President Trump is increasingly intervening in the economy, making decisions about corporate winners and losers in ways that Republicans for decades have insisted should be left to free markets — not the government.
The shift amounts to a major change in the GOP’s approach to the management of the economy, and it promises to shape the success of everything from American agriculture and manufacturing to the companies that produce the nation’s electricity.
On Friday, citing national security, Trump ordered the Energy Department to compel power-grid operators to buy from ailing coal and nuclear plants that otherwise would be forced to shut down because of competition from cheaper sources.
The order came one day after the president imposed historic metals tariffs on some of the country’s strongest allies and trading partners. Now the Commerce Department is further picking winners and losers as it weighs thousands of requests from companies for waivers from the import taxes.
“It replaces the invisible hand with the government hand,” said Mary Lovely, a Syracuse University economist. “You’re replacing the market with government fiat.”