During the signing ceremony for a new trade agreement on January 15, Vice President Mike Pence relayed several eye-opening statistics in his speech to those in attendance. Since President Trump took office, the U.S. economy has created more than seven million new jobs, the national unemployment rate is at a 50-year low, and the average household income for American families has risen $5,000. He outlined how the pro-growth and pro-worker policies of this administration have transformed the lives of millions by giving them more opportunity. It should surprise no one that good policy produced good results.
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I had the pleasure of attending this event at the White House with several of my House and Senate colleagues. Together, we witnessed this president fulfill a promise that previous administrations failed to keep. We saw him sign the Phase-One agreement, a first step toward rebalancing our trade relationship with China. This action was decades overdue.
With the ink barely dry on the China agreement and only one day later, the U.S. Senate passed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Better known as USMCA, this new deal with our northern and southern neighbors will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. Western Pennsylvanians know all too well that NAFTA’s lack of protections for U.S. workers devastated small towns and rural areas across the commonwealth, but this pain was not limited to our region. Communities throughout America’s heartland share a similar story. Because of this president, NAFTA will soon be a thing of the past.
These trade deals are two achievements in a long string of new and better economic policies. During the 115th Congress, Congressional Republicans enacted the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which let American workers keep more of their hard-earned wages and reformed business taxes to encourage industries to bring their money – and jobs – back to America. The law also established the Opportunity Zones Program, a federal tax incentive that empowers states and local governments to encourage investment in areas that desperately need it. Erie, Pennsylvania, which I am proud to represent, has been a national model for how to use these zones to revitalize economically distressed communities.
The Trump administration’s policies have also unleashed the might of our country’s energy sector. Because of this, we no longer depend on foreign nations to fill our cars and heat our homes, and we are the world’s largest exporter of oil and natural gas. Countless Americans are now back to work in industries that were needlessly hampered with job-killing regulations implemented during the previous administration. Energy prices are the lowest and most stable in recent memory.
What the last three years have demonstrated more than anything is that America is still the world’s most powerful and dynamic economy when government gets out of the way and trade negotiators think about the American worker before signing the dotted line. President Trump and his administration have done that consistently, and American families are reaping the benefits.
During his State of the Union speech to Congress in 1985, President Reagan said, “there are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.” He said this as America was in the middle of a similar experience. Taxes had been cut a few years earlier in 1981, millions of new jobs were being created, and we were again discovering that when freed from the shackles of bad leadership and government roadblocks, our innovative spirit and economic opportunity are unmatched.
In 2020, Americans are realizing this once again. They know that economic decline was not our destiny, and they finally have a leader that puts them first, keeps his promises, and believes in them. As a result, America is back in business and on a sustainable path to prosperity.
Mike Kelly, a Republican, represents Pennsylvania’s 16th Congressional District in the United States Congress and is a senior member of the House Committee on Ways and Means.