Trumponomics: Donald Trump’s unique cocktail of tax cuts, trickle-down capitalism, America-first trade policy with an anti-globalism chaser for an ailing U.S. economy.
In my conversation with Mr. Curtis Ellis, Trade Policy Advisor to Donald Trump, Mr. Ellis explains the GOP candidate’s economic tonic designed to get America working again.
Susan Swift: As Trump’s Trade Policy advisor, what are you and Trump discussing about America’s role with trade with respect to U.S. foreign trade policy, specifically the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)?
Curtis Ellis: As you heard in Mr. Trump’s speech in Detroit, the current U.S. trade and tax policies are pushing companies overseas and discouraging companies from investing in America. The Clintons opened the door to this with NAFTA and with normalizing trade relations with China. Both of those things happened the last time the Clintons were in the White House. And what we saw was a massive disinvestment in America and an exodus as companies pulled up stakes in America and set up shop in Mexico and China.
The Chinese are giving huge subsidies to American companies to locate there, corporations like General Electric and the manufacturers of Apple computer products. They’re giving free land, free buildings, subsidized energy. All of these things are illegal by international trade law. And the Chinese get to export those products to America tax free.
But when America tries to export products to China, there’s a wall. There’s a Great Wall of Tariffs that prevents Chinese people from buying things from the United States. On top of that, the Chinese manipulate their currency to adjust the value of their currency to undersell American producers. We have to fix that. We need to change and reform our policies.
It’s impossible to compete against that and that’s what’s destroying jobs in America. When we export our jobs and our factories, we are also exporting our tax base. People who don’t have jobs don’t pay taxes.
The Democrats want to raise taxes to close the deficit. Donald Trump wants to bring jobs back to America by reforming our trade policy. More jobs will get rid of the deficit without raising taxes or cutting social security.
SS: What specific policies would a Trump administration put in place to address trade?
Curtis Ellis: On Day One, Donald Trump would name China as a currency manipulator. By the Treasury Department doing that, we are then allowed by law to impose an equalizing tariff on their exports to create a level playing field for American producers.
Trump also said he would notify Mexico that we plan to renegotiate NAFTA, the North America Free Trade Agreement. The ability to renegotiate is within the text of the treaty that exists.
SS: Isn’t a tariff going to raise the prices consumers pay in the market?
Curtis Ellis: That’s a very good question and I’m glad you brought it up. Because the tariff would be placed on the wholesale price of that item as it leaves the shores of China, it would not mean a large increase in the retail price. Far from it. The tariff [would be] a very small component of the retail price.
Right now, the playing field is tilted against us. Through China’s illegal subsidies and currency manipulation, American producers are being put at a severe disadvantage. Trade reform gives companies the incentive to make products in America rather than overseas. American producers will be able to compete on a level playing field.
We are not just consumers. We also need jobs to have any kind of money to do anything. If we don’t have jobs, we are all on Obamacare, Obama phones, food stamps, and waiting for the welfare check.
SS: That’s what’s Hillary is hoping for because then she gets to sell more big government solutions to created problems.
Curtis Ellis: Exactly! That is exactly right. She was out there in Pennsylvania the other day. She stopped at a toy factory and she said ‘this is a great example of the jobs of tomorrow. And we’re gonna train Americans when I’m president we’re going to put money into training Americans to be machinists and tool and die makers and all the jobs that I see here in this toy factory because these are the jobs of tomorrow.’
Well, Hillary, it was NAFTA and [Bill Clinton’s] China policy that moved the toy industry out of Pennsylvania to China in the first place. You created the very problem that you now say you’re going to solve! This is astounding. It is beyond hypocritical. Either you’ve got Alzheimer’s and you’ve forgotten what you did, or you’re lying to us.
SS: C’mon Curtis, she just “short circuited” again.
Curtis Ellis: Right (chuckling.)
SS: These unfavorable governmental policies that have been put in place by Clintons and the liberals have created the problem which now Hillary is suggesting we need more government to fix?
Curtis Ellis: Exactly. It goes further. Another there’s another startling example the liberals talk about all the time. It was in Obama’s last budget, and when they say ‘the trade policies, yes there have been some ‘dislocations’ and people have lost jobs,” – they weren’t lost by the way, they were taken away. The Clinton policies took those jobs away.
