President Donald Trump gives his third State of the Union address on Tuesday, February 4, 2020.
Official White House Photo

President Donald Trump’s campaign released his second term agenda on Monday. It consists of ten agenda items and a list of bullet points under each. I want to highlight each section and offer some thoughts. 

Jobs

  • Create 10 Million New Jobs in 10 Months
  • Create 1 Million New Small Businesses
  • Cut Taxes to Boost Take-Home Pay and Keep Jobs in America
  • Enact Fair Trade Deals that Protect American Jobs
  • “Made in America” Tax Credits
  • Expand Opportunity Zones
  • Continue Deregulatory Agenda for Energy Independence

It’s no mistake that jobs are the first thing addressed in his second-term agenda. That focus resonates with blue-collar America, and after the economic shutdowns during the COVID-19, whoever occupies the White House will have to oversee an economic recovery.

I have to point out that the government does not create jobs, so while his first two bullet points reflect lofty goals, ultimately, all that government can do is get out of the way so the private sector can create jobs. Ten million new jobs and one million new small businesses sound great, but it’s an empty promise as it is not something he can directly deliver.

However, what follows provides a blueprint for how the federal government can provide a better environment for job creation. It is mostly a continuation of what President Trump campaigned for in 2016. Also, what taxes will be cut? Will his approach to “fair trade” differ from his approach in his first term? If so, I’m not sure that is welcome news. 

One of the Trump administration’s greatest strengths is its work to deregulate, the fact it remains on his agenda is a welcome sign. 

Eradicate COVID-19

  • Develop a Vaccine by The End Of 2020
  • Return to Normal in 2021
  • Make All Critical Medicines and Supplies for Healthcare Workers in The United States
  • Refill Stockpiles and Prepare for Future Pandemics

I think the goal to develop a safe vaccine by the end of the year is unrealistic. I’m not even sure it is wise. “Returning to normal” is not something any President can promise. 

The last two bullet points are worthy goals. Had the Obama administration had similar goals, our nation would have been better prepared for this pandemic. 

End Our Reliance on China

  • Bring Back 1 Million Manufacturing Jobs from China
  • Tax Credits for Companies that Bring Back Jobs from China
  • Allow 100% Expensing Deductions for Essential Industries like Pharmaceuticals and Robotics who Bring Back their Manufacturing to the United States
  • No Federal Contracts for Companies who Outsource to China
  • Hold China Fully Accountable for Allowing the Virus to Spread around the World

Frankly, only those committed to taking contrary positions to what Trump promotes would oppose this agenda. However, I don’t know if China could have completely stopped the spread of COVID-19, but it is obvious they were not forthcoming about this coronavirus. His final bullet point begs the question, what does “full accountabilty” look like? 

Healthcare

  • Cut Prescription Drug Prices
  • Put Patients and Doctors Back in Charge of our Healthcare System
  • Lower Healthcare Insurance Premiums
  • End Surprise Billing
  • Cover All Pre-Existing Conditions
  • Protect Social Security and Medicare
  • Protect Our Veterans and Provide World-Class Healthcare and Services

How does he plan to cut prescription drug prices? How will he lower healthcare insurance premiums? Will he do this through deregulation or regulation?

Will his approach respect the free market? I don’t know; we need more detail. 

Education

  • Provide School Choice to Every Child in America
  • Teach American Exceptionalism

First, there are very few federal school choice programs I could support beyond tax credits and deductions. Those programs mostly belong at the local and state levels. 

Second, while I would like to see American exceptionalism taught in public K-12 civics and history classes, how can the Trump administration accomplish this without mandating it? 

I want to see an agenda that moves to get the federal government out of education.

Drain the Swamp

  • Pass Congressional Term Limits
  • End Bureaucratic Government Bullying of U.S. Citizens and Small Businesses
  • Expose Washington’s Money Trail and Delegate Powers Back to People and States
  • Drain the Globalist Swamp by Taking on International Organizations That Hurt American Citizens

I support this agenda, but I have little hope that it will be accomplished. 

