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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/9/16

The Incredible Shrinking Populist: Donald Trump's Tiny Economic Vision

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Reprinted from Campaign For America's Future

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On Monday, Donald Trump talked about the economy on television for an hour. That may have exceeded the graduate-level curriculum at Trump University. But the biggest lesson I learned is that Trump contradicts himself more, and becomes more typically Republican, with every passing day.

It's rare to see Trump put much effort into anything, so it was almost likable to watch him work so hard to read his speech from a Teleprompter. All that concentration! It was like watching a child learn to draw.

Trump pretended to be unfazed as protesters from the Michigan People's Campaign, all of them women, interrupted his speech 14 separate times -- or was it 17 times? (Dave Johnson has more on the protesters and their demands here.) He scowled an authoritarian scowl at some of the interruptions but didn't respond directly, even when a protester reportedly shouted, "Tiny hands! All you got is tiny hands!"

I don't know if Trump has tiny hands or not. But when it comes to the economy, he definitely has tiny plans. We were promised a bold new vision. What we got instead was, with one or two notable exceptions, a warmed-over version of the House Republicans' standard-issue voodoo economics.

Trump embraced the House GOP's three-tiered income tax rate, with deep cuts in the highest bracket. He proposed a steep reduction in the top corporate tax rate and suggested eliminating the estate tax, which is only levied on the wealthiest heirs and heiresses, altogether.

Trump repeatedly contradicted or undercut his own statements, often seconds or minutes after he had made them. It was the verbal equivalent of that geometric construction known as a Mobius strip. If you stand on one side of a Mobius strip and keep walking, eventually you'll wind up on the other side.

The more Trump spoke on Monday, the more he wound up on the other side of himself. Some examples:

-- Trump boasted that he was going to "cut regulations massively," promising to enact a temporary moratorium on new regulations upon taking office. Then he blasted China for having "no real environmental or labor protections" -- measures that are, of course, regulations.

-- "I am proposing an across-the-board income tax reduction," Trump said, "especially for middle-income Americans." Then he proposed a series of tax cuts that would primarily benefit corporations and wealthy individuals.

-- Trump proposed to double Hillary Clinton's proposed spending to rebuild America's infrastructure -- an initiative that is urgently needed and could create many good jobs. Then he proposed a massive round of tax cuts that would deprive the government of the revenues needed to pay for it.

-- Trump promised to "increase choice and reduce cost in child care, offering much-needed relief to American families." Then he announced a policy that would primarily benefit the wealthy, while doing little or nothing for most families.

As Michael Linden noted, a child care tax break wouldn't help the one-third of families who don't pay federal income tax. Under Trump's plan a family in the top income bracket would get a $400 break for every $1,000 in child care expenses, while a middle-class family in the 15 percent bracket spending that same $1,000 would only get $150 in relief.

You could call it the "nanny deduction."

Trump is still taking a maverick position on trade. But it's hard to know how deeply held his convictions are, or how much he'll fight for them, since both his running mate and his party's congressional leaders hold the opposite view.

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Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

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