been surpsingly small 20 percent increase debt to gdp ratio is surpisingly small amount?"

    -Yes. You don't seem to understand the mathematics of this at all:

    And you can't even spell.

    "in this case the best examples of surplus budgets been in the 20-s before the great depression and in the 90-s before dot com bubble and eventually before 2008 crisis as well."

    -You're precisely reversing cause and effect. Low unemployment leads to budget surpluses. Budget surpluses do not lead to recessions U.S.-wide, and seldom do locally.

    1. "And you can't even spell."
      You forgot to add, his mother wears army boots.

  11. basically you are saying that inflation can hide big deficits and in the same way its can hide more conservative policy? (like cutting deficits)

    well its still dont make your point any better and i will tell you why

    in the 70-s average decadal inflation - 7.25

    change in public debt to gdp ratio - (-5.2)

    average decadal

    in the 70-s average decadal growth rate 2.16%

    in the 80-s average decadal inflation - (5.82)

    change in public debt to gdp ratio - (+18.9)

    in the 80-s average decadal growth rate - 2.26%

    ok so (7.25-5.82=1.43) so in the 80-s the inflation is lower just about 1.43 percent

    how about growth?

    in the 80-s the economy rose by 0.1 percent more than in the 70-s

    how about the change in debt?

    (18.9- (-5.2)=24.1)
    24.1% percent change in debt

    so how exactly change of 1.43 in inflation and 0.1 in real gdp growhth can explain 24.1 increase in deficit spending according to you?

    now about low unemployment arguement and i will left alone the arguement that surplus depends on government decision of how much to increase the deficits and on how much its want to increase its taxes and to increase spending but let it alone for a moment.

    and lets speak about your arguement of low unemployment causing surplus.

    in the 50-s decadal unemployment 3.87% (deficit spending)

    in the 60-s decadal unemployment 4.05%
    (deficit spending)

    in the 90-s decadal unemployment 4.93%
    (budget surplus)

    so how exactly in this case unemployment rate relevant?

    even in decades with lower unemployment the u.s government still ran deficit budgets


    thanks to LK for the data

  13. "even in decades with lower unemployment the u.s government still ran deficit budgets"

    -That's due to something called "military conscription" and "land wars in Asia". And the 1950s and 1960s also had their budget surpluses.

    Take a look at
    if you don't believe me. Reagan's deficits were very small for the unemployment rate in his day, except during his second term.