Hillary Clinton is attacking him on his record as a businessman. Instead of being defensive about that record, he should double down on it.
Hillary (and the media) attacks him for screwing some contractors who he didn’t pay because of various disputes.
He should hold those disputes up as an example of the kind of tough negotiating that is required to be a successful businessman. He should say simply that he is going to be a better negotiator for America when it comes to trade agreements and when it comes to private contractors who continually bilk the taxpayers out of billions of dollars.
Yes, Trump was a jerk when he ran Trump enterprises, and he will be our jerk when it comes to negotiating with the Chinese and defense contractors.
Hillary is hitting Trump for not paying taxes.
He let slip at the debate that he was being smart not to pay those taxes. And guess what, because the tax code is so complex, so chock-full of loopholes, he is being smart.
And there are millions of Americans who are doing their best to pay as little in taxes as possible. They hire accountants and tax attorneys and they make business decisions based on the tax code.
What we need and what he needs to push is tax reform that makes it harder for guys like him to avoid paying taxes. It’s the Democrats who most love the tax code like it is.
The media and Hillary like to attack Trump over his foundation. And yes, there are probably plenty of examples of shady dealings with the Trump Foundation. But I would posit that, as a private citizen, his foundation’s shenanigans in no way compare to the abuses of the Clinton Foundation, which took advantage of Hillary’s tenure as the secretary of state to feather the nests of the entire Clinton family.
This all begs for a wholesale reform of the tax code that helps promote the creation of foundations, most of which are engaged in partisan politics and do relatively little to actually help people. That is true on both sides of the ideological divide.
Hillary hits Trump on the fact that his ties are made in China. That’s not because Trump is by nature a hypocrite or unpatriotic. That’s because we make it easy for people to move manufacturing overseas in this country, a key theme in Trump’s campaign.
How to fix that?
Well, first, we lower the corporate tax rate, which is currently highest in the world. It’s hard to keep companies in America by taxing them more than any other nation.
Capital flows to where the taxes are the lowest, not where they are the highest.
Trump knows the system better than anyone, because he has used it as a businessman.
He wants to fix that system. She doesn’t know much about it and has offered no plans to fix it, other than making it even more difficult for businesses to do business in the United States.
Second, we get rid of regulations that destroy small businesses and slow the growth of corporations. Sure, we need some regulations to protect consumers, but they need to be streamlined, made easily understandable, and pared back to the bare minimum. We also need to make regulatory agencies more accountable, more transparent, and more accessible to small businesses.
Third, we need to rebuild our infrastructure, to make it easier for products, information, and consumers to move safely and quickly.
Trump is right when he talks about how needlessly expensive it is to build roads and bridges in this country. He has experience as a builder. He needs to talk about those experiences, warts and all.
Trump is a businessman. He is not a politician. He is not polished. He is a terrible debater. He says things that are offensive. But he has a track record of getting things done in the private sector. It’s his strongest asset. He shouldn’t shy away from that record.
John Feehery is President of Communications and Director of Government Affairs for Quinn Gillespie and Associates, Washington, D.C.’s top public affairs firm. He is also a frequent commentator on the political landscape, widely quoted around the country and often seen on such television programs as CNN’s The Situation Room, MSNBC’s Hardball, and Bloomberg Television’s Money and Politics. He is also a columnist for The Hill and writes a column for Political Storm.
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