CounterPunch: How the Economy Loses under Trump or Clinton
by Michael J. Sainato
Oct. 5, 2016
Famous Wall Street Investor Asher Edelman served as the inspiration for the character Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas in the 1980’s Oliver Stone film, Wall Street. A recent CNN article published on August 23rd about Donald Trump’s controversial investing in the 1980’s referred to the time as the “Gordon Gekko Era” though Edelman, the character’s inspiration, called the election between Trump and Clinton, “the worst of two evils or the best of two evils,” in a phone interview with me, noting “I guess Hillary is the best of two evils.”
Earlier this year, Edelman’s segment during a CNBC interview in which he described his support for Bernie Sanderswent viral. He described Sanders as the best candidate for the economy due to Sanders’ ambitions to redistribute wealth in this country to the lower and middle classes who tend to spend much more of their income than the wealthy. Recent trends have seen wealth increase for the wealthy, while the consumer base of the lower and middle classes continues to shrink. As far as providing solutions to the increasing wealth and income inequality throughout the United States, the candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump don’t provide any, according to Edelman.
“I think a Clinton presidency would leave us in the same position we are in today. That is to say with the middle class and lower classes remaining disadvantaged, with the wealthier people becoming wealthier, with favoritism towards Wall street, the oil companies, and the pharmaceutical companies,” he said. “I think with a Trump presidency, it’s foolish to even think of one, but it’s a remote possibility because of Hillary’s difficulties.”
Edelman cited the idea of Trump having the authority to fire nuclear weapons increases the threat of nuclear war, but even if that were evaded, the United States would still be headed towards an economic disaster. “Donald Trump doesn’t have a clue about economics, and doesn’t have a clue about macroeconomics. I imagine you would have one of these dictatorships which are favorable to his friends and unfavorable to the rest of the country, with most businesses moving offshore pretty quickly.”
One of the most economically divisive issues this presidential election is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.Hillary Clinton has vocally opposed it, although she helped further negotiations as Secretary of State, the surrogates she appointed to the Democratic Party platform voted in support of it, and her running mate, Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) has spoken highly of the deal. Bernie Sanders has vehemently opposed the trade agreement and led progressive opposition against the deal, while Donald Trump has also opposed the agreement for different reasons.
Edelman explained it’s a much bigger question as to opposing or supporting the agreement.
“You have to make a couple of decisions. Whether your real wish is to attempt to continue to dominate the world both politically and economically or whether you want to run trade as something that has to do with trade and not something that has to do with political needs and advantages,” he said. “If you were to take that trade agreement and convert it into something slightly different from what it is, and I wouldn’t say I’m very in favor of it, and that something has to do with protecting labor from the consequences of cheap labor elsewhere. This would mean you would try to adjust tariffs in a way that reflected the cost of labor in the countries with which you were dealing as oppose to having total open trade without any additional expenses for those countries that are taking advantage of very inexpensive labor.”
Edelman also added the deal would also have to apply this to American companies who exported their manufacturing and service jobs to countries with cheap labor, and adjust tariffs for them accordingly. “I think that would very successful and I think something like that is necessary because you do need these trade agreements. The U.S. can’t isolate itself from the rest of world, but it also can’t use it to politically dominate the world. These agreements have to be used to be economically sound both for the U.S. and its relationships with other countries.”