President-elect Joe Biden won by running as the antithesis of President Donald Trump. But that doesn’t mean that everything Trump did was bad. Prior to the pandemic, the U.S. economy was experiencing solid growth and record low unemployment, especially for minority populations. And Team Trump had made diplomatic progress in the Middle East that most thought could never be achieved.
As the anti-Trump, Biden will take steps to put lots of daylight between his and the Trump administration’s policies. But there are at least four Trump initiatives that Biden should retain, which would help the country, both domestically and internationally.
Tax reform — Trump’s biggest success was his tax reform legislation. Democrats have railed against this legislation both before and after it passed, claiming, as they always do, that it benefits the rich. That accusation is false – just look at how many high-income Americans want to eliminate the state and local tax, which limits certain personal income tax deductions – but that’s not the primary reason for leaving the law alone.
Its key feature was reducing the corporate income tax from 35 percent to 21 percent. That wasn’t a sop to big business; it simply lowered the corporate tax rate to the level of most countries in the European Union. In other words, it made the U.S. corporate tax rate competitive.
That one change made the U.S. a more attractive place to locate, or relocate, a company’s corporate headquarters. It’s one of the reasons behind several companies announcing they would be “reshoring” to the U.S.
Biden campaigned on bringing companies back to the U.S., and yet he wants to raise the corporate income tax rate to 28 percent. Doing so would undermine his goal.
No Democratic politician would have campaigned on a 21 percent corporate tax rate, but now that Biden has it, he should leave it alone. It will help jumpstart the economy once we beat the pandemic, and he’ll be able to take credit for a strong and growing economy.
As a candidate Trump also promised he’d do it, and he did move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
If Biden is looking for a way to justify his decision, he could point to the words of President Obama on December 17, 2014. “To those who oppose the steps I’m announcing today, let me say that I respect your passion and share your commitment to liberty and democracy. The question is how we uphold that commitment. I do not believe we can keep doing the same thing for over five decades and expect a different result.”
That was part of Obama’s justification for taking a new diplomatic stance with Cuba. While Obama’s Cuba outreach didn’t work as well as some hoped – it’s hard to extract serious concessions when one spends so much time apologizing for America – the sentiment was right.
For 70 years U.S. policy has been to placate Palestinian grievances. That hasn’t worked. Time to try a new approach and let the sovereign country of Israel determine where its capitol should be.
Building on the Abraham Accords — They said it couldn’t be done. In fact, former Obama Secretary of State John Kerry was a leader of the it-can’t-be-done naysayers. But Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, did it: The Abraham Accords.
Several Muslim nations have normalized relations with Israel, and more may join, including Saudi Arabia — if Biden embraces the efforts and builds on it.
Checking China — We are approaching the 50th anniversary of then-National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger’s secret trip to China, which led to the opening of relations between the two countries. China wanted to open that door both to boost its impoverished economy and because the Soviet Union was encroaching on its turf.
But today’s China is fundamentally different, especially since the rise of Xi Jinping in 2013. Now China and Russia are both on the move, and the U.S. has become their mutual foe.
Trump changed the U.S. attitude toward China. His primary concern was the trade deficit between the two countries, whereas most economists were more concerned with the intellectual property theft and forced technology transfer.
But China is becoming more aggressive economically, militarily and diplomatically. And the next president will have to address those moves.
At this point, we don’t know everything about Hunter Biden’s ties with China, and how they may come back to haunt the new president.
But a President Biden can’t be squishy on China, as he has been in the past. He will have his hands full containing the country that seeks to become the future world leader.