Donald Trump is one of the world’s most recognized business leaders. With a reputation built on real-estate development, his luxury towers dominate big-city skylines, and his hotels and golf courses are prime destinations for the well-heeled. In recent years, Mr. Trump has become a broadcast powerhouse on NBC with his hit television show “The Apprentice” and major beauty pageants such as Miss USA and Miss Universe. An articulate voice in national politics, anticipation over a Trump presidential bid shook up the 2012 Republican primary contest. Author of numerous bestsellers including 1987’s iconic “The Art of the Deal,” Mr. Trump’s newest book is, “Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again” (Regnery, 2011). You can find out more about the Trump empire at trump.com.
Decker: You are one of the rare prominent voices out there insisting that rebuilding our manufacturing base is central to renewing America as an economic power. As a Detroiter, this really jumps out at me, but manufacturing is not something one hears Republicans talking about very often. What do you think needs to be done on this front?
Trump: The outsourcing of jobs has greatly diminished our power and has to be addressed. Our dealings with China have been ridiculous as I’ve made clear. Our core as a country was built around industries that were built here and that thrived here. That has eroded to such a degree that our structure has crumbled and needs to be reinforced. As a builder, I would compare it to a building that has been left unattended, or neglected, and therefore requires more attention to repair. We need entrepreneurs to keep — or to return — our economic power to where it should be. As Henry Ford said, “Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” The remedy is a strong manufacturing base, which means more jobs. It’s not complicated.
Decker: You’re refreshingly tough on the People’s Republic. In your book, you write, “Get it straight: China is not our friend.” Why is Beijing a menace to the United States, and how should we counter this communist state?
Trump: They’ve taken every opportunity possible to rip us off, and they’ve been given that opportunity by Obama and his administration. Sometimes it appears Obama officials are clueless, but one thing for sure is that they are bad negotiators. China’s manipulation of currency has been consistent with obvious results to be seen in our steel industry, as one example, and they steal our technology. The list goes on — they have no scruples when it comes to business and are aggressive in their striving for power. What we need is a strong leader who knows how to negotiate, and who understands how business works and how businesses are built. We also need a leader who understands the threat that China poses. It’s hard to believe the current administration is fully aware of the situation.
Decker: Chapter 7 of your book is titled, “A Safety Net, Not a Hammock.” The U.S. national debt has surpassed $16 trillion because too many people expect government to give them goodies. Do you worry that Americans have gotten too lazy, complacent or just lost the character it will take to turn this mess around?
Trump: I don’t think Americans have gotten lazy, as many people are looking for work. It’s hard to go to work if there aren’t any jobs. Outsourcing has hurt us tremendously. The unmitigated greed of certain individuals such as [convicted multi-billion-dollar fraudster Bernie] Madoff and the rampant Wall Street shenanigans have damaged many people and made people untrusting and wary, and rightly so. But I also believe that self-reliance needs to be emphasized and everyone needs to be vigilant. America has been blessed in very many ways and that can’t be taken for granted. I know America can be great again, but it will require focus and hard work.
Decker: As the son of a Ford Motor Company executive, I grew up believing that the business of America is business. It now increasingly seems that government is the senior partner in the public-private-sector relationship. How is today’s out of control bureaucracy a drag on U.S. competitiveness and the entrepreneurial spirit that made this country great?
Trump: As you mention, the entrepreneurial spirit made this country great. We grew by leaps and bounds when that spirit was encouraged. Now look at it! I built my own empire. No one else built it for me. I’ve provided tens of thousands of jobs. I was and remain competitive because that is what is required. I know people are grateful to have jobs and my job is to provide those jobs. I think most people would rather work than get a handout or remain idle. Bureaucracy has slowed things down considerably, and as someone who is used to getting things done, and quickly, it’s very apparent that the government has not been helpful. They have not been encouraging to the new generation. Some of Obama’s comments have made it sound as if building something is undesirable. Our young people need to know what made this country great to begin with: entrepreneurs. My father, Fred C. Trump, had a four-step formula for success that works: Get in, Get it done, Get it done right, and Get out. That keeps the momentum going, and one thing this country needs is more momentum.
Decker: What do you think is the most imminent threat facing America today, and what should be done to address the problem?
Trump: Lack of leadership is the biggest threat. That covers a lot of territory. In order for a country to thrive, there can’t be weakness at the top. Other countries know we have a weak leader and it’s easy to become a target in those circumstances, China being a good example. Our military forces have to remain intact and effective and have the right leadership. Our business leaders need to be encouraged. Obama has not addressed our problems in a way that has produced results. He has not provided us with solutions — just more problems. He is responsible for a decline in this country that has been unprecedented. The way to address this problem is to have a strong leader who knows what is going on and has the intelligence and strength to deal with it.
Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. He is coauthor of the new book “Bowing to Beijing” (Regnery, 2011).