Donald Trump needs to smile more and gripe less. In the few days that remain, he needs to give Americans solid reasons to vote for him, and not just against Hillary Clinton.
Here are three issues that could sway undecided voters in the two short weeks that remain: Obamacare, education and job creation. For a normal candidate, this would be easy. But Trump, easily distracted by petty grievances, has repeatedly proved incapable of staying on message. And, he is remarkably inarticulate. So, here are three critical messages translated into Trump-speak.
Obamacare is blowing up, and everybody knows it. President Obama has likened his legacy healthcare program to a starter house in need of repair, but it is more like a Potamkin village – a pretend façade with no substance.
In 2014, as the rising premiums and narrowing choices became more obvious, Obamacare’s popularity plummeted. In the same year, voters discovered that their president had lied to them. When Obama said, “If you like your health plan, you can keep it,” he knew better. In that midterm election, Democrats declined to campaign with the president, so toxic was the fallout from his Affordable Care Act.
What a difference two years makes. Obama has recovered his popularity, in spite of the continued unraveling of Obamacare. Soaring premiums, impossible deductibles and the near-collapse of the private insurance exchanges has Hillary Clinton proposing a full federal takeover of our insurance system. Her pitch: because the government has shown it can’t manage part of the healthcare system – let’s turn over the entire enterprise.
Trump should be all over that. He should talk about reducing the government mandates that make Obamacare expensive and unwieldy, increasing private market competition and making it easier for low-cost clinics offered by the likes of Walmart and CVS to reduce the burdens on our hospitals. At the same time, he must promise to keep those parts of Obamacare that are popular, like guaranteeing coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.
Because Trump is Trump, those ideas need to be boiled down into:
Even Bill Clinton agrees - Obamacare is broken;
President Obama lied about it;
I’m going to fix it, while Hillary wants to make it bigger, and worse;
We have common-sense ideas – like not requiring insurers to provide maternity coverage to men in their sixties.
Second, Trump should talk about making our public schools better. This is very popular with women and minorities, just the groups Trump needs to win over.
The data is staggering. In New York City, for instance, 80 percent of public high school kids graduate unable to read, write or do math at a level necessary to enroll in community college. Incredibly, only 13 percent of New York black and Hispanic children graduate with the bare minimum of those necessary skills. How can anyone defend the status quo?
Hillary Clinton, her conscience eased by the millions she has hauled in from the country’s largest teacher’s union, has totally abandoned the call for reform. Addressing members of the NEA, the country’s largest teachers’ union, she vowed to end the “education wars” and called for leaders to “stop focusing only on “quote “failing schools.”
Trump should have made education an essential platform for his campaign from the start, but it’s not too late. Here’s school reform in Trump-talk:
Our schools, once the envy of the world, are broken.
We need to get rid of tenure rules that prevent our best teachers from being rewarded and that keep even our worst teachers in the classroom.
Making the American dream a reality for our children requires taking on the teachers unions, and not just taking from them as Hillary has done.
Lastly, Trump needs to pound away at the shortcomings of the Obama economy. The U.S. is expected to grow only about 1.5 percent this year, down from 2.5 percent last year. Business investment continues to be weak, and there are almost 95 million Americans not working.
The main reason so many are idle is that we have not created enough good jobs in the past decade. That is partly because of the recession, but it is also because the Obama White House has stifled innovation and business start-ups with increased regulations and higher taxes embodied in Obamacare and numerous other initiatives.
Starting in 2008, and for the first time in 35 years, business deaths outnumber births, Gallup reports. And it’s not all because of the financial crisis. The number of people starting small businesses dropped in 2015, after a four-year climb. Why? Entrepreneurs are not optimistic. They are worried that the government will throw some new roadblock in their path – just as New York State recently did when it effectively shut down Airbnb.
Andrew Cuomo, in a sop to the hotel workers’ unions, issued new rules that will make it all but impossible for people to rent their apartments – an essential source of income for many hard-pressed New Yorkers.
Hillary Clinton wants to raise taxes on U.S. corporations, already the most highly taxed in the world, and to stifle the “gig” economy, which many millennials see as their meal ticket. Trump should win on this issue. Here’s a strong Trumpist economic pitch:
Our economy is not working for average Americans who have not seen a raise in 20 years.
We need to create more jobs and to encourage companies to invest in the U.S.
With the right energy policies, we will promise cheap and plentiful power as well as a sensible regulatory environment.
We will encourage hiring in every way possible, reduce taxes, and, unlike Hillary, we will not declare war on innovation and the “gig” economy.
Trump is behind in the polls, but not because voters like Hillary or what she has to say. He’s behind because he is not single-mindedly flogging the ideas that could lead him to victory. It’s now or never, and he could start with these.