Trump focuses heavily on economics in his major speech outlining national security policy

  • President Donald Trump had a sharp focus on economics during his major national security speech on Monday.
  • "For the first time, American strategy recognizes that economic security is national security," he said.


President Donald Trump spent a considerable amount of time talking about the US economy and economic policy in his major speech announcing his national security strategy on Monday.

While he also focused on many of his traditional national security talking points, such as clamping down on immigration, a consistent theme of the speech was that his economic priorities go hand-in-hand with his sense of what makes for strong national security policy.

Specifically, he targeted trade policy, emphasized the need for other nations to contribute more money for their defense, cited a booming stock market, and made mention of slashing domestic regulations, among other topics.

Criticizing past leadership, Trump said, "Our leaders in Washington negotiated disastrous trade deals that brought massive profits to many foreign nations, but sent thousands of American factories, and millions of American jobs, to those other countries."

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President Trump delivers remarks on the national security strategy
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President Trump delivers remarks on the national security strategy
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a national security strategy speech at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. The national security strategy, a document mandated by Congress, will describe the Trump administration's approach to a range of global challenges including North Korea's nuclear program, international terrorism, Russian aggression and China's rising influence. Photographer: Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via Bloomberg
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a national security strategy speech at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. The national security strategy, a document mandated by Congress, will describe the Trump administration's approach to a range of global challenges including North Korea's nuclear program, international terrorism, Russian aggression and China's rising influence. Photographer: Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via Bloomberg
U.S. President Donald Trump pauses while speaking during a national security strategy speech at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. The national security strategy, a document mandated by Congress, will describe the Trump administration's approach to a range of global challenges including North Korea's nuclear program, international terrorism, Russian aggression and China's rising influence. Photographer: Jim Lo Scalzo/Pool via Bloomberg
Ben Carson, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, center, speaks with attendees before a national security strategy speech by U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. The national security strategy, a document mandated by Congress, will describe the Trump administration's approach to a range of global challenges including North Korea's nuclear program, international terrorism, Russian aggression and China's rising influence. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump waves after speaking during a national security strategy speech at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. The national security strategy, a document mandated by Congress, will describe the Trump administration's approach to a range of global challenges including North Korea's nuclear program, international terrorism, Russian aggression and China's rising influence. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Jared Kushner, senior White House adviser, arrives before a national security strategy speech by U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. The national security strategy, a document mandated by Congress, will describe the Trump administration's approach to a range of global challenges including North Korea's nuclear program, international terrorism, Russian aggression and China's rising influence. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Scott Pruitt, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, center, speaks with attendees before a national security strategy speech by U.S. President Donald Trump, not pictured, at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. The national security strategy, a document mandated by Congress, will describe the Trump administration's approach to a range of global challenges including North Korea's nuclear program, international terrorism, Russian aggression and China's rising influence. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a national security strategy speech at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, Dec. 18, 2017. The national security strategy, a document mandated by Congress, will describe the Trump administration's approach to a range of global challenges including North Korea's nuclear program, international terrorism, Russian aggression and China's rising influence. Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner (C) chats with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (L) and Senator John Cornyn (R) as he arrives for a speech by US President Donald Trump at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC on December 18, 2017. President Donald Trump rolled out his first 'National Security Strategy', a combative document designed to put meat on the bones of his 'America First' sloganeering. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of the military and national security staffs attend a speech by US President Donald Trump about his administration's National Security Strategy at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC, December 18, 2017. President Donald Trump rolled out his first 'National Security Strategy', a combative document designed to put meat on the bones of his 'America First' sloganeering. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 18: U.S. President Donald Trump is introduced before delivering a speech at the Ronald Reagan Building December 18, 2017 in Washington, DC. The president was expected to outline a new strategy for U.S. foreign policy through the release of the periodic National Security Strategy, a document that aims to outline major national security concerns and the administration's plans to deal with them. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 18: U.S. President Donald Trump walks off the stage after delivering a speech at the Ronald Reagan Building December 18, 2017 in Washington, DC. The president was expected to outline a new strategy for U.S. foreign policy through the release of the periodic National Security Strategy, a document that aims to outline major national security concerns and the administration's plans to deal with them. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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"They put American energy under lock and key," he added. "They imposed punishing regulations and crippling taxes."

He boasted of withdrawing the US "from job-killing deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the very expensive and unfair Paris Climate Accord."

"And on our trip to Asia last month, I announced that we will no longer tolerate trading abuse," he said.

Trump went on to discuss how his administration was "liberating" the US economy, citing job growth numbers since his election last fall. He mentioned low unemployment and a consistently rising stock market, in addition to his slashing of regulations.

"As the world watches — and the world is indeed watching — we are days away from passing historic tax cuts for American families and businesses," he said. "It will be the biggest tax cut and tax reform in the history of our country. ... And we are seeing the response we fully expected. Economic growth has topped 3% for two quarters in a row. GDP growth, which is way ahead of schedule under my administration, will be one of America's truly greatest weapons."

Citing Russia and China as "rival powers," Trump said the nations "seek to challenge American ... wealth," which he said was increasing under the Trump administration.

"America is gaining wealth, leading to enhanced power — faster than anyone thought — with $6 trillion more in the stock market alone since the election — $6 trillion," he said.

Labeling it as the "second pillar" of his administration's national security strategy, Trump said he is focused on promoting "American prosperity."

"For the first time, American strategy recognizes that economic security is national security," he said. "Economic vitality, growth, and prosperity at home is absolutely necessary for American power and influence abroad. Any nation that trades away its prosperity for security will end up losing both."

That strategy, he said, "calls for cutting taxes and rolling back unnecessary regulations."

"It calls for trade based on the principles of fairness and reciprocity," he continued. "It calls for firm action against unfair trade practices and intellectual property theft. And it calls for new steps to protect our national security industrial and innovation base. The strategy proposes a complete rebuilding of American infrastructure — our roads, bridges, airports, waterways, and communications infrastructure. And it embraces a future of American energy dominance and self-sufficiency."

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement following Trump's speech that his department will implement Trump's "vision by leading freer growth policies in the international financial institutions and advancing fundamental principles of free, fair and reciprocal trade."

As a candidate and as president, Trump often promoted a much-criticized "America first" national security strategy that emphasizes the need to focus on the home front before foreign affairs.

Congress is expected to pass tax reform — which would be the only major legislative achievement of Trump's presidency so far — this week.

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