Trump’s Economic Labyrinth

US President Donald Trump is finally getting down to the hard work of trying to please his blue-collar supporters and his administration’s resident plutocrats. The results so far are as incoherent as the electoral coalition that brought him to power.


Donald Trump’s economic-policy agenda during the 2016 US presidential election campaign was a political Rorschach test: where his supporters saw a bold new design for robust growth and greater prosperity, many others in the United States and around the world saw only a cynical blob of dodgy proposals and crossed lines.

Now that Trump must deliver to Congress an outline of his 2018 fiscal-year budget priorities, he and his advisers have no choice but to trade in the campaign inkblot for a governing blueprint. And yet, in his first address to Congress, Trump offered few policy details, even as he called on the assembled representatives and senators to help him “restart the engine of the American economy.”

Trump may finally be coming to grips with the headaches that await him as he tries to articulate and enact his economic-policy agenda. An early preview came when Republicans in the US House of Representatives released their plan to fulfill their longstanding vow to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act, former President Barack Obama’s signature 2010 health-care reform. No sooner had the House Republicans unveiled their hastily drafted bill than it came under withering attack from all sides – including from members of their own party. Repealing Obamacare, it is now clear, was less a plan than a rallying cry for an increasingly fractious Republican Party.

A key question, therefore, is whether, and for how long, Trump’s legislative agenda will be hamstrung by the health-care debate. More broadly, on the generous assumption that the Republicans can find a quick and relatively painless way out of the corner into which they’ve painted themselves, what would realizing that agenda imply for the US and the global economy? Project Syndicate commentators’ perspectives on the Trump administration’s main proposals – in areas including taxes, trade, and regulation – provide an indispensable guide to what is possible – if not likely to appear on the policy horizon in the coming months.