One of them, Anthony Scaramucci, an investment banker, has promised to fight the Labor Department’s “fiduciary rule,” which was designed by the government to protect people from financial advisers who put their own profit ahead of their clients' interest. Criticizing the burden the law placed on wealth managers, Scaramucci compared the rule to the Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott decision, which declared that slaves were not citizens. Although Scaramucci later tweeted that he had intended for the comparison to be about “bad governmental decisions,” equating wealthy financial advisers to slaves is far from populism.
Second, the piece of Trump’s economic policy that fits best with congressional Republican preferences is his proposed tax cut, which would reduce government revenues by $6 trillion in the next decade. Half of this cut would go to the richest 1 percent of Americans. Furthermore, Trump has proposed to change the tax treatment of so-called “S corporations” to allow closely held companies (like his own) to get a 20-percentage-point tax cut on all income.
Third, there are several reasons to worry that the industrial workers who are relying on Trump to turn back the clock on globalization and technological change have misplaced their hopes. The real-estate mogul has promised to renegotiate trade deals and and slap tariffs on any countries, like China, that don’t accept his terms. If this happened, prices on Chinese and other exports would rise, punishing low-income families who need cheap essentials to make ends meet.
The Peterson Institute for International Economics, a pro-trade think tank that is considered bipartisan, has estimated that under a "full trade war scenario," hundreds of thousands of jobs would be at risk across the Rust Belt, with Michigan facing some of the worst losses. A trade war with a country like China could be catastrophic for many U.S. companies, not only those who sell to Chinese consumers, but also those who rely on a global supply chain that includes Chinese factories and distribution centers. By taking business away from manufacturers and companies, Trump’s policies could hurt the very workers he’s promised to protect. Meanwhile, Trump and Congressional Republicans have promised to repeal a great deal of the Affordable Care Act, which would strip about 20 million people of insurance coverage. Add to that the fact that his tax cut would require trillions in cuts to programs that help the poor, young, and sick just to keep from blowing open the deficit, and it’s hard to escape the conclusion that Trump’s policies could endanger, rather than protect, manufacturing jobs while unraveling the safety net to catch workers who are without work.
As I thought about the potential gap between the hopes of downtrodden Trump supporters and the possible effects of his policies, I thought of Trump University, his controversial and possibly fraudulent real-estate school. With Trump U, the mogul enticed people to sign up for a program stamped with his surname, which did not provide anything close to a worthwhile education, according to many accounts. “While Trump University claimed it wanted to help consumers make money in real estate, in fact Trump University was only interested in selling every person the most expensive seminars they possibly could,” said Ronald Schnackenberg, a former salesman for the school. What initially seemed like a plan to democratize wealth instead revealed itself to be transfer of money from the desperate to the rich—specifically, to Trump, himself.