We're in the thick of election season folks. In just over three weeks, Americans from across our great country will be heading to the polls to decide who'll become our 45th president of the United States. No matter who wins, it'll be sure to make history, with either our first female president, or our first president with no prior political or military background, ascending to the Oval Office.
As we near the election date, we're also beginning to see the candidates hammer down their policies on how they'd get the U.S. economy growing again. GDP growth in recent quarters has been subpar by most measures, with the Federal Reserve targeting GDP growth of 2% or higher. Whoever steps into the Oval Office following President Barack Obama is going to need to have a plan to reignite the U.S. economy.
Republican Party presidential nominee Donald Trump believes he has the answer. With that being said, we're going to take a just-the-facts look at 10 ways Donald Trump plans to grow the U.S. economy if elected president.
1. Lower ordinary income taxes
To begin with, Trump is aiming to put more money in the pockets of American workers and families by simplifying the ordinary income tax brackets. Below you can see the current progressive tax schedule from the IRS in 2016:
Now here is what Trump would aim to do with ordinary income taxes:
As you can see, Trump's vision would reduce a seven-tier ordinary income tax schedule down to just three brackets, with taxpayers paying a lower ordinary income tax rate than under the current system. Trump firmly believes that putting more money back into the pockets of Americans will be good for our consumer-driven economy.
2. Corporate income tax reform
Perhaps the linchpin of Trump's tax reform proposals is his aim to reduce the corporate income tax rate from 35%, which is one of the highest in the world, to just 15%. At 15% the U.S. corporate income tax rate would be one of the lowest among developed countries in the world. Putting more money into the pockets of businesses could incite those businesses to hire more workers, reinvest in themselves, acquire other businesses, and it may even encourage foreign investment.
Further, Trump would grant a special tax rate of 10% on corporate earnings held overseas if they're repatriated back into the United States. With more than $2 trillion in corporate profits being held in overseas markets, repatriation of some of this cash could make waves in the U.S. economy.
3. Provide tax deductions for working Americans and parents
In addition to lowering ordinary income taxes, Trump would more than double the standard deduction for taxpayers from $6,300 for individuals and $12,600 for couples in 2016 to $15,000 and $30,000, respectively.
Parents could also be entitled to a number of child care expense tax breaks, including above-the-line deductions on child care expenses for children under the age of 13. Trump also mentions utilizing the Earned Income Tax Credit to doll out rebates for single filers and married filers with earnings up to $31,200 and $62,400, respectively. Presumably, putting more money into the pockets of American families could lead to increased spending, which is great news for an economy where approximately 70% of GDP is consumption-based.
4. Reform healthcare
Fourth, Trump wants to completely revamp healthcare in the United States. His seven-point plan involves repealing Obamacare, allowing consumers to shop for health insurance across state lines to improve the competitive pricing of policies, and removing the barriers to entry for overseas drugmakers into the United States. By allowing consumers to shop for medicine in trusted overseas markets, such as Canada, better prices could be achieved that result in substantial healthcare savings.
On top of the aforementioned points, Trump would block grant Medicaid to the states, encourage the use of Health Savings Accounts, require better price transparency from insurers, and give taxpayers the ability to act like corporations and write off the full amount of healthcare premiums paid when filing their federal income taxes.
5. Make America energy independent
Trump is also planning to grow the U.S. economy by focusing on energy forms. Specifically he aims to make the U.S. energy independent, which he proposes doing by encouraging the use of natural gas, opening onshore and offshore leasing of federal lands for exploratory purposes, eliminating the moratorium on coal leasing, and unleashing "America's $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves." Trump believes that by internalizing energy reliance, jobs will be created and energy costs could actually fall over the long-term.
6. Invest in the military
As is a common theme among most Republican presidential candidates, Trump is aiming to grow the size of the U.S. military. As mentioned in his national defense plan, Trump wants to grow the U.S. Army to 540,000 active duty soldiers, increase the number of Air Force fighter aircraft to 1,200, expand the Navy's ship total to 350, and enlarge the Marine Corps to 36 battalions. Also, Trump would invest in a strategic defense system for Navy ships.
Trump believes this investment in the military, which could be a boon to the industrial sector of the economy, can largely be paid for by auditing the Pentagon and eliminating wasteful spending programs in Washington.
7. Reduce federal regulatory oversight
Speaking of reducing wasteful spending, part of Trump's U.S. economic growth proposals includes reducing regulatory oversight that he believes is hindering businesses. Trump plans to end the Waters of the U.S. Rule, which covers which rivers, streams, lakes, and marshes fall under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency, and he'd "scrap" the EPA's Clean Power Plan to save more than $7 billion annually.
Aside from eliminating these oversights, Trump would introduce a moratorium on new agency regulations, too.
8. Reform U.S. immigration policies
Eighth, Trump is looking to reform a number of immigration policies that he believes will open jobs for American workers and boost wages. Trump has advocated keeping immigration levels at historic norms, but basing the entrance of immigrants on their likelihood of success in the U.S. and ability to be financially self-sufficient. He'd suspend visas to countries where adequate screening isn't occurring, and "turn off the jobs and benefits magnet." In simpler terms, this would eliminate the allure for businesses to hire illegal immigrants.
9. Renegotiate trade terms
Another key component of Trump's U.S. economic growth plans entails renegotiating (or ending) a number of trade deals. Trump would advocate withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership as well as aim to renegotiate its NAFTA trade terms with its partners to more favorably benefit American workers. Trump makes specific mention of Mexico's value-added taxes and China's subsidies which make fair trade in select industries very difficult for American workers. Trump anticipates that implementing these fair trade deals would put American workers on more solid footing.
10. Invest in education
Finally, Trump wants to make education more affordable for children coming from lower-income families. He plans to reprioritize $20 billion in federal funds and put it toward school choice. Trump's website predicts that if the 50 states added another $110 billion on top of the $20 billion contributed by the federal government, every one of the 11 million K-12 students living in poverty today could have $12,000 provided in school choice funds. Trump would also work with Congress to ensure that universities are doing their part to make a college education affordable.
Would it work?
Of course, the big question is whether or not these 10 proposals will jump-start the U.S. economy.
On one hand, tax breaks for working families and corporate income tax cuts should put more money back into the pockets of families and businesses, which may indeed be a positive as Trump has portended. Furthermore, if Trump can successfully renegotiate trade terms and eliminate a number of perceived-to-be wasteful programs, Washington's federal budget would look a lot leaner.
On the other hand, Trump's tax cuts could exacerbate an already ballooning level of national debt, and they don't really address the growing concern of income inequality in America with some of the biggest tax breaks going to the wealthy. Attempting to renegotiate trade terms may also backfire for Trump, leading to retaliatory tariffs from other countries.
Deciding whether these policies will be good for the U.S. economy is really up to you and the nearly 219 million registered voters slated to head to the polls in a little more than three weeks.