I’ve been calling for Donald Trump to focus on the economy, so I won’t quibble with parts of his speech, delivered on Thursday to the Economic Club of New York, that I don’t think go far enough. Hopefully, this focus on the economy will last more than 24 hours and he will develop a consistent, repetitive, pro-growth message for the last two months of the campaign.
Obviously, Trump’s able advisers had a hand in crafting what is a solid, Republican plan. I have said for years that we don’t have many problems that wouldn’t be solved by a few years of 4 percent economic growth. Well, the plan that Trump laid out yesterday calls for at least 3.5 percent growth per year — which, considering the anemic growth under President Obama, would be an economic boom. He also wants to cut the corporate tax rate from the current 35 percent rate to 15 percent, and his plan eliminates both the death tax and the carried-interest loophole. Much of this is standard Republican fare that the Democrats and the usual suspects among their apologists will instantly criticize. But that’s okay, because finally, this campaign will be getting around to having arguments about policy.
Trump does have a smart economic team that can help win that fight. They include esteemed economist Stephen Moore, budget wunderkind Dan Kowalski and the one and only Larry Kudlow. Plus, with their guidance, Trump revised his original tax plan to address criticisms that it would have diminished revenue and increased the debt, and introduced the “Penny Plan.” The Penny Plan, in short, reduces “non-defense, non-safety net spending by one percent of the previous year’s total each year,” which translates into $1 trillion less in spending over the next 10 years. It could be a sign that Trump has gotten more serious about policy — or at least that his team recognizes how important it is to make the case that the next president will need to jump-start the economy.
I was also encouraged by the fact that Trump’s economic plan includes a robust energy production plan that involves lifting restrictions and regulations put in place by the Obama administration, as well as support for fracking. (Disclosure: My firm represents interests in the fossil fuel and nuclear power industries.) Trump is right that an energy revolution will boost growth and create jobs, not to mention make us energy-independent. I wish he had included something bold about nuclear energy, but as I said, I won’t quibble.
Trump also made a salient point about the 92 million people who have left the workforce under Obama, calling them a “silent nation of jobless Americans.” Without a thriving economy, not many of those 92 million people who still want to work will find good jobs. Maybe Trump’s plan isn’t completely perfect, but it’s a solid start and, as Trump said in his speech, it’s better than Hillary Clinton’s offer of “more taxing, regulating, more spending and more wealth redistribution — a future of slow growth, declining incomes and dwindling prosperity.” Who doesn’t think that welfare program spending would increase and productivity would decline under Clinton?
Clinton can’t run on her record, and she can’t sound the alarm about the consequences of the low-growth Obama economy. Left to their own devices, Clinton and the Democrats will continue to obsess over which bathroom transgender individuals can use, how to accommodate illegal immigrants and what new ways they can control American lifestyles via global warming mandates that could never pass Congress. The issues are on the Republicans’ side. It is encouraging that Trump may be coming around to being part of a rational message. I’m not ready to say Trump would be a good president, but this a good plan.