Basically, President Trump’s speech comes across as a tribute to the success of his neo-liberal economic policies, and an invitation for global multinational corporations to invest in the United States. He boasts about how the stock market is booming because of deregulation and massive tax cuts. He says that the US is prepared to negotiate bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements. He talks about lifting people from “dependence” on social programs which he presumably wants to cut.
As far as our foreign policy goes, Trump’s complaint is that our NATO allies aren’t paying their share. We’re shouldering the burden of confronting “revisionists powers” like China and Russia which echoes the rhetoric in his National Security Strategy. He says that “America First doesn’t mean America Alone,” which is to say, we are going to continue doing what we have been doing for decades now so long as our allies are prepared to foot their share of the bill for the US Empire.
As far as our trade policy goes, Trump wants “free and open trade” but says that it needs to be fair and reciprocal. He complains about Chinese mercantilism. He is open to negotiating bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements with the Trans-Pacific Partnership nations. All he is going to do is complain about how China and other countries are cheating the system without questioning the system itself. This is what countless politicians have done before Trump for decades now. At worst, we might impose some targeted tariffs on solar panels and steel like Barack Obama and George W. Bush.
Gary Cohn helped write the speech. It is what the Davos crowd wanted to hear who are now hailing Trump as a pragmatist for easing their fears of a disruption of the status quo. After all, Trump’s closing argument in the campaign was a condemnation of everyone in the room:
“DAVOS, Switzerland — No one was declaring President Trump a changed man. Privately, executives and global leaders who had gathered in Davos continued to worry that the American president could yet indulge his worst instincts — and his penchant for shock on Twitter — to deliver a geopolitical crisis, open up a new front in trade hostilities or offend a vast group of people.
But a rough consensus emerged over Mr. Trump’s two-day visit that his administration had shown itself to be more pragmatic than advertised. Many were inclined to view the president’s most extreme positions as just aggressive bargaining postures. ….
The International Monetary Fund this week lifted its forecasts for American growth in large part because of Mr. Trump’s tax cuts. Economists note that the benefits fall overwhelmingly on corporations and wealthy American households, exacerbating economic inequality.”
Watch the whole thing: