Modeling Donald Trump as a deal-maker

Imagine a politician who had trading in his utility function, and furthermore used some intertemporal price discrimination analogies from real estate — what might that look like?  That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, here is an excerpt from the latter part of the piece:

If those trades take up much of the legislative calendar over the next year or two (while the Republican majority remains secure), what might Trump then do next? He hardly seems like a caretaker president or someone who would enjoy presiding over gridlock.

Like a good real estate magnate, the next step then would be to turn to the lower valuation buyers – namely the Democrats in Congress – and offer them some lesser deals at lower prices. The Democrats are the buyers who will value dealing less because many (but not all) of their voters are less enthused about working with Trump, and also they value less what Trump might plausibly offer. Still, there will be room for further exchange.

If Trump, perhaps working with his daughter Ivanka, crafted a reasonable federal child-care or preschool policy, many Democrats would jump on board. They wouldn’t become Trump supporters in return, but they would moderate their criticism, as they would have a victory to take home to their voters.

In short, the second half of the Trump administration might consist of Trump offering a series of smaller but still significant trades to Democrats, taking care to bring along some Republican votes as well.

And what might the final fire sale consist of? Imagine Trump in his fourth year, essentially running for re-election as an independent, feeling he has nothing to lose and intent on showing that he has broken gridlock. Imagine a Trump whose ideology remains fluid and who loves to make deals more than to adhere to an ideological line. Could he also “sell” climate change legislation and a higher federal minimum wage to Democrats and a smattering of swing-district Republicans?

That is just one scenario, not an absolute prediction, but it would mean lots and lots of policy change under Trump.


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