The nation continues to debate President Trump’s State of the Union speech, picking it apart for alternative facts, exaggerations, and flaws. Many critics have honed in on the president’s discussion of the country’s recent economic upswing, arguing that the current boom is the result of eight years of Barack Obama, not one year of Donald Trump.
There may well have been an upward trend, but the current explosion is, and can only be, attributed to the work of the Trump administration and congressional Republicans. Obama did not pass December’s tax reform bill. Obama did not cut or pare down nearly 1,600 federal regulations.
These actions caused the stock market to skyrocket over the past year. These actions prompted the CEO of JPMorgan Chase to declare that 4 percent growth is “possible…sometime this year.” The Atlanta Federal Reserve says 5 percent growth may even be coming in the first quarter of 2018. And it is these actions that have led Apple, Walmart, and others to invest billions of dollars in American workers and our economy.
Liberty-minded citizens across America rightly celebrate these actions. They open up a path to prosperity and pave the way for greater social stability. President Trump and Republicans swept the 2016 elections based on promises of repealing Obamacare, appointing federal judges who read the Constitution as it is written, tearing down the sprawling regulatory state and enacting substantive, serious tax reform. While there’s no denying that too many of them broke their repeated promises to repeal Obamacare, they have delivered on every single other one – and then some.
But these achievements are not sufficient on their own. Congress and the administration must do everything in their power to build on this momentum. There is a lot to lose this year if they do not. If Democrats sweep the midterm elections – as the minority party historically tends to do – then it will become even less possible to govern than it already is, let alone continue to knock out other items on the conservative policy agenda. The tense elections in Virginia last fall, where 15 seats flipped to the Democrats, is an indication of the shifts to come – unless conservatives across the nation and Republicans in Washington throw themselves into the fray.
The key to keeping these seats is making the most of this economic moment. Americans will start to see more money in their wallets and businesses will start to see a greater profit. But by continuing to advance the deregulatory initiatives, the administration can expand on these successes, making it easier for businesses to cut down on their legal fees and invest those savings in hiring new workers and offering better wages and benefits.
Another important step will be making spending cuts. President Trump and congressional Republicans are playing the long game with the tax bill, banking on a continued pattern of economic growth and the gradual reinvestment in American industry. But in the meantime, it’s their responsibility to move the needle toward fiscal responsibility – and that means cutting federal spending. Our federal debt currently stands at a staggering $20 trillion, and the interest on that debt continues to grow with every passing year. Doing the hard work now will spare us the pain of complete economic ruin in the not-too-distant future.
And the best place to start on such cuts would be welfare reform. Tinkering around the edges of discretionary spending is of little benefit, but not enough to drive down debt. Taking steps to streamline programs – like requiring the able-bodied unemployed to actively seek work while receiving benefits or partnering with the private sector to find work placement opportunities – will relieve taxpayers and allow the unemployed to live productive, fulfilling lives.
As I think about the months ahead, I’m reminded of a scene from Star Wars. Luke, Han, Leia, and the others have just escaped from the Death Star and are fighting off the TIE fighters that are coming after them from the Millennium Falcon. Luke, after several fumbling attempts, finally manages to bullseye one.
“I got him!” he cries to Han, delighted.
“Great, kid. Don’t get cocky,” Han responds.
That’s what I would say to Republicans – and to conservative grassroots activists across the nation. We’ve shot down a few TIE fighters, maybe even downed a few Star Destroyers. But we can’t get cocky, and we have to keep the end goal in mind as we move forward.
If we want to be able to expand our successes and bring back economic liberty for the long term, we’ll need more time – and that means we need to keep the majority in 2018. That means increased economic growth is absolutely necessary. Only by digging our heels in and continuing to saw away at our bloated, bureaucratic federal government can we defeat the Democrats in 2018 and continue to bring liberty, growth, and strength to our nation.
Adam Brandon (@adam_brandon) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is president and CEO of FreedomWorks.
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