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Forget the Economics of Grievance

American Enterprise Institute

November 14, 2023


Donald Trump’s ascendancy has inflicted many changes on the right, including substantially altering its posture on economic issues.1 Where this blend of economic nationalism and conservative populism has been tried, it has been found wanting—at least, if you take the goal of working-class populism to be better opportunities and outcomes for the working class. And there is every reason to believe that more of this approach in the future will lead to the same disappointing outcomes.

This is not to say that every instance of President Trump’s economic policy disappointed. But Trump’s successes were deviations from his brand of nationalism-populism. Indeed, the two major economic policy accomplishments of the Trump years were standard conservative economic fare: needed reform of the corporate tax code—including lowering the statutory corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent and allowing businesses to immediately write off the full cost of qualified new investments—and a less onerous regulatory regime than existed during the Obama presidency.

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  1. A version of this report was originally published as Michael R. Strain, “Forget the Economics of Grievance,” National Review, February 3, 2022,