A week ago I went to Washington for selected meetings and to watch the festivities. For one thing, I met with a number of key conservatives who have proven instrumental in helping our new President fill out his Administration. In addition, I had the surprise of being contacted by a senior person in the Embassy of an ally who wanted my take regarding President Trump's foreign policy, especially in regard to economic warfare and trade. The diplomat had asked around to see who might have an understanding of Donald Trump's view of the world and multiple sources had directed him to the Center for Security Policy (CSP) as one good source. The traditional think tanks and Republican establishment did not seem to offer the insights they needed. They got my name as a Senior Fellow of CSP. We met for coffee and attempted to give him at least one perspective. His questions were at least as interesting as any answers I could provide.
The truth is that the world has not seen anything like President Trump, at least not for a very long time. And the world is throwing a fit because they simply do not (and perhaps cannot) understand him. We have seen unhinged reactions from the Left, from Hollywood, from the political elite, and also from a vast array of foreign nations. The first week has been particularly interesting as President Trump has done exactly what he said he would do. The only people who truly understand his plan are the millions of people who supported him, the so-called "basket of deplorables."
Let's start with the things President Trump did in his first week. Basically, he acknowledged we are in an Economic War, admitted we have been losing, and vowed to fight back. That's HUGE. It is also Step #1 in the 8-Step Plan to Restore America to Greatness as outlined in my January 2014 book, Game Plan: How to Protect Yourself from the Coming Cyber-Economic Attack.
I can't tell you how refreshing this is after eight years attempting to convince higher-ups in the Obama Administration who seemed comfortable with America being diminished in the global economic war. They seemed to value the narrative over facing reality. President Trump's Inauguration speech, however, vowed to "put America First." He made it clear both in the campaign and in his first official speech that he intends for America to win the economic war. This is Reaganesque. Remember how the establishment types feared that Reagan wanted to win the Cold War? History shows he was right and they were wrong and the whole world benefitted. Can you imagine if America allowed China to win the economic war? The fact is that we didn't start this fight but we are now set to finish it.
We can go through each of the eight steps on the list and outline actions already taken by President Trump to "Restore American Greatness" (or as he says "Make America Great Again"). Step#2, for example is "Take Reasonable Precautions." An example might be to slow down immigration from terror hotspots until we get a handle on who is coming and for what reason. Or to build a wall. The fact is that immigration can be used as a form of economic warfare. Taking reasonable precautions is a great Step #2.
Step #3 is "Get Money Moving Without Money Printing." Included in that is repatriation of American corporate earnings held overseas, something that President Trump has long espoused. Step #4 is "Achieve Energy Independence." Pipeline approvals go a long way to freeing American consumers from any dependence on Middle Eastern crude. Step #5 is to "Reduce Regulation." President Trump signed an order freezing new regulations and vowed to reduce the regulatory burden by 75%. We have written extensively on how excessive regulations sap American economic strength. Clearly, we need a reasonable regulatory framework. But the pendulum has swung too far one direction and now needs to swing back. Otherwise, we will be mired in a very slow growth pattern as we have been for the past eight years. Step #6 is get "A Workable Tax Code." President Trump has vowed to simplify the code and provide relief to both individuals and businesses. Step #7 is "Teach What America is All About." We will have to wait and see how President Trump does with this one but many of his supporters point to his Inaugural speech as defending traditional American values. Regarding Step #8, "Return to Our Spiritual Roots," even critics admit that President Trump's first speech in office acknowledged God and his role in founding and defending America:
"There should not be fear. We are protected and we will always be protected. We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement, and, most important, we will be protected by God."
In speeches and interviews over the past couple of years, I have shared that acknowledging God, asking forgiveness, and crying out to Him is the most important thing we can do.
Certainly, there is room for disagreement as to whether the eight steps I outlined over three years ago are the right ones to make America great again. But few can argue the fact that these eight steps have been powerfully incorporated into the Trump agenda. Obviously, the "put America first" idea does have some upsetting aspects for those who promote free trade and globalism. I agree with free trade but believe that the rules must be followed and that America should not automatically be disadvantaged. From a negotiating standpoint, you have to show both the carrot and the stick. Time will tell if President Trump's skill will prove effective, but his book, Art of the Deal, is a powerful articulation of his negotiating approach. Ultimately, free trade is beneficial and a long-term trade war would be disaster. But there may be some rough challenges ahead. Keep in mind that President Kennedy had to confront the Soviet Union over Cuba. President Trump likely has to confront our economic adversaries.
From my perspective, the first week has been a powerful demonstration that President Trump intends to recognize, fight, and win the global economic war. Of course, there will be serious challenges, many in response to his Presidency. In the next Blog post, I will outline how China, Russia, Iran, and others are already reacting and how that will impact us. The war is far from over. But at least we are back in the fight.