In July, Donald Trump made a statement about the 2008 financial crisis that left many conservatives perplexed:
“I identify with some things as a Democrat…I was never a Bush fan. [When] the economy crashed so horribly under George Bush, because of mistakes they made having to do with banking and lots of other things, I don’t think the Democrats would have done that.”
Now to be sure, there is plenty of blame to be spread around. Both parties in Congress, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Wall Street, the Federal Reserve, and even the American public all contributed to the crisis.
But if Trump thinks that the Democrats were not to blame, well, I will refer him to Barney Frank and Chris Dodd.
Trump’s statement prompted me to research what he thought about the economy-and proposals to fix it-during the end of Bush’s term and the beginning of Obama’s term (of which he had high hopes):
We have a young, vibrant, smart president who, I think, is going to do a really good job.
And, honestly, he has to do a really good job or this country maybe will never be the same. We had eight years of a horrendous president, a terrible president. You cannot get worse than Bush. And I really believe that Obama will be a great president, and I hope he is.
Anyway, I found out that Donald Trump supported the bank bailouts.
“Now, I did not know about a $700 billion bailout, in all fairness. And I think probably, it is something — it’s sad, but, probably, it’s something that has to get done, because your financial system is most likely going to come to a halt if it does not. So, it is a pretty sad day for this country.”
And the auto bailouts:
“I think the government should stand behind them 100 percent. You cannot lose the auto companies. They’re great. They make wonderful products.”
He really liked the stimulus package:
“I thought he did a terrific job,” Trump told Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren. “This is a strong guy knows what he wants, and this is what we need.”
“First of all, I thought he did a great job tonight,” said Trump. “I thought he was strong and smart, and it looks like we have somebody that knows what he is doing finally in office, and he did inherit a tremendous problem. He really stepped into a mess, Greta.”
Van Susteren then asked Trump if a simple payroll tax holiday might be a better way to stimulate the flagging economy. Trump, however, held firm in his support for Obama’s plan, which he praised for the wide breadth of approaches it took to combatting the crisis.
“Well, I think taxes are very good. I think it goes quickly. It is easily done, and etc., etc.,” Trump told Van Susteren, “but building infrastructure, building great projects, putting people to work in that sense is also very good, so I think you have a combination of both plus he is doing a rebate system and I think that is good also.”
Despite concerns with the cost, he liked Obama’s healthcare plan:
VAN SUSTEREN: What is your thought about the health care reform that is being at least proposed, at this point?
TRUMP: Well, I think it’s noble, except I just don’t know how a country that’s in such debt — we are really a debtor nation right now, and I just don’t know how a country in this kind of trouble can afford it. It’s very — I love the idea, but can this country afford it? Will it destroy the country? Will it destroy other people that have been paying into health care for years? I mean, will that destroy other people? It’s a very, very tough situation. I love it from many standpoints, but can this country afford it? And maybe this isn’t the right time.
How about Obama’s longstanding obsession with progressive taxation? Trump agrees:
“The one problem I have with the flat tax is that rich people are paying the same as people that are making very little money,” he said. “And I think there should be a graduation of some kind. Because as you make a certain amount of money, I think you should have to graduate upward.”
How about “protecting ” Social Security and Medicare from financially responsible and necessary reform? Trump won’t touch them either:
“Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that. And it’s not fair to the people that have been paying in for years and now all of the sudden they want to be cut.”
Of course Trump understands the real estate and entertainment businesses. But his skill in those areas clearly has not translated to a broader understanding of free market principles.
If Republican voters care about those principles, more than say, bluster, it will only be a matter of time before Trump fades. Otherwise, and it is a very real possibility, the GOP just may nominate another candidate who represents more of the same economic failures of the past.