Trump pledges steps to put America first

Mr Trump delivering his message to Americans on YouTube, saying he aimed to create wealth and jobs for them.
Workers putting up the reviewing stand for the inauguration of Mr Trump outside the White House. The Republican will take office on Jan 20.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY
Workers putting up the reviewing stand for the inauguration of Mr Trump outside the White House. The Republican will take office on Jan 20.
Mr Trump delivering his message to Americans on YouTube, saying he aimed to create wealth and jobs for them. SCREENGRAB: YOUTUBE

Executive actions on first day in office aim to rebuild middle class

WASHINGTON • US President-elect Donald Trump has outlined six immediate steps aimed at "putting America first", in a push to protect American jobs and rebuild the country's middle class.

The Republican billionaire said he plans to order the series of executive actions on his first full day in the Oval Office on Jan 20.

"Whether it's producing steel, building cars or curing disease, I want the next generation of production and innovation to happen right here, in our great homeland: America - creating wealth and jobs for American workers," he said in a video released on YouTube.

"My agenda will be based on a simple core principle: putting America first," said Mr Trump, whose victorious campaign tapped the anger of working-class Americans who feel left behind by globalisation.

In addition to withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he vowed to loosen regulations on domestic energy production.

REACTIONS

A sampling of the reactions to US President-elect Donald Trump's plan to scrap the TPP on his first day in office. 

HOLLOW DEAL

TPP is meaningless without the United States.

JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER SHINZO ABE 


HIS PREROGATIVE

It is President-elect Donald Trump's right as the democratically-elected next leader of the United States to make the policy decisions he thinks right. I am a strong supporter of developing trade and open regionalism in Asia-Pacific. It is key to benefiting our peoples.

MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER NAJIB RAZAK


CAN'T CUT ITSELF OFF

The United States is not an island. It can't just sit there and say it's not going to trade with the rest of the world. At some point, the US would want to think about how it accesses those very fast-growing markets in Asia, and what role it wants to have in Asia.

NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER JOHN KEY


IN AUSTRALIA'S INTEREST

There is very strong support among the other 11 parties to the TPP to ratify it and to seek to bring it into force... Mr Trump and his new Congress will have to make their own decisions in America's interest. It is very clear that from Australia's point of view, getting greater access for Australian exports, whether it is goods or services to those big markets, is manifestly in our interest.

AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER MALCOLM TURNBULL


US' LOSS

This is not surprising, given all that Trump said during the campaign, but it is still disappointing. US withdrawal from the TPP kills a deal that was a decade in the works. The irony is that, though Trump has called it a horrible deal, it was actually very good for the US. It would have given the US a very strong say over the rules of trade between Asia and America, putting more of a focus on labour rights and intellectual property rights. The collapse of the TPP will now create a void in Asia.

THE ECONOMIST'S ASIA ECONOMICS EDITOR SIMON RABINOVITCH

"I will cancel job-killing restrictions on the production of American energy, including shale energy and clean coal, creating many millions of high-paying jobs," he said.

Sticking to his theme of protecting US jobs, Mr Trump said he would direct the Department of Labour to investigate abuses of visa programmes "that undercut the American worker".

Following up on his campaign pledge to cut government red tape, he also promised "a rule which says that for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated". And though his own transition team includes several lobbyists, he said there will be "a five-year ban on executive officials becoming lobbyists after they leave the administration".

During his campaign, Mr Trump had vowed to "drain the swamp" in Washington, to bring change to what he described as a corrupt federal government.

But perhaps the most interesting thing about Mr Trump's video is what he did not say.

He said nothing about fighting terrorism, confronting Russian aggression or pressuring Nato allies to pay more for their defence.

Instead, he said he would ask his top military officials for a comprehensive plan to guard America's vital infrastructure from "cyber attacks, and all other form of attacks".

On immigration, he avoided any mention of building a wall along the border with Mexico or deporting illegal immigrants. He also steered clear of his campaign promises to track Muslims and repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The 2 1/2-minute YouTube video offers one of the few chances for the public to hear from Mr Trump directly since his election two weeks ago. He has declined to hold a news conference and instead has used early-morning Twitter bursts to communicate.

The video - in which Mr Trump sits in front of an American flag - is his way of telegraphing the themes that will undergird his inaugural address, said communication professor Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Centre at the University of Pennsylvania. "What it does is cast him as presidential, because it establishes that the things he forecasts are important to the electorate as a whole and he's not emphasising the divisive elements that you would have expected to dominate his presidency," she added.

"He's signalling to his base, 'See, I'm keeping my word', but he's signalling to the world, 'See, I'm going to be a president for all the people'."

The video also underscores the extent to which Mr Trump intends to try and navigate around the traditional newspaper and television media outlets as he seeks to communicate his message to the public.

Yesterday, he rescheduled a meeting with The New York Times, complaining on Twitter about inaccurate coverage and a "nasty tone". This came a day after he met television anchors, news industry executives and reporters in New York in a session The Washington Post described as contentious but generally respectful.

In releasing the video, Mr Ari Fleischer - who was White House press secretary under then President George W. Bush - said Mr Trump was using technology to quickly and effectively communicate with the public in a format that Mr Bush's staff would never have dreamed of doing 15 years ago because the news media would have dismissed it as propaganda.

President Barack Obama has become adept at doing the same thing in recent years, through videos posted on Facebook and other media.

NYTIMES, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2016, with the headline 'Trump pledges steps to put America first'. Print Edition | Subscribe