President Barack Obama, without mentioning names, appeared to blast Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in an essay published today by The Economist. In the essay, Obama rejected what he called “crude populism” but defended his own trade and foreign policies. He claimed that other world leaders are asking why the United States, which has benefitted from trade, immigration and technology, has “suddenly developed a strain of anti-immigrant, anti-innovation protectionism.”
Obama said that citizen's concerns that have been heralded by Trump are like what he called the “nativist lurches” of the past, including the Alien and Sedition Acts, Know-Nothings, and racism directed against Asian workers in past centuries. “Americans were told they could restore past glory if they just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control,” Obama said. “We overcame those fears and we will again.”
Obama said that national leaders like himself should not dismiss, however, “discontent” at home and abroad that is “rooted in legitimate concerns about long-term economic forces,” such as income inequality and job displacement caused by globalization. He rejected the idea that the U.S. should mind its own business and also address inequities in international trade or by “breaking up all the biggest banks" — an idea that is supported by liberals such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
“The economy is not an abstraction,” Obama wrote. “It cannot simply be redesigned wholesale and put back together again without real consequences for real people.”
Repeating a Democrat Party mantra, Obama proposed higher taxes on the wealthy, more labor union organizing, and improved job-training programs that he says would diminish income gaps and help workers find better-paying jobs in a modern economy. He also pushed the Republican-controlled Congress, once again, to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, which is opposed by Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He argued that TPP “will level the playing field for workers and businesses alike.”