President Trump began his State of the Union Address Tuesday night by extending an open hand to Democrats.
“Tonight,” the president said, “I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the American people we were elected to serve.”
Trump reported to the American people a long string of accomplishments in his first year. He attributed the economic results to his policies of “the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history” and eliminating “more regulations in our first year than any administration in history,” two of the central components of the historic Reagan boom.
As Trump reported in his speech:
“Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone. After years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages. Unemployment claims have hit a 45 year low. African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest level in history. Small business confidence is at an all-time high. The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion in value.”
But not one of the supposed Democrat advocates for blacks, Hispanics, and blue collar workers could even applaud these achievements.
Trump explained the components of his tax reform, which Democrats have flatly denied:
“Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses. To lower tax rates for hardworking Americans, we nearly doubled the standard deduction for everyone. Now the first $24,000 earned by a married couple is completely tax free. We also doubled the child tax credit. A typical family of four making $75,000 will see their tax bill reduced by $2,000 – slashing their tax bill in half….and millions of Americans will have more take home pay starting next month.”
Trump also explained clearly that the business tax cuts also benefit working people and the middle class. “We slashed the business tax rate from 35 percent all the way down to 21 percent,” the president said, “so American companies can compete and win against anyone in the world. These changes alone are estimated to increase average family income by more than $4,000.” That additional $4,000 in income is on top of the tax cuts for families and workers, which is why Trump’s tax cuts are going to be even more popular among working people than Democrat political leaders will acknowledge.
Trump further explained, “Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses – many of them thousands of dollars per worker. Apple has just announced it plans to invest a total of $350 billion in America, and hire another 20,000 workers.”
Trump’s deregulation means, as he said:
“We have ended the war on American energy – and we have ended the war on clean coal. We are now an exporter of energy to the world.”
President Obama did exactly the opposite on both tax cuts and regulation, which was why he got the opposite results. Obama stubbornly pursued such anti-growth policies, even after Reagan demonstrated what is pro-growth, which is why Obama deserves exactly zero credit for the good economic news of 2017 and 2018.
Despite Democrat opposition on every aspect of tax reform, Trump still offered to work with reasonable Democrats:
“Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need. Every Federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with State and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment – to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit…. We can lift our citizens from welfare to work, from dependence to independence, and from poverty to prosperity.”
This infrastructure initiative, which will be pro-growth as well, involves the exciting prospect of privatization, with private ownership and operation, paid back with user fees and tolls. But so far, the silence from Democrats has been deafening on their support, or lack thereof, of an infrastructure initiative from President Trump.
On immigration, Trump again offered true bipartisan compromise. His proposal includes what the Democrats want, and even more: a path to citizenship for 1.8 million “dreamers,” three times what Obama sought (but never adopted into law). But Trump also insisted on funding for a border wall, following Milton Friedman, who wisely advised that open, uncontrolled borders are unworkable when paired with a generous safety net like the one America offers.
Trump’s plan would also end the Visa lottery, which he said “randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or [safety].” Trump proposes instead to move towards merit based immigration, admitting “people who are skilled, want to work…, and who will love and respect our country.” And Trump would end chain migration, which currently enables each immigrant to bring in unlimited numbers of distant relatives, while legalizing spouses and children only.
For too long, the Democrats’ idea of bipartisan compromise is for Republicans to agree to whatever Democrats demand. Trump pushed back: “So tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties – Democrats and Republicans – to protect citizens of every background, color, religion and creed. My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans – to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers too.”
Lew Uhler is Founder and Chairman of the National Tax Limitation Committee and Foundation. He was a contemporary and collaborator with both Ronald Reagan and Milton Friedman in California and across the country.
Peter Ferrara, Senior Fellow for Legal Affairs at the Heartland Institute, served in the White House Office of Policy Development under President Reagan, and as Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States under President George H.W. Bush.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.