And that tax credit idea was hardly Trump’s only SOTU shout-out to “family first” and “nationalist populist” conservatives. Trump described his agenda as “relentlessly pro-worker, pro-family, pro-growth, and, most of all, pro-American.” That sounds a lot like the rhetoric from market-skeptic Republican thinkers such as Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance, who speaks of “pro-family, pro-worker, pro-American nation conservatism.” Instead of business tax cuts or more deregulation, the few policies Trump did mention were pretty much oriented toward such Republicans who think globalization and technology have caused too much societal disruption. In addition to the religious tax credits, Trump pushed immigration reform, suing sanctuary cities, infrastructure spending, and lowering drug prices. He also endorsed a bipartisan proposal in Congress to extend paid leave to families after the birth or adoption of a child.
If Trump wins a second term this November, it’s reasonable to expect similar policy impulses. Sure, he might propose more tax cuts, but they are more likely to be payroll tax cuts geared toward middle-class workers instead of income tax cuts for rich people and corporations. He’ll look for a new Federal Reserve chair less worried about inflation than current boss Jerome Powell, who deserves at least partial credit for the surging stock market and continuing expansion. Trump will let the national debt soar rather than trimming projected Medicare and Social Security benefits. And there will be more protectionism, although it may be called “industrial policy.” In other words, Trump will ignore the traditional economic policy advice rich Republicans read about in The Economist, Financial Times, or Wall Street Journal.