Economic Security as National Security


What I’d love to do for you today is talk about the manufacturing and defense industrial base, and this historic effort that’s gone under the Department of Defense and President Trump. And what I want to do in order to come to that topic is I want to start at the 30,000-foot level and try to offer some perspective on how this particular effort fits into the broader grand strategy of the Trump administration in terms of dealing with both economic and defense issues. So let me start by observing that some of our greatest presidents are best remembered for short, but profound, maxims that both guided their policies and led to some of their greatest successes. If you think about William McKinley, one of President Trump’s favorite presidents, in the 1896 campaign his campaign slogan was: patriotism, protection, and prosperity.

And it was that slogan that led to strong tariffs and sound money policy, and to a profound realignment of the Republican Party under McKinley, as well as what was the catalyst for very strong economic growth. And if that sounds a little bit familiar, you may have been paying attention to what’s been going on the last couple years. And you have of course Teddy Roosevelt, walk softly carry a big stick. We moved in his administration from what was essentially a coast guard into a global naval power. Of course, the gold standard of maxims would be Ronald Reagan, peace through strength. Out of that, came a reversal of the decline in the defense budget, the Star Wars initiative, and basically the demise of the Soviet Union.

And so – and so we come to this great president, Donald J. Trump. In December of 2017, as part of the National Security Strategy, President Trump introduced the maxim that economic security is national security. Economic security is national security. And if you think about everything the Trump administration has been doing in terms of economic and defense policy, you understand that this maxim really is the guiding principle. If you think about, for example, tax cuts – corporate tax cuts, which essentially spur investment and therefore lead to greater innovation, that helps both our economy and our national security. If you think about deregulation under one fine, fine OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, he’s been leading a tremendous effort to reduce the regulations that were put in place by the Obama administration.