Economist Alan Tonelson, founder of the economics and public policy blog RealityChek, joined SiriusXM host Alex Marlow on Wednesday’s Breitbart News Daily to talk about Donald Trump’s vision for the economy.
Tonelson said it was “painfully clear” that “tens of millions of American voters were reacting to not only the version of globalism and internationalism and so-called ‘free trade’ and open borders that President Obama had been preaching and practicing for eight years.”
“They were reacting to the same policies being pursued by the last few presidents, for literally decades, that had brought them nothing – at least as they saw it – except stagnating incomes at very best and major cultural divisions that threatened to simply break apart the kind of healthy unity that this country has enjoyed for so long,” he continued.
“I think they were absolutely right to rise up, to revolt, and to demand something different,” Tonelson said. “And I think that it’s no accident that the version of populism that they chose was that nationalistic version that Mr. Trump stood for.”
As for Trump’s economic vision, Tonelson said an important element is what he called “economic realism.” He defined this as recognizing that “even though when you’re dealing with the world economy, you certainly pursue cooperation with other countries wherever you can, that’s not always going to be possible – and that when it’s not, the very best guarantee of continued or improved American prosperity is America’s own economic power.”
“Just as important, it also recognizes that when we do cooperate, the crucial question that we’ll face is, how do we ensure cooperation on U.S. terms? Because cooperation will always have content,” he continued.
Tonelson agreed with Marlow’s contention that other countries frequently look for “cooperation” on grounds that are quite far from America’s best interests. He added “one more very important element: whether they’re acting in what we would consider ‘good faith’ or not, they will inevitably have different – at least in many circumstances – inevitably have different economic interests because they’ve chosen to run their economies along different lines, and they’ll see things differently.”
“We have to make sure, once again, that when we are dealing with them, when we are quote ‘cooperating’ unquote, that that cooperation needs to take forms that serve U.S. interests,” he stressed. “And we have dropped the ball on that completely.”
“For example, we make absolutely sure that when we sign trade agreements with countries – again, whose structures can be radically different from ours – that we understand that when they make promises on paper, to, let’s say, reduce or to eliminate policies that we consider to be antagonistic, that we can’t automatically assume that they’ll follow through,” he advised, “that we need monitoring mechanisms, that we need enforcement mechanisms that actually work, and we can’t simply assume that problems get solved because treaties get signed.”
Tonelson said he was not surprised that “an economic nationalist and populist candidate” won over voters in the upper Midwest and Rust Belt.
“I was a little surprised that they were willing to overlook what were clearly some very important mistakes that Mr. Trump made during that campaign and essentially decided to take a chance on him occupying the most important political position in the entire world,” he confessed. “But certainly, it’s no surprise that somebody standing for the ideas that he stands for had great appeal with them.”
“In fact, that brings us to the second critical element of his economic vision, which is, Mr. Trump recognizes that the key to American economic success is ensuring that the productive core of the American economy is world class, and that, of course, means first and foremost, a world class manufacturing center,” Tonelson added. “And on that score, we’ve certainly fallen way short recently.”
Breitbart News Daily airs on SiriusXM Patriot 125 weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Eastern.