They used to talk about moving people from welfare to work. Well, now the Democrats’ plan is to move people from work to welfare. That’s Hillary’s plan. Welfare for everybody.
When Bill was president, he sold us NAFTA and he opened the door to China and said ‘we’re building a Bridge to the 21st Century. There will be new, better jobs. Some jobs will go away but you will be retrained for betters jobs.…That hasn’t quite worked out, we haven’t quite worked out what we’re retraining people for. We see that most people who get job retraining end up in lower paying jobs.
The latest iteration of this plan of theirs is ‘well, we’re going to give everybody a government check to subsidize the lost wages.’ So they are acknowledging that there are no new jobs.
There are no ‘new better jobs’ that the Clintons promised back in the ‘90s. New better jobs don’t exist. There’s going to be new, worse jobs. The government is going to pick up the slack. Where the government gets the money to do this, Lord only knows.
SS: Well, they get it from the tax payers. They’re going to keep raising taxes. That’s their big solution for everything. Let’s raise more taxes and soak the poor slobs who are working and we will make sure they can’t even accumulate wealth. We will prevent anyone from being able to invest and save money in a retirement savings program or actually accumulate wealth because of taxes, death taxes, inheritance taxes, etc. We’re just going to keep taking money away from people who work and save.
Curtis Ellis: Yeah, and the problem is there are fewer people working than ever before. The labor participation rate is at an all-time low. This is the weakest economic recovery since 1949. There are fewer people working. There are fewer businesses being created, small business creation has been slack lately.
So there are fewer people to pay taxes. So they’re gonna raise taxes but there are fewer tax payers. It’s a death spiral. There’s no end in sight to this. It’s the Clinton policies that have created the mess. And now Hillary Clinton claims to be the one who can solve this mess. This is an old trick: Create a problem and then claim to have a solution.
SS: How is Trump going to turn this ship of state around?
Curtis Ellis: We will bring jobs back to the Unites States. That solves a whole host of problems.…With more people working and more profitable businesses you have more revenues coming into the government without raising taxes. So you can reduce the deficit and grow your way out of the deficit and you can replenish the social security trust fund [from the additional tax revenues brought about by increasing jobs]. You don’t need to cut social security benefits to do that. You now have a more vibrant economy and the [additional] revenues can be used to rebuild the military, to rebuild the infrastructure, crumbling bridges and roads and airports we see in this country, and you do this without needing to raise taxes. By increasing the labor participation rate by just a few points, you eliminate deficits at the state, local, and federal level. Without raising taxes.
SS: Isn’t Trump also going to reduce taxes? On corporations and individuals?
Curtis Ellis: That’s right. It’s a double barrel approach to get America working again. Right now, the corporate tax rate is 35%. Trump will reduce it to 15%. You have to ask yourself ‘who is paying that 35%? Which businesses are paying 35% taxes?’
It’s not General Electric. It’s not Apple Computer. It’s not the giant multinationals. They’ve got their Gucci-loafered tax lawyers who figure out a way for them to pay no taxes or one percent taxes.
It’s the person who’s hired 12 people making duct work for local buildings. It’s the person with the HVAC shop fixing air-conditioning with a few trucks on the road servicing all the clients in San Bernardino. Those are the people who are paying 35%. You reduce their taxes and they suddenly have more money to hire more people, do more investment in the company and get the economy moving again. This is about encouraging small businesses.
SS: Mark Levin, whom I respect him mightily, thinks that regulated trade and tariffs would be a disastrous idea because it will create a trade war and will hurt the American economy in the long term by raising prices. I don’t know if you have had a chance to hear his arguments on behalf of a free market system.
Curtis Ellis: I’ve heard some of it. Look, the fact is we’re in a trade war now and we’re losing. China is imposing tariffs on us right now this very moment. And if we refuse to retaliate, what we’re talking about is unilateral disarmament -economically speaking- in the midst of a war.
Adam Smith in [his book ] “The Wealth of Nations” said ‘there are specific instances when you want to impose tariffs.’ He says ‘when a country imposes tariffs on your goods, you should and must impose an equal tariff on their goods.’ And — he was very clear eyed about this — he said ‘often the very threat of imposing a tariff will be enough to make them drop theirs.’ I’ll go back to Adam Smith’s economic policies and do what he a says.
