Trump’s War on Capitalism: Why the Former President Shouldn’t Be Let Back into the White House

Trump’s War on Capitalism: Why the Former President Shouldn’t Be Let Back into the White House
American Values 2024 | January 20, 2024

“The very future of constitutional democracy and capitalist prosperity in America is literally at stake. These foundational threats simply cannot endure another four years of Donald Trump in the White House. Nor can it tolerate another election where a woebegone Democrat like Joe Biden wins by default, owing to the simple fact that they are not Donald Trump.”

So writes David Stockman in his new book, Trump’s War on Capitalism. Stockman, a seasoned Washington insider, former congressman, and former director of the Office of Management and Budget, delivers a scathing critique of former president Donald Trump’s economic policies and their purported impact on capitalism. (This book was published by Skyhorse Publishing, whose president, Tony Lyons, is co-chair of the American Values 2024 super PAC, which funds The Kennedy Beacon.)

Stockman draws on his extensive experience to dissect Trump’s economic approach and sheds light on what he sees as the pitfalls of the Trumpian era.

A large part of the book is focused on the COVID lockdowns. Trump’s supporters claim that Trump’s economy was great and would have been the greatest of all time without COVID. Stockman, however, argues that Trump was in fact the one who issued the lockdown orders, and hence there is no one else to blame.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. praises Stockman in the book’s foreword as “one of the nation’s most steadfast and eloquent crusaders against the corrupt merger of state and corporate power.” Kennedy thanks Stockman for his insights into how America has been transformed into a warfare state by the Pentagon and intelligence apparatus and how they have weakened and bankrupted the country.

Finally, Kennedy endorses the book’s arguments about Trump’s poor handling of the economy and states that Stockman is one of the few Republicans who have denounced Trump’s bragging. “Though President Trump now says the pandemic was the only thing that ruined ‘the greatest economy in the history of the world,’ Stockman slices and dices the arguments. He reminds readers that it was Donald Trump who locked down the country, destroying 3.3 million businesses overnight,” Kennedy writes.


Stockman contends that the lockdowns initiated during Trump’s tenure were misguided and contributed to a substantial increase in federal spending. He criticizes the surge in government expenditures, asserting that federal spending rose by nearly $2 trillion in 2020 alone, reaching almost 32% of the gross domestic product (GDP). He emphasizes that these fiscal policies, coupled with Trump’s management of the pandemic, led to a significant distortion in the economic landscape, with government spending resembling that of a European social democracy at 40% of GDP.

Stockman argues that Trump’s approach to the pandemic, rather than mitigating economic challenges, exacerbated them. The lockdowns and the subsequent surge in government spending are portrayed as key factors contributing to an inflationary environment. “The high inflation still rocking the US economy is the bastard son of MAGA,” he writes.

Stockman contends that the economic consequences of these measures have led to negative real hourly wages, impacting the working class and creating long-term economic challenges. Overall, Stockman suggests that Trump’s handling of the pandemic had far-reaching economic implications, contributing to an increase in government spending, inflationary pressures, and adverse effects on wage growth.

Screenshot from the book: Trump’s GDP growth.

“Record among the Worst”

Stockman argues that Republican voters are willing to overlook Trump’s egotism and his non-conservative economic principles because they accept the claim that he created the greatest economy ever. Stockman demonstrates that this is a big lie. “His record is among the worst of modern presidents, not the best,” he writes.

Throughout the book, Stockman points out that Trump’s term was a time of indiscriminate spending, borrowing, and money printing. “The Donald, with a modest boost from his uniparty successor (most of the FY 2021 deficit was due to policies in place on The Donald’s watch), added more to the public debt than all the US presidents combined prior to Barack Obama. That’s just unforgivable madness under any circumstance, but flat-out beyond the pale for any politician elected on the Republican ticket,” Stockman writes.

However, Stockman argues that the president’s influence on the economy is generally overestimated and that economic assessments should not be confined to presidential-term calendars, as economic trends evolve differently. He points out that the economy was doing great under Obama, writing, “Trump inherited the positive business momentum in 2017 of a ripening business cycle that was not his doing.”

The book delves into specific policy areas such as the border wall, Trump’s hateful attitude toward immigrants (whom the US needs for the workforce, Stockman argues), the tariff war with China, and the COVID measures. Stockman states that these policies were misguided and detrimental to American prosperity.

The immigration issue alone is excessive, and Trump’s hateful statements about criminals and rapists set the wrong tone for the issue. The US needs a workforce from abroad because the US prime-age labor force, ages 25–45, grew by only 0.1% per annum between 2008 and 2022, whereas before that it was growing by 1.55% per annum. Immigrants don’t, in fact, steal American jobs, Stockman argues – they add to total employment. “Since the overwhelming share of the 11 million so-called ‘illegals’ in the US are of working age or younger (i.e., future workers), it cannot be denied that America’s desperate need for imported workers is being overridden by claims of societal harm that purportedly exceed the obvious benefits.”

Screenshot: Trump’s jobs.

Moreover, Stockman criticizes what he terms “Trump-O-Nomics,” characterizing it as a series of ego-generated whims, including tax cuts, spending boondoggles, and protectionist measures against China. He emphasizes the role of the Federal Reserve in enabling Trump’s fiscal escapades, pointing out the significant expansion of its balance sheet during Trump’s term.

The Republican Party Is “Trumpified”

Stockman raises concerns about Trump’s impact on the Republican Party, noting a shift from its traditional fiscal conservatism to a focus on war spending, tax cuts without corresponding funding, and entitlements cowardice. “The truth is,” he writes, “the GOP has been thoroughly Trumpified and distracted from its main fiscal mission by The Donald’s utterly misguided war on the US borders and demagogic anti-immigrant howling and by his parallel eagerness to embrace big tax cuts without paying for them.”

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Stockman argues that excessive public borrowing, coupled with Trump’s fiscal policies, poses a threat to capitalist prosperity and constitutional government. “​​Ultimately, excessive, relentless public borrowing is the poison that will kill capitalist prosperity and displace limited constitutional government with unchained statist encroachment on the liberties of the people,” Stockman writes. “For that reason alone, The Donald needs to be locked out of the nomination and banished from the Oval Office.”

Screenshot: Trump’s debt.

Stockman offers a compelling read built on rock-solid reporting and data. He convincingly argues that Trump is not an economic conservative, that he is a danger to capitalism, and that four more years of Trump in the Oval Office would put a sledgehammer to the US economy.

Sanna is a New York-based journalist, focusing on U.S. Politics. She has over four years of experience working as a multimedia journalist and a TV reporter for MTV, the second biggest TV Station in Finland. Prior to that she completed her bachelor’s degree in Radio and TV Production in Metropolia University of Applied Sciences in Helsinki and interned for Ken Burns’s documentary film company, Florentine Films in New York. She recently earned her master’s degree from Columbia Journalism School with a concentration in Politics.

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