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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

It sounds like a threat.

As world markets crumbled, Donald Trump was in Scotland, inexplicably doing a commercial for his Turdberry golf course, celebrating the British vote to leave the European Union with a promise that America was “next.”

Americans would “take their country back,” he vowed.

Back where?

To 2008, apparently, when the world woke up to a completely unnecessary financial meltdown.

It shouldn’t have to be obvious that a candidate for president of the United States shouldn’t celebrate American seniors losing almost 5 percent of their retirement savings in a day because it might be good news for his golf course. But Trump is used to saying things that would destroy a normal candidate and then reaping the inexplicable benefits with his supporters, who tend to be about 90 percent white — coincidentally almost identical to the British electorate that voted to leave the EU.

Whether or not the unexpected vote for isolation in the UK portends well for Trump’s “populism” infused with strategic racism in the much more diverse American electorate is still just a Rorschach test that reveals more about the viewer than the abstract blotch we’re trying to assess. But we can reasonably project that Trump’s election would wreck similar (or far worse) havoc on the economy. We know this because Trump has made the connection himself, and we know this because this is what Trump is promising.

Here are five reasons to expect that a Trump victory would make Americans poorer:

  1. Economists see disaster in Trump’s plans.
    It’s hard to do a reasonable assessment of Trump’s ridiculous plans, but one of America’s most prominent market analytics firms tried. “The economy will be significantly weaker if Mr. Trump’s economic proposals are adopted,” Moody’s explained. “It will be a difficult four years for the typical American family.” How difficult? 3.5 million jobs lost, billions if not trillions lost in the stock market and home values. Plus over $10 trillion in new debt for tax cuts like those that didn’t work under George W. Bush, haven’t worked in Kansas and probably would do nothing except worsen income inequality. But it could be so much worse than that, if Trump gets his way.
  2. Trump is looking forward to an economic crisis, which he promises to turn into a catastrophe.
    You know who predicts that there could be a crash if he’s elected president? Donald Trump. And he’s promising to use this moment to do something the Constitution ostensibly forbids: destroying America’s full faith and credit. “‘Hey, guess what? The economy just crashed. I’m gonna give you back half,” Trump said, explaining his gameplay for the crash he sees as inevitable. And he’s eager to use this opportunity to do what he’s done again and again: cover up his failures by screwing over his creditors. Except in this case he’d be defaulting on the U.S. national debt for the first time ever, surrendering the leverage that makes the dollar the world’s reserve currency and keeps our interest rates low. “Any default within the system would have cataclysmic consequences for the economy that would far outweigh any gains in refinancing costs,” The Economist explained. “To cap it all, the Federal Reserve owns almost $2.5 trillion of Treasury bonds and the Social Security Fund some $2.8 trillion. So the government would, in part, be defaulting to itself.” Trump is saying that he’d default Social Security. People should point that out more often. Because when you say these things as a candidate, people can just laugh at you. When you’re the president and you vomit out nonsense, you can take down markets.
  3. Trump wants to uninsure 20 million and would probably end Medicare as we know it.
    Two things you never hear Republicans mention is that layoffs, both as a raw number and per capita, are lower than they’ve been since the early 1970s, and the economy has improved rapidly since Obamacare went into full effect, with health care industry jobs leading the charge. Trump is promising to undo do all this. And we now know what he’ll replace it with: Paul Ryan has released his “replacement” plan for Obamacare, which is a wishlist of conservative polices that will uninsure tens of millions while doing little to help the working poor the ACA has does the most to help. At the same time, anyone who was born after 1960 would have to work longer before receiving Medicare, with the promise of higher premiums. In other words, Republicans are promising to make the “economic anxiety” plaguing older white workers much worse. And Trump will be there to sign it into law.
  4. Trump will give foreign oil states more control of our economy.
    You know that conservatives laugh climate change off as a “hoax” invented by Barbara Streisand and the Chinese to sell Priuses, but the science is real, and we’re finding ways to benefit economically as a nation from saving the world as we know it. More Americans are now employed by the solar industry than by coal. And thanks to the stimulus, companies like Tesla and Solar City are reshaping the economy, empowering Americans to take control of how they use energy. Trump is one of the worst climate science deniers alive — or best, depending on your point of view. Abandoning alternative energy to fixate on fossil fuels bets our economy on the whims of Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing nations, who can lower the price with concerted effort. And all of this is just incidental to the long-term damage carbon pollution would do to our environment and economy, as rising temperatures threaten to cut the average American’s income by nearly 25 percent by 2100.
  5. Trump would unleash Wall Street to replay the 2008 crash over and over.
    If we have a Republican president in 2017, Wall Street reform will be gone. That means the end of the fiduciary rule that mandates financial advisors have to have your interests in mind; the end the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which has already saved Americans billions; and the end of the only law that helps avoid another crisis that could take down the entire economy. Dodd-Frank isn’t perfect and needs to be strengthened but Trump and the GOP have promised to erase it and put us back to where we were, as bankers bundled terrible mortgages into toxic assets that put 8 million out of work. The only thing stopping them would be Trump’s regulators. What, you don’t trust the guy behind Trump University, Trump Mortgages and Trump Steaks to look out for your retirement?

Photo: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks following a news conference, at his Turnberry golf course, in Turnberry, Scotland, Britain June 24, 2016. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

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