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MAGICAL THINKING

Donald Trump is a “dangerous, disruptive” threat to American prosperity, 370 US economists say

Trump in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Oct. 30.
  • Heather Timmons
By Heather Timmons

White House correspondent

This article is more than 2 years old.

Nearly 400 economists from universities around the United States wrote an open letter to American voters on Nov. 1, urging them not to vote for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, because he threatens democracy and prosperity in the country.

The letter, which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal, includes several Nobel Prize winners and Paul Romer, the new chief economist at the World Bank. It dissects Trump’s stated policies using 13 bullet points, each focused on specific issues like the trade deficit, the fiscal deficit, US manufacturing levels, and the US’s ratio of tax to GDP. In each, Trump’s policies and statements are soberly contrasted with feasible economic options and fiscal realities, and found wanting.

For example, on immigration, the economists write:

He uses immigration as a red herring to mislead voters about issues of economic importance, such as the stagnation of wages for households with low levels of education. Several forces are responsible for this, but immigration appears to play only a modest role. Focusing the dialogue on this channel, rather than more substantive channels, such as automation, diverts the public debate to unproductive policy options.

On US manufacturing, they say:

He has misled the public by asserting that U.S. manufacturing has declined. The location and product composition of manufacturing has changed, but the level of output has more than doubled in the U.S. since the 1980s.

And on the fiscal deficit, they write:

He has lowered the seriousness of the national dialogue by suggesting that the elimination of the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Education would significantly reduce the fiscal deficit. A credible solution will require an increase in tax revenue and/or a reduction in spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, or Defense.

Trump has a “deep ignorance” of economics and is unable to listen to credible experts, they say, and he “promotes magical thinking and conspiracy theories over sober assessments of feasible economic policy options.”

It concludes by urging voters not to vote for Trump, calling him a “dangerous, destructive choice for the country” who “misinforms the electorate, degrades trust in public institutions with conspiracy theories, and promotes willful delusion over engagement with reality.” A Trump presidency, the letter says, would be dangerous to “the functioning of democratic and economic institutions, and to the prosperity of the country.”

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