Live Free Or Die: America (and the World) on the Brink (30 page)

BOOK: Live Free Or Die: America (and the World) on the Brink
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The
Wall Street Journal
reported at the end of 2019 that wages were rising for rank-and-file workers, that is, nonsupervisory employees, who make up 82 percent of the workforce, at the quickest pace in more than a decade—even at a faster rate than for their bosses.
27

These stunning numbers disprove Democrats' claims that only the rich benefited from this economic growth. Failed presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren even claimed that “America's middle class is under attack.” But the Heritage Foundation's Stephen Moore put it in perspective. “Real median household income—the amount earned by those in the very middle—hit $65,084 (in 2019 dollars) for the 12 months ending in July,” wrote Moore. “That's the highest level ever and a gain of $4,144, or 6.8%, since Mr. Trump took office. By comparison, during 7½ years under President Obama—starting from the end of the recession in June 2009 through January 2017—the median household income rose by only about $1,000…. the median income continued its decline almost all of his first term and rose only slowly in his second term—the weakest recovery from a recession since the 1930s.” Under Trump, said Moore, “the middle class not only isn't shrinking, it's getting richer.”
28

Trump labor secretary Eugene Scalia noted that workers' wages were growing faster than their bosses', which was reducing income inequality. “At the end of the Obama administration” what we saw is wage growth for the high wage earners [and] slow wage growth for the low wage earners,” said Scalia. “We've flipped that in this economy.” This change was partly a result of decreasing unemployment and a reduction of regulations, Scalia argued.
29
Likewise, the White House reported that wealth inequality declined following the passage of Trump's tax cut—the net worth of the bottom 50 percent of households increased, while the share of the top 1 percent decreased.
30

As of August 2019, median family income had risen almost $5,000
since Trump took office—from about $61,000 in January 2017 to $65,976 in August 2019.
31
Yet CBS declared, “Two years after Trump tax cuts, middle class Americans are falling behind.” Moore described this as possibly “the most dishonest news story headline of recent times,” as median income had risen substantially. “So how in the world did CBS mangle the universally good news to come up with an opposite conclusion?” asked Moore. They did it with “a classic head fake,” by comparing the gains of the middle class only to those of the wealthiest 1 percent. “Even though the middle class had a bigger income boost under Trump than anytime in 20 years, the middle class is now allegedly suffering a decline since the rich saw even faster gains. This appears to be an intentional distortion of economic reality.”
32
Moore noted that CBS used similar trickery to downplay middle-class income growth by comparing it to income for the poor, which grew strongly.
33

President Trump achieved a number of other economic successes. Some $1 trillion returned to America from overseas after he passed his tax cut bill. He instituted Opportunity Zones to stimulate growth in poorer communities. His administration designated artificial intelligence, quantum information science, and 5G as emerging technologies and as national research and development priorities.
34
He reported in his 2019 State of the Union address that “as a result of my administration's efforts, in 2018 drug prices experienced their single largest decline in 46 years.”
35
He worked to expand apprenticeship programs, with more than 660,000 apprentices getting hired. He established the National Council for the American Worker to develop a workforce strategy for future jobs. More than 370 companies signed Trump's “Pledge to America's Workers,” in which they vowed to provide more than 14.4 million employment and training opportunities. And he signed an executive order on Cyber Workforce Development aimed at giving America the most skilled cyber workforce in the twenty-first century.

