Donald Trump won the presidential election because of his strong support from blue-collar workers who feel aggrieved by the U.S. economic system. Many have lost their jobs in recent years due to technology and globalization. Many others have suffered wage stagnation. Helping this large group of voters is surely Mr. Trump’s primary mandate from the election.
The best way to do this is to make the economy grow faster by implementing smart policies such as:
Corporate tax reform. Reducing the top rate from 35% to about 20% will make the U.S. competitive with other developed countries and induce American multinational companies to bring their overseas profits back home for reinvestment. This will create more jobs and better paying jobs. This can be paid for by eliminating various deductions.
Business tax reform. Allow full expensing of capital investments, paid for by eliminating the deductibility of interest payments. This will strongly encourage more business investment and therefore increase worker productivity.
Individual tax reform. Lower marginal tax rates across the board by 10%, paid for by eliminating most deductions. This would give an automatic increase in pay to the two-thirds of taxpayers who do not itemize deductions and, since most of the pay increase would be spent, grow the economy by stimulating demand.
Regulatory reform. Much can be done to alleviate the regulatory burden on business, see here and here.
International trade rules. “Tearing up NAFTA” would be a huge mistake because the U.S. exports $600 billion annually to Canada and Mexico with a trade deficit of only $40 billion. But NAFTA can be updated with side agreements to address concerns of fairness. Expand retraining programs for workers who lose their jobs to foreign competition.
Immigration reform. Secure our southern border and deport the illegal immigrants who are lawbreakers as Mr. Trump wants to do. Then give guest worker visas to law-abiding employees of legitimate businesses and use eVerify to enforce them.
Conclusion. Changes such as these will give a big boost to the economy and therefore create many new jobs and better paying jobs.
The former CEO of Nucor Steel Company, Dan DiMicco, has written a book, “American Made: why making things will return us to greatness” describing why and how U.S. manufacturing dominance has shrunk in the past 50 years and how it can be restored. Nucor is the largest American steel company and has never laid off an employee in its 42 years in existence, even during the recent recession. Here is Mr. DiMicco’s prescription for a return to industrial greatness:
Build public-private partnerships to restore the manufacturing base. For example, only $60 billion out of the $765 billion stimulus bill in 2009 was devoted to infrastructure spending. As another example, the corporate income tax rate should be significantly lowered.
Level the playing field in international trade. When Germany and Japan built up huge trade surpluses in the 1970s and 1980s, the Reagan Administration responded with the Plaza Accord in 1985 outlawing foreign currency manipulation. Since then China especially has adopted a strongly mercantilist trading policy, subsidizing key industries, exporting as much as possible and importing as little as possible. No president since Reagan has insisted on equitable rule-based trade agreements where the rules are enforced. This would help immensely.
Rebuild the nation’s infrastructure. Mr. DiMicco would be willing to increase deficit spending for such needs as highways, bridges, fiber-optic lines, mobile networks, and urban wastewater systems.
Develop our energy resources. Go all out on natural gas production by fracking. This will lower our carbon footprint and has the potential to make us completely energy independent, thereby greatly reducing our trade deficit.
The skills gap myth. It would help if the U.S. had better career education for high school students unlikely to go to college. But Nucor sponsors cooperative training programs at all of its locations and has no trouble finding workers.
A strong revival of U.S. manufacturing has the potential to create 30 million new jobs and thereby revitalize the American middle class. Mr. DiMicco’s prescription makes a lot of sense.