Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

The Donald talks up some manufacturing issues — mostly trade — and goes after Hillary Clinton.

Republican Donald Trump traveled to the Motor City on Monday for a big — nay, YUGE — speech outlining what he’d do as president to improve the economy.

In typical Trump fashion, it was a speech full of rhetoric but light on details. Trump did share a few ideas for tax reform, including allowing families to fully deduct childcare expenses from their taxes and proposing tax rate brackets of 12 percent, 25 percent and 33 percent.

He also spent a good chunk of time talking about what is perhaps his favorite economic issue — trade. Here he is, talking about China:

“At the center of my plan is trade enforcement with China. This alone could return millions of jobs into our economy. China is responsible for nearly half of our entire trade deficit. They break the rules in every way imaginable. China engages in illegal export subsidies, prohibited currency manipulation, and rampant theft of intellectual property. They also have no real environmental or labor protections, further undercutting American workers.”

Trump also railed against the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the proposed trade deal between the United States and 11 Pacific nations. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton now opposes the deal, although she supported it as Secretary of State. Not surprisingly, Trump attempted to tie her to the deal and the North America Free Trade Agreement, which was supported at the time by her husband, President Bill Clinton.

But Trump also focused on the job loss caused by trade, pointing out that the U.S. total trade deficit in goods hit nearly $800 billion in 2015. He even cited the Economic Policy Institute — twice! — noting that the trade deficit with TPP nations cost more than 1 million manufacturing jobs last year, while a similar trade agreement with South Korea led to the loss of nearly 100,000 jobs.

“Michigan ranks first for jobs lost as a share of state workforce due to the trade deficit with TPP members,” Trump said. “Just imagine how many more automobile jobs will be lost if the TPP is actually approved.”

Trump was short on actual solutions to trade, but reinterated that his plan involves making better deals. “Trade has big benefits, and I am in favor of trade. But I want great trade deals for our country that create more jobs and higher wages for American workers. Isolation is not an option, only great and well-crafted trade deals are,” he said.

FWIW, we’ll point out here that Rob Scott, who authored the reports cited by Trump, is critical of The Donald’s plans. In a recent blog post, Scott noted that while “there are particular issues we agree on — such as the need to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership… The core problem with Trump’s trade agenda is that it is not based on a coherent analysis of why globalization and trade and investment deals have hurt U.S. workers, and what should be done about it.”

Along with trade, Trump touched on infrastructure investment in his speech, promising to “build the next generation of roads, bridges, railways, tunnels, sea ports and airports that our country deserves.” He didn’t go into much detail beyond that, but you can check out our analysis of his infrastructure plan here.

Trump also pledged that “American steel will send new skyscrapers soaring” and “it will be American hands that rebuild this country, and it will be American energy — mined from American sources — that powers this country.”

But if the speech had a theme, it was attacking Hillary Clinton, calling her “the candidate of the past” and saying that all she “has to offer is more of the same: more taxes, more regulations, more bureaucrats, more restrictions on American energy and American production.”

The Clinton campaign, meanwhile, struck back by promoting its economic plan, arguing that Clinton’s ideas will create 10.4 million new jobs in her first term, while Trump’s will lead to a loss of 3.5 million jobs. And the campaign also announced that on Thursday, Clinton will deliver her own economic policy speech in Detroit.

Three months to go until Election Day, everyone.