President Trump hit on a great number of issues in tonight's State of the Union speech, but only one of them matters for the coming election and his own re-election, if he chooses to seek it. That's the economy.
Trump ad-libbed a bit when he discussed current economic conditions, but this is what the prepared remarks looked like:
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 levels 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. That is great news for Americans' 401k, retirement, pension, and college savings accounts.
And just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history. We slashed the business tax rate from 35 percent all the way down to 21 percent, 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. Small businesses have also received a massive tax cut, and can now deduct 20 percent of their business income.
After introducing two small business owners in the audience and describing how tax reform has benefited them, Trump went on:
"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."
Of course, investments by one company or another make little difference, but Trump and the Republicans are counting on many, many companies changing the way they do things altogether in the new environment. It could happen.
And this is the Republicans' only hope in 2018. In the current environment, Republicans would need some truly breathtaking economic and job growth to mollify voters' concerns and save them from the loss of the U.S. House. With tax reform, this could all conceivably happen. Some might even argue that quick passage of an infrastructure bill makes it more likely. But can any of it happen quickly enough to have an impact in November?