Trumponomics favors pin-stripes over blue collars

August 8, 2016

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own. 

Donald Trump’s plan to make America great again favors pin-striped suits and Hermès ties over blue collars. The Republican presidential nominee laid out his plan to boost U.S. growth on Monday, calling for corporate tax cuts and a halt to new financial regulation. Billionaire investors and donors to the Trump campaign who comprise his newly announced economic team helped craft the proposal.

The artifice was perpetuated by Trump’s decision to unveil his latest ideas in Detroit, a Rust Belt symbol of American labor only two years out of bankruptcy. And yet a blanket moratorium on any new federal rules would primarily benefit big businesses and Wall Street. Trump cited manufacturing industry research that “overregulation” costs the economy up to $2 trillion a year. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, bank lobbyists and others have sued President Barack Obama’s administration dozens of times over a variety of restrictions. Trump also wants to roll back environmental protections, including ones that reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.

Much of Trump’s economic scheme seems to rely on trickle-down theories that have been debunked. As the ranks of the rich expanded under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the middle class shrank. The International Monetary Fund said in a 2015 report that if the share of income among the top 20 percent increases, GDP growth actually declines because the benefits don’t reach the lower classes.

It is telling that most of Trump’s advisers are wealthy businessmen. The economic team he announced last week includes hedge-fund boss John Paulson, who made his fortune betting against the U.S. housing market just before the 2008 financial crisis. Another is Cerberus Capital founder Stephen Feinberg, who along with his wife gave the Trump Victory fundraising group nearly $680,000.

Trump made some effort to help lower-income individuals, including by reducing their taxes. He also has backpedaled on his original idea of cutting the rate on top earners to 25 percent and instead is now on the same page as House Speaker Paul Ryan at 33 percent. Even when Trump ostensibly aims for the poor, however, he helps the rich. A proposal to make childcare expenses tax-deductible, for example, seems to overlook that nearly half of American households already pay no federal income tax, and would therefore benefit those making more.

For a candidate supposedly championing the working class, the rich New York real-estate developer sure has a soft spot for the 1 percent.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Lack of awareness of climate, fuel consumption and modern consumers were the biggest problems for the US car industry in Detroit. Obama saved many jobs e.g. at Chrysler by investing tax money wisely.
Trump can repeat the mistakes of the past and make “America outdated again”.
Right wing populist only pretends to help the workers and the poor, but just divide and harm them. The tactic has been the same since early Italien fascist stole the red and black symbols and uniforms from the syndicalist left wing anarchists and some of their confused and poorly educated supporters.

Posted by aScientist | Report as abusive

Glad to read that my thinking wasn’t completely unfounded. I was listening to a breakdown of Trump’s economic plan on NPR and thought, “I thought trickle-down Reaganomics was proven completely bs.” While I certainly don’t feel comfortable with Clinton as president, and am confident that she’s just as buddy-buddy with the elite 1% as much as Trump is and will back-pedal on a lot of promises she makes while running for president, at least she has the decency to publicly act like she’s our (the middle class’) friend.

Posted by JoshuaK | Report as abusive

Should I assume that Trump will make bankruptcy more accessible to the rich,
like him.

Posted by JoshS | Report as abusive

Supporters of Hillary: Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos (Amazon) Eric Schmidt (Google) Tim Cook (Apple Computer), Meg Whitman (formerly Ebay, now Hewlett-Packard), Mark Cuban (billionaire owner of Dallas Mavericks), George Soros (Soros Fund Management) many at Goldman-Sachs.

Methinks Hillary and the Democrats will take care of the wealthy quite handily; also, a record number of people are out of the workforce during the Obama administration and wages have been stagnant for several years. How is that helping blue collar?

Major corporations don’t have that much trouble dealing with regs and taxes. It’s the small-business corporations that are driven out by regulations; if you don’t incorporate as a small business, you are at a disadvantage legally and with respect to taxation. Large businesses just pass taxes and reg costs on in the form of higher prices. That hits the poor and the middle class directly….

Posted by Dump_Congress | Report as abusive