SS: So we’re in a new cold war of trade relations?
Curtis Ellis: Yeah. Donald Trump said: ‘We’re in competition with the world and I want America to win.’
We’ve got these Pollyannas in Washington right now who think that as Terry McCauliff, Hillary’s confidante, said ‘We’ve got to build the global economy, we’ve got to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership because we’ve got to build the global economy.’
They are all interested in building a new world order, a global economy, a global economic order. But the heads of the Chinese Communist Party who are running the show over there, they’re trying to build up China. They’re not so much interested in building up some global economy, as they are in building up China. We need need some hard headed thinkers in American who want to build up the American economy.
And of course we are always going to be involved in a global economy. We always have been! What we are debating are the terms and who will benefit from the ground rules. Donald Trump wants to make sure America benefits and Americans benefit from the rules with which we engage in this global economy.
SS: It sounds like Trump’s trade policy reflects the concept of federalism in our Constitution. We want local cities and states to have most of the power. Not the federal government or, in the case of the TPP, some international commission.
Curtis Ellis: Take the power out of Washington. You’re exactly right. The same way we want states’ rights and local power, we don’t want a global power elite that takes away power from sovereign nations the way the federal government has taken power away from the states. The Trans-Pacific Partnership explicitly establishes an international commission that will write rules that every country will have to obey, the same way the European Union in Brussels writes rules that every nation in the EU must conform to. The same way Washington writes rules and tells states they have to obey those rules. The same process, just writ larger in trade. And that must end.
Curtis Ellis: Another part of Trump’s economic plan is regulatory reform. Right now we have crony capitalism. The Washington Boys are writing regulations crafted by the lobbyists for the big companies in order to keep the little guy down and out …by saying ‘you’ve got to meet this regulation, that regulation, and the other thing.’
We’re going to put a moratorium on new regulations because right now it’s out of control.
SS: As President, how can Trump “place a moratorium on new regulation?”
Curtis Ellis: All the regulations are coming out of the Executive Branch. Billions of dollars worth of regulations have been generated under Obama. That’s the point. They are promulgated by the Executive Branch. It’s executive fiat. So, with an Executive Order, Donald Trump as President can place a moratorium on new regulations.”
SS: Will Trump reign in and reduce the EPA, all of these different regulatory agencies that are currently unaccountable to Congress?
Curtis Ellis: Yes! Let me quote Trump from his speech [in Detroit]. Trump said : ‘Upon taking office, I will issue a temporary moratorium on new agency regulations. Mike Pence signed a similar order when he became Governor of Indiana. This will give companies the certainty they need to reinvest in our community. I will also immediately cancel all illegal and overreaching executive orders. Next, I will ask each and every federal agency to prepare a list of all regulations they impose on Americans which are not necessary, do not improve public safety, and will needlessly kill jobs. These regulations will be eliminated.’ “
SS: When you say prepare a list of all the ‘unnecessary’ regulations, isn’t that asking the fox to guard the henhouse?
Curtis Ellis: No. It is setting priorities. Right now we have a president, and under Hillary Clinton we would have another president, whose priority would be to notify all the agencies to generate more regulations. . . . [Trump] is setting a different direction.
Everybody knows it is no great secret that the regulatory state is filled with red tape and ridiculous regulation. We need leadership to cut the over regulation. We haven’t had that leadership.
CUTTING THE FEDERAL BUREAUCRACY
SS: Will Trump actually eliminate stuff like the EPA, the USDA, maybe the Department of Education, and let states educate their own children? I know this question is going far afield from trade but we want the government off our neck.
Curtis Ellis: Exactly. There will be a policy speech on education, there will be a very clear policy on education that Mr. Trump will lay out. You will hear something very specific and forthcoming about education.
SS: Well, is he going to cut some of these alphabet soup bureaucracies?
Curtis Ellis: Yes! Absolutely. This is the overarching thought informing [Trump’s] entire economic agenda: [Under current policy] we punish companies for making products in America but let them ship products into the U.S. free if they move over seas We’ve got to stop punishing companies — not ‘we’ve got to’ rather we WILL stop punishing companies in America. And that’s what eliminating the regulations, lowering the taxes is all about.
