Candidate Opportunity Profile: Donald J. Trump

This is the first in a series of three posts on the remaining presidential candidates that profiles their Opportunity Youth agendas.

Donald Trump wants to make America great again. The leading contender for the Republican nomination has promised the public that if elected, he would be the “greatest jobs president that God ever created.” While offering little if any policy prescriptions during the campaign, Trump has argued that his record of creating tens of thousands of jobs for this country make him uniquely qualified to help people and strengthen the economy. According to his campaign website, he would accomplish this by reforming the U.S – China trade relationship and our tax code.

Closing the Opportunity Divide

Many pundits have argued that part of the explanation for Trump’s lead in the polls the past year is due to the fact that he has eschewed policy details in favor of a simple to understand message. To be clear, Trump has not offered details about how he aspires to increase employability skills for Opportunity Youth or how he would close the Opportunity Divide in this country. In fact, as of March, he had used the word “opportunity” only once during presidential debates. He has, however, spoken about trade and tax reform as campaign issues he believes would most likely help all people who are looking for employment.

U.S. – China Trade Reform

Trump believes that by leveling the playing field for American workers, jobs and factories will stop moving offshore. By renegotiating our trade relationship with China, Trump has boasted, the economy, and one suspects the lives of Opportunity Youth, will boom.

Tax Reform

Trump’s tax plan is aimed at helping middle class families that cannot make ends meet as well as Americans who are not working. He aspires to accomplish this by offering tax relief to middle class Americans, simplifying the tax code, and by growing the American economy by discouraging corporate inversions and keeping jobs from being shipped overseas.

Opportunity Agenda Takeaways

Trump’s diagnosis that bad trade deals and economic miscalculations have adversely impacted a significant part of the working class has clearly touched a nerve with voters. In an interview with the editorial board of the Washington Post in March, Trump proposed to create economic zones to incentivize companies to move in to inner cities.  When pressed about how he would solve the disproportionate incarceration of African Americans, Trump explained that the solution was to create more jobs. As a final rejoinder, he told the editorial board that he’d be a great cheerleader for the country.

While Trump does not have a specific opportunity agenda, one might imagine that his strategy for narrowing the Opportunity Divide in this country would be predicated on his ability to negotiate better deals with employers about retaining talent pipelines. Perhaps Trump believes that reforming the tax code and strengthening bargaining position for trade deals with foreign countries will have a positive spillover effect on the youth that is disconnected and disengaged from the labor market.

What is clear is that Trump wants to make America great again. He wants to produce more jobs and higher wages. And if a Republican-led Congress can help him produce more jobs, the lack of economic mobility for Opportunity Youth—and the Opportunity Divide itself—might well take care of itself.


The GradsofLifeVoice Forbes team provides thought leadership, research and expert commentary on innovative talent pipelines and related issues such as the skills gap, income inequality, workforce diversity, and the business case for employment pathways. We seek to change employers’ perceptions of young adults with atypical resumes from social liabilities to economic assets. This post was originally featured here.


Government/Policy, Workforce Development,
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