August 22, 2016
Washington Post: This is the candidate economists trust most on the economy
by Ylan Q. Mui
Americans may be divided over which presidential candidate would best steer the economy, but economists themselves are unequivocal: A new poll shows overwhelming support for Hillary Clinton.
The survey by the National Association for Business Economics found 55 percent of its members believe the Democratic nominee would do the best job managing the nation’s long-simmering recovery. Only 15 percent of economists supported the second-place choice — and it wasn’t Donald Trump. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico, was the runner-up. Trump ranked third, with just 14 percent of economists giving the Republican business executive their vote of confidence.
Who would do the best job managing the economy?
Throughout this year’s presidential campaign, many economists have warned that Trump’s signature proposals — such as pulling out of free trade deals with Mexico and Canada and levying tariffs on foreign goods — could inflict substantial damage on the nation’s still-fragile recovery. A report by Moody’s Analytics released earlier this summer predicted the country would slip into a recession by 2018, and the unemployment rate would rise to 7.4 percent.
“The U.S. economy will weaken significantly if Mr. Trump’s economic policies are fully implemented as he has proposed,” the paper stated.
Until recently, however, those plans appeared to resonate with the public. Trump had enjoyed a substantial lead over Clinton in polls assessing how they would handle the economy. But a CNN-ORC survey in late July found Clinton elbowing out Trump, 50 to 48 percent.
The difference is still within the poll’s margin of error, however, though the gap between the two candidates has narrowed. Meanwhile, a poll of registered voters by Fox News earlier this month showed Trump retaining his edge on the economy, 50 to 45 percent.
Trump has made some attempts to moderate his hard-line stance. In a highly anticipated speech this month, he dialed back plans to cut taxes that was estimated to cost a whopping $10 trillion over the next decade. The new version more closely resembles a proposal already put forth by House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), which was priced at less than half that amount — still controversial but much more feasible.
Economists have also taken issue with Trump’s positions on immigration, which include building a wall along the Mexican border and “extreme vetting” of newcomers. In the NABE survey, 61 percent of economists supported making it easier — not harder — for immigrants to work in the United States.
On trade, a majority of economists said they believe the country should expand its relationships, though they were more cautious on the free-trade deal with Asia known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Sixty-five percent said they were in favor of more open trade, but just 47 percent supported the TPP in its current form. Nearly one-third of economists said the United States should negotiate more favorable terms. Both Clinton and Trump have opposed the current deal.