What GOP Can Learn From Trump: Straight Talk, Common Sense

Original Article

Instead of wringing their hands about Donald Trump’s intrusion and romp through their party, Republican candidates serious about leading America in the 21st century should take some cues and cards from the Trump hand and see if they can raise him on policy substance.

Trump may be brash and inconsistent with some conservative values. But his candor about making America great again has enormous appeal, and his straight talk wins accolades and distinguishes him from the political class.

Perhaps most importantly, Trump’s natural disposition and ready willingness to break out of the straitjacket of political correctness is as refreshing as it is overdue and vital to redirect national priorities.

The very concept of making America great is now foreign to a Democratic Party obsessed with race, gender and class identity, equal outcomes and expanding entitlement programs. This, together with the Democrats’ lack of new ideas on creating jobs and growing the economy, provide an opening that Republicans ought to be able to drive a truck through.

The two signature legislative reform laws that the Democrats passed during the Obama years — ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank — have failed.

In different but significant ways, each has put brakes on the economy and contributed to the slowest postrecession recovery since World War II while failing to solve the very problems that the laws were intended to address.

In addition to ObamaCare and Dodd-Frank, excessive and counterproductive regulations, a complex and onerous tax code, corporate welfare and cronyism, social welfare programs that undermine the work ethic and misguided monetary policies are all major contributing factors to ongoing economic malaise.

A bold solution must include overhauling both the regulatory agencies and all their harmful regulations, simplifying the tax code, cutting subsidies that undermine market allocation of resources, creating incentives that reward work over welfare and requiring the Federal Reserve to adhere to a transparent rules-based monetary policy focused on price stability rather than central planning of the economy.

What Americans most want to hear now are clear, common-sense policy specifics that will generate economic growth and restart the engine of job creation. Two specific job-creating initiatives warrant consideration to provide running legs to making America great again.

First, we should take full advantage of our competitive advantage of low-cost natural gas and promote a manufacturing renaissance.

Natural gas is a relatively clean, low-cost energy source, the supply of which has grown exponentially due to American ingenuity in advancing fracking and horizontal drilling technology. The U.S. is now the Saudi Arabia of natural gas, being the world’s largest producer with hundreds of years of reserves.

Let’s advertise to the world that the U.S. is open for business and committed to providing one of the lowest-cost locations for energy-intensive manufacturing in industries including the smelting and casting of iron, steel, aluminum and other primary metals, plus the manufacture of transportation capital equipment, industrial chemicals, cement, pulp and paper.

The second major initiative to catalyze a renaissance in American job creation is slashing the cost of repatriating capital that U.S. multinational corporations hold overseas.

In aggregate, these corporations hold over $2 trillion offshore, having already paid taxes to the foreign countries in which their profits were earned. Why not give a tax holiday to any U.S. company that invests repatriated dollars in job training and creating American jobs?

And going forward, why not lower and maintain the repatriation tax rate to not more than 5% regardless of how the funds are used? It’s all newfound tax revenue, as corporate funds remaining offshore generate no tax revenues for the U.S.

The national debt is now $18.4 trillion, with nearly $14 trillion requiring debt-service expense. Short of cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid entitlement programs, the only major way to get our fiscal house in order is to get serious about increasing tax revenues through economic growth and job creation. Returning to historic average economic growth rates of 3.25%-3.5% could increase tax revenue by more than 40% annually.

For too long, Washington has operated in a bubble of political correctness and has been cavalier about overspending, debt accumulation and imposing policies that hold back the American people. Trump deserves credit for being the first candidate to decisively burst this bubble with straight talk.

America has become a nation of enormous pent-up creative energy waiting to be unleashed. If Trump teaches his fellow candidates anything, it is that going on the offensive unrelentingly with bold, common-sense solutions that transcend political correctness is what’s needed. It’s as essential for winning the nomination as it is for leading and turning America around.

Scott S. Powell

Senior Fellow, Center on Wealth and Poverty
Scott Powell has enjoyed a career split between theory and practice with over 25 years of experience as an entrepreneur and rainmaker in several industries. He joins the Discovery Institute after having been a fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution for six years and serving as a managing partner at a consulting firm, RemingtonRand. His research and writing has resulted in over 250 published articles on economics, business and regulation. Scott Powell graduated from the University of Chicago with honors (B.A. and M.A.) and received his Ph.D. in political and economic theory from Boston University in 1987, writing his dissertation on the determinants of entrepreneurial activity and economic growth.