Trump has focused much of his economic messaging on one correct core idea: What most people want is to be able to comfortably support themselves and their families with the income from a job that pays steadily rising wages. And he'll work hard to make that goal a reality for more Americans -- including by bullying and bribing companies into keeping jobs in America.

The idea that good-paying jobs are the central goal of economic policy may sound uncontroversial, even trite -- but it's a significant departure from standard Republican and Democratic messaging on the economy.


President George W. Bush promoted an "ownership society" in which ordinary people got to enjoy the rising fortunes of capital through their ownership of assets. The problem with this idea was that most people are not rich and therefore cannot derive a large share of their income from returns to capital. They have to work for a living.


Of course, Democrats talk constantly about the importance of creating good, middle-class jobs. But over the past eight years, their economic agenda has focused much more on uplifting the poor than on strengthening and employing the middle class.

... I think the likely wage effects of Trump's economic policy suite are more uncertain than his detractors want to admit. In particular, a lot of economic research on the effects of trade on wages has been turned on its head in recent years. My confidence in the economics consensus that immigration does not depress native-born workers' wages is relatedly low.

... Trump's public jawboning of Carrier has been treated as extraordinary, but it doesn't strike me as all that different from the Obama administration's shaming of Pfizer out of pursuing a tax-inversion transaction with Allergan. The main difference is the government's goal was job location rather than tax receipts.

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