Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again Hardcover Donald Trump (2016)

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IT’S STILL THE ECONOMY, STUPID

ALL THE PUNDITS, AND just about everyone else, said I would never really run for the presidency. When I announced I was a candidate for president, some of those same people predicted it wasn’t really going to happen. They were sure I would drop out of the race before submitting my financial disclosures.

Apparently they thought I would be embarrassed to admit that I was not as wealthy as most people thought. But after filing those papers they found out I was worth much more.

I’m rich. I mean, I’m really rich. I’ve earned more money than even I thought I would—and I’ve had some pretty big dreams.

You know, I hear politicians talk, and they say things like “I was a constitutional law professor, so I’m an expert on the Constitution.” Or maybe they say, “I was on the Senate Foreign Relations committee for 25 years, so that makes me an expert on foreign policy.” They point out how “successful” they were when they were CEO of a great company—where they cut 30,000 jobs, many of which ended up overseas, thus making them experts on job creation—experts on sending jobs outside of America to replace jobs inside of America.

I listen to these people talking about how they are going to fix our economy, how they are going to create jobs, how they are going to lower taxes and balance the budget. I shake my head and I think, You wouldn’t have even qualified to be a contestant on The Apprentice.

We shouldn’t take any fiscal advice from members of a Congress that can’t pass a budget, nor should we expect them to keep their job-creating promises. We need someone who is a tough negotiator and a real leader. Sadly, the Republican majority doesn’t possess the leadership or the negotiating skills necessary to pass a budget that would eliminate programs that ought to be entirely in private hands, or even eliminated completely.

The only time they really stand up to Obama, and then they fold, is in the final days when spending authorizations are running out. Where were they this summer when the real work and consensus could have been developed?

They’re going to screw up the lives of millions of Americans—and destroy our credit rating—because they don’t have the leadership skills needed to make our country great again and to look out for Americans.

What we are confronted with is a mixture of bad management and bad politics.

We need leadership in the White House that will keep government functioning while getting the feds out of all the areas where they don’t belong. If the government is properly sized and properly focused, we won’t need to go from crisis to crisis.

We need to start with the United States Congress. We’ve had presidents (Lyndon Johnson for one; Ronald Reagan for another) who have managed to build consensus and get things done. When President Reagan fired the air traffic controllers during his seventh month in office, he sent a signal to the unions that they heard loud and clear. When President Johnson twisted arms to get enough votes for the passage of a civil rights bill, he took on the far left and the far right and threatened them in order to get his way.

It can be done.

President Obama is big on playing golf. But he doesn’t play with the right people. He should be playing with those smart people who can help our country, establishing bonds to get things done—and not just his friends.

Believe me, I know how to use a golf course—and golf clubs—to make deals. The only things that work are having a clear point of view and knowing how to get your message across to the country so that the people support and understand your mission. This way we’re not divided, and special interest groups cannot buy the outcomes they want and rip us apart.

It all comes down to leadership. I don’t think many people would disagree that I tell it like it is. When you see the coverage of me on television, in newspapers, and on social media, you’d have to agree that I get more attention for my opinions than all the other Republican candidates put together. Hopefully, that’s respect and not pure entertainment—but it may be a little of both.

I manage to blast through the ridiculous liberal bias of the media and speak right to the hearts of the people—or at least I try. Even New York magazine, hardly a conservative outlet, has given me credit on its cover for shaking up the status quo.

Again, we’re talking leadership.

When it comes to creating jobs and straightening out our economy, I am the only expert who isn’t talking in “theory.” I talk common sense and practical realism learned from the school of hard knocks. I’ve been there, done that, suffered through adversity, gone into debt, fought back, and come out on top, and much biggger and stronger than ever before. During the Recession of 1990 many of my friends went bankrupt, and never recovered. I never went bankrupt. I survived, and learned so much about how to deal with bad times. Our country is going through a bad time—I get it, and I know how to solve it.

I’m a fighter. Knock me down, and I come back even stronger. I love it!

I’ve spent my entire life not just making money but, more importantly, learning how to manage my resources and share them with the thousands who have worked for me. To hear our left-wing critics tell it, we need socialism to make this country move forward, and we need a president who can make up the rules as he goes along. If he can’t get Congress to do something, he needs to rule by executive order.

