If Donald J. Trump becomes president, he barely will have time to attend his own inaugural parade. The Republican nominee promised voters in Gettysburg, Pa., Saturday that he would stay spectacularly busy on his first day in office.
As part of his Contract with the American Voter, Trump pledged to take 18 major steps on January 20, 2017. Most of these give center-right voters excellent reasons to support Trump at the polls.
A constitutional amendment to place term limits on all members of Congress
A hiring freeze on all federal employees, save for the military and to satisfy public and health needs
A five-year-ban on White House and congressional officials lobbying after leaving government service
A lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying for foreign governments
A total ban on foreign lobbyists raising cash for U.S. elections
Also next January 20, Trump promises five steps “to restore security and the constitutional rule of law.”
“Cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum, and order issued by President Obama.”
Start picking a replacement for Justice Scalia from one of the 20 judges on Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees, “who will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
“Cancel all federal funding to Sanctuary Cities.”
Start removing the 2 million+ criminal illegal aliens who walk America’s streets
Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where the U.S. cannot conduct extreme vetting — Trump’s proposed standard for all foreign entrants
On Day One, Trump also would take several admirable measures “to protect American workers.”
Scotch the restrictions on producing $50 trillion (with a T) in job-producing American energy — namely shale, oil, natural gas, and “beautiful clean coal.”
Remove Obama-Clinton’s hurdles on energy-infrastructure projects; greenlight the Keystone Pipeline
Cancel billions in cash to the U.N.’s “global warming” programs and channel those funds into U.S. water and environmental infrastructure
Beyond this, Trump said, “I will work with Congress to introduce the following broader legislative measures and fight for their passage within the first 100 days of my Administration.” These include:
Middle Class Tax Relief and Simplification Act
“An economic plan designed to grow the economy 4 percent per year and create at least 25 million new jobs through massive tax reduction and simplification, in combination with trade reform, regulatory relief, and lifting the restrictions on American energy. . . . A middle-class family with two children will get a 35 percent tax cut.” Today’s seven income-tax brackets would fall to three. “The business rate will be lowered from 35 to 15 percent, and the trillions of dollars of American corporate money overseas can now be brought back at a 10 percent rate.”
School Choice and Education Opportunity Act
“Redirects education dollars to give parents the right to send their kids to the public, private, charter, magnet, religious, or home schools of their choice. Ends Common Core and brings education supervision to local communities.”
Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act
“Fully repeals Obamacare and replaces it with Health Savings Accounts, the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines, and lets states manage Medicaid funds. Reforms will also include cutting the red tape at the FDA: There are over 4,000 drugs awaiting approval, and we especially want to speed the approval of life-saving medications.”
Affordable Childcare and Eldercare Act
Childcare and elder care would become tax-deductible. Employers receive incentives to offer on-site childcare services. “Creates tax-free Dependent Care Savings Accounts for both young and elderly dependents, with matching contributions for low-income families.”
End Illegal Immigration Act
Finances a wall on the southern border. “Mexico will be reimbursing the United States for the full cost of such wall.” Sets a two-year, mandatory-minimum, federal prison sentence for illegally re-entering America after being deported. Those convicted of felonies, multiple misdemeanors, or at least two prior deportations would face five-year mandatory-minimum sentences.
Restoring National Security Act
Scraps the defense sequester and expands military spending. Veterans may seek medical care from the VA system or private doctors whom they choose. Girds infrastructure against cyberattack. Screens immigrants to ensure that they “support our people and our values.”
And quite good, really. These ideas and political commitments should make conservatives stand up and cheer.
However, those who believe in limited government might be concerned about several policies that Trump embraced:
“I will announce my intention to renegotiate NAFTA or withdraw from the deal under Article 2205.”
“I will announce our withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
These two promises feel like protectionism, even though some free-traders argue that complex, voluminous deals like NAFTA and TPP enact the demands of lobbyists rather than enshrine Hong Kong-style free trade.
“I will direct my Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator.
If Trump wants to hammer China for manipulating the yuan, he should pummel the Federal Reserve Board for doing likewise with the dollar. The Fed routinely plays games with the dollar’s value in order to achieve myriad economic and even trade-related effects. The chairman of the Federal Reserve is Earth’s premier currency manipulator.
“I will direct the Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Trade Representative to identify all foreign trading abuses that unfairly impact American workers and direct them to use every tool under American and international law to end those abuses immediately.”
While this clause in the Contract sounds benign, “unfairly” could be expanded to fight “dumping,” whereby American buyers import a foreign product at a price that irks U.S. manufacturers of that same item. Americans should be free to purchase whatever they want from foreign sellers at whatever price they can negotiate, so long as the product does not threaten public health (e.g., tainted meat) or safety (North Korean atomic weapons). One man’s “dumping” is another man’s amazing bargain.
End the Offshoring Act
“Establishes tariffs to discourage companies from laying off their workers in order to relocate in other countries and ship their products back to the U.S. tax-free.”
The word “tariffs” should cause an allergic reaction.
Trump’s whole plan should be judged not in a vacuum, but against the alternative on this election’s two-entrée menu.
The good news is that Trump’s tax cuts, tax simplification, profit repatriation, regulatory relief, and energy-sector liberation should trigger economic growth robust enough to obviate the need or even the appetite for his protectionist plans. Trump would be wise to try his supply-side measures first and let them flourish before tampering with the unfettered flow of goods and services.
Also, those who correctly wince at the word “tariffs” should remember two things:
First, these clouds in Trump’s contract are outweighed by tons of silver lining.
Second, Trump’s whole plan should be judged not in a vacuum, but against the alternative on this election’s two-entrée menu.
Whatever the shortcomings of Trump’s Contract with the American Voter, it stands about 170 degrees opposite what Hillary Clinton would deliver:
Newly hired bureaucrats
Permanent Obamacare (with its 25 percent average premium hikes) at best; VA Health Care for All, at worst.
Some 65,000 poorly vetted Syrian refugees in 2017 (possibly with ISIS murderers disguised among them)
Open borders (which Hillary has called “my dream”)
More murders at the hands of illegal-alien killers
And lawless penetration of America’s southern frontier by uninvited Iranians, Somalis, Sudanese, Syrians, and others from nations awash in radical Islamic terrorism.
Trump’s tariffs would be bad news.
But Hillary’s entire reign would be a needless and easily avoided tragedy.
On balance, Trump’s Contract with the American Voter is the most promising manifesto for genuine conservative reform in a generation. It represents a major opportunity to get things right, after 16 years of bipartisan democratic socialism under G. W. Bush and Obama.
Over the next 13 days, Trump should close this deal. He should sell his Contract with the American Voter, focus 100 percent on the issues, treat his teleprompter as his best friend, padlock his Twitter account, instruct his surrogates to echo this disciplined message, and unleash a slew of broadcast and digital ads to reinforce Trump’s positive vision of freedom, prosperity, hope, and change.
Repeat.If Trump does these things and stays as undistracted as a bloodhound chasing an elusive serial criminal, he can win.
All of this begins with Donald J. Trump’s challenge to this country’s citizens.
“I am asking the American people to rise above the noise and the clutter of our broken politics and to embrace that great faith and optimism that have always been the central ingredient in the American character,” Trump said at Gettysburg. “I am asking you to dream big.”
— Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor with National Review Online.