Trump’s Magical Economic Thinking

WASHINGTON, DC – Donald Trump has finally put out a detailed economic plan. Authored by Peter Navarro (an economist at the University of California-Irvine) and Wilbur Ross (an investor), the plan claims that a President Trump would boost growth and reduce the national debt. But its projections are based on assumptions so unrealistic that they seem to have come from a different planet. If the United States really did adopt Trump’s plan, the result would be an immediate and unmitigated disaster.

At the heart of the plan is a very large tax cut. The authors claim this would boost economic growth, despite the fact that similar cuts in the past (for example, under President George W. Bush) had no such effect. There is a lot of sensible evidence available on precisely this point, all of which is completely ignored.

The Trump plan concedes that the tax cut per se would reduce revenue by at least $2.6 trillion over ten years – and its authors are willing to cite the non-partisan Tax Foundation on this point. But the Trump team claims this would be offset by a growth miracle spurred by deregulation.

In fact, their estimates of the benefits of deregulation are completely exaggerated. Serious independent analysis, for example by the World Bank or the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, finds that the US does not have a high regulatory burden on the non-financial sector. In the World Bank’s widely used Doing Business indicators, for example, the US ranks seventh in the world – and there is not a lot of realistic room for improvement.