Ron DeSantis Reveals Economic Plans That Echo Donald Trump’s

Trailing in the polls, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis released an economic-policy plan on Monday that largely mirrors his main rival for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, Donald Trump.

Unveiling a 10-point “declaration of economic independence” at a campaign stop in Rochester, NH, DeSantis pledged to build on many key priorities of the Trump administration if he becomes president, including limiting trade with China, limiting immigration along the southern border, cuts government regulations and strengthens US energy independence. DeSantis’ policy agenda also steers clear of changes to either Social Security or Medicare — government programs that Republican lawmakers once promised to cut but that Trump vowed to protect.

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While embracing a more conservative stance on some issues — including cryptocurrency regulation — DeSantis’ platform reflects the extent to which Trump’s political vision has come to dominate the GOP, in a sharp break from party orthodoxy before 2016. DeSantis hammered the same way Washington and Wall Street “elites” mirror Trump’s rhetoric in 2016 that the GOP had once rejected.

“We declare today our economic independence from the failed elites and policies that have harmed this nation’s middle class,” DeSantis told the crowd at a rally in New Hampshire, an early primary state. “We are citizens of a republic. We are not cogs in a global economic empire.”

Given how popular the former president is among Republican voters, some analysts said, DeSantis may be intentionally playing down his policy differences with Trump.

A New York Times/Siena College vote on Monday showed Trump leading with support from 54 percent of likely Republican voters, compared to just 17 percent for DeSantis. DeSantis’ allies have argued that their candidate is more likely to defeat President Biden in the 2024 general election, pointing to the cloud of scandal surrounding the former president.

“DeSantis’ candidacy has been, ‘I’m the sane Trump — you don’t have to worry about the crazy tweets, but I want to mirror him in policy,'” said Doug Holtz-Eakin, president of the conservative American Action. Forum. “It is what it is: Here he’s just trying to match Trump.”

In a Fox News interview Monday, DeSantis pointed to polls that suggest he would do better than Trump against Biden in Georgia and Arizona, while suggesting that Trump may not have the discipline and focus to carry out a conservative vision.

“Voters will decide not only which policy proposals they support, but also who they trust to carry them out. Donald Trump tried and failed; Ron DeSantis will get the job done,” said Andrew Romeo, DeSantis campaign communications director.

Trump senior adviser Jason Miller said DeSantis was merely mimicking the former president.

“He literally wrote almost everything from what we did with President Trump in his first term — down to the terminology, the language, the framing. It was pretty remarkable,” Miller said. “It read to me like a ChatGPT version of how someone would try to recreate Trump’s economic policies.”

DeSantis’ platform has some clear policy differences with his opponent. Unlike Trump, DeSantis is focused on stopping the Federal Reserve’s efforts to launch a new digital currency, which Florida’s governor claims could lead to new government control of the economy. While Trump has expressed skepticism about cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, DeSantis promised to protect them if elected.

“Biden’s war on bitcoin and cryptocurrency will come to an end when I become president,” he said.

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DeSantis also leaned more heavily than Trump has on traditional conservative rhetoric about growing the economy by cutting federal spending. While Trump’s campaign platforms have often been vague, DeSantis included some details on tax policy — such as allowing businesses to deduct the cost of short-term investments in machinery and equipment. DeSantis emphasized the need to fix decades of economic problems, an implicit contrast to Trump’s call for a return to the economy under his administration.

“DeSantis’ economic plan is much more intellectually coherent than Trump’s. … He’s trying to mix the nationalists and the free marketers” in the GOP, said Avik Roy, a former political adviser to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), who is now president of Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, a DC-based think tank.“You’re seeing a more advanced intellectual framework here compared to what Trump was running on in 2016.”

DeSantis’ campaign so far has often been defined by his “anti-woke” crusades, including his fight against Disney and a recent controversy over his attempt to rewrite the meaning of black history.

It is unclear how much his financial framework will matter to voters. Attendees at DeSantis events in New Hampshire seemed more interested in discussing the Florida governor’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic than any particular economic policy proposal.

“DeSantis did a great job during covid,” said Eva Montibello, who previously supported Trump but said she was keeping her options open for 2024. “Given that his state has so many seniors and it’s like, the whole of America is going, just because of the baby boomer population, I think it’s really important to have someone in office who has an eye for senior citizens.”

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Wayne Sanders, 74, an independent from nearby Massachusetts who came to the economic policy speech, also praised DeSantis’ handling of Covid-19, hailing him as a “sharp guy” who had attended Yale University. Sanders said he agreed with Trump’s “overall views” but also expressed some reservations about the former president.

“His policies are good for America, good for growth,” Sanders said of Trump. “And I think sometimes a little too much noise maybe.”

LeVine reported from Rochester, NH

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