Reeling from a cascade of blunders that drove his poll ratings down, Donald Trump sought to regain his standing Monday by laying out an economic agenda of tax cuts, vast spending on public construction and a tougher posture on trade.
“I want to jump-start America, and it won’t even be that hard,” the Republican presidential nominee said in a speech to the Detroit Economic Club.
Trump’s formal presentation, read from a teleprompter, was a central part of his attempt to recover from campaign turmoil that left many Americans doubting his capacity to be commander in chief.
Trump’s economic proposals were split between traditional GOP policies, like rolling back taxes and easing federal regulations, and ideas unpopular with the GOP majority in Congress, like scrapping trade pacts and pouring new money into railways, highways and other infrastructure.
Trump’s claim that his plans would spark explosive job growth left many economists skeptical, as did the absence of detail on how he would pay for his proposals.
“At some point you can’t live in a world completely divorced from economic reality,” said Edward Kleinbard, a business and law professor at University of Southern California. He called Trump’s simultaneous tax cuts and new spending “fundamentally unrealistic.”
Trump proposed tax cuts last year that would benefit primarily the wealthy and cost as much as $10 trillion over the next decade, economists say.
Trump has also promised a major buildup of the military at an unspecified price, and he has vowed to resist pressure by fellow Republicans to curb Social Security and Medicare, a pledge he did not mention Monday.
“It can’t add up is the bottom line,” said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan think tank.
Still, the New York businessman appeared to cut the overall cost of his previous plan by making several revisions Monday.
He initially had proposed simplifying individual income tax rates with four brackets — 25 percent, 20 percent, 10 percent and 0 percent. He raised those Monday to align with a House Republican plan that calls for rates of 33 percent, 25 percent, 12 percent and 0 percent.
Prior to those changes, a Moody’s Analytics report concluded that Trump’s economic agenda would thrust Americans into a lengthy recession, create “very large deficits” and burden the country with “a much higher debt load.”
In Detroit, Trump also proposed letting parents deduct the average cost of child-care spending. The plan risks favoring the higher-income taxpayers who most rely on itemized deductions, but the absence of specifics left the impact unclear.
Trump, who was interrupted by hecklers more than a dozen times, cast his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton as a champion of old economic ideas that have left millions of Americans unemployed or impoverished as jobs shift to foreign countries.
“Every policy she has tilts the playing field toward other countries at our expense,” Trump said.
Clinton offered a simple reply to Donald Trump’s economic address Monday: “Don’t let a friend vote Trump.”
At a rally in St. Petersburg, Fla., Clinton said the plans Trump outlined would push the country back into recession, warning that his plans benefit the rich and do little to create jobs or boost the economy.
“His tax plans would give super big tax breaks to large corporations and the really wealthy,” Clinton said, characterizing the proposals, which include substantial tax cuts, as “trickle-down economics.”
“You know that old saying: Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me,” she said.
The Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press contributed to this report.