NYT: What Donald Trump Doesn’t Understand About ‘the Deal’

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15 Responses

  1. Christopher Carr says:

    This is a really interesting piece, and coming from the New York Times.

    I wonder, and this seems to be borne out in reality, if there isn’t come great political shift slowly taking place, where the Democrats become the free market party.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Christopher Carr says:


      I think the Democratic Party has been fairly pro-Market for most of my life. Clinton and the DLC certainly helped the Democratic Party move to the right on economics.

      I generally agree with the essay. Economics is not a zero-sum game with a finite amount of wealth. Wealth can and does grow. Where I disagree with the neo-liberals and (more often the liberartarians) is on the concept of no-losers in economics and the best ways to increase wealth are through absolute wealth even if that means huge income inequality.

      The people flocking to Trump are clearly losers in the modernized globalized economy and are being left behind. No one knows how to help them and no one is willing to concede that their ideological preferences have caused damage. The standard response of the free-trade advocates seems to be either “Just wait a generation or two more, baby”, reckless indifference, or a drumbeat chant of “cheaper Iphones.”

      Now neo-liberals are more supportive of welfare state measures than libertarians but they are in the end for globalization first and willing to sell the welfare state down the river for more deregulation. Or they are willing to do very corporate friendly variants of the welfare state like the individual mandate as a boom to private insurance companies.

      The Sanders v. HRC fight is a sign that a good chunk (maybe not a majority but a decent sized minority) is skeptical of free-trade, globalization, and the finance sector but maybe not the extent that Trump supporters are.Report

      • Christopher Carr in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Someone like me would argue that Sanders is actually more free market than Clinton, if he supports undoing the corporate welfare built into law in favor of a more level playing field for normal humans.Report

        • North in reply to Christopher Carr says:

          I dunno if “more” is a fair descriptor. Maybe differently? The Clintons/DLC moved the party rightward and free marketward a lot in the 90’s. But Bernie is definitely to their right on corporate welfare.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to Christopher Carr says:

          I understand exactly what you mean and agree with it.
          However it also must be pointed out that in American political vocabulary circa 2016 removing corporate welfare will be called anti free market socialism, and quite possibly terrorism.Report

      • Art Deco in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Clinton and the DLC certainly helped the Democratic Party move to the right on economics.

        You’ve forgotten that what was being abandoned were things like ‘industrial policy’, ‘comparable worth’, and ‘domestic content’, ideas current then which were never formally adopted. Antecedent to that, enthusiasms of the 1970s only incompletely adopted or not adopted at all (among them the more elaborate versions of ‘welfare rights’, wage and price controls, and Ralph Nader’s ‘consumer’s democracy’) had dissipated. The dismantling of the old Office of Economic Opportunity and the placement of time limits on relief payments to mothers with bastard children are among the few retreats in domestic policy beaten by the central tendency of the Democratic Party in the last 50-odd years. Other retreats were not accomplished through policy adjustments (the slow failure of private sector unions). I suppose you could add the demise of 70% marginal tax rates as a retreat (Paul Simon was the last presidential candidate to advocate them).

        And these retreats are commonly temporary. See the BO administrations scheming to gut the time limits on TANF, the ever more fuzzy definitions of ‘disability’, and the deBlasio administration’s abandonment of effective policing.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      The tension in the Democratic Party since 1992 or so is those that stick to an older Democratic Party economic platform (which is not exactly anti-Capitalist but is more likely to tell big business to cut it out) and those who maybe got overcorrected by the setbacks the Democratic Party face since 1972.

      We now have a generation or two of Democratic Party supporters who don’t remember McGovern and/or Reagan very well. They do remember and are tired of Democratic politicians being too business friendly and/or too much in a perpetual “please don’t kick me” stance with the GOP. These younger Democratic members are still being hurt by the Great Recession/Fiscal Crisis and do get mad when DWS defends payday lenders.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Christopher Carr says:

      I wonder, and this seems to be borne out in reality, if there isn’t come great political shift slowly taking place, where the Democrats become the free market party.

      Interesting idea. It’d be even more interesting if the Democrats become the long-dreamed of post scarcity free market party, where trade becomes even more liberalized and profits from the investor class are heavily redistributed to all the working folks displaced by cheaper foreign labor or machines.

      North, are you listening! 🙂Report

  2. Damon says:


    Like NAFTA? Like TPP? Like every political compromise?

    Those are “deals”. Countries don’t have to change their laws but they do for getting something. Politicians don’t have to agree to legislation, but will often if there is a “sweetener”. Curious that wasn’t mentioned.

    If “the Donald” is going to be making deals, those are the deals he’ll be making.Report

    • Kim in reply to Damon says:

      Politicians are blackmailed, just as much as they are bribed,if not more so.Report

      • Damon in reply to Kim says:

        Oh, no doubt. I’ve often thought that if I had “bill gates” money, I could control congress through a combination of blackmail, bribery, extortion, and honest campaigning.

        Probably the administration too. I SHALL BE YOUR BENEFICENT OVERLORD!!!Report

        • Kim in reply to Damon says:

          Lucky Bill Gates isn’t into that sort of stuff.
          (He does write a lovely haiku though).

          If two thirds of congress is blackmailed (and that’s a conservative figure, from someone who knew the DC Madam), it’s by different interests and corporations for each elected official. (never mind the non elected officials who are also blackmailed).Report

        • Michael Cain in reply to Damon says:

          You don’t have to control the whole legislature, just enough key votes on an issue-by-issue basis. Try How the Democrats Won Colorado by Witwer and Schrager for a how-to on a small scale. Or most any account of how Eastern business interests bought key votes in Mountain West and Pacific Coast state legislatures circa 1900. (Near-universal ballot initiative and recall provisions in western state constitutions were a reaction to the success of those business interests.)Report

  3. LeeEsq says:

    Based on the polls, I’d argue that Donald Trump’s perception of the economy as a zero sum game is closer to how most people perceive wealth and the economy even if it is erroneous. Free traders of all stripes have not done a very good job convincing people about the merits of free trade and deregulation. Like Saul noted, the usually say trust and go on without considering any negative side effects. People who perceive themselves as losing because of free trade deals are going to act accordingly rather than sit back and watch their lives fall apart. They might go to the Far Right or the Radical Left but they will use whatever tool they can to get their perceived losses back.

    A big problem was that the Conservative Free Traders are against many or even all forms of wealth redistribution. To them all you needed to do was add to absolute wealth and everybody will be happy. I don’t think this is true. Free trade increases wealth but there also needs to some sort of mechanism to assure that there is something equitable about the distribution of it. Even if absolute wealth is increasing, an inequitable distribution of absolute wealth can have a lot of negative consequences. This includes an eventual decrease in wealth. The more wealth you have the more power you have. If wealth is to unequally distributed than so is political power. The wealthy will eventually size more and more for themselves leaving others with nothing.Report