Trump slow to fill in details of policy plans

Trump slow to fill in details of policy plans
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Donald Trump has a common theme when it comes to fleshing out his policy plans: stay tuned.

Trump has repeatedly promised that details explaining his policy vision, or how exactly his ideas would work, would be forthcoming. Often, the GOP nominee has offered vague timelines, promising details in the “coming days.” But the delivery of those details has been a mixed bag.

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Trump’s major economic speech delivered in Detroit earlier this month was sprinkled with commitments to further flesh out policy ideas down the road. Among the areas he said would merit a closer look were his plans for repealing and replacing ObamaCare, implementing a new childcare tax credit for families, and investing in the nation’s infrastructure.

“Today, I will outline my economic vision. In the coming weeks, we will be offering more detail on all of these policies,” said Trump in the Aug. 8 speech.

“In the coming days, we will be rolling out plans on all of these items,” he later added in his remarks.

On Friday, Trump’s campaign website still lists ObamaCare, infrastructure, childcare, and crime as areas in need of reform, with details to come “in the near future.”

Not knowing when Trump will explain the mechanics of his policy ideas is one thing. But the GOP nominee also has a history of not delivering on those promises, blowing past his own deadlines.

For example, Trump told Reuters in a May interview that he would be releasing a plan in about two weeks for overhauling Wall Street regulation. He said the plan would be “close to dismantling ... Dodd-Frank,” but offered no further specifics.

Trump, though, has yet to release a financial regulation plan.

Adding to the confusion about Trump's policy vision is how quickly his ideas can change.

Shortly before Trump made his Detroit speech, his campaign apparently scrubbed Trump’s old tax plan from its website. In its place, Trump laid out a plan for three income tax rates that matches a proposal from House Republicans, with rates of 12, 25, and 33 percent.

But tax analysts say the shift to the new plan means that much of the details Trump once offered now don't count for much, leaving them guessing with just 11 weeks left until the election.

“When it comes to Donald Trump’s tax plan, we know far less today than we did 10 months ago,” said Howard Gleckman, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, on Thursday. “Last week, the Trump campaign promised it would provide more details about its tax plan, but did not say when... voters are left knowing almost nothing about what a President TrumpDonald John TrumpTed Cruz knocks New York Times for 'stunning' correction on Kavanaugh report US service member killed in Afghanistan Pro-Trump website edited British reality star's picture to show him wearing Trump hat MORE would really do about taxes.”

Similarly, Trump didn't offer much detail during a foreign policy speech Tuesday, where he called for “extreme vetting” of incoming immigrants, including enhanced screening aimed at identifying anyone with “hostile attitudes” towards the U.S. and its principles.

Outside experts questioned exactly how a Trump administration would better suss out potential threats.

“There are several obvious problems with these vague screening standards... does Trump expect visa applicants to answer truthfully knowing that their answers will get their visas denied?” wrote Matt Mayer, a visiting fellow with the American Enterprise Institute. “Next, it is very difficult to identify the individual beliefs and attitudes of immigrants short of clear open source statements on social media. Another problem is listing which American principles will be used for the screening. Will dissent be on the list? What about an opposition to a centralized government?”

Trump himself has maintained that an intense policy focus should not be a campaign priority, criticizing Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump's economic approval takes hit in battleground states: poll This is how Democrats will ensure Trump's re-election The Hill's Morning Report - Trump takes 2020 roadshow to New Mexico MORE for rolling out more specific policy briefs. Rather, he has maintained that the focus should be on selling himself as a candidate who will make the tough decisions.

“My voters don’t care and the public doesn’t care,” Trump said in a June interview with Time magazine. “They know you’re going to do a good job once you’re there.”

But following a campaign shakeup that saw Trump replace the top of his team, there are signs the GOP nominee could start talking up policy in the home stretch of the race.

Kellyanne Conway, his new campaign manager, argued Thursday that Trump should focus on the issues on the trail, rather than distractions or personal disputes.

“He really enjoys pivoting to policy,” she said on Fox News Thursday. “The pivot should be substantive. If Hillary Clinton is going to talk about Donald Trump, we’re going to talk about the issues.”

But even away from policy issues, Trump has sometimes fallen short when promising clarity.

After reports emerged questioning whether Trump’s wife, Melania, was in the country with the proper visa when she was a model during the 1990s, Trump promised to clear everything up in the future.

"They said my wife, Melania, might have come in illegally. Can you believe that one," Trump said at a campaign rally on Aug. 9, according to CNN. "Let me tell you one thing. She has got it so documented, so she's going to have a little news conference over the next couple of weeks. That's good. I love it. I love it."

It's still unclear when, or if, that press conference will happen.

The Trump campaign did not respond to a request to clarify the timeline on that issue or over numerous policy details Friday.

There are a handful of areas where Trump has offered particulars on how he would achieve a certain policy. Perhaps not surprisingly, Trump gets most specific in describing exactly how he would force Mexico to pay for building a border wall.

On his campaign website, Trump says he would propose a regulation on his first day in office that would require any foreigner living in the U.S. to prove they are there legally before being permitted to transfer money abroad. He also threatened to cancel visas, increase visa fees, and toughen up trade policy to force Mexico to take action.

However, some experts have questioned the practicality of forcing banks to enforce such a crackdown, or whether they would in fact compel Mexico to pay for the wall.