Economists reveal hearty opposition to Trump plans


NEW YORK — A majority of business economists disagree with the Trump administration on several key issues, notably immigration, trade and the budget, according to a survey by the National Association for Business Economics.

This is the first survey by the trade group since President Donald Trump took office.

The biggest sources of disagreement are trade and immigration, according to the NABE.

Roughly two-thirds of economists want the Trump administration to allow more immigration from high-skill workers for high-paying jobs, under programs such as the H1-B visa. Only 14 percent of economists say the Trump administration should spend more money on deportations and border enforcement — programs that the White House has emphasized since taking office a month and a half ago. Further, business economists do not consider illegal immigration to be a serious issue.

Regarding trade, survey respondents gave a highly favorable rating of the North American Free Trade Agreement, better known as NAFTA. Nearly 70 percent of respondents said the administration should only use policies such as tariffs to restrict trade when U.S. industries are being threatened by unfair trading practices.

A large majority of surveyed economists, 78 percent, believe the budget proposed by the Trump administration will also likely increase the deficit and national debt. NABE economists favor cutting defense spending and federal entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare, all of which are programs the White House has opted to keep the same size or increase, as in the case of defense.

One place economists find more common ground with the administration is health care.

While a bare majority of surveyed economists, 51 percent, have a favorable opinion of the Affordable Care Act, at the same time 55 percent of economists support replacing “Obamacare” with a program that “increases consumer choice and control, supported by tax credit.” That’s roughly the idea that Republicans in Congress are considering for their Obamacare replacement bill.

A majority of NABE members, 54 percent, believe the Federal Reserve’s current interest rate policy is “about right” while 40 percent believe the central bank’s policy is too simulative —meaning they have kept interests too low for too long.