BOSTON (CBS) — It’s easily the most important campaign promise President Donald Trump made, that he would move quickly to unleash what he claims are unfair restraints on US economic growth.
That promise fueled a stock market surge after the election that has since cooled a bit, and business people right here at home, upset over last week’s controversial executive order of a travel ban on visitors from a list of predominantly-Muslim countries where terrorism has been an issue are wondering – what comes next?
“My phone was ringing off the hook this weekend when the order was issued,” says Jim Rooney, president of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.
The concern – if this is a sign of further immigration crackdowns to come, what impact will that have on a local economy that has branded itself as part of an international economic order, reliant on foreign buyers for its goods and services and on immigrants for its human capital?
“What will the marketplace look like in terms of receptivity to taking a job in the US and Boston?” wonders Rooney. “Will student applications go down? We saw them go down after 9/11 when there was some tightening. So it’s a long term effect question as to our role as a global player.”
Greater Boston businessmen and women aren’t the only ones uneasy about Trump’s tactics. A new CBS News poll found 45% approving of the travel ban while 51% disapprove.
But along with the potential downside to the Trump agenda for local business, says Rooney, there’s a potential upside.
It’s music to the ears of many in the private sector when Trump says, as he did the other day: “We’re bringing manufacturing back to the US big league, we’re reducing taxes very substantially and we’re reducing unnecessary regulation.”
Notes Rooney: “The areas of investment that President Trump has talked about, for example, the defense industry, [fuels] a strong economy in Massachusetts with Raytheon and other companies, now GE, that are suppliers to that industry.”
Promised investments in transportation and infrastructure would also be welcome here. And while Trump’s overall approval rating is eight points underwater in the CBS poll, the public approves of his handling of the economy so far by a six point margin.
This is a big if. But if the Trump agenda winds up accelerating the pace of economic growth, bringing new jobs and increased wages along with it, political history suggests that could neutralize a multitude of sins.
Like they said over and over again in the Watergate movie “All the President’s Men,” the trick is to “follow the money.”