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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Speaking against the backdrop of a US city hard hit by the recession that gripped this nation over eight years ago, Republican presidential nominee Donald J. Trump offered a detailed plan for the country’s economic revival in a powerful address on Monday at the Detroit Economic Club.

Recalling a bygone era when Detroit earned the moniker of “the motor city” and was a thriving center for expansion, Trump said Michigan’s largest city was “once the economic envy of the world. The people of Detroit helped power America to its position of global dominance in the 20th century.”

“Today,” he added, “Detroit has a per capita income of under $15,000 dollars, about half of the national average. 40 percent of the city’s residents live in poverty, over two-and-half times the national average. The unemployment rate is more than twice the national average. Half of all Detroit residents do not work.”

Rolling out his newly revised economic plan to “Make America Great Again” Trump said, “My campaign is about reaching out to everyone as Americans, and returning to a government that puts the American people first.”

In a swipe at his rival for the nation’s highest elected office, the billionaire businessman said, “All Hillary Clinton has to offer is more of the same: more taxes, more regulations, more bureaucrats, more restrictions on American energy and American production. If you were a foreign power looking to weaken America, you couldn’t do better than Hillary Clinton’s economic agenda. The one common feature of every Hillary Clinton idea is that it punishes you for working and doing business in the United States. Every policy she has tilts the playing field towards other countries at our expense. That’s why she tries to distract us with tired political rhetoric that seeks to label us, divide us, and pull us apart.”

His salient proposals on the much debated issue of tax reform were clearly intended to ease the monetary burdens of America’s most economically challenged citizens. “I am proposing an across-the-board income tax reduction, especially for middle-income Americans. This will lead to millions of new good-paying jobs. The rich will pay their fair share, but no one will pay so much that it destroys jobs, or undermines our ability to compete.”

In addition to promulgating a cogent rubric that calls for the dramatic reduction in taxes, Mr. Trump also spoke of streamlining deductions, excluding childcare expenses from taxation, and limiting taxation of business income to 15% that would assist small businesses.

“Our current tax code is so burdensome and complex that we waste 9 billion hours a year in tax code compliance,” he said with a distinct resoluteness in his voice. He said that his proposal on this matter “will reduce the current number of brackets from 7 to 3, and dramatically streamline the process. We will work with House Republicans on this plan, using the same brackets they have proposed: 12, 25 and 33 percent. For many American workers, their tax rate will be zero.”

He also called for creating plans to make the corporate tax globally competitive and to showcase the United States as the most attractive place to invest in the entire world. As has oft been proposed by fiscal conservatives in the past, Trump reiterated his objective of eliminating the death tax, which is commonly referred to as the federal estate tax.

Since the inception of Trump’s presidential campaign, he has portrayed himself as a stellar negotiator with a proven track record in the business world to back up his claims. He has stated on numerous occasions that if he should be elected president he would use his innate skills to negotiate much better trade deals for the United States. Regarding NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), Mr. Trump expressed his distaste for it through association with his opponent. “She (Hillary Clinton) supported Bill Clinton’s NAFTA, she supported China’s entrance into the World Trade Organization, she supported the job-killing trade deal with South Korea, and she supports the Trans-Pacific Partnership.” He said he would work towards renegotiating the terms of NAFTA or have America cut ties with it if it came down to it.

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, before NAFTA went into effect, there were 285,000 auto workers in Michigan. Today, that number is only 160,000,” Trump said.

Appearing on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, Moody's chief economist Mark Zandi rejected Trump's claim that NAFTA led to the deindustrialization of the Rust Belt, saying that while there are "big losers" from the agreement, in general all trade agreements are good for the economy at large.

"I think it's been a significant net positive for the U.S. economy," he said about the 1994 free trade agreement. "Now, there are winners —big winners— and there are losers, big losers— and places like Upstate New York and they may have suffered as part of NAFTA. I haven't done the research but it's plausible."

As to the highly controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Trump stuck to his guns on his staunch opposition to this issue. He said, “Hillary Clinton’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will be an even bigger disaster for the auto industry. In fact, Ford Motor Company has announced its opposition to the deal.”

He added that statistics emanating from the Economic Policy Institute indicated that “the U.S. trade deficit with the proposed TPP member countries cost over 1 million manufacturing jobs in 2015.By far the biggest losses occurred in motor vehicles and parts, which lost nearly 740,000 manufacturing jobs. Michigan ranks first for jobs lost as a share of state workforce due to the trade deficit with TPP members.”

Calling for the total US withdrawal from the deal before it can ever come to fruition and appealing to his audience in Detroit, Trump intoned, “Just imagine how many more automobile jobs will be lost if the TPP is actually approved. Hillary Clinton will never withdraw from the TPP. She is bought, controlled and paid-for by her donors and special interests.”

Among other trade reforms, Trump said he would bring much needed trade relief to the World Trade Organization, would label China as a currency manipulator, apply stiff tariffs and duties to countries that cheat, direct the Commerice Department to use all legal tools to respond to trade violations, enter into no trade deal unless it increases our economic growth and strengthens our manufacturing base.

Concerning his focus on China as a cause for US economic woes, Trump said that are “responsible for nearly half of our entire trade deficit. They break the rules in every way imaginable. China engages in illegal export subsidies, prohibited currency manipulation, and rampant theft of intellectual property. They also have no real environmental or labor protections, further undercutting American workers.”

He added that “Just enforcing intellectual property rules alone could save millions of American jobs. According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, improved protection of America’s intellectual property in China would produce more than 2 million more jobs right here in the United States.”

In terms of tackling the tangled web of burgeoning government regulations, Trump said he would issue an executive order to impose a regulatory moratorium on new agency regulations. Moreover, he said he would require each federal agency to prepare a list of all of the regulations they impose on American business, and rank them from most critical to health and safety to least critical. Least critical regulations will receive priority consideration for repeal. Most importantly, the GOP standard bearer has made a unbreakable promise to repeal and replace the Affordable Healthcare Act; known in common parlance as Obamacare

Trump will also initiate a targeted review for regulations that inhibit hiring. They include the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which forces investment in renewable energy at the expense of coal and natural gas while raising electricity rates. The EPA’s Waters of the United States rule, which gives the EPA the ability to regulate the smallest streams on private land, limiting land use. The Department of Interior’s moratorium on coal mining permits, which put tens of thousands of coal miners out of work.

On energy issues, Trump said he would rescind all the job-destroying Obama executive actions including the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the US rule as well as saving the coal industry and other industries threatened by Hillary Clinton’s extremist agenda. He would also ask that Trans Canada renew its permit application for the Keystone Pipeline

In addition, he would make land in the Outer Continental Shelf available to produce oil and natural gas, cancel the Paris Climate Agreement (limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius) and stop all payments of US tax dollars to UN global warming programs. He would also lift restrictions on American energy, which will increase GDP annually by $100 billion, and create 500,000 new jobs and increase wages by over $30 billion over the next 7 years.

He added that “Clinton not only embraces President Obama’s job-killing energy restrictions but wants to expand them, including going after oil and natural gas production that employs some 10 million Americans. According to the Heritage Foundation, by 2030, the Obama-Clinton energy restrictions will eliminate another half a million manufacturing jobs, reduce economic output by $2.5 trillion dollars, and reduce incomes by $7,000 dollars per person.”

He reminded his listening public that, “a Trump Administration will end this war on the American worker, and unleash an energy revolution that will bring vast new wealth to our country.”

Arthur Popowitz