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Trump touts his economic policies. What would he do in a 2nd term?

Throughout the Republican National Convention, supporters of President Trump have touted his economic record as a key reason they believe he should be reelected. But what would a second-term policy agenda look like for Trump, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to limit economic growth and threaten American jobs? Paul Solman reports on Trump’s record so far and proposals for the future.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, throughout this week, Republicans have cited President Trump's economic policies as one key reason they believe he should be reelected.

    One important question for voters: What would a second-term agenda look like for President Trump, even as COVID continues to drag on the economy?

    Paul Solman is back tonight with a look at the Trump plan and his record so far.

    It's part of our series, Making Sense.

  • President Donald Trump:

    We did it. We built the greatest economy in the history of the world. And now I have to do it again. That's God testing me.

  • Paul Solman:

    President Trump's pitch to voters: Under his watch, the economy was heaven until his COVID test, and though almost 30 million Americans are on unemployment right now:

  • Steve Cortes:

    He is the right leader to create the conditions for the Trump boom 2.0.

  • Paul Solman:

    And boom 2.0 is just around the corner, says campaign adviser Steve Cortes.

  • Steve Cortes:

    Recent economic data in the last few weeks has really been quite fantastic. Housing starts are soaring, existing home sales off the charts, biggest month ever, last month, industrial production picking up.

  • Paul Solman:

    The president sees a so-called V-shaped recovery, a steep economic decline followed quickly by a strong rebound.

  • President Donald Trump:

    The V is turning out to be true. I was saying a V, and everybody was saying, a V is impossible. But the V is — it's beyond a V. It's a super V, based on the numbers that we have now.

    Over the past three months, we have gained nine million jobs nationwide, which is a new record.

  • Paul Solman:

    But after having lost 22 million jobs the two months prior.

    You're talking about from a historically low point, right?

  • Steve Cortes:

    Sure. We have a long way to go. We're all aware of that. I'm not Pollyanna. I don't think things are fine, by any stretch. But there are reasons, legitimate reasons, for optimism.

  • Paul Solman:

    On top of the several trillions in government spending bills to resurrect the economy, passed in Congress, signed by the president, he has issued new executive actions, one, to continue extra unemployment benefits.

  • Steve Cortes:

    For those who are looking for work or who don't have enough work, because of the president's strong executive action, they're going to get $400 per week, $300 of it coming from the federal government, $100 being matched by the states, and make sure that they can pay their bills while they're still looking.

  • Paul Solman:

    So far, 32 states have been approved to offer the benefits, but just two have begun distributing funds, and only three will contribute the $100 state match. Other executive actions: Direct government officials to identify funds to prevent evictions, though it's unclear they have the authority. Defer student loan payments through 2020. Provide a payroll tax holiday through the end of the year to those with income of $104,000 or less — and so President Trump's economic platform to address the immediate economic crisis.

  • Steve Cortes:

    Near-term, I think the helps will be tax cut, regulatory relief on the one hand, and then, on the other side, for people still looking, continued enhanced unemployment, which the president is providing through executive order.

  • Paul Solman:

    But relief through executive action raises legal questions, since the Constitution gives Congress, not the president, the power of the purse.

  • Steve Cortes:

    It's regrettable. Look, I'm a constitutionalist. I don't love the idea of presidents using aggressive executive action often. But these are incredibly unusual circumstances. It's a crisis in our country right now. And the president felt compelled to take strong leadership.

    And, in this case, unfortunately, he had to do it unilaterally.

  • Paul Solman:

    Unilaterally, the Democrats argue, because Republicans won't give enough aid to workers and states, won't fund the post office, in order to jeopardize the electoral process. and, says former Vice President Joe Biden, even if Trump could manage to make the payroll tax holiday permanent, it would cripple Social Security.

  • Former Vice President Joseph Biden:

    He's proposing to eliminate a tax that pays for almost half the Social Security, without any way of making up for that lost revenue, resulting in cuts.

  • Steve Cortes:

    The president has been incredibly clear about this, that Social Security is not in any way at risk. He is not in any way targeting Social Security.

    No senior, nobody who gets Social Security payments — because it's not only seniors — nobody who gets those payments should feel it in any way threatened by this move.

  • Paul Solman:

    In other words, President Trump, with a second term, would be committed to funding Social Security out of general funds?

  • Steve Cortes:

    That is correct.

  • Paul Solman:

    Biden also criticized the tax cuts Trump signed in 2017, calling them:

  • Former Vice President Joseph Biden:

    The president's $1.3 trillion tax giveaway to the wealthiest 1 percent and the biggest, most profitable corporations, some of which do not pay any tax at all.

  • Paul Solman:

    While high earners and companies were the biggest winners, most Americans did get a tax cut. The law may have boosted the economy in the short-run, but it failed to stimulate significant growth over time. Still, Trump maintains:

  • President Donald Trump:

    I will always put American workers first, always.

  • Paul Solman:

    A key strategy of the president's: trade wars with China and others.

  • President Donald Trump:

    I love properly put-on tariffs, because they bring unfair competitors from foreign countries to do whatever you want them to do.

  • Paul Solman:

    In a second term, Trump would remain tough on trade, bring business back to America, says Cortes.

  • Steve Cortes:

    How do we do that? I think it's two ways. Number one, we continue to negotiate smarter trade deals, as we did with the USMCA with our neighbors and allies Mexico and Canada. We need to use that as a template for other countries, like the U.K., Japan, et cetera.

    Number two, I think we encourage onshoring by being very tough with China. It is very clear that China has been abusing and exploiting the United States in trade for decades.

  • Paul Solman:

    In the president's first term, the China trade war arguably slowed growth and cost jobs. But, in a second term, a renewed onshoring push will spur hiring, says Cortes.

  • Steve Cortes:

    We're for onshoring generally, but most specifically for critical areas of our economy that relate to our national security, things like supplies of medicines.

    I think it's critical for the United States that sensitive supply lines for things like medicine be brought back to the United States, that we cannot be dependent upon other countries.

  • Paul Solman:

    This is Paul Solman.

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