Trump focuses heavily on economics in his major speech outlining national security policy

Mark Wilson/Getty ImagesDonald Trump.
  • President Donald Trump had a sharp focus on economics during his major national security speech on Monday.
  • “For the first time, American strategy recognises that economic security is national security,” he said.

President Donald Trump spent a considerable amount of time talking about the US economy and economic policy in his major speech announcing his national security strategy on Monday.

While he also focused on many of his traditional national security talking points, such as clamping down on immigration, a consistent theme of the speech was that his economic priorities go hand-in-hand with his sense of what makes for strong national security policy.

Specifically, he targeted trade policy, emphasised the need for other nations to contribute more money for their defence, cited a booming stock market, and made mention of slashing domestic regulations, among other topics.

Criticising past leadership, Trump said, “Our leaders in Washington negotiated disastrous trade deals that brought massive profits to many foreign nations, but sent thousands of American factories, and millions of American jobs, to those other countries.”

“They put American energy under lock and key,” he added. “They imposed punishing regulations and crippling taxes.”

He boasted of withdrawing the US “from job-killing deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the very expensive and unfair Paris Climate Accord.”

“And on our trip to Asia last month, I announced that we will no longer tolerate trading abuse,” he said.

Trump went on to discuss how his administration was “liberating” the US economy, citing job growth numbers since his election last fall. He mentioned low unemployment and a consistently rising stock market, in addition to his slashing of regulations.

“As the world watches – and the world is indeed watching – we are days away from passing historic tax cuts for American families and businesses,” he said. “It will be the biggest tax cut and tax reform in the history of our country. … And we are seeing the response we fully expected. Economic growth has topped 3% for two quarters in a row. GDP growth, which is way ahead of schedule under my administration, will be one of America’s truly greatest weapons.”

Citing Russia and China as “rival powers,” Trump said the nations “seek to challenge American … wealth,” which he said was increasing under the Trump administration.

“America is gaining wealth, leading to enhanced power – faster than anyone thought – with $US6 trillion more in the stock market alone since the election – $US6 trillion,” he said.

Labelling it as the “second pillar” of his administration’s national security strategy, Trump said he is focused on promoting “American prosperity.”

“For the first time, American strategy recognises that economic security is national security,” he said. “Economic vitality, growth, and prosperity at home is absolutely necessary for American power and influence abroad. Any nation that trades away its prosperity for security will end up losing both.”

That strategy, he said, “calls for cutting taxes and rolling back unnecessary regulations.”

“It calls for trade based on the principles of fairness and reciprocity,” he continued. “It calls for firm action against unfair trade practices and intellectual property theft. And it calls for new steps to protect our national security industrial and innovation base. The strategy proposes a complete rebuilding of American infrastructure – our roads, bridges, airports, waterways, and communications infrastructure. And it embraces a future of American energy dominance and self-sufficiency.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement following Trump’s speech that his department will implement Trump’s “vision by leading freer growth policies in the international financial institutions and advancing fundamental principles of free, fair and reciprocal trade.”

As a candidate and as president, Trump often promoted a much-criticised “America first” national security strategy that emphasises the need to focus on the home front before foreign affairs.

Congress is expected to pass tax reform – which would be the only major legislative achievement of Trump’s presidency so far – this week.

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