I say that’s complete nonsense.

The free market works—it just needs leadership, not dictatorship. Our government needs to employ a strong adherence to the Constitution and maintain social programs that inspire and reward achievement and that are constantly accountable for their spending and outcomes. I’m very concerned about the 46.5 million people living in poverty, and the great majority of middle-class Americans who can barely afford their homes (or have lost them). I am very concerned for the people who can’t pay for the education of their children. In short, I am concerned for the people who can’t buy into the American dream because the financial programs of this country are so tilted in favor of the rich.

That’s why one of my strongest ideas is to look at the tax code in both its complexity and its obvious bias toward the rich. Hedge fund and money managers are important for our pension funds and the 401(k) plans that help millions of Americans—but far less important than they think. But financial advisers should pay taxes at the highest levels when they’re earning money at those levels. Often, these financial engineers are “flipping” companies, laying people off, and making billions—yes, billions—of dollars by “downsizing” and destroying people’s lives and sometimes entire companies. Believe me, I know the value of a billion dollars—but I also know the importance of a single dollar.

The money I’ve earned was the result of my own work—projects I created, deals I made, companies I bought and turned around. I understand what it means for my employees to work in construction, one of the toughest and most dangerous jobs in the world.

Those who spend their days sweating at their job should not have to sweat about their lives at night.

I’ve never had the “security” of being on the government payroll. I was the guy who made out the payroll. It hasn’t always been so easy either. In the 1990s, the government changed the real estate tax laws and made those changes retroactive. It was very unfair, but I fought through it and thrived. It absolutely killed the construction industry. It put a lot of people out of business. The misguided passion of environmentalists today makes building anything much more difficult. Now we have crazy overregulation. You can barely buy a paper clip without being in violation of some governmental policy.

It’s no surprise that stress in our society is at an all-time high. Let good and fair-minded businessmen and businesswomen run their companies, especially small businesses, without so much interference. Then they can make more money, put more people to work—and not just part-timers forced in by Obamacare—and have happier lives for themselves.

Right now this country is in serious financial trouble. Our national debt is more than $19 trillion, and we’re on our way to $20 trillion. Even the most liberal economists warn that as we head past the $20+ trillion debt levels, we’ll be in big, big trouble. That’s when our financial system really starts to falter and diminish our borrowing capacity as well as drive up the interest costs on our debt.

That’s when we will lose a lot of credibility in the world markets. For the past year, the United States has been the one country that has maintained financial stability while Europe and Asia faltered. Our debt is a very dangerous burden to carry around. There are overwhelming numbers of Americans who have not participated in the economic growth of the past year, or of the past 20 years, for that matter. They are being forced to mortgage their dreams—their American dreams—just to maintain where they are—just to get by. They have little or no hope of getting ahead.

This is a case where our system is broken, and we need to fix it. We’ve got to do something to change the way we’re developing policy, and we’ve got to start right now. We need people who understand the scope of the problems and know how to turn the ship of state around.

We need leadership!

Some of the proposed solutions make no sense. There are politicians who think one way of reducing the national debt is to cut Social Security or other entitlement programs. We have to tread very carefully here. Since our “great” depression more than 80 years ago, America has always provided a social safety net for those who fall off the economic chart. Retired seniors in particular rely on pensions and Social Security, as well as Medicare.

We have to be very careful about changing the rules for those whose monthly checks make a big difference in their survival. A lot of people live from check to check. There’s no way I’m letting those payments be reduced. No way. This country made a deal with our citizens. That’s their money. They paid it into the system their whole working lives so that older people could get their monthly checks.

Now it’s their turn.

We should not touch Social Security. It’s off the table.

But you know what? There are a lot of wealthy people who don’t need it. So if the government offered me the opportunity to give it up, I would check that box. I’m sure there are other wealthy individuals who would do the same thing. Even so, the impact that would have on solving the financial crisis we face would be minimal.

Changing the tax code to be more fair for all income classes is a much better answer to this bigger problem.

There are certainly “entitlements” that can be reviewed for waste and misguided direction or wasteful execution. I discuss immigration policies elsewhere, but I question whether illegal immigrants—or their children—should be receiving the same benefits as bona fide citizens or those who are here lawfully.

