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White House makes the case that Trump would make inflation worse

The White House argued that Donald Trump's agenda would make inflation worse. The evidence to bolster the argument is overwhelming.


Exactly two years ago this week, as post-pandemic inflation emerged as a leading public concern, Donald Trump appeared on Fox News and was asked what he’d do to address inflation if he were in the White House. The Republican gave a long, meandering, and wildly dishonest answer, which didn’t even try to address the underlying question.

It was a two-minute exchange that made a simple truth unavoidable: The former president wants to complain about inflation, but he doesn’t have the foggiest idea how he’d go about making it better.

Trump does, however, have plenty of ideas about how to make inflation worse.

This past weekend, the White House released a memo with a memorable subject line: “MAGAnomics would supercharge inflation.” Over the course of the document, Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates argued not only that President Joe Biden is addressing the problem responsibly, but also that Trump’s vision would do the opposite.

That, it turns out, is a relatively easy case to make. Politico reported this week, for example:

Economic advisers close to former President Donald Trump are actively debating ways to devalue the U.S. dollar if he’s elected to a second term. ... The idea is being discussed by former trade chief Robert Lighthizer — a potential Treasury secretary pick for Trump and the architect of the former president’s bruising tariff campaign against China — and policy advisers allied with him, according to three former Trump administration officials granted anonymity to discuss confidential policy plans.

The problem with such a move isn’t just that it would threaten the U.S. dollar’s position as the world’s dominant currency, it would also increase inflation — a lot.

Of course, this is just the start of a larger indictment. If, for example, Trump gets a second term and launches the largest mass-deportation program in modern history, this would inevitably push prices higher. The Republican’s plan for sweeping and ambitious tariffs would also be inherently inflationary.

While we’re at it, Trump is also eyeing more tax breaks for the wealthy, which — you guessed it — would likely make inflation worse.

The combination of a smaller workforce, trade tariffs, wildly unnecessary deficit-financed tax cuts, and a deliberately devalued currency is effectively a case study in what an administration would do if it wanted to make it harder for consumers to afford things.

In her latest column, The Washington Post’s Catherine Rampell, taking note of these underappreciated truths, asked, “Remind me again why Americans think Donald Trump would be so much better on inflation and the economy?”

That need not be a rhetorical question.