Defend the Police

  • Fully Fund and Hire More Police and Law Enforcement Officers
  • Increase Criminal Penalties for Assaults on Law Enforcement Officers
  • Prosecute Drive-By Shootings as Acts of Domestic Terrorism
  • Bring Violent Extremist Groups Like ANTIFA to Justice
  • End Cashless Bail and Keep Dangerous Criminals Locked Up until Trial

This is red meat for his base, and I think he misses an opportunity to find some middle ground and address some legitimate concerns within minority communities. 

Do we need more police? Is that the problem? Some communities would say they are overpoliced. Do we need militarized police? 

As far as criminal penalties are concerned, that is a state issue, not a federal issue—the same with states that offer cashless bail. Also, the cash bail system needs reform as it has let the rich and guilty remain free while keeping the poor and innocent behind bars.

In terms of drive-by shootings, again, policing is mostly a local and state affair. Is this something federal law enforcement agencies should investigate? 

I don’t support defunding the police, but I would have been happier to see a criminal justice reform agenda.

End Illegal Immigration and Protect American Workers

  • Block Illegal Immigrants from Becoming Eligible for Taxpayer-Funded Welfare, Healthcare, and Free College Tuition
  • Mandatory Deportation for Non-Citizen Gang Members
  • Dismantle Human Trafficking Networks
  • End Sanctuary Cities to Restore our Neighborhoods and Protect our Families
  • Prohibit American Companies from Replacing United States Citizens with Lower-Cost Foreign Workers
  • Require New Immigrants to Be Able to Support Themselves Financially

I support preventing illegal immigrants from accessing taxpayer-funded programs. I oppose sanctuary cities. I’m glad he wants to focus on dismantling human trafficking networks. 

I am concerned that he wants to deport legal immigrants if they are part of a gang. What if they lived in the United States for most of their life? What if they do not have a criminal background? I’m not saying it wouldn’t be warranted in some cases, but it is problematic as a blanket policy.

Trump’s idea to prohibit American companies from replacing U.S. citizens with lower-cost foreign workers sounds nativist. Except for outsourcing jobs to other nations, how often do foreign workers replace American citizens in U.S.-based jobs? Are there enough workers to fill those jobs without foreign workers? 

I also believe we should make legal immigration easier, not harder, and President Trump is not heading in that direction.

Innovate for the Future

  • Launch Space Force, Establish Permanent Manned Presence on The Moon and Send the First Manned Mission to Mars
  • Build the World’s Greatest Infrastructure System
  • Win the Race to 5G and Establish a National High-Speed Wireless Internet Network
  • Continue to Lead the World in Access to the Cleanest Drinking Water and Cleanest Air
  • Partner with Other Nations to Clean Up our Planet’s Oceans

Infrastructure is needed for a growing economy, and there is a legitimate federal role. Increasing our 5G capability and expanding our wireless internet network is necessary as we don’t want to see rural America be left behind. 

The idea of Space Force has grown on me. I think the space goals sound cool, but they also sound expensive. With mounting federal debt, I’m not convinced we need a permanent presence on the moon or a manned mission to Mars. 

The last two bullet points are vague. Do we have the cleanest water and the cleanest air? 

America First Foreign Policy

  • Stop Endless Wars and Bring Our Troops Home
  • Get Allies to Pay their Fair Share
  • Maintain and Expand America’s Unrivaled Military Strength
  • Wipe Out Global Terrorists Who Threaten to Harm Americans
  • Build a Great Cybersecurity Defense System and Missile Defense System

I agree with stopping endless wars, but his stance on global terrorism could contradict that stated goal. It depends on the strategy. I support expanding our military, so we rely less on reservists. I support pressuring members of NATO to fully fund their commitments, so the United States is not carrying a disproportionate load. A focus on national defense, whether it is cybersecurity or missile defense, is welcome.

What’s missing?

I’m surprised that there was no mention of abortion, religious liberty, or appointing judges. Their absence does not mean a Trump administration in a second term won’t address these issues. I have been largely happy with action the Trump administration has been able to take with executive action to address abortion and religious liberty. I think President Trump may be at the end of what he can do through executive power; the rest is up to Congress. 

I will also be surprised if judicial nominations are not an issue in the general election. 

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