Republican Convention 2016

Donald Trump's Economic Plan Is Just Typical Government Pork

He sounds like Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown.


Donald Trump
Richard Ellis/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Donald Trump's nomination acceptance speech tonight called for lowering taxes. He didn't say which taxes or how much or anything concrete at all, because that's just not how Trump rolls. He said "reducing taxes will cause new companies and new jobs to come running back to our country." He also called for reducing regulations that cost the economy $2 trillion a year. Sounds great, right?

And then two paragraphs later we get this "solution" to get Americans working:

This new wealth will improve the quality of life for all Americans – We will build the roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, and the railways of tomorrow. This, in turn, will create millions more jobs.

The railways of tomorrow? Yes, if you weren't aware, Trump is a fan of government pork projects, including high-speed rail. His position appears to essentially be based entirely on envy: He complained to The Guardian that China has high-speed trains and America doesn't. That doesn't actually mean America needs these trains. They are huge money sinks that pass money along to connected cronyist interests and labor groups, and there's little to show that these trains would actually serve as economic engines.

In fact, evidence shows the exact opposite. As Matt Welch recently noted, California has been warned that a high-speed rail would require continued government subsidies and they've known this all along, despite telling the public it would be profitable. The Reason Foundation has been warning about this all along.

This is not to say there aren't infrastructure development needs, but approaching it as a jobs program, the way Trump is here, is designed to create tons and tons of pork projects, with various interest groups jockeying for a hunk. This is essentially the opposite of Trump's claims that he's going to fight against special interests and the "rigged system."

But I suspect that might be okay to many Trump supporters, particularly the unemployed ones. Elsewhere in his speech he bluntly acknowledged that he knew how to use "the system" and that's why he could be the candidate to "fix" it. While he says it's to make government more "fair," it's very clear that even under Trump, his idea of fairness would benefit certain groups of Americans over others.

And as we've seen in California, those who benefit from this pork are also going to see the costs bloat beyond what we've been sold. Taxpayers approved $10 billion to get the train started, but it's going to cost $68 billion at the minimum and nobody wants to invest in it. It's a boondoggle designed shovel money to connected people (as evidenced by the fact that it drifts into the middle of the state for no other reason other than to increase the length of it and the number of people who get to work on it).

And Gov. Jerry Brown, who loves this horrible train plan, loves these infrastructure plans the same way Trump does. Brown also envies how China has previously propped up its economy with corrupt infrastructure projects that blow money to create empty malls and ghost towns. It's Keynesian economics at its most hollow and wasteful.