Donald Trump, the Republican Party frontrunner for the nomination for the US presidency, on Tuesday night in a victory speech, criticised the planned move by Pfizer, the US drugs giant to become an Irish company, and he also promised that if he becomes president, Apple will be forced to return manufacturing from China to the United States.

 

It is unique in modern US politics for a leading Republican candidate to take a position on trade and taxes that align with what could be termed the progressive/ leftist wing of the Democratic Party as represented in the current campaign by Senator Bernie Sanders.

On Tuesday when five primaries were held — in Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Missouri and Ohio — Hillary Clinton won all five while Donald Trump won four.

Trump, in a victory speech Tuesday night at his Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, said great companies such as Apple, will be forced to return manufacturing from places like China and Vietnam when he becomes president, and on the exodus of US companies overseas, he cited companies including air conditioner manufacturer Carrier Corporation, Pfizer and Eaton Corporation. of Ohio — the latter is already Irish for tax purposes

Frankly I'm disgusted by it, and am tired of seeing it. It's gross incompetence at the highest level...It's because politicians can't get along. They can't make a deal...Everybody agrees the money should be here...We don't win at trade.

Trump, Clinton and Sanders agree on the need to address the so-called tax inversions, as they do on cutting the prices of branded drugs which have doubled in five years.

The Financial Times said in a report this week:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership, he warned, would send the US’s remaining auto jobs to Japan and represented a “mortal threat to American manufacturing.”
"TPP is the biggest betrayal in a long line of betrayals where politicians have sold out US workers,” Mr Trump wrote.
It is hard to overstate what a shock to the Republican system Mr Trump’s trade pronouncements — and the support they are finding among voters — have been. Since Ronald Reagan the Republican party has, with a few exceptions, been unabashedly pro-trade even as the Democratic party and its labour union base have grown more sceptical. (Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have said they oppose the TPP in its current form).

Until the era of civil rights in the 1960s, the Democratic Party used to be a coalition of Deep South segregationists and mainly more liberal city dwellers in the North and West of the United States associated with the expansion of the role of the federal government from the New Deal years of President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s. Since then, the Republican Party has been a coalition of poorer whites who tend to be anti-immigration, and business types who favour immigration, small government if they are not dependent on federal contracts, and low taxes.

Thomas Frank, the author of the 2004 book What's the Matter With Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America wrote an article for the Financial Times on the Democratic Convention in 2004, titled: 'At the Democratic Dream Factory.'

In his book, Frank refers to what he calls the 'thirty-year backlash' — the populist revolt against a supposedly liberal establishment. The high point of that backlash is the Republican Party's success in building the most unnatural of alliances: between blue-collar Midwesterners and Wall Street business interests, workers and bosses, populists and right-wingers. In asking 'what's the matter with Kansas?' — how a place famous for its radicalism became one of the most conservative states in the union — Frank, a native Kansan and onetime Republican, seeks to answer some broader American riddles: Why do so many of Americans vote against their own economic interests? Where's the outrage at corporate manipulators? And whatever happened to middle-American progressivism?

Frank answers them by examining pop conservatism — the bestsellers, the radio talk shows, the vicious political combat — and showing how America's long culture wars have left it with an electorate far more concerned with their leaders' 'values' and down-home qualities than with their stands on hard questions of policy.

Frank wrote in the FT that there is:

a vision of liberals as a ruling elite, a collection of snobs...that believes it is more sophisticated than average people...When celebrities stump for their candidate of choice, the ones they support are usually Democrats...Somehow, this glitzy world of risqué dresses and velvet ropes has the opposite effect on much of the public. They hate it and hate everything Hollywood has come to stand for.
After all, Hollywood stars are the closest thing America has to aristocracy and being instructed by pseudo-rebellious aristocrats (as they mingle with millionaire lobbyists) cannot help but rub people up the wrong way. What the stars' Democratic allegiance shows to this part of the public is not the glamour of Democratic candidates but their shallowness and insufferable moral superiority; the distance of those candidates from their historical base of average Americans. For them, Hollywood's superficial leftism only validates the Republicans to be the party of the common man.

Rising inequality is making some Republican voters angry and a positive development for a Democratic president would be if Republican members of the US Congress begin to give attention to some of their voters and not feel the need to be just messengers for the rich donor class.

Pic on top: From US drug price trends report

Trump, Pfizer, Apple, Ireland