Last Saturday, Donald Trump delivered a speech in Gettysburg, Pa., that he should have given much earlier in the campaign, minus the usual threats against women who have accused him of sexual assault.
The speech, which was probably written for him because “deep” and “thinker” are likely not the first two words that spring to mind when you hear the name Donald Trump, set out an agenda for what he promises to do should he be elected president.
Mr. Trump’s promises were divided into three sections. The first action, he said, would “clean up the corruption and special interest collusion in Washington, D.C.”
He’d start by proposing a constitutional amendment to limit congressional terms. One can safely predict that isn’t going to happen because in order for a constitutional amendment to be considered for ratification by the states, it must first pass Congress. Most members are not about to limit their own power and position.
Mr. Trump would impose a hiring freeze on all federal employees, reducing the work force through attrition. The military, public safety and public health would be the exceptions. That’s possible.
For every new federal regulation, Mr. Trump would ask that two existing federal regulations be eliminated. That might work if he could persuade Congress that the regulations he wishes to eliminate were, in fact, failures.
Mr. Trump wants to institute a five-year ban on White House and congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service and also proposes a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government. He also favors a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections. These proposals also might work, but will require public pressure on Congress to achieve.
Mr. Trump also proposed “seven actions to protect American workers.” These include his familiar promise to renegotiate NAFTA, or withdraw from it. As for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he would pull out completely with no renegotiation.
China would be declared a currency manipulator, which it is, but has Mr. Trump considered the response from Beijing, which holds an enormous amount of American debt?
Mr. Trump wants to list restrictions on energy-producing entities and finish the Keystone XL pipeline, which has been blocked by the Obama administration, despite numerous studies showing there would be little or no environmental impact.
Mr. Trump would also cancel billions in payments to U.S. climate change programs and use the money to fix America’s water and environmental infrastructure. Good. Polls show climate change is not high on the list of public concerns and many believe the “science” to be manipulated, even bogus.
On national security, Mr. Trump promised to “cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama.” Why not? Mr. Obama did the same with many of George W. Bush’s executive orders.
Mr. Trump again promised to name judges to federal benches, including the Supreme Court, “who will uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
He would cancel all funding to sanctuary cities where illegal aliens are being sheltered. And Mr. Trump would capture and deport illegal aliens who commit crimes and cancel the visas of countries that refuse to take them back. That would be popular and difficult for Democrats to oppose. He again pledged “extreme vetting” of people from countries where terrorism is a major export.
There’s more, including tax cuts for corporations to create jobs and bring back companies and their tax dollars from overseas, as well as school choice to help especially poor children escape failing schools.
Like them, or not, these are substantive ideas. Is it too late for voters to digest them and possibly for those undecided, or against Mr. Trump, to swing toward him and away from the big-government promises of Hillary Clinton? We’ll know in less than two weeks.
• Cal Thomas is a nationally syndicated columnist. His latest book is “What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America” (Zondervan, 2014).