Donald Trump Outlines Economic Policy In Detroit

Aug 8, 2016
Originally published on August 8, 2016 6:21 pm
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Last week was a bad one for Donald Trump. He took on the grieving parents of a soldier killed in action. His poll numbers dropped, and other Republican candidates distanced themselves from his campaign. Now he's trying to rebound with a policy speech. In Detroit, he laid out his vision for the economy. NPR's Tamara Keith starts off our coverage.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: As he often does with big speeches, today at the Detroit Economic Club, Donald Trump read from a teleprompter. He started with a grim description of Detroit as a city where the American dream vanished long ago - low incomes, high unemployment, high crime.

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DONALD TRUMP: The city of Detroit is the living, breathing example of my opponent's failed economic agenda.

(APPLAUSE, CHEERING)

KEITH: Detroit's decline began more than 50 years ago, decades before NAFTA and other trade deals, but this was not a time for nuance. Trump had a point to make, one that is critical to convincing voters that he is the answer. That point - America is in terrible shape economically, far worse than the 4.9 percent unemployment rate would make it seem.

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TRUMP: The 5 percent figure is one of the biggest hoaxes in American modern politics.

(APPLAUSE)

KEITH: The Bureau of Labor Statistics is an agency of nonpartisan nerds who've been using the same widely accepted methodology for measuring unemployment for decades. Trump's plan for improving the economy starts with what he calls the biggest rewrite of the tax code since Ronald Reagan was president.

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TRUMP: My plan will reduce the current number of brackets from seven to three and dramatically streamline the process.

(APPLAUSE)

KEITH: This plan is a shift for Trump and more closely aligns him with House Republicans. It's one of a handful of moves that bring a candidate who has often been out of sync with his party closer to the Republican mainstream. In the last 24 hours, Trump's original tax plan has been scrubbed from his website, and a new one isn't up yet.

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TRUMP: The days ahead, we will provide more details on this plan and how it will help you and, most importantly, your family.

KEITH: A new proposal unveiled in his speech would allow parents to fully deduct the average cost of child care from their taxes. Details are being worked out by his daughter Ivanka and, quote, "an incredible team of experts."

An area where Trump remains far from Republican orthodoxy is trade. Trump called for NAFTA to be renegotiated and says the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a betrayal. But then he followed with this.

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TRUMP: Trade has big benefits, and I am in favor - totally in favor of trade. But I want trade deals for our country that create more jobs and higher wages for American workers.

KEITH: Trump said great and well-crafted trade deals are the answer, not isolation. Though beyond having trade negotiators whose goal will be to win, Trump didn't say specifically what constitutes a great deal.

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TRUMP: We are going to benefit, and our workers are going to benefit. Or we're not going to make those deals.

(APPLAUSE)

KEITH: Other planks in Trump's plan include reducing regulations and putting a stronger emphasis on fossil fuels.

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TRUMP: We will put our coal miners and our steel workers back to work.

KEITH: Trump made no mention of the renewable energy industry which now employs more Americans than coal. There was also no shout out to entrepreneurs, the Internet or technology. Trump said Hillary Clinton is a candidate of the past and he is a candidate of the future, a future that sounds like a long-past industrial age.

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TRUMP: We will put new American metal into the spine of this nation.

(CHEERING, APPLAUSE)

TRUMP: It will be American hands that rebuild this country, and it will be American energy mined from American sources that powers this country.

KEITH: It's a vision very much in line with Trump's campaign slogan, make America great again. Hillary Clinton will deliver her own economic policy address in Michigan on Thursday. Tamara Keith, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.