News & Politics

Donald Trump Is a Keynesian Populist

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Noah Rothman makes an important point over at Commentary:

“[S]ometimes you have to prime the pump,” President-elect Donald Trump told TIME Magazine reporters when asked if Republicans in Congress would support his $1 trillion infrastructure proposal. “So sometimes in order to get jobs going and the country going, because, look, we’re at 1% growth.”

That’s textbook Keynesianism. The logic is similar to that which was favored by Barack Obama and his economic advisors in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, but with one key distinction: The crisis it would be applied to address doesn’t exist.

As Rothman explains, Keynesianism basically argues that the government should “invest” in a recession. This would supposedly limit the damage and help the economy recover faster than it would normally be able to do. Now, history has shown Keynesianism to be counterproductive, but that doesn’t prevent progressives from hawking it whenever the economy is in trouble.

Did I say “progressives”? I mean progressives and populists. Indeed, like Donald Trump.

He promises to help those who find it difficult to adapt to modern times. As Rothman puts it:

The country’s transition from a largely industrial to service and information economy has benefited millions more than it has displaced. That is, however, small comfort to voters who perceive a crisis of the kind that demands extraordinary remedies — extraordinary remedies like Donald Trump.

As always, although Keynesianism may sound wonderful in theory, the working class is bound to end up disappointed once again. The only way to truly make it in a rapidly changing economy is to change with it. Trump can invest all the billions he wants in large infrastructure projects, but that won’t change reality: the information and service economy is here to stay, and the industrial age is largely finished — in the Western world, at least.

Whether you call it populism, progressivism, or Keynesianism, in the end they’re all the same: their adherents will spend billions of tax dollars on projects that do nothing to create lasting jobs and financial opportunities.