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NOLAN FINLEY

Editor’s Note: Populist president aims to please

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

This is what populism looks like:

On his first working day in office, President Donald Trump met with the nation’s top business executives. They walked out of his office smiling and clutching promises to cut their taxes and lift regulations on their operations.

Then walked in the nation’s top labor leaders. They, too, left smiling and waving an executive order withdrawing America from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Two constituencies with two vastly different agendas, and Trump pleased them both. At least for now.

Killing the TPP was the top priority of labor at the Democratic National Convention last summer. It was mentioned in nearly every speech. And the unions ended up getting it from a Republican president. They also got a pledge to renegotiate NAFTA. They couldn’t have hoped for more so early from any previous president, Republican or Democrat.

Corporate America has argued that onerous taxes and regulations are choking the economic recovery. They, too, are getting what they want, but for a price. Trump is pressuring them to ignore the realities of the global economy and keep their factories in America, regardless of the hit to the bottom line. That’s another win for labor.

The corporate guys better hope the tax and regulatory relief the president promises offsets the higher operating costs.

Likewise with the unions. They should pray that for the first time in history, trade protectionism actually saves jobs instead of kills them.

It will be a delicate balancing act to make these conflicting agendas work in a way that keeps everyone smiling.