Trump To Talk Up His Economic Policies At Davos

Jan 24, 2018
Originally published on January 24, 2018 7:35 am
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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

President Trump speaks to the global elite this week. He is visiting the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Trump's economic adviser Gary Cohn says the president wants to promote the United States.

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GARY COHN: America is open for business. We want the world to invest in America and to create jobs for hardworking Americans.

INSKEEP: The president will deliver that message to people he has attacked in the past as globalists, people who are also a bit like himself - wealthy global business people and political leaders. NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson is following this.

Good morning, Mara.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: I am just thinking - this is an annual meeting. Last year, China's president was the big speaker and spoke up for the global trade system. What's President Trump have to say this year?

LIASSON: As you just heard Gary Cohn say, he's going to bring a message about his own accomplishments - GDP up, stock market roaring, unemployment down. As Cohn said, he's going to tell the elite in Davos America's back in business, open for business. Instead of bringing his populist pitchfork, he's going to bring his salesmen's portfolio and tell these global business leaders that he just lowered taxes and cut regulations, and they should invest in the U.S.

INSKEEP: There's no secret that global business leaders and political leaders were worried about President Trump one year ago. What about now?

LIASSON: I think they're less worried. Last year, they were worried about Brexit and Trump and a populist rebellion. There was a lot of handwringing about income inequality. Actually, the best quote I read about Davos was from Jamie Dimon from JP Morgan, who said Davos is where billionaires tell millionaires how the middle class feels.

INSKEEP: (Laughter).

LIASSON: But in many ways, Trump has turned out to be a lot more friendly to the kind of people who go to Davos than many people thought. He - his rhetoric is still populist and protectionist. But he's given big tax cuts to the wealthy. He hasn't drained the swamp. He has a pro-big-business agenda. This is good for the elite globalist plutocrats who go to Davos.

And his message of reciprocal trade has not disappeared. He will deliver it this week. But he hasn't pulled out of a single trade deal yet. He did put some tariffs this week on a couple of products from China - washing machines and solar panels. We'll see if China retaliates against that. But he has - significantly has not pulled the U.S. out of the WTO or NAFTA.

INSKEEP: Yeah. I guess we should be clear. He did kill the Trans-Pacific Partnership...

LIASSON: Yes...

INSKEEP: ...But that...

LIASSON: ...Which is going ahead without the U.S.

INSKEEP: Yeah. Yeah. But that deal never took effect, at least...

LIASSON: Right. Right.

INSKEEP: ...Never took effect with the United States. I wonder if this meeting underlines a basic contradiction in what the president has to say or let's say complexity. He says he's sticking up for the little guy, sticking up for the forgotten man. But his approach is to make it easier for wealthy people or, perhaps he would say, job creators.

LIASSON: Yes, it's a supply-side theory. If you give tax cuts and shower benefits on so-called job creators, jobs will be created. And the incomes and wages of the ordinary men and women will go up. And we'll see if he's correct.

INSKEEP: Any notable meetings for the president while he's with so many world leaders and business leaders?

LIASSON: Yes. He's going to meet with the British prime minister, Theresa May. He's had some tensions with her. He's also going to meet with President Kagame of Rwanda, who is currently the chairman of the African Union. This comes after the president reportedly made those disparaging comments about African nations, saying we don't need any more immigrants from those nations. He's generally denied the comments. So the question is, will he have to acknowledge them or apologize as many African nations have demanded?

INSKEEP: NPR's Mara Liasson. Thanks very much.

LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.