Energy reform part is an important part of his plan. The energy sector is highly regulated by the U.S. Government to hobble domestic production of energy in favor of imported energy. It’s been destroying our energy independence our capacity for domestic production of energy whether you’re talking about coal, or natural gas or oil.
SS: Democrat policy is designed to make us dependent on the global economy…hobbling us so that we cannot be independent. They are forcing us into a global world government and using protection of the environment as fig leafs to justify it.
Those who criticize fossil fuels, if they were genuinely concerned, should be attacking China, they should be going to China to point out the pollution in the Yang-zee River.
Curtis Ellis: That’s right! You’re singing my song. For every unit of energy used in China, they produce more pollution than a similar unit of energy used in America. We have a much greener cleaner economy compared to China. China’s filthy. They pollute the Yang-zee River, they pollute the air.
If the Greens are concerned about carbon dioxide, China is dumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than anybody in America is. We should want industry to stay in America where it has to meet our standard of environmental decency.
The Environmentalists should never buy so much as a chopstick made in China. They should block the ports that are offloading goods from China if they really cared.
EXPOSING LIBERAL GLOBAL REDISTRIBUTION POLITICAL SCHEMES
Curtis Ellis: There’s one other piece of nonsense these environmentalist buy into unconsciously, if not consciously. It’s peddled by the Clintons. This idea of globalism.
Part of that is the redistribution of the wealth of America to the rest of the world so when the Clintons move factories to China or Bangladesh ‘oh, this is a good thing because we’re helping to raise those poor [people] out of poverty.’ They don’t look at the other side of the equation which is that we are impoverishing America. We aren’t so much raising those people out of poverty. What we’re doing is we are enriching the elites in those countries who have their populations under their thumb [while they are making] a lot of money from these export industries.
And there’s this notion that it’s one big happy world. A popular excuse for free trade is this utopian notion of “free trade”‘ that countries that trade with each other don’t go to war with each other.’ This is completely not true. France and Germany were the biggest trading partners before WWI and WWII. Ukraine and Russia were the biggest trading partners and they went to war with each other. You bet they did.
Another P.C. idea that’s held out there is the idea that if you don’t want to invest in China, that means you’re a racist or something. And that blinds liberals to the fact that they are actually trading with a dictatorship that kills people, oppresses women, abuses human rights, and is destroying the environment.
COMBATTING THE MEDIA DOUBLE STANDARD
SS: What kind of advice did you discuss with the Trump camp about how to counter the Clintons’ sycophant media machine?
Curtis Ellis: We’re asking the media to do its job. The media need to hold [Hillary] accountable. They have not been doing that.
The latest revelations is that the State Department was accommodating requests from the Clinton Foundation to give special treatment to Clinton Foundation donors…. She is part of this pay-to-play operation, part of the crooked selling the government out the backdoor for personal gain, personal enrichment, basically selling foreign policy, selling U.S. foreign policy to the highest bidder. This is what the Clintons do and further confirmation of the case that’s been laid out in “Clinton Cash” [the book by Peter Schweitzer].[Hillary] had a rally in Orlando Florida and the father of the terrorist who killed all of those people in Orlando, the anti-gay Islamic terrorist from Orlando, his father was standing behind Hillary! When asked about it, her campaign gave shifting answers. It’s the same that she’s been doing with these emails, whether it is the emails on her private server or these [newly revealed] state department government emails about her foundation.
She must be held accountable.
SS: Let’s assume the media won’t do its job, because it won’t. The media is in the tank for Hillary and you and I both know it. What can you advise the Trump campaign to do to hold Hillary accountable?
Curtis Ellis: Every time we talk with the media or appear on the media we are making it clear that Hillary must be held accountable. For her emails. For her pay-to-play operation at the Clinton Foundation. For who she has at her rallies.
This is a pattern that goes back 25 years. When the Clintons were in the White House, they sold the Lincoln bedroom to their donors, they were taking money from Chinese sources, while other donors were seeking favors from the Defense Department to sell missile technology to the Chinese.
Now you see that when she was in the State Department you have the Clinton Foundation soliciting money from the very people who are seeking favors from the State Department. Is there a pattern here? I think so.
And the media owes it to the American people to pay attention to this and to report it assiduously.