President Trump's economic policy appears to be moving closer to former president Barack Obama's.
In an interview Wednesday with the Wall Street Journal, Trump reversed his stance on three economic issues, moving closer to the policies of his predecessor.
Trump has continually changed his policies since launching his presidential campaign in 2015, and whether his latest statements represent a shift or a one-off set of comments remains to be seen. But if Trump follows through on his latest promises, he'll have adopted a large segment of Obama's economic platform.
1. The Export-Import Bank
Trump on Wednesday said he supports the Export-Import Bank, an agency that subsidizes U.S. exports and is detested by conservative lawmakers. The right points out that much of the bank's aid goes to large corporations such as Boeing, which conservatives say don't need help from the government.
During the campaign, Trump initially opposed the bank, calling it “feather bedding.”
“I don’t like it because I don’t think it’s necessary,” he said in 2015. The bank mainly helps “a few companies — and these are companies that can do very well without it.”
Later in the campaign, though, Trump seemed to moderate that opposition, and a pair of Democratic senators said earlier this year the president had told them he had come around to supporting the agency.
Trump acknowledged his position had changed in his interview with the Wall Street Journal. “It turns out that, first of all, lots of small companies are really helped,” Trump said. “Instinctively, you would say, ‘Isn’t that a ridiculous thing.' ... But actually, it’s a very good thing.”
Obama and many mainstream Republicans also supported the Export-Import Bank, arguing that the United States must compete with other countries that have similar agencies for promoting exports.
During the campaign, Trump promised to label China a currency manipulator on his first day in office. On the 83rd day, he told the Wall Street Journal that Beijing is not manipulating its currency.
“They’re not currency manipulators,” Trump said.
Countries can manipulate the currency to make their exports cheaper and give their factories and workers an advantage. When countries buy up foreign currencies and sell their own, the price of their own currencies on the global market falls, allowing their exports to trade at a discount.
Most economists agree that China has manipulated its currency in the past but has not continued the practice.
This was also Obama's view. Although he, like Trump, accused China of manipulation as a candidate, his administration never formally declared China a manipulator.
Trump's Treasury Department is scheduled to release a report on currency manipulation in the coming days.
3. Janet L. Yellen
Perhaps the most consequential endorsement Trump gave Obama in the interview was a compliment to Janet L. Yellen, whom Obama nominated to be chair of the Federal Reserve.
During the campaign, Trump accused Yellen of manipulating interest rates to help Obama politically, as lower rates boosted economic growth. He suggested to The Washington Post that Yellen and her colleagues' policy of maintaining interest rates near zero could inflate a “bubble where you go into a very massive recession.”
But asked on Wednesday whether he would look for a replacement for Yellen when her term expires next year, the president declined to say, suggesting Yellen might be allowed to stay on.
“I like her. I respect her,” Trump said. “It’s very early.”