GOP nominee proposes deductions for child-care expenses, renegotiated trade agreements in Detroit speech
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump aimed to put his campaign back on track Monday with an economic-policy speech that unveiled few new policy proposals but cast himself as the only candidate who could deliver change.
Mr. Trump hammered sharp contrasts with Democratic nomineeHillary Clinton’s policies, which he said amounted to more wealth redistribution and government regulation. He also called for aggressive sanctions against U.S. trading partners, a rollback of environmental regulations and large tax cuts for individuals and businesses.
“There will be no change under Hillary Clinton, only four more years of weakness and President Obama, but we are going to look boldly into the future,” he said in Detroit.
Still, the speech showed areas of overlap with Mrs. Clinton. He promised to unveil a big infrastructure-spending plan, embracing a signature goal of Democrats, as well as a new proposal to help families facing rising child-care costs by allowing households to deduct those expenses from their income taxes.
It wasn’t clear how such a tax break might be structured and whether it would be available to tens of millions of families that don’t pay income taxes because they have lower incomes. Making child-care expenses fully deductible would provide much larger benefits to the wealthiest families that have larger tax bills.
Mr. Trump’s economic message has long promised to boost job growth, but it has included fewer appeals to voters on pocketbook issues such as child care and college tuition—a focus of Mrs. Clinton’s.
Mr. Trump delivered his hourlong speech at the Detroit Economic Club, a venue that has played host to several presidential candidates, and read from a teleprompter with few of the impromptu riffs that have been a staple on the stump. The address was interrupted numerous times by protesters, with Mr. Trump quietly pausing until each protester was removed.
On Monday, Mr. Trump also called for a temporary moratorium on all new regulations from federal agencies and would seek to roll back rules that reduce employment. The campaign said the review could target a series of environmental rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency to curb carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants and to bring more waterways and wetlands under federal protection.
It isn’t clear how such a moratorium would apply to financial regulators, whose agencies enjoy greater independence from the executive branch, and Mr. Trump’s speech made no mention of past calls to repeal or replace parts of the Dodd-Frank financial-regulatory overhaul law.
At the same time, Mr. Trump promised to aggressively use executive power to renegotiate trade agreements, to label foreign countries as currency manipulators, and to apply tariffs and other penalties to trading partners.
He gave the speech at a critical moment in his campaign. Last week, Mr. Trump faced a hailstorm from fellow Republicans for questioning the motives of the parents of a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq who appeared at the Democratic convention and for initially balking at endorsing the re-elections of three top Republican lawmakers. Mr. Trump came around to backing House Speaker Paul Ryan, Arizona Sen. John McCain and New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte on Friday and has been stressing party unity in recent days.
Monday’s speech continues his newly trained focus on lines of attack against Mrs. Clinton that many Republicans have been pushing.
In lamenting the economic struggles of Detroit in recent decades, Mr. Trump made no mention of the federal bailout of the auto industry, which was begun by former President George W. Bush, a Republican, in late 2008 and continued by Mr. Obama.
Before the bailout, Mr. Trump gave television interviews indicating support for a government-led rescue of the crucial industry. But during the 2012 election, Mr. Trump criticized the bailout by noting that Chrysler was making Jeeps in China, though the company was also expanding production in the U.S.
“Obama is a terrible negotiator,” Mr. Trump said at the time. “He bails out Chrysler, and now Chrysler wants to send all Jeep manufacturing to China—and will!”
Mr. Trump recently announced an all-male economic advisory teamof wealthy real estate and private-equity executives that drew criticism for lacking the economic-policy experts who traditionally advise candidates.
Informal advisers to Mr. Trump have for weeks said the nominee would unveil a revamped tax-cut proposal. Mr. Trump indicated Monday he would embrace core elements of a plan unveiled this summer by House Republicans, which includes three income-tax brackets, instead of four as Mr. Trump unveiled in a proposal last fall.
That proposal, which was removed from his website before Monday’s speech, would sharply lower income-tax rates on individuals and businesses. The Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan project of the Urban Institute and Brookings Institution, has said the plan would reduce federal revenue by $9.5 trillion over a decade, making it far larger than the tax cuts enacted last decade by Mr. Bush.
The GOP nominee has also called for a big increase in infrastructure spending that would be financed by taking on new debt, but he hasn’t fleshed out the details of that plan.
Budget experts say that even with a boost in economic growth, the combination of higher government spending on infrastructure—as well as other priorities that include a veterans’ health-care expansion and a ramp-up in border security—and large tax cuts could send deficits soaring.
The focus on child-care costs is relatively new for Mr. Trump. The federal tax code has long provided two primary means for families to receive breaks for child-care costs—a dependent-care spending account that allows workers to put aside as much as $5,000 in pretax income and a dependent-care tax credit. Mr. Obama last year proposed to triple the maximum credit to $3,000 per child.