At the same time, government largesse for many businesses and industries—“entitlements for the rich”—needs to be examined. I am very suspicious of income-supplement programs that seem to expand for industries with large lobbying teams or for companies run by major contributors to election campaigns.

To solve our overall economic problem, we have to start rebuilding our industries to meet the challenge from foreign competitors and create real jobs. Government statistics are made to look very positive, but in real life the situation is terrible.

When you look at the unemployment situation, there are two very significant variables. One is the percentage of people who give up and drop out of the labor market. They aren’t included in the unemployment sample. Our so-called labor participation rate—those who have stayed in the job market—is the lowest it’s been in almost 40 years. It hasn’t been this low since President Jimmy Carter was running the country, and he presided over an inflationary spiral in which interest rates exceeded 20 percent.

When you also take into account the large number of jobholders who are underemployed, the real unemployment rate soars to the high teens or even 20 percent. I know many wise financial heads question the government’s assessment of the job market and the statistics it puts out. In our daily lives, we see from our friends and neighbors that the job market is still very troubled, as downsizing continues to be a popular buzzword for corporations trying to hype their stock.

It’s not just jobs that are being lost to other countries. We are seeing whole industries vanish overseas.

Americans want to work. We have a great work ethic in this country. The problem is that when young people look for their first good jobs, or people who have lost their jobs look for new ones, they can’t find any.

The jobs aren’t there. They’ve vanished!

I’ve certainly done my part in my businesses. I know how to create jobs. I have created tens of thousands of jobs in my career. Thousands of people currently work for me and many thousands more are employed by my partnerships. I’m involved in literally hundreds of companies, almost all of which are working beautifully, and setting new standards and records.

They include everything from a bottled springwater company to a vineyard. We manage ice-skating rinks, we produce TV shows, we make leather goods, we create fragrances, and we own beautiful restaurants.

Of course, our bread-and-butter is in our bricks-and-mortar or real estate. We own, build, manage, and/or license many beautiful buildings of all types.

There is only one thing that every single one of my many different businesses have in common: They all help provide jobs for people. When I construct a building or develop a golf resort, it creates jobs for construction workers and for all the companies supplying the materials, from the flooring to the lighting fixtures.

These are good jobs.

When a building is finished and occupied, or when people are playing on one of my golf courses, or staying at a hotel, we supply the service personnel who keep these businesses running.

More good jobs.

The same thing is true with having my products made in China or Mexico or other countries. Some have attacked me for urging that we complain about these countries at the same time I’m having goods manufactured there.

My response: I’m a realist. I’m a competitor.

When I am working on a business deal, I make the best deal. But we should be changing the business climate so that manufacturers can get the best deal right here in the US. Right now it doesn’t work that way.

We need legislation that gives American companies the tax priorities and financial support to create more of their technology and to redirect more of their manufacturing here at home.

We must stop certain countries from devaluing their currency at the drop of a hat.

We’re the home team, and we should come first.

So how do we get back the jobs we’ve lost to other countries?

Answer: Start by negotiating better trade agreements with our “friendly” partners.

We have to bring jobs back from places like China, Japan, and Mexico. We have to stand up and be tough. In too many ways we’re giving away the greatest market in the world—the American consumer.

Ford recently announced that it’s building a $2.5 billion plant in Mexico. Nabisco is moving a big plant from Chicago to Mexico. A German auto company was all set to build a plant in Tennessee, but then it changed its mind and is building it in Mexico instead.

How does that happen? How many good jobs did we lose in just those two deals? How many more deals like that have slipped through our fingers without our even realizing it? Hundreds, maybe even thousands, but no more!

It’s ridiculous. We all know that the American labor force is the best there is. We just have to allow them to compete.

But we sit there while we’re getting beaten in trade agreements. In my companies, we fight for every deal. We fight for the best price on cleaning materials for the restaurants and the best price for the printing of the labels on our wine bottles.

I fight for my people every day.

Now I am fighting for America. I want our country to start winning again. And we can!

All it takes is a commitment to winning and making “Made in America” a badge of honor just like it used to be.