SAN DIEGO—Around lunchtime two days before Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration last month, some 200 business and civic leaders from San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, gathered here in a hotel ballroom downtown for an event hosted by the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. As the assembled professionals, decked out in business-casual attire and speaking a smattering of Spanish and English, munched on cold—not to say rubbery—chicken and green salad and sipped iced tea, the event’s keynote speaker, a UCLA economist named Lee Ohanian, delivered a pessimistic message about the man who was on everybody’s mind.
Trump’s plan to tax imports from Mexico would amount to “shooting [us] in the foot,” Ohanian declared, “with many, many unintended consequences.” Given the aging of the baby boomers and declining U.S. birth rates, Trump’s possible plan to reduce immigration levels would make it “extremely difficult” to achieve increased productivity or GDP growth, he warned. But …
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