Dismissing a half century of successful free market policies is perhaps the worst thing Donald Trump has done to the Republican party. The President’s ignorant beliefs in zero-sum trade policy and massive infrastructure spending repudiates decades of conservative ideology and undermines the American economy. Luckily, while the rest of the Trump administration is marching head on in a radically anti-free market direction, at least one segment hasn’t fallen in line yet. The reliably conservative Vice President Mike Pence has hired one of the libertarian Cato Institute’s top directors as his Chief Economist.
Mark Calabria was the Director of Financial Regulation at the Cato Institute until being tapped by the Vice President for this role. According to his bio on their website, Calabria previously worked for a variety of congressional committees, politicians, cabinet departments, and economic groups:
Before joining Cato in 2009, he spent six years as a member of the senior professional staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. In that position, Calabria handled issues related to housing, mortgage finance, economics, banking and insurance for Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL). Prior to his service on Capitol Hill, Calabria served as deputy assistant secretary for regulatory affairs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and also held a variety of positions at Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, the National Association of Home Builders, and the National Association of Realtors. Calabria has also been a research associate with the U.S. Census Bureau’s Center for Economic Studies.
The Trump administration hasn’t hired very many libertarians yet – and it shows. Their economic policy has largely been left to chance while the President attacks free trade and proposes billions in new spending. As the Vice President’s Chief Economist, Mike Calabria will have his work cut out for him trying to chart a new direction. Republicans who still believe in the free market will need all the help they can get shaping President Trump’s agenda. Mike Pence’s hiring of a libertarian from the Cato Institute will hopefully be the first of many to come.