Trump’s ‘America First’ Economy

“As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like the leaders of other countries should put their country first also,” Trump declared at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

By Stephen W. Browne l January 29, 2018

The numbers don’t lie, the Trump economy is the best America has had in years.

At the close of Trump’s first year in office the economy will likely have seen three percent growth for three successive quarters, which we haven’t seen for 13 years. The Dow hit 25,000 which we’ve never seen before. Wages and employment are rising, most significantly at the bottom end of the income distribution scale with most concentrated in the blue state heartland.

Moreover, the confidence of small businesses as measured by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, is the highest it’s been since they started doing the survey 45 years ago.

There has predictably been a lot of grumbling: “This is Obama’s policies finally kicking in!”

After eight years of assuring us that two percent growth is the new normal, he never achieved it.

“Almost a-quarter-million employees have been notified of plant closings and layoffs!”

That may be true – but so what?

Sorry, I know that sounds callous for those going through job loss – been there, done it; but the fact remains when the economy is expanding and employment increasing, layoffs in certain sectors means the economy is changing, not static. The slack will be taken up in new more dynamic sectors and Americans will do what we always have; move somewhere else, learn new skills, and get a new job.

So why has this happened and what does it mean? Because a great many of the ‘Wise and Wonderful’ on both the right and left predicted gloom, doom, and disaster.

In the past, when we’ve seen the economy improve with a new and more business-friendly administration, there has usually been a year’s lead time before Americans have seen improvement — but this has been immediate.

Some have proposed the first effects were largely psychological, and there is something to this. The Democrat Party is more than ever before dominated at the national level by hard leftists ferociously hostile towards free enterprise.

A change to an even tepidly pro-capitalist administration is like a shot of espresso to the economy.

And this change has been more than token. Trump promised to remove two business regulations for every one passed. At last count, 22 regulations have been removed for every single regulation imposed.

It’s not just that the regulatory burden on business is difficult and expensive, we could live with that – in fact, we have. It’s that it is so complex that it’s nearly impossible to understand.

Want to start a business or move yours into a new market? If you don’t have lots of lawyers and accountants on your payroll to navigate the regs – good luck! Complex regulations and tax laws favor “Big Business” over the little guys, and that’s how the big guys like it.

Nonetheless, “Regulation is stealth taxation,” Trump stated clearly in his Davos speech.

Trump’s 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on top of massive deregulation will provide larger paychecks for American workers along with unanticipated company bonuses and pay raises that will boost the economy even more.

The White House highlighted these economic gains for American workers:

USA TODAY: Starbucks Boost Worker Pay, Gives Bonuses After Tax Cut
CNBC: 125,000 Disney Employees to Receive $1,000 Cash Bonus Due to Tax Reform
FT: Verizon To Give Most Employees Stock in Anticipation of Tax Savings
REUTERS: JP Morgan Rolls Out $20 Billion Investment Plan After Tax Gains
BLOOMBERG: Whirlpool Says It’s Adding Jobs After Trump Tariff Decision

During Trump’s first year, the Dow climbed 31 percent, according to CNBC, surpassed only by FDR, reporting that the “30-stock index has surged more than 31 percent since Trump’s inauguration.”

CNBC: The Dow’s 31% Gain During Trump’s First Year Is the Best Since FDR

“Donald Trump lifted the Dow Jones industrial average in his first year in office more than any other president since Franklin Roosevelt. The Dow has surged more than 31 percent since Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. That marks the index’s best performance during a president’s first year since Roosevelt. The Dow skyrocketed 96.5 percent during Roosevelt’s first year in office….Trump quickly moved to cut regulations enacted by previous administrations. He also successfully pushed to overhaul the U.S. tax code. That revamp included slashing the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent.”

Right, after the 1929 Wall Street Crash followed by the Great Depression, there really wasn’t anywhere else for the stock market to go but up. Elected in 1932, becoming the 32nd President of the United States, FDR saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average rise during his first year in office from 1933 to 1934. In fact, it took the market 25 years to fully recover from the Wall Street Crash.
He served from 1933 to 1945.

And then there’s the hot button issue, climate change.

Whatever your opinion of climate change, the fact is the proposals for addressing it these days consist almost entirely of political theater. The least burdensome proposals cripple the economy and accomplish nothing. The most radical proposals amount to dismantling industrial civilization resulting in impoverishment and mass starvation.

If we are going to find alternatives to fossil fuels the only thing that can accomplish this is a rich and dynamic economy that can support the research, development, and large-scale implementation of new technologies.

That’s a job for businessmen and engineers, not bureaucrats.

Probably the biggest thing the Trump administration has done is to remove a lot of the uncertainty of doing business. A thriving economy can stand a lot of stupid regulation, if they are consistent from day-to-day.

What the economy can’t stand is the uncertainty of a business environment where regulations are imposed capriciously by a chief executive who overturns settled law to pick winners and losers, decides who has to obey, and who gets special exemptions.

And, I must say, I did not see this unshackled vibrant economy coming. Trump seemed like the archetypal crony Capitalist, leveraging political influence for his own advantage, even to the point of trying to use eminent domain for private projects.

It never occurred to me that a player skilled in that game could still realize it is horribly bad for the U.S. economy, and once in power act on that knowledge. As a businessman, Trump has learned the economic lessons taught by Eastern Europe in their transition from socialism to market economies. And if you’d told me, I wouldn’t have believed you. What a pleasant surprise!

“As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like the leaders of other countries should put their country first also,” Trump declared at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Stephen Browne has been a sewage treatment plant worker, a truck driver, an English teacher and a journalist. In 1991 he received his MA in anthropology and set out for Eastern Europe, which was to become his home for the next 13 years. While teaching English and working with local dissidents abroad he began to write professionally about the tremendous changes happening after the collapse of the Soviet empire. In 1997, he was elected Honorary Member of the Yugoslav Movement for the Protection of Human Rights. In 1998, he co-founded the Liberty English Camps in Lithuania, which teach the principles of free markets and political liberty through English-language instruction, and eventually became the Language of Liberty Institute. He returned to the U.S. to study journalism on a graduate fellowship and pay some dues in rural newspapers in the Midwest. At present he lives in his native Midwest with his two children Jerzy Waszyngton and Judyta Ilona. Mr. Browne is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis of the conservative-online-journalism center at the Washington-based Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.