- - Monday, August 8, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Donald Trump isn’t dumb: He knows it’s always “the economy, stupid.” As a billionaire businessman, he understands that economic growth isn’t just a number, but a measure of human progress. Mr. Trump presented a bold blueprint Monday for putting America back on the road to prosperity. It’s worth careful consideration.

Mr. Trump laid out his plan to the Detroit Economic Club, and it sounds like something the American business community has been waiting for since Ronald Reagan finished his second term. He proposes a tax cut on American businesses, which at 39.5 percent is the highest in the world. “Under my plan,” he says, “no American company will pay more than 15 percent of business income in taxes. … Hillary Clinton’s plan will require small business to pay as much as three times more in taxes than what I am proposing, and her onerous regulations will put them totally out of business.”

Mr. Trump proposes a temporary moratorium on job-killing regulations: “As with taxes, I will have one overriding goal when it comes to regulation: I want to keep jobs and wealth in America.” If elected, government agency heads would be required to compile lists of unnecessary rules for removal. The total price tag for regulations on American businesses and consumers reached $1.88 trillion in 2014, according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute, or about $15,000 per household.

Mr. Trump promises to cut personal income tax rates for all but the wealthiest Americans, enabling working parents to deduct their child care expenses, and do away with the death tax on estates. He pledged to end Mr. Obama’s war of fossil fuels, enabling energy companies to resume full production of coal and other abundant U.S. natural resources. Mr. Trump repeated his primary campaign assertion that America has settled for bad deals with foreign competitors, with China in particular. He pledged to press Beijing for a better deal to access Chinese markets to ease the trade deficit, which reached $366 billion in 2015.

In contrast, Mr. Trump said the economic proposals of Hillary Clinton would prolong the economic stagnation of the Obama presidency, which has resulted in the slowest economic recovery since 1949: “The Obama-Clinton agenda of tax, spend and regulate has created a silent nation of jobless Americans.”

Steve Moore, one of his economic advisers, took him to task in these pages on Monday for advocating enormous new spending on infrastructure. Early in his presidency, Mr. Obama poured $831 billion into “shovel-ready” roads and bridges projects in a failed attempt to jump-start a failing economy.

Hard questions will be asked about the impact of his tax cuts on the deficit. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation says the cuts could reduce federal revenues by $10.1 trillion over 10 years. Unless the U.S. GDP rises spectacularly over that period, Mr. Trump could repeat President Obama’s worsening of the national debt. With China flexing its muscles in the South China Sea, Mr. Trump would have to take exceptional aim to thread the trade needle without unduly pricking Beijing’s thin skin.

The economy is the top issue of 84 percent of registered voters this election season. The Pew Research Center says it finds 65 percent of Americans thinking the nation is on the wrong track, making a ripe opportunity for the Trump message. Voters can compare the Trump plan to the plan Hillary will present to the Detroit Economic Club on Thursday, an unusual opportunity to compare schemes to make America great again.

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