STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Donald Trump talks about his plans for the economy today in Michigan. It's a chance for him to shift from subjects that have not served him quite so well. Hillary Clinton is also going to talk about the economy this week. So it's an opportunity to see the differences between the Republican and Democratic candidates on this basic issue. NPR's Jim Zarroli covers economic issues.
JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: Hi.
INSKEEP: So I guess this must start with a basic difference in how these two see the economy now.
ZARROLI: Yeah, and Hillary Clinton says President Obama doesn't get the credit he deserves for how much the U.S. economy has improved under his watch. And in fact, she talks about the economy, basically, the same way that the president does, which is to say, you know, things have gotten much better. There's been steady growth. The recovery, she says, hasn't gone far enough, however. Here she was talking to a group of minority journalists last week.
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HILLARY CLINTON: So we are out of the ditch that we were in. And now we've got to do even more. We've got to build on the progress we've made.
ZARROLI: Now, Donald Trump takes a much dimmer view of the economy. He says we're in terrible shape. We have a huge trade deficit. And, you know, there aren't enough jobs. And even though the unemployment rate is under 5 percent, it misrepresents what's really going on. A lot of people have just quit looking for work.
INSKEEP: We did see that dark vision painted at the Republican convention a few weeks ago. But what's Trump want to do about it?
ZARROLI: Well, he hasn't given a lot of details. He has talked a lot about trade. He repeatedly says that countries, especially China, have manipulated their currencies to give their exporters a big price advantage, and he says this has hurt U.S. manufacturers. In the case of China, that was certainly the case at one point, but according to the International Monetary Fund, it really isn't so much anymore. But Trump says, you know, we need to get rid of our trade deals, get rid of NAFTA and just be better negotiators. Here's what he said at a rally in Iowa last week.
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DONALD TRUMP: We can straighten this country up much faster than people understand because when they do what they have to do, OK, and the reason they have to do it is because if they don't, we have very strong economic powers because we're the piggy bank that they come in and they suck our jobs away. They suck our money out.
ZARROLI: So what he's suggesting is really to - he's threatening to cut off trade relations with countries if they don't give us more favorable terms or at least to slap tariffs on a lot of their products. And at the very least, this would be a very big change. It would be a huge break with decades of American trade policy.
INSKEEP: What's Trump expected to add to that when he speaks in Michigan today?
ZARROLI: Well, he's promised to provide some more details about what he wants to do about the economy. We know a little about it because some of his advisers have been talking. He's going to propose big cuts in corporate and personal taxes, getting rid of the estate tax, the alternative minimum tax, marriage penalty, also cutting back on business regulation and, of course, getting rid of Obamacare.
INSKEEP: Has Trump yet said how he would finance those tax cuts, which amount to trillions of dollars over a number of years?
ZARROLI: Not really, except to suggest that they would cause the economy to grow so much that they would eventually pay for themselves, which I think a lot of economists would be skeptical about.
INSKEEP: What's Hillary Clinton expected to say this week that she would do to make the economy grow more quickly?
ZARROLI: You know, she's talked about, within the first 100 days, putting a lot more money into clean energy and debt-free college, infrastructure spending. And she would pay for this, basically, with higher taxes, especially a new surcharge on multimillionaires and billionaires. She says she wants to insure the wealthiest Americans and the biggest corporations pay their fair share.
And over the months that she's campaigned against Senator Bernie Sanders, she became a lot more hawkish about trade agreements. She used to be for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Now she says she opposes it, at least in its current form.
INSKEEP: OK, so moving toward Trump's position, in a way. Now, how much is known, Jim, about who these candidates listen to when it comes to economic policy?
ZARROLI: Well, Donald Trump, on Friday, released a list of his economic advisers. They included a lot of people from the worlds of Wall Street, real estate, hedge funds, private equity firms, not a lot of people with what you would call high public profiles, not many academic economists either. Hillary Clinton has not put out a similar list, but it is likely to include a lot of familiar names from the Obama administration and the first Clinton administration, people such as Christina Romer, who was the head of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama, and former Fed Governor Alan Blinder, people like that, who already have some ties to the Clintons.
INSKEEP: Jim, thanks very much.
ZARROLI: You're welcome.
INSKEEP: That's NPR's Jim Zarroli.
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