Trump is Going to Destroy Economic Growth If We Don't Find Ways to Block Him -- We Need A Real Consumer Advocacy Organization
Auto executives typically spend the end of the year prepping for product debuts and thinking up ways to spark sales.
This time around, Detroit’s chiefs devoted considerable time to trying to figure out how to deal with the nation’s new commander in chief. Union bosses are being called in to consult on how to reshuffle factory work, board members are trying to figure out who has friends in President Donald Trump ’s new administration, and task forces have been created to monitor his Twitter account.
At a dinner party during the Detroit auto show earlier this month, Ford Motor Co. Chief Executive Mark Fields said he reread Mr. Trump’s “The Art of the Deal” over the holidays. He first read it in the 1980s, but wants to better understand the new occupant of the Oval Office.
American companies, several of which have been scolded by Mr. Trump, often via Twitter, are suddenly grappling with a new, unpredictable force in their operations. Barbs have included the price the Pentagon pays for Lockheed Martin Corp. jets and whether Carrier Corp. assembles furnaces in Indiana. AT&T Inc. Chief Executive Randall Stephenson recently met with Mr. Trump, who had expressed concerns about the telecom giant’s proposed purchase of Time Warner Inc.
In other words, rather than worrying about pleasing consumers, auto companies are spending all their time figuring out how to please the occupant of the White House. This sounds more like corporate life in Venezuela than the US. It is absurd that Trump claims to be about reducing regulation, and then personally intervenes to micro-manage corporate division-of-labor and sourcing decision.
We need new consumer activist organizations. The classic ones, like Nader's PIRG, are captured by progressives and economic illiterates. Economic nationalism and tariffs and reduced immigration and border taxes and elimination of free trade treaties are all direct assaults on the American consumer. Do all the Midwestern folks who voted for Trump ostensibly because they are struggling economically really want 20% higher prices in their Wal-Mart?
Postscript: By the way, for a moment let's accept this awful situation. Consider women's groups (as discussed here) and their response to Trump and Ford's response. Which is more likely to succeed? If abortion were my #1 issue (as it is for my wife), I would be seriously concerned that women's groups were using all the wrong tactics. Trump is petulant. He does not back down based on protests, he moves you up the target list. This is a terrible, awful character flaw, but it is reality. If women's groups had calmly sat down with Trump in a back room and worked out a deal (with a man who is a lifelong social liberal) they would probably be further ahead.