Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump laid out his plans for tax reform if he’s elected in November.
DETROIT — Calling Hillary Clinton a candidate from the past who will merely continue the policies that have destroyed cities like Detroit, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump told a business crowd here that he is the best agent for change in America.
“Detroit was once the economic envy of the world,” he said. “When we were governed by the America-first policy, Detroit was absolutely booming … But for many living in this city, that dream has long ago vanished. When we abandoned the policy of America first, we started rebuilding other countries instead of our own.”
Although Trump’s speech was billed as his economic vision for the country, he spent a large amount of his nearly hour-long address to 1,500 people at the Detroit Economic Club lashing out against Clinton, his Democratic opponent.
The Democratic Party has reached into the past to select “a nominee from yesterday, who offers the rhetoric of yesterday and the policies of yesterday. There will be no change under Hillary Clinton, only four more years of weakness and President Obama,” Trump said. “We’ll be looking boldly into the future. That is what our country deserves.
“American cars will travel the roads, American planes will connect our cities, and American ships will patrol the seas. American steel will send new skyscrapers soaring all over our country.”
Trump offered glimpses of his economic plan, adding that he will roll out more details in the coming weeks, Among the policy proposals he outlined were plans to reduce the number of income tax brackets from seven to three; to eliminate income taxes for individuals who earn less than $25,000 or $50,000 for married couples; to make all child care expenses tax deductible; and to reduce the corporate tax rate.
He hammered Clinton for her support for the North American Free Trade Agreement and predicted that she will approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership if she’s elected. Clinton has said she opposes the TPP and is willing to renegotiate NAFTA.
“A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for TPP and NAFTA. Before NAFTA went into effect, there were 285,000 autoworkers in Michigan. Today that number is only 160,000,” Trump said. “Detroit is still waiting for Hillary Clinton’s apology. She’s been a disaster. I expect Detroit will get that apology right around the same time Hillary Clinton turns over those 33,000 emails she deleted.”
It was a message geared toward the blue-collar workers who have either lost their jobs or have seen stagnant wages for years. These are the voters in Rust Belt states like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania that Trump is counting on to provide his path to the presidency.
Trump’s speech offered a bleak vision of the American economy at odds with the nation’s low unemployment rate and slow but steady economic growth. Trump instead painted a portrait of America as a place with rising unemployment, deepening poverty and economic weakness.
Trump offered so many policy bullet points in such rapid-fire succession that he didn’t concentrate on any in great length or explain in detail how he would pay for the initiatives. He called for increased child care benefits virtually in the same breath as extolling law and order, or veterans’ benefits, while bashing NATO allies.
His plan comes on the heels of the appointment of his new economic policy team last week, made up of 13 men, mostly businessmen.
Responding to Trump during a campaign event in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Monday, Clinton assailed the efforts of Trump’s new policy team, saying they “tried to make his old, tired ideas sound new” in the Detroit speech.
“His tax plans will give super-big tax breaks to large corporations and the really wealthy,” the Democratic presidential nominee said, adding that it was an effort to “repackage trickle-down economics.”
On Thursday, Clinton is scheduled to deliver a speech, also in Detroit, on her economic vision and ideas to spur job creation.
Charles Ballard, a professor of economics at Michigan State University, took issue with Trump’s assertions that he could enact massive tax cuts yet still rebuild America’s deteriorating roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
“Any way you look at it, it adds up as either a big increase in deficits or you’ve got to make huge cuts to stuff like Social Security and Medicare or defense,” he said, adding that Trump misused economic data, such as when he cited millions of people dropping out of the labor market. “There has been a decrease in labor force participation, but a lot of it is Baby Boomers retiring. So would his policies bring the Baby Boomers back to work?”
Ronna Romney McDaniel, chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party, said that as long as Trump stays on message, he’ll be competitive in the state.
“He’s got to stay on message and stick with the things that got him the nomination: the economy and jobs. Those are the things that people look to him as being a change agent,” she said, noting that polling in the race doesn’t favor her preferred candidate.
Kelly Rossman McKinney, co-owner of the Lansing, Mich.-based Truscott Rossman consulting firm, said she was surprised that Trump didn’t get rattled by the 14 hecklers who periodically interrupted his speech before being escorted out.
“It was more presidential than most of the presentations he’s been known for. He looked and sounded presidential,” said Rossman McKinney, an “unabashed” supporter of Clinton. “But there were some things that he did and said that were disappointing to a Detroit audience — not acknowledging Detroit’s comeback and what’s happened to the automotive industry, but that would have been acknowledging that President Obama’s policies have actually worked for Detroit. To make Detroit sound like such an abysmal place when we’re you’re speaking to the host city today probably wasn’t the best move.”