Republican Donald Trump sought to regain momentum for his White House campaign on Monday by proposing sweeping tax breaks, cuts to federal regulations and a revival of the stalled Keystone XL oil pipeline project.
The New York businessman used a speech on the economy in Detroit to try to turn the page after a week of missteps in which he came under heavy criticism, including from some in his own party, and rival Democrat Hillary Clinton surged ahead in opinion polls three months ahead of the November 8 election.
“I want to jump-start America,” Trump said, “and it won’t even be that hard.” Trump stuck to prepared remarks rather than the freewheeling style that often produces controversial comments at rallies. He kept his cool as some 14 protesters jumped to their feet and shouted at coordinated intervals as he spoke at the Detroit Economic Club.
Trump’s remarks, which were repeatedly cheered by the crowd, appeared targeted at both an affluent business community and working people, in particular those who have suffered from a decline in US manufacturing in cities such as Detroit.
He dismissed Clinton as representing “the tired voices of the past.” “We now begin a great national conversation about economic renewal for America,” Trump said. “It’s a conversation about howto make America great again for everyone … especially for those who have the very least.”
Much of the speech reflected Republican talking points and critics said his proposals lacked detail. But Republican operatives and others who saw the speech praised Trump for turning his focus to policy and contrasting his ideas with Clinton’s.
The question for Trump now is whether he will be able to keep his campaign on message as Republicans want him to do. Trump pitched a tax plan that mirrored traditional Republican thinking that lowering taxes and slashing regulation generates economic growth and jobs.
He proposed lowering individual and corporate rates and a discounted 10% levy for businesses that bring back profits held overseas.
Trump’s plan to create new tax deductions for child care costs raised questions from economists about whether lower-income families would benefit.
Many Republicans remain frustrated with his trade vision, which bucks party orthodoxy by calling for a rewrite of major agreements. “My response is good, bad and ugly,” said Lanhee Chen, who was policy director for the 2012 presidential campaign of Republican Mitt Romney.
“I think the trade position remains pretty ugly,” he said. “But I understand why they did it. I think it’s a strong effort, at least, to meld elements of conservative economic policy with Trump’s more populist thinking.”