Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tyler Cowen on Trump the Deal-Maker as President

Writing in Bloomberg View, Cowen explains:
One common feature of many real estate deals is that they are based on selling to different groups of people at different prices, but in sequence. Say a developer has produced a series of office buildings, condominiums and town homes to be sold, or hotel rooms to be rented out. It is common practice to sell (or rent) the more desirable units first at relatively high prices. As units leave the market, new lower-valuation buyers are recruited for cheaper and lower-quality units. Finally, as the process nears its end, there may be a kind of fire sale to clear out the remaining items and finish up the project. If pulled off successfully, this will yield a lot of profit for the developer.
So, Trump has the ability to approve (or veto) tax cuts, and the Republicans really want tax cuts:
So Trump might “sell” this asset to congressional Republicans for a high price, for instance support for infrastructure spending, approval of his appointments and an acceptable compromise on international trade and foreign affairs.
And so on through a variety of "high value" programs where Trump "probably doesn’t have strong, detailed preferences over how exactly to govern." Cowen figures Trump cuts deals like these in the first year or two – "while the Republican majority remains secure" – and then approaches the Democrats to "offer them some lesser deals at lower prices." So:
If Trump, perhaps working with his daughter Ivanka, crafted a reasonable federal child-care or preschool policy, many Democrats would jump on board. They wouldn’t become Trump supporters in return, but they would moderate their criticism, as they would have a victory to take home to their voters.

In short, the second half of the Trump administration might consist of Trump offering a series of smaller but still significant trades to Democrats, taking care to bring along some Republican votes as well.
Cowen then imagines a fourth year in which Trump deals "climate change legislation and a higher federal minimum wage to Democrats and a smattering of swing-district Republicans".
Could it happen? Who knows?

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