He can’t just spend four years upsetting Latinos and veterans and talking about how tough he is. But most of his campaign promises are implausible, experts say
So far the most memorable moments of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign have been his claim that Mexico is sending “rapists” to the US and his description of senator John McCain, a man permanently crippled after five-and-a-half-years as a Vietnamese prisoner of war, as “not a war hero”.
Just imagine if any of Trump’s contenders had said either of these things. Just imagine if they’d managed, during a month-long political career, to alienate one of the most important voting demographics in the US. Or if they’d set up a Veterans coalition in their own honour, only for it to emerge that several alleged members had never even heard of the group they were supposedly supporting.
They would be ridiculed. They would be ostracised. They would be described as moronic.
But for Trump it seems to be working. He’s leading the polls . He will take centre stage at Thursday’s debate.
The one-time Apprentice host might find that things will begin to get a bit more difficult, however, now that he has to articulate his actual policies. So far we’ve heard that he’ll bring back jobs. That he’ll put up walls. That he’ll take down China and make America great and do a super cool spinning karate kick.
So what would Trump actually do as president? He can’t just spend four years upsetting Latinos and veterans and talking about how tough he is.
Well, one thing is that he would tax other countries. All of them. But especially Mexico and China, for whom he reserves particular venom.
As MSNBC has reported , Trump has promised to get rid of corporate taxes and replace them with a 20% tax on imports and a 15% tax on companies which outsource. There’s only one problem: that would be illegal.
“That 20% tax would be an absolutely straightforward violation of probably every trade law the United States has with any other country,” Joshua Meltzer, a fellow in global economy and development at the Brookings Institution, told MSNBC. Two other economic experts agreed.
That’s not going to happen, then.
Trump has also said he would have prevented Ford from building new manufacturing plants in Mexico by imposing a 35% tax on vehicles made in the country. But as USA Today pointed out , this would violate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Oh, and only Congress can impose taxes anyway.
Healthcare, and specifically Obamacare, is an easy win for a Republican presidential hopeful. Trump made all the right noises on this when he described the Affordable Care Act as a “big fat horrible lie” and a “total catastrophe” in Iowa in January.
He undid the good work, however, when it turned out his proposal to replace Obamacare was pretty similar to Obamacare. As Bloomberg reported , Trump’s ideas included competing private plans, protecting hospitals and government plans for low-income people who get sick options. Obamacare does all these things.
Oh, and just for good measure Trump has said he wants “healthcare for everybody”. Like his views on Hispanic rapists and war heroes not being war heros, this would have sunk any other candidate. But still he ploughs on.
What else? China. Trump likes to talk about China. It’s his thing. In July he told a crowd in New Hampshire that the country would be in for it under a Trump presidency.
“Oh, would China be in trouble. The poor Chinese.”
Specifically, the business mogul has said he will “bring back our jobs” from China. (And Mexico and Japan, but mainly China.) He has said the country has stolen US jobs through currency manipulation – a common claim, if an unproven one ; the Chinese yuan has actually strengthened against the dollar in the last decade. He has not specified exactly how to bring the jobs back, which is problematic because a series of economists have said it cannot be achieved .
“It’s completely implausible,” former Federal Reserve vice chairman Alan Blinder, a Princeton University economist who has studied the offshoring of American jobs, told the Associated Press .
For one thing, China and other countries are losing the jobs Trump claims he will bring back, according to the AP. To countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam.
For another thing, there is no space for those prodigal jobs Trump wants see return to home. The US lost 5m manufacturing jobs between 1999 and 2011, but technology has replaced many of these roles. And with unemployment at 5.3%, there would not be enough people to fill the jobs anyway. Ironically, the US would need immigrants to help.
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