Kevin Hassett: Beware of 'The Drift'

Kevin Hassett: Beware of 'The Drift'
(AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Editor’s note: This essay is adapted from the new book "The Drift: Stopping America’s Slide to Socialism" by Kevin Hassett.

"Kevin, I want you to go with the lower number," President Trump told me. 

It was 2016 and I was then serving as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers. I had just told the president that Americans could expect a big increase in average wages if Congress passed his tax cut plan. 

In fact, I projected that after the anemic, no-wage growth of the Obama years, the president’s free-market policies would bring Americans their first fat pay increases in years. I gave him a range of dollars our policies would generate in average wages for Americans, with the least amount being $4,000 a year and the greatest being double that. 

I expected Trump, given the way he was portrayed on TV, to take my highest number and double it. Instead, he told me to go with the lowest number, arguing that he wanted to under promise and over perform. And we did. In the aftermath of the Trump tax cuts and regulatory relief, average real wages increased by more than $6,000 a year just before the pandemic began. Women and minorities saw some of the biggest wage increases in history.

That anecdote, sums up my time in the White House succinctly. From policy area to policy area, President Trump pursued sensible free market policies, and these policies delivered prosperity that the Obama administration told us would be impossible given the "new normal."  

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