Wall Street Executive Steven Rattner says by Opposing President Obama, the Republicans Created Donald Trump

Trump supporters at a rally last Wednesday. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times
Trump supporters at a rally last Wednesday. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

MEMO to Republican legislators biting your nails over the New York primary, wondering if you can finally derail Donald J. Trump’s candidacy with, gulp, Ted Cruz: You brought it on yourselves. 

Not just by failing for too long to take Mr. Trump seriously or by lacking an effective response once you did. That’s well-covered territory. Most important, you created the anger that lifted his candidacy by years of systematically and effectively preventing passage of legislation that might have ameliorated the tough economic state of Mr. Trump’s core voters.

Mr. Trump’s biggest supporters are disproportionately white, middle-aged, working-class men without college educations, a group whose fortunes have flagged as globalization and new technology have rendered millions of jobs obsolete and cut into the wages of many more. While the trade agreements that Mr. Trump bashes have played a role, the mistake was not having entered into them, but having failed to sufficiently help affected workers adjust to the new dynamics.

For too many, those new dynamics have been painful indeed. In Michigan, where Mr. Trump won big, wages in manufacturing have fallen from a high of $28 per hour in 2003 to $21 at present, after adjustment for inflation, a stunning 25 percent decline.

Meanwhile, the number of manufacturing jobs in the state has fallen from almost 900,000 in September 1999 to just under 600,000 at present, a picture that is repeated across the country.

Throughout his presidency, Mr. Obama has put forward constructive proposals to help those displaced workers. For its part, the Republican Congress has been behaving like Nero.

Take, for example, the administration’s 2011 proposal of a $447 billion package of measures including payroll tax cuts and the creation of an infrastructure bank that would have led to the creation of thousands of construction jobs, as well as other substantial economic benefits.

Designed to be bipartisan and fully paid for by higher taxes on rich Americans and some corporations, the American Jobs Act was nonetheless dead virtually upon its arrival on Capitol Hill.

That’s not all. During his administration, Mr. Obama put forth proposals for larger tax credits for child care; community college investments; expansion of the earned-income tax credit; changing retirement plans to be portable across employers and available to part-time workers; and tax credits for manufacturing communities.

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Source: The New York Times

Steven Rattner is a Wall Street executive and a contributing opinion writer.