Prominent supply-side economist Arthur Laffer on Tuesday defended Donald Trump’s trade policy, even as he blasted politicians who believe trade has to do with jobs.
“Having spent time with him and virtually all of the other candidates, I would say that he has as firm a grasp of international trade as any candidate,” Laffer said a breakfast at The Podesta Group. “He clearly understands foreign investments, foreign locations, foreign businesses.”
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has the “best chance of doing good trade policy,” added Laffer, who was an economic policy adviser to former president Ronald Reagan.
Earlier during the event, Laffer said he has “not seen a politician who understands trade,” particularly citing Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.
“Trade has nothing to do with jobs,” he said. “Let me just say it really clearly. Anyone who talks about trade in terms of jobs does not understand trade. What trade is all about is diversity and specialization.”
Trump, however, has said that U.S. trade policies have allowed other countries to take jobs away from Americans. He promised to rip up all current free-trade agreements and negotiate better ones. He has also floated imposing high tariffs on imports from Mexico and China.
But Laffer said if people look at all of Trump’s comments on trade and not just one or two, they will find that Trump also talks about freer trade.
Laffer also said that Trump could negotiate better trade deals. The economist criticized the fact that certain items were left out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“I think he’s going to be okay on trade,” he said, adding that he is more worried about other candidates.
Laffer also said that Trump’s tax plan would be “phenomenal” for the U.S. The plan would lower the top individual rate from 39.6 percent to 25 percent and the corporate rate from 35 percent to 15 percent.
Trump economic advisers Stephen Moore and Larry Kudlow have proposed revisions to Trump’s tax plan. Laffer, who is close with Moore and Kudlow, said that he does not think Trump’s plan will be rewritten “directionally” during the campaign.