Conservative activist and GOP lawmakers are hoping President Trump will add another slogan to his campaign rhetoric: “Make America Even Greater.”
Although many are happy that the President is pointing out conservative achievements and contrasting those victories with the threat of liberal governance, they are also concerned by what was missing from Trump’s kickoff campaign in Orlando. “Namely, an ambitious second-term agenda, one that builds on the themes that first propelled Mr. Trump to office,” writes Kimberley A. Strassel in the WSJ.
Trump’s themes were traditional Republican positions coupled with a populist agenda:
- tax reform
- conservative judges
- military strength
- draining the swamp
Mr. Trump spent much of Tuesday night highlighting the promises kept and the resulting prosperity, while vowing to complete those items that have had a rougher ride—the border, that China deal, health care. He threw in a few new proposals at the end, like eradicating AIDS in America and a mission to Mars. But broadly the president’s message was this: Give me four more years to protect and finish the plan.
What is missing for new and undecided voters, or for voters who have soured on Mr. Trump, however, are fresh reasons to give him four more years. If Trump’s campaign only highlights his first-term accomplishments, it will also serve as a reminder of what didn’t get done, warns Ms. Strassel. “It’s not a position of strength.”
What makes this lack of a compelling agenda more curious is that there is no lack of big ideas among those most vested in a second Trump term. Grass-roots leaders, policy shops and GOP candidates have thought hard about Trump 2.0, an approach that would serve Republican campaigns for both the White House and Congress. And these aren’t left-field proposals but big and obvious “next steps” along the road voters first elected Mr. Trump to walk.
Stage 2 Tax Reform and a Plan to Create More Jobs
Mr. Trump can promise that a reconstituted Republican Congress will deliver permanence to the individual tax cuts and make the corporate income-tax rate, which dropped from 35% to 21%, more globally competitive. How about 15%? There’s also the economically potent promise to index capital gains for inflation—which would potentially unlock trillions in assets.
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The Judicial Conference for years has flagged the many districts overwhelmed by cases. And congressional commissions have long advocated restructuring the insanely large Ninth Circuit, which has a staggering backlog. It’s time for new judgeships, and a split in that circuit.
Government Reform, Term Limits, Draining the Swamp.
How about a major overhaul of the federal civil service, reducing its size by attrition and changing rules that govern hiring, firing, seniority and unionization. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue recently announced he is relocating several units from Washington to Kansas City, to make them more responsive and to cut costs. The president could promise more—a complete revamp of the federal bureaucracy’s size, scope and mission.
An Anti-Poverty Plan
(B)lock-grant federal money for food stamps, Medicaid, and housing aid to states, and let them innovate and lift people back to work (as Bill Clinton did with welfare). Mr. Trump doesn’t want to touch Medicare and Social Security, but reforming means-tested programs is a huge first step and could put a big dent in the deficit.
Pair it with a new focus on the searing problems in higher education, as well as the administration’s existing plans for more technical and vocational training.
Attack civil asset forfeiture and go after “overcriminalization” (the hundreds of thousands of statutes and regulations that can land the unwary in prison)? Even Democrats acknowledge these problems.
Donald Trump was a disruptive choice, treading where other candidates would not. KAS suggests that the President’s success in again winning the White House “rests in promising more (positive) disruption.”
Mr. Trump claims to know America well, which means he knows that Americans aren’t satisfied with being great. They always want to be even greater.
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