Donald Trump: U.S. voters want a raise

The sectors with the enviable pay raises
The sectors with the enviable pay raises

Donald Trump says a big reason he's getting so many votes is the lousy U.S. economy.

"Wages for our workers haven't budged in 20 years," he said Monday. The speech was focused on national security after the shooting in Orlando, Florida where 49 people were killed, but he also hit on the economy. It's a key issue for Trump.

"Take a look at the wages ... we can't afford to keep going like this," he said.

Trump is right about pay.

A typical American middle class family earns $53,657 a year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That's almost exactly the same amount it took home in 1996, after you adjust for inflation.

family income last 20 years

The question is whether Trump's formula for raising wages would work -- or make things worse.

His two big ideas to supercharge the economy are fixing U.S. trade deals and enacting large tax cuts for businesses and individuals. ("We're going to have great trade deals," he said Monday, ad libbing from his prepared remarks.)

Most experts think Trump's proposals on trade and taxes are harmful and could even sink America's economy into a recession.

Related: Trump will cause 'protracted recession'

"His tax plan is not preferable to the status quo. I would take what we have right now over his tax plan. His tax plan will have really significantly increase the deficit," says Michael Strain, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a right-leaning think tank.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates Trump's tax proposal would add $10 trillion to the U.S. debt over the next decade alone.

Related: Hillary Clinton's best economic idea

And many economists have denounced Trump's plans to put tariffs on stuff made in China and Mexico. That strategy was tried once in the past -- in the Great Depression -- and it worked out terribly.

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