For any fiscal conservatives still sitting the fence, Donald Trump’s speech on the economy Monday should go a long way towards settling their fears. Speaking at the Detroit Economic Club, Trump laid out a conservative economic vision for the country that essentially matches traditional Republican orthodoxy. While the specifics of his economic plan will be published on his website over the next week, Trump’s outline is consistent with the principles that will stimulate growth and raise American wages.
Trump said that he would favor a top tax rate of 33% and he called on a reduction in the corporate tax rate, policies that will find a receptive home in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. He called attention to the importance of slashing regulations, vowed to simplify the tax code, and promised to eliminate the estate tax. If Paul Ryan was listening, it must have filled his heart with joy.
While there was plenty of meat on the bone for traditional conservatives, Trump didn’t sell out his unique set of proposals that separate his plan from those that have come before. He reiterated his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the current version of NAFTA, both of which are widely supported by the political establishment in both parties. He also expressed criticism of the carried interest tax break, a deduction used by many in finance.
“We will eliminate the carried interest deduction and other special interest loopholes that have been so good for Wall Street investors, and people like me, but unfair to American workers,” Trump said.
He also unveiled a fresh idea: Expand federal tax benefits so that families can claim child care expenses as deductions. This is well outside the GOP platform and appears to have come from his daughter, Ivanka. It might find acceptance as populist idea that can win over female voters; seldom are the times people turn their nose up at a tax break.
“American steel will send new skyscrapers soaring. We will put new American metal into the spine of this nation,” Trump promised. “It will be American hands that rebuild this country.”
As you can see, Trump is mining his economic plan from the same rich vein of patriotism he has tapped for all of his proposals. Trump takes a lot of heat for not being a “true conservative,” but his essence is conservatism itself. When you do what you do out of a deep love for this country and what it symbolizes, marry that with the concepts and ideas that have worked for society in the past, you have a winning formula. It may look a little strange from this angle or that, but it’s got a solid foundation. These policies will correct our course.