Protesters a thorn during Trump’s Detroit economic speech
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump introduced an economic plan Monday in Detroit that centers on cutting business taxes, ending "unnecessary" regulations and renegotiating trade deals designed to make America more globally competitive.
In a speech frequently interrupted by protesters, Trump told about 1,500 attendees of the Detroit Economic Club event at Cobo Center that his planned reforms would increase American jobs and wealth instead of moving them overseas.
Yet Trump was light on the specific details of his plans, saying multiple times that more information will be rolled out in coming days and weeks.
With Monday's event, Trump sought to reset a campaign that recently has been diverted by distractions and delve into a subject — the economy — that the New York businessman portrays as one of his strengths. It also intended to show that he is a serious candidate despite a disastrous stretch that has prompted criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike.
He also sought to distance himself from Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, saying more than once that her policies would be a continuation of President Barack Obama's policies and weaken the country's economic position.
Trump told the audience that no business should pay more than 15 percent of income in taxes, which earned him cheers. And he called for a temporary moratorium on federal regulations and boosting America's investment in coal, despite federal efforts to reduce the nation's carbon footprint amid global warming.
“All of our policies should be geared toward keeping jobs and wealth inside of the United States," Trump said. “I want to jump start America, and it can be done."
Trump's plan includes:
- A broad corporate income tax cut from 35 percent to 15 percent, which could remove an incentive for corporate inversions that allow companies to shift their profits overseas.
- Reforming America's tax code by reducing the number of tax brackets from seven to three, along with the elimination of a carried interest deduction and other "special interest loopholes that have been so good for Wall Street investors and people like me" but unfair to average Americans.
- Allowing Americans to fully deduct the average cost of child care on their income taxes.
- Applying a 10 percent tax to entice corporations to move their offshore income back to the U.S.
- A temporary moratorium on all new regulations from federal agencies, along with the cancellation of federal orders he called illegal and overreaching.
- Withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement; Trump said regarding NAFTA: "If we don't get a better deal, we will walk away."
- Ending the "Obama-Clinton war on coal" that he claimed cost Michigan 50,000 jobs, instead reinvesting in coal mines.
More than once, Trump went after Clinton for her position on NAFTA and trade deals, criticisms that his campaign contends will be a potent in Michigan, where Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders used those arguments to great effect in defeating Clinton in the state primary in March. Trump argued that the TPP would crush the domestic auto industry.
His speech was interrupted 14 times by protesters, all but one of whom were women. They were removed from the event to boos and cheers from the audience.
Detroit Economic Club spokesman Matt Friedman said it's the first time since at least the early 2000s that a club event was interrupted by protesters inside.
Attorney General Bill Schuette, who has endorsed Trump, said before Monday's event that the fact Trump chose Detroit to unveil his economic agenda shows that Michigan remains in play in November.
"This is an election about two choices: Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump," Schuette told reporters. "People are concerned about jobs and paychecks. This is a jobs-and-paychecks election."
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Before the noon event, several dozen protesters, primarily anti-Trump, picketed outside Cobo Center. Mixed in were a small handful of pro-Trump demonstrators bearing signs with slogans such as "Build the Wall" and "Deport Them All," a reference to Trump's controversial proposals to deport an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants and to construct a barrier wall between Mexico and the United States.
Among the demonstrators was a black-clad, self-proclaimed anarchist with a sign reading, "The Only Good Fascist Is a Dead Fascist."
Michigan is expected to be an economic battleground state this week, as Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton plans to announce her economic plan in the state. Details on the location have not yet been announced.
The Clinton campaign pushed back against Trump's economic vision, releasing comments ahead of Trump's speech from small business owners in Michigan who oppose his candidacy.
"As a small business owner in the healthcare industry, the two most important issues to me this election season are continuing our economic recovery and creating a stable infrastructure that provides technology, clean energy and access to quality healthcare for all," Erica Coulston, owner of Walk The Line to SCI Recovery in Southfield, said in a statement. "Michigan needs a president who will support small businesses by building an economy that works for everyone - not just those at the top."
In a statement, the Michigan Democratic Party derided Trump's visit to Michigan:
"The fact that he would come to Detroit to tout his economic plan is either a sick joke or a complete lack of understanding of what drives the Michigan economy. Both possibilities are likely with Trump when you look at his track record," it said, pointing to his declaration a year ago that he would have let the auto industry go bankrupt and suggested that the auto industry should leave Michigan and take its jobs to other states to drive down the salaries of Michigan workers."
In a news release before Trump's address, the Democratic National Committee rejected his planned policies, saying his "me-first economic ideas and business record make him a real threat to working families' economic stability and our country's economic strength."
The DNC contended two-thirds of his proposed tax cuts would benefit the top fifth of U.S. taxpayers, adding trillions of dollars to the national debt.
Also Monday, former Republican Michigan Gov. William Milliken said he is endorsing Clinton in November, saying in a statement: "I am saddened and dismayed that the Republican Party this year has nominated a candidate who has repeatedly demonstrated that he does not embrace those ideals" of tolerance, civility and equality."
Trump’s visit comes a week after two months of positive U.S. employment data. About 292,000 jobs were added in June and another 255,000 jobs were added in July - bringing the total to near 1.3 million new jobs in the first seven months of 2016. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.9 percent, but rising wages also occurred, leading to more economic growth and revised expectations for another strong year in the U.S. economy.
Crain's Detroit Business reporters Bill Shea and Dustin Walsh and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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