Former President Donald Trump gave a powerful and colorful speech at CPAC Saturday night, giving new voice to his traditional themes of finishing the battle to "Make America Great Again," going after the Washington D.C. deep state, going after globalists, neocons and many other parts of the political class establishment status quo.
As I have said several times, I am not picking winners or losers right now. I am very proud of my three years as his economic adviser. I cherish my relationship with the former President and I agree with him that the more the merrier, that is the more GOP primary contestants, the more fun everybody is going to have and hopefully the survival of the fittest will produce the GOP candidate to trounce current President Joe Biden and his far-left administration.
Nothing personal, Mr. Biden, you understand that. It's just that we have some serious disagreements about the direction of policy and the country. One thing is for sure: in the former president's CPAC speech, he launched into a very important litany of issues, providing more in-depth policy analysis than anyone so far in the race.
He thrashed China, promised greater tariffs. He will try to remove them from most favored nation status and he believes that the Wuhan lab leak compels China to pay America and the rest of the world for the horrific costs of COVID.
TRUMP OVERWHELMINGLY WINS CPAC'S REPUBLICAN PRIMARY STRAW POLL WITH DESANTIS COMING IN A DISTANT SECOND
Mr. Trump would leave the World Health Organization. He would attempt a peace deal in Ukraine. He chastised Europe and NATO countries for not paying their fair share of the Ukraine war. He made a strong pitch to return to energy independence, arguing that if America opens the spigots for fossil fuels, oil prices would have settled around $30-40 a barrel and there would have been no Russian invasion of Ukraine because they could never have afforded it.
He was harshly critical of Biden's retreat from Afghanistan and he even found time to criticize Biden's economic regulations that are strangling business, as well his spending and borrowing policies that have generated record inflation and essentially argued he's brought the country back once and he sees his mission as doing it a second time.
There were a couple of new wrinkles in his agenda, namely the creation of what he called 10 "freedom cities," as well as a new baby bonus to create a new generation of baby boomers.
Parenthetically, Harold Ford and I, along with the late Jack Kemp, argued for this concept many years ago. I still think it could work, if done properly. Essentially, Mr. Trump offered a governing agenda and, as I said, going much further than anybody else in the race or frankly anybody else contemplating the race, that doesn't mean others won't develop and present their own agenda, but so far, only Mr. Trump has put it on paper.
As you know, folks, I've argued again and again that the GOP needs to renew and restore its traditional role of economic stewardship of prosperity: cutting taxes, minimizing regulations, completely overhauling the unmanageable federal budget, opening the fossil fuel spigots, add sound money to fight inflation.
Mr. Trump hasn't yet flushed out all of his ideas, but he gave some pretty strong hints Saturday night. I'm sure all the GOP candidates understand the problem of affordability in today's high inflation; the problem of security with today's high crime; the problem of dealing with Biden's open borders and the problem of paying for groceries, rent and utilities; the problem of young single moms with jobs, but facing homelessness; the crazy idea the blue-collar plumbers and pipe fitters should pay for the student loans of the well-to-do. Just nutty!
As Kellyanne Conway has said many times, whoever has the best plan for the economy is going to be the likely GOP nominee, but they've got to have a plan. They've got to make the difference between socialist Democrats and capitalist Republicans as clear as possible.
They can't be bashful in labeling Democrats as the part of bigger and bigger government. Government has become a leviathan and that leviathan is shutting down opportunity and attempting to create an even greater welfare state. Polls show clearly that most folks believe they are worse off than they were a year ago, or two years ago.
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This is what big government socialism has accomplished. The economy is in decline. The Reagan boom is long gone. The brief Trump revival has been largely overturned by Biden.
If Republicans speak plainly to all groups of people and most particularly, to middle America working folks living in industrial states, they can reclaim the White House and grab the senate along with it in the 2024 election cycle, but they've got to be clear, bold and optimistic. Mr. Trump gave it a good shot last Saturday night at CPAC.