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Trumponomics

Joe Romm of Climate Progress has some concerns about Donald Trump's economic plans.

In particular, when Fox News’ Chris Wallace pressed Trump in March on how he’d cut the federal budget, Trump answered “Department of Environmental Protection [sic]. We are going to get rid of it in almost every form.”

In reality, slashing regulations, particularly regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency, would be very counterproductive, as a 2015 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) report to Congress made clear. The OMB found that ten years’ worth of major Federal regulations provided annual benefits to the nation (in 2001 dollars) of between $216 billion and $812 billion, while the estimated annual costs were only between $57 billion and $85 billion.

Of that, EPA regulations delivered the majority of benefits ($132.5 to $652 billion) but only about half the costs ($31 to $37.5 billion).

Romm contrasts Trump's policy preferences with a stirring speech Robert Kennedy gave shortly before he was assassinated, and you can find a video and a transcript of Kennedy's speech in Romm's article. Kennedy looked at gross national product (GNP), the measure of economic output, and found it wanting. Noting that it measures cigarette advertising and prison construction, armored cars and violent television shows, Kennedy also considered the things GNP does not measure.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.

It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.

It's a stirring speech. But Romm—like most Trump critics—misses the larger point. It's not just that Trump doesn't care about the things that can't be measured. He's also not interested in growing the GNP.

Trump has stated outright that he believes American wages are too high. His idea of competing with other countries involves reducing the costs of labor so business owners can increase their profit margins. When Trump talks about making America great again, he is envisioning the era Mark Twain dubbed the gilded age—when the nation's wealth was concentrated in a few hands and the majority of our citizens lived in poverty.

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