The Hippo


Apr 22, 2019








Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again, by Donald Trump (Regnery Publishing, 256 pages)

By Jennifer Graham

Until recently, few people took Donald Trump seriously as an author, let alone a credible candidate to be the U.S. president. After the Fox News debate, pundits thought his popularity would collapse, but his numbers continue to astonish: The latest find him just six points behind Hillary Clinton in a hypothetical general election.
Showing business acumen that would make Trump proud, Regnery Press is re-releasing his policy manifesto, Time to Get Tough: Making America #1 Again, as a paperback (what it should have been all along, like most books of politicians that clog thrift-store shelves). Like Trump himself, it is an entertaining rant against liberal policies in general, President Barack Obama in specific, with an occasional jab at assorted conservative hypocrisies. For anyone who articulates an opinion on the Republican presidential contenders, it’s a couple of hours well invested. Read that, and the biography set for release in September (Never Enough, publisher Thomas Dunne), and you can consider yourself an informed voter, at least on the only candidate who seems to matter right now.
Most books by candidates are boring, the authors’ voices and personalities drowned out by that of their ghostwriters. If Trump used one, he’s a doppelganger, because the voice here is clearly the Trump that many in the country know and loathe: bombastic, arrogant, self-contradictory and, to most who subscribe to a conservative/libertarian mindset, often scarily right. Here’s what he believes:
The Chinese people are not the enemy, but China is. Its policies border on evil, and America suffers from its unwillingness to assert its economic might by taxing Chinese imports back to the dark ages. 
Other nations — not Americans — are the solution to our debt problem. The United States should confiscate oil from countries we defeat or defend to pay our costs. And we should impose a 20-percent tax on imports, both to raise revenue and to give American companies and products an edge. Doing so will enable the country to cut taxes that cripple the U.S. economy because “The more you tax work, the less people are willing to work.”
Five moves will resurrect the country: Eliminating the estate tax, abolishing corporate taxes, lowering taxes on capital gains and dividends, establishing the aforementioned 20-percent tax on imports and simplifying the U.S. tax code so that it require federal taxes from everyone (currently, the bottom half of earners essentially pay no federal income tax) and is easy to understand and easier to file.
Trump’s tax plan: 1-5-10-15. One percent for people who earn under $30,000; 5 percent for people who earn $30,000 to $100,000; 10 percent for people who earn $100,000 to $1 million, and 15 percent for everyone over that.
On Social Security: honor the deal. Make it solvent by getting more people to contribute — i.e., getting more people to work — and by slowly increasing the retirement age to at least 70.
On defense: Rattle the saber, and be ready to use it. Stop pretending countries like China and Pakistan are our friends. And when we go into countries like Libya, we should take half of their oil for 25 years to pay ourselves back for the cost. 
On Iran and its nuclear ambitions: Bombs away.
On the poor: Employ work-to-welfare plans, and mandate drug testing for anyone who gets food stamps. (If you fail, you don’t get them for a year; if you fail twice; you don’t get them for three.)  As disgraced conservative author Dinesh D’Souza says, he notes, America is one of the few countries where the poor can be obese. “By global standards, poor people in America are rich,” Trump writes. 
On immigration, you’ve heard it before: Get rid of the illegals, and build a fence to keep them from getting back in. And when they’re detained at the border, don’t give them movie nights and bingo at U.S. detention centers.
Above all: Elect me. In China, the candidate says, people in real estate believe “Anything that has the Trump name is good.” The voter should infer that this will extend to American governance.
None of this is groundbreaking stuff. What is surprising is how a man who can come off so boorish on television can be so likeable in print. On a page, his words surrounded with corroborating data and absent what Maureen Dowd called his Grumpy Cat face, many of his positions morph from outlandish to reasonable.
Unfortunately, even his succinct, well-sourced views suffer from too much foaming and frothing and suggest an attack dog employed by establishment candidates. He faults President Obama for “rants and temper tantrums” while repeatedly having his own, talks of “liberal lies” and “train wrecks” and “Obama-style runaway spending.” Obamacare is, of course, “a total disaster.”
Most of the other Republican candidates have written books, but none nearly as honest (this has financial disclosures) and colorful as Trump’s. B — Jennifer Graham 

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