Trump, as you may recall, claims that the business community (and corporations) “hate” him, and that this amounts to a hostile takeover. There’s some truth to this. The CEOs of the nation’s big business entities, after all, are supposed to be critical observers of politics and government; they’re supposed to know, going in, how the levers of power will work. But they also don’t like to be dumped on. Indeed, if they had their druthers, they’d prefer to spend time and money getting along with the president.
Somehow, though, the business lobby managed to tie itself up in knots during the election. They didn’t want Trump, and, when they did, they didn’t know quite what to make of him. Then, when Trump won, the meeting of the minds was never reached, and the good will that should have flowed from his victory lasted only for about 20 days. The opposition to Trump has hardened, and in a period of just a few weeks, business has become alienated.
Most observers attributed this shift to a fear that Trump is out to destroy the economy; financial markets reflect his enemies’ view more than their allies’. And many on the left, rightly, are outraged at the president’s attacks on trade, financial markets, the judiciary, the media, and immigration. But the proximate cause of the hostility toward Trump is his shunning of the business lobby, which is small and important, yet also far more flexible in its views than traditional parties. You can’t get too pure, as the famous proverb goes; in the end, you just have to play the hand you’re dealt. But the hand Trump’s playing is a one-sided, asymmetrical one, a pill for which the players are unwilling to swallow.
Krugman is a columnist for The New York Times. This is the second installment of a series of Krugman’s columns about the next four years, and a daily look at the economy. Here’s the first, from Sept. 28:
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