Much of the coverage of Republican presidential candidate and real estate mogul Donald Trump has, for obvious reasons, focused on the offensive, controversial, and sometime confusing remarks he has made about women, immigration, and global warming. The list could really go on and on: OPEC, vaccines, President Obama, China, Rosie O'Donnell. You get the picture. Well, that can't be all there is to him. He must speak some sense from time to time, right? Perhaps surprisingly, yes. Although clearly fallible on any subject, Trump has made some good points about the economy.
Look. Trump is, after all, a successful businessman and reality TV star, and he has shown that he is far from a right-wing hack when it comes to issues as important as Medicare and Social Security. He also supports investing in the country's infrastructure and raising taxes on the wealthy.
Not everything he says about the economy is correct, though. One of his main differences from other Republican challengers is his opposition to free trade. He says China, Japan and Mexico are beating the U.S. in trade, and he has proposed adding an import tax of 35 percent to some goods from Mexico. Given our interconnected economies, this is a bad idea.
Some of his other proposals, though, could actually be pretty good...
"Out of hundreds of deals that I've done, on four occasions I've taken advantage of the laws of this country, like other people. The difference is, when somebody else uses those laws, nobody writes about it. When I use it, they say, 'Trump, Trump, Trump.'" — Trump at the August debate.
Trump has gotten flack for using bankruptcy law, which has resulted in layoffs and and losses for investors. But this is how the economy is supposed to work. A paper from researchers from Princeton and the Social Security Administration showed that America's bankruptcy laws are good for the country. It allows people to get back on their feet. American businesses may also be willing to take risks that have big returns because they know they can start over fresh if they need to. An Information Technology and Innovation Foundation paper said in some European countries, companies and people who commit bankruptcy can be tied up in litigation for years.
Save Medicare & Social Security
"Every Republican wants to do a big number on Social Security, they want to do it on Medicare, they want to do it on Medicaid. And we can’t do that. And it’s not fair to the people that have been paying in for years and now all of the sudden they want to be cut." — Trump at the GOP summit in April.
Trump has said growing the economy could be a way to save Social Security and Medicare and that you can't cut these programs. That's good because Medicare has lower administrative costs than private plans according to data from the Congressional Budget Office. Plus the poorer three fifths of seniors rely on Social Security for more than half their income, according to numbers from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.
Raise Taxes On Investor Class
"The hedge-fund guys are getting away with murder. They're making a tremendous amount of money. They have to pay taxes. I want to lower the rates for the middle class. The middle class is the one, they're getting absolutely destroyed." — Trump on CBS' Face The Nation in August.
Some of his other tax proposals might not make sense, like ending corporate taxes, but making sure that the wealthy pay their fair share can't be bad for the economy. The 25 highest earning traders and hedge fund managers made a combined $24.3 billion in 2013 according to Forbes. Surely they could pay a little more.
Rebuilding Our Infrastructure
"We have to rebuild our infrastructure, our bridges, our roadways, our airports. You come into La Guardia Airport, it's like we're in a third world country. You look at the patches and the 40-year-old floor. They throw down asphalt. And I come in from China and I come in from Qatar and I come in from different places, and they have the most incredible airports in the world. You come to back to this country and you have LAX, disaster. You have all of these disastrous airports. We have to rebuild our infrastructure." — Trump's announcement speech in June.
Not exactly the most delicate way to make the case for more infrastructure spending, but nonetheless this needs to happen. Since Trump went off on LaGuardia, the State of New York has announced plans for its overhaul. Plus the spending is good for the economy as a whole. A 2012 paper from the San Francisco Fed showed that each dollar spent on infrastructure in states since 1990, has increased the corresponding state's gross output by $2. They even found the improvement is larger during downturns, like the 2008 recession.
Lots of Trump's other plans and statements may be problematic, but these are four good points that whoever wins the presidency should take into consideration.