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Trump adviser tells House Republicans: You're no longer Reagan's party
OP 11/28/2016

Donald Trump’s economic adviser Stephen Moore told a group of top Republicans last week that they now belong to a fundamentally different political party.

Moore surprised some of the Republican lawmakers assembled at their closed-door whip meeting last Tuesday when he told them they should no longer think of themselves as belonging to the conservative party of Ronald Reagan.

They now belong to Trump’s populist working-class party, he said.
A source briefed on the House GOP whip meeting — which Moore attended as a guest of Majority Whip Steve Scalise — said several lawmakers told him they were taken aback by the economist’s comments.

“For God’s sake, it’s Stephen Moore!” the source said, explaining some of the lawmakers’ reactions to Moore’s statement. “He’s the guy who started Club for Growth. He’s Mr. Supply Side economics.”

“I think it’s going to take them a little time to process what does this all mean,” the source added of the lawmakers. “The vast majority of them were on the wrong side. They didn’t think this was going to happen.”

Asked about his comments to the GOP lawmakers, Moore told The Hill he was giving them a dose of reality. 

“Just as Reagan converted the GOP into a conservative party, Trump has converted the GOP into a populist working-class party,” Moore said in an interview Wednesday. “In some ways this will be good for conservatives and in other ways possibly frustrating.”

Moore has spent much of his career advocating for huge tax and spending cuts and free trade. He’s been as close to a purist ideological conservative as they come, but he says the experience of traveling around Rust Belt states to support Trump has altered his politics. 

“It turned me more into a populist,” he said, expressing frustration with the way some in the Beltway media dismissed the economic concerns of voters in states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

“Having spent the last three or four months on the campaign trail, it opens your eyes to the everyday anxieties and financial stress people are facing,” Moore added. “I’m pro-immigration and pro-trade, but we better make sure as we pursue these policies we’re not creating economic undertow in these areas.”

After such a transformative experience — and after witnessing Trump’s stunning victory — Moore now believes Republican House members should be less ideologically pure and instead help Trump give the voters what he promised them. 

“He wants to spend all this money on infrastructure,” Moore said, referring to Trump’s potentially trillion-dollar infrastructure package.  

It’s a massive spending bill that naturally appeals far more to Democrats than Republicans. Moore, who has worked for the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, is not a fan of the stimulus package, but he is prepared to support it.

“I don’t want to spend all that money on infrastructure,” Moore said. “I think it’s mostly a waste of money. But if the voters want it, they should get it.”

“If Trump says build a wall then he should build a wall. If Trump says renegotiate TPP [the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal], he should renegotiate TPP.”

“Elections have consequences,” Moore added, “and I do think Donald Trump has a mandate.”

Moore says his “view on trade has adjusted a bit” over the course of the 2016 campaign.

“I used to be unilateral free trader,” he said. “If somebody wants to sell something to us at less cost than we can produce here, then do it."

“But the political reality,” he added, “is there’s a backlash against trade. Whether we like it or not we better adapt the rules in ways that benefit American workers more, or free trade is not going to flourish. 

“We can scream and whine all we want but that’s reality.”

Moore is excited about large parts of Trump’s agenda. He helped write Trump’s tax plan and thinks the cuts will accelerate economic growth and create new jobs. He’s also had a hand in Trump’s energy plan and looks forward to slashing regulations hindering American energy production.

But Moore knows the days of Reaganite conservatism are probably over.

“Reagan ran as an ideological conservative. Trump ran as an economic populist,” he said. 

“Trump’s victory,” Moore added, “turned it into the Trump party.”

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