Trump Adviser Peter Navarro: Reagan Critic Advocates Crony Capitalism

Peter Navarro, a Professor at U.C. Irvine, is Donald Trump’s most influential adviser/spokesman on international trade, and the only academic among his 13 economic advisers.   

After a losing campaign to become mayor of San Diego as an anti-NAFTA Democrat running against Republican Susan Golding, Navarro wrote a 1993 book, Bill Clinton’s Agenda for America. It provides intriguing clues about the sort of policy advice he now offers Mr. Trump.

Navarro begins by saying, “if Clinton and Gore carry through with their agenda … we will become more globally competitive, our educational system will improve, better protection will emerge for our environment, our cities will be rebuilt, and, most important of all, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be created.”

He goes on to write of “The Failure of Reaganomics” and the “Trickle Down Rip-Off.” The complaint is mainly about the U.S. spending too much on defense, with Japan financing the resulting budget deficits and aiming to “locate many of their plants within U.S. borders to avoid the certain protectionism they saw coming.”

“Countries like Japan, Germany, France and Taiwan have very sophisticated industrial policies,” wrote Navarro, while “Reagan and Bush Administrations… [were] clinging to a free-trade philosophy.”  Without a protectionist industrial policy the U.S. couldn’t possibly compete, particularly since “Japan and Germany were devoting over 10 times what the U.S. was spending on public infrastructure and new technologies.”

“The essence of a national industrial policy,” Navarro explained, “is a full partnership between government and business… [T]he role of government is to help a nation’s businesses compete by providing technological assistance, subsidies and protectionist measure such as tariffs and quotas.”