Donald J. Trump unveiled a pledge on Thursday to create 25 million jobs over the next decade, but he offered few details on how he would achieve that ambitious goal as president.
In remarks that may stir new consternation abroad, Mr. Trump told theEconomic Club of New York that he would pay for his economic agenda in part by requiring allies to shoulder the full cost of American military resources deployed in their defense.
Mr. Trump has long criticized the country’s defense arrangements, but on Thursday, he drew an uncommonly straight line between his job-creation promises and the “billions and billions of dollars” currently spent on “defending other people.” He specifically mentioned Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia and South Korea as “economic behemoths” that the United States should not pay to protect.
“You could ask yourself, how long would Saudi Arabia even be there if we weren’t defending them?” Mr. Trump said in his speech. “And I think we should defend them, but we have to be compensated properly.”
He added, “I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to hear that.”
Speaking at the Waldorf Astoria, Mr. Trump largely reiterated a broad economic vision he outlined in Detroit last month, vowing to slash taxes on business and scale back federal regulations, and to redraft or void trade agreements he views as disadvantageous to the United States.
But Mr. Trump’s remarks also underscored the opaque and improvisational nature of his policy agenda, which has been defined by a few grand promises but few concrete details. By putting a hard number on his job-creation promises — even if far-fetched — Mr. Trump may be aiming to strengthen a campaign message that has been light on policy outside the issues of immigration and trade.
And Mr. Trump has now twice revised his tax proposals during the campaign, first sharply scaling back plans for a $10 trillion tax cut and then, on Thursday, backing away from several ideas that drew criticism and mockery in the past.ng the main story.
He partly rolled back his earlier proposals to reduce corporate taxation: Mr. Trump still proposes a 15 percent tax rate on corporate income, but it would no longer apply to business income reported on personal taxes, generally limiting the lower rate to the largest corporations. He also reduced a tax break that generated backlash because it would particularly benefit real estate developers.
Mr. Trump also now proposes to cut federal taxes by $4.4 trillion, not $10 trillion; he insists the plan would ultimately cost the government only $2.6 trillion in revenue, with the difference made up in economic growth.
Mr. Trump spoke loosely and plainly enjoyed himself, repeatedly teasing the well-tailored crowd about their own wealth and business ventures. He put his audience on notice that he would enlist some of them in government, to help renegotiate deals far larger than any they had dealt with before.
“Hate to say it,” Mr. Trump joked, “but your companies are peanuts.”
But Mr. Trump also continued to cast himself as a champion of working-class interests, and in his remarks invoked nostalgia for the heyday of the American auto industry, steel manufacturing and coal mining. And Mr. Trump attacked his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, for having described some of his supporters as “deplorables” for holding views she called bigoted.
“My economic plan rejects the cynicism that says our labor force will keep declining, that our jobs will keep leaving and that our economy can never grow as it did once before,” Mr. Trump said. “And boy, oh boy, did it used to grow.”
Mr. Trump’s description of an economy growing more slowly than it did after World War II until 2000 is accurate. But his promise to return to that postwar growth rate and add 25 million jobs over the next decade would be difficult to attain, given the nation’s shifting demographics.
Part of the downshift in the growth rate since 2000 was caused by a working-age population that has grown less rapidly than in earlier eras. And that trend is unlikely to reverse, despite Mr. Trump’s criticism in his speech of “cynicism that our labor force will keep declining.”
The Congressional Budget Office projects employment will rise by 7.1 million over current levels by 2026 amid an increase in the labor force of eight million people.
In effect, to add 25 million jobs by then, the number of people who seek to work would have to increase more than three times as much as the economists at the budget office think likely.
One way would be to encourage more prime-age Americans who neither work nor look for work to do so. This group includes stay-at-home parents and those who see few possibilities in the work force, and their numbers have risen substantially since 2008. But even if the percentage of working 25- to 54-year-olds returned to its peak of the spring of 2000, that would add only about 5.2 million more potential workers compared with current levels.
Another way would be to encourage people to retire later, extending the length of their careers. A third option would be to increase immigration levels sharply over the next decade so there are more potential workers born elsewhere.
Beyond promising to put many more people to work, Mr. Trump pledged to attain 3.5 percent annual growth in gross domestic product over the next decade — versus the 2 percent that has been routine in recent years and that the Congressional Budget Office projects for the decade ahead; such growth would require a steep increase in businesses’ productivity.
While not articulated in these terms, his plan imagines that the much-remarked-upon slump in productivity will reverse itself if Mr. Trump’s agenda of lighter regulation and lower taxes was put into effect.
The revised version of Mr. Trump’s tax plan would still substantially reduce federal taxation, replacing seven tax brackets with three and taxing most income at lower rates.
Under the plan, a married couple with $50,000 in taxable income would pay 12 percent in taxes, or $6,000, rather than 13 percent, or $6,572, under current law. Families with more income would save more. The top tax rate would drop to 33 percent from 39.6 percent.
More Americans would avoid paying taxes entirely, although not as many as under Mr. Trump’s earlier proposal. Mr. Trump said he wanted a $30,000 standard deduction for married couples instead of the $50,000 in his last plan. He also proposed a new limit of $200,000 on deductions by wealthy couples.
Mr. Trump’s proposals drew a friendly reception from his audience, particularly for his plan to reduce taxation on businesses.
But he also offered reminders of the distance that separates him from many of the financiers and business leaders who typically fund Republican campaigns. He repeatedly attacked foreign trade in harsh language, and for the second time this week questioned the independence and legitimacy of the Federal Reserve.
Mr. Trump charged that rather than simply doing what is right for the economy, the Fed made “the political decision every single time.”
And there was perhaps a subtler reminder of the divisive nature of Mr. Trump’s campaign: Terry J. Lundgren, the chief executive of Macy’s and the chairman of the Economic Club of New York, did not attend the speech. Under Mr. Lundgren, Macy’s pulled Trump-branded merchandise from its shelves last year, after Mr. Trump — who retaliated by repeatedly taunting Mr. Lundgren from the campaign trail — described undocumented immigrants from Mexico as rapists and drug smugglers.