A few days after a “Make America Great Again” hat was spotted in Tom Brady’s locker, Donald Trump has received support from another unexpected individual. Paul Krugman’s latest New York Times op-ed is entitled “Trump Is Right On Economics.” It’s a jarring headline, especially considering Krugman’s unabashedly liberal economic views and Trump’s hard line conservative stances.
The article praises Trump’s support for universal health care and imposing taxes on the rich. Krugman discusses the way Jeb Bush has criticized Trump — in both English and Spanish — for not being conservative. In reality, Krugman proposes, most Republican voters agree with Trump more than they do with Bush’s tax-cutting plan to save the economy.
The op-ed is still highly critical of Trump. “So am I saying that Mr. Trump is better and more serious than he’s given credit for being?” Krugman writes. “Not at all — he is exactly the ignorant blowhard he seems to be.” Yet the author’s main point is that Bush’s attacks on Trump aren’t working because Republicans actually agree with the different economic ideas Trump is proposing.
Although the immigration sideshow quickly took over, Trump’s campaign initially focused primarily on economic issues. Trump, like Bernie Sanders on the left, bluntly explained to voters how and why the nation was in trouble economically. That’s something most politicians would never do, and voters responded cacordingly. Trump explained how he would fix the economy, create jobs and restore the middle class. Some of those proposals — like personally calling the CEO of Ford to bring their factory back from Mexico — were absurd. Others, like proposing tax increases on the ultra-wealthy, are more sane. Republican voters may be attracted to Trump’s xenophobic, anti-immigrant rhetoric, but they’re also throwing their support behind a candidate with a history of liberal economic views.
To his credit, Trump is savvy about the state of the international economy. Although he talks a lot about China and other nations as if they’re abstract threats to America’s greatness, he understands how trade agreements and other economic policies have decimated the U.S.’s middle class. He was even talking about income inequality in 1999, when he proposed a one-time tax on anyone with a net worth of more than $10 million to restore the national debt. Trump has always been more liberal than Bush and other GOP establishment politicians would like their nominee to be. It remains to be seen whether, as Krugman predicts, voters will agree with him on economic issues the way they do immigration.
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