Donald Trump has been tight-lipped about his second-term agenda, preferring to speak about the past accomplishments of his administration when making the case that voters ought to re-elect him. Fox News host Sean Hannity gave the President two opportunities to lay out a second-term objective during interviews in June and July. At his second at-bat, Trump said he wanted to beat the coronavirus, rebuild the economy, negotiate new trade deals and appoint more federal judges.
The list still didn’t feel specific when compared to some of his 2016 promises: build a wall and make Mexico pay for it; renegotiate NAFTA; withdraw from TPP; repeal and replace Obamacare; renegotiate the Iran Deal, and cut taxes. In another Fox News interview on Wednesday, Trump floundered again when asked what he would do if re-elected, saying, ‘I want to take where we left, we had the greatest economy in the history of the world, we were better than any other country, we were better than we were ever- we- we never had anything like it in this country… What I want to do is take it from that point and then build it even better.’
The President is apparently getting hip to the fact that voters aren’t going to get excited about a vague and underdeveloped policy agenda. Especially while his opponent, Joe Biden, managed to release a coherent message on ‘Buy American’ before Trump could even sign his administration’s own proposed ‘Buy American’ executive order. So during a visit to a Whirlpool Corporation plant in Ohio, Trump made six promises to American workers:
- Defeat the China virus: ‘We are attacking the virus from every angle and through this aggressive strategy, we will win the war and it will happen sooner than people think’
- Restore our country’s prosperity: ‘We will rise from the current adversity of this horrible invisible enemy and we will be more prosperous and resilient than ever before. We have done things that we never knew we could do. We are building factories now, we are building plants. you’ll see what’s going to be happening with the job numbers very soon’
- Turn America into the premier medical manufacturing, pharmacy and drugstore of the world: ‘The United States must produce essential equipment and supplies and pharmaceuticals for ourselves. We cannot rely on China and other nations across the globe that could one day deny us products in a time of need’
- Onshore manufacturing jobs: ‘We will onshore millions of new manufacturing jobs, across many other critical sectors that are vital to our national security and prosperity from electronics to machine tools to shipping, aerospace, autos, and of course to iron and to steel, and we’ll never forget your washers and your dryers, OK?’
- Bring back factory jobs: ‘I love properly put on tariffs because they bring unfair competitors from foreign countries to do whatever you want them to do: countervailing duties, new trade deals based on the principle of fairness and reciprocity’
- Put American workers first: ‘They will always be put first, and I don’t know if you’re union or non-union, doesn’t matter to me, but I did one hell of a good job for the unions. All the union heads are against me but all the workers are for me’
Onshoring manufacturing jobs and bringing back factory jobs are similar points that could likely be combined into one, but the six promises are certainly a start for voters who were looking at Trump to run on something tangible. His messaging here has been backed with action. He recently signed an order preventing government agencies like the Tennessee Valley Authority from replacing American workers with foreign labor. He’s also promised to make significant changes to the H-1B visa program, like getting rid of the lottery system and ending a loophole that allows companies to replace Americans with foreigners if they make over $60,000 a year, that will presumably protect American workers.
There’s still more Trump has to talk about ahead of the election. Promising to appoint new judges is a losing message due to the recent disappointing string of Supreme Court losses for conservatives. Rebuilding the economy is a foregone conclusion as the Trump administration’s gains have been decimated by the economic shutdown. His speech at the Whirlpool factory was a good start and a sign that he is starting to think more seriously about how to keep his base around come November.