Commentary: What Trump needs to do on immigration, healthcare and jobs

Article originally published in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal on November 14, 2016

It has now been seven days since Donald Trump won the election and became president-elect of the United States after one of the most divisive political campaigns our country has ever experienced.

Trump tapped into the fears of disaffected Americans wanting to take their country back. He played on the resentment of those who have lost jobs due to what he described as unfair trade agreements and illegal immigration, among other issues. He vilified “the elites” for not caring about ordinary Americans.

Trump ran for president as a Republican, but he is a populist. He hijacked the Republican Party and used it as a vehicle to win the presidency.

In a Bloomberg Businessweek article published on May 26, Trump describes the future of the GOP. He stated, “Five, 10 years from now, [the GOP] will be a different party. You’re going to have a worker’s party. A party of people that haven’t had a real wage increase in 18 years, that are angry.”

In Trump’s victory speech, he sounded presidential for the first time since he started his quest for the presidency. He said, “Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division. … To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people. I pledge to every citizen of our land, that I will be president for all Americans…”

Being the president for all Americans will define Trump’s legacy. He needs to make life better for all. How should he go about doing that?

On Nov. 11, Trump stated at a press conference that he has three priorities: immigration, healthcare and jobs. All three have a major impact on people and on the economy.


Trump and his political surrogates have been inconsistent on whether he will build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and whether an estimated 10 million illegal immigrants will be deported. Yesterday he said he would first deport only the three million illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds and address the remaining illegal immigrants later, leaving these families in limbo. These families will now worry indefinitely about their future.

Has Trump thought about the negative impact to the economy of deporting illegal immigrants, not to mention the hardship that these families would endure?

Immigrants are an important economic engine to our inner cities. They start businesses, pay taxes and hire workers. They build our homes, care for our children and are positive contributors to our society. He needs to put forward a way for those here illegally to stay.


The rising cost of healthcare insurance and the thin coverage provided by Obamacare is a real issue. Even Hillary Clinton has acknowledged that Obamacare needs to be fixed.

Trump has stated that he would repeal Obamacare and replace it with a private insurance company system that would control costs through the competitive marketplace.

The word “repeal” sends shockwaves to those who were prevented from buying health insurance due to pre-existing conditions. Trump announced that this important aspect of Obamacare would be maintained. His statement will receive a very favorable reaction.


Trump is a protectionist. He needs to understand that protectionists don’t create jobs; they destroy jobs, especially in today’s economically and technically integrated world. During his campaign, Trump ignored the millions of new jobs that have been created due to trade between countries.

Trump stated that he wants to renegotiate NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. As a dealmaker, Trump knows that the parties to an agreement will renegotiate if they can secure changes that benefit them. If Trump can’t renegotiate NAFTA and the U.S. decides to exit the agreement, the results would be a disaster for the U.S. economy.

Unfortunately, Trump’s candidacy and his election has brought out the worst in some people who are showing their disdain and in some cases hatred of others who are not like them. To be the president of all Americans, Trump needs to strongly state his opposition to their views and hateful actions. He did so during a CBS 60 Minutes interview with Leslie Stahl that was aired last night.

Trump needs to surround himself with smart, experienced pragmatic advisors, and he needs to listen to them. He needs to also over-rule them when they propose extreme views.

He shouldn’t appoint conservative extremists to advise him, as he did yesterday with the appointment of Steve Bannon to the position of chief strategist and senior counselor to the President. Bannon is a right-wing ideologue. Trump’s appointment of Bannon sends the wrong message to the more than half of the people who didn’t vote for him and will prove to be a terrible mistake.

Trump has an opportunity to fulfill his victory speech pledge to bind the wounds of division and to be president for all Americans. Will he? His legacy as president depends on it.

Stan Silverman is the former president and CEO of PQ Corp. He also is founder and CEO of Silverman Leadership and is vice chairman of the board of trustees of Drexel University. Silverman earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering and an MBA degree from Drexel University. He is also an alumnus of the Advanced Management Program at the Harvard Business School.

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