DEREGULATION

Deregulation is another area where the Republican Party, prior to Trump, was more talk than action. Convinced that regulations were burdening the economy and restricting our liberty, President Trump acted. The Competitive Enterprise Institute estimates that federal regulations cost $1.9 trillion annually, which amounts to a hidden tax of almost $15,000 per household.
36
Trump promised to cut two regulations for every new one imposed and has far exceeded that pledge. As of January 2020, President Trump had signed sixteen bills to deregulate various aspects of the economy, slashing 8.5 regulations for every new one passed
37
and saving nearly $50 billion.
38
The Council of Economic Advisers reported that twenty major regulatory actions the administration implemented would save American consumers and businesses some $220 billion per year, raise real incomes by $3,100 per household annually, and increase U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) by 1.0 to 2.2 percent over the next decade.
39

The administration formed the Governors' Initiative on Regulatory Innovation to expand Trump's model for regulatory reform to local and state governments. The initiative seeks to reduce outmoded local and state regulations, cut costs, advance occupational licensing reform, and align federal and state regulations.
40
Trump also signed an executive order to reduce obstacles small company employees face in participating in retirement plans.
41

In October 2019, Trump signed two executive orders to increase transparency in the federal regulatory process. One bars federal agencies from skipping a cost-benefit analysis and avoiding public comment. The other protects people from unexpected penalties arising from interpretations of obscure regulations, by ensuring they are given advance notice of the agency's jurisdiction and the applicable legal standards. This is designed to shelter people from major fines for conducting innocuous activities on their own property, such as building a pond. “Today, we take bold, new action to protect Americans from
out-of-control bureaucracy and stop regulations from imposing secret rules and hidden penalties on the American people,” said President Trump at the signing ceremony for the orders.
42

The administration also rolled back the “Waters of the U.S.” rule, an Obama-era order that empowered the federal government to regulate even swamps and wetlands on private property, subjecting farmers to heavy fines and uncertainty. The rule change would prevent landowners from spending thousands of dollars on permit costs. Other federal and state regulations would still apply, but repeal of this rule, says EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler, “would mean that farmers, property owners and businesses will spend less time and money determining whether they need a federal permit.”
43

Importantly, President Trump rejected environmentalist fearmongering and terminated President Obama's reckless war on the coal industry. The administration's greenhouse gas emissions plan aims to boost production from coal-fired power plants. The plan allows states to develop their own initiatives to increase the efficiency of their power plants.
44
Trump also signed a bill repealing the Obama administration's Office of Surface Mining's Stream Protection Rule, which effectively banned mining in portions of Appalachia,
45
saying the elimination of this “terrible job killing rule” would save “many thousands of American jobs, especially in the mines.”
46

Leftist environmental extremists always force us to falsely choose between the environment and the economy, demonizing conservatives as enemies of the planet. In fact, conservatives believe in good stewardship but reject the radical solutions offered by leftists, which don't work, savage our domestic energy sources, and financially burden consumers. As such, Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) replaced the Obama administration's overreaching “Clean Power Plan” with an “Affordable Clean Energy” (ACE) rule, which allows states to reduce emissions while still providing affordable energy for consumers.
47

In August 2018, the administration also recommended freezing
the extreme miles-per-gallon standard for cars and light trucks at their 2020 level, instead of implementing Obama's unrealistically stringent standards. Wheeler stated that the EPA seeks to strike “the right regulatory balance” between cost, safety, and environmental concerns. The change will prevent vehicle prices from increasing by an average of $2,340.
48
The administration also seeks to replace Obama-era fuel economy regulations with the SAFE Vehicles Rule to make cars cheaper and “substantially safer.”
49
In compromise, the Trump administration agreed to increase fuel economy standards by 1.5 percent per year from 2021 through 2026 instead of freezing them at 2020 levels.
50
Of course, that wasn't enough to please environmentalists, who won't be satisfied until we return to the horse and buggy—and even then, they'd probably object to exploiting horses.

Trump also signed a bill rolling back bank rules of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, which was passed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Trump's bill lifted onerous rules on small and medium-sized lenders and was designed to spur economic growth. Trump was adamant that Dodd-Frank was crippling community banks and credit unions. Despite progressive angst over the bill, seventeen Senate Democrats voted for it.

On June 25, 2019, Trump established the White House Council on Eliminating Regulatory Barriers to Affordable Housing, saying that “federal, state, local and tribal governments impose a multitude of regulatory barriers—laws, regulations, and administrative practices—that hinder the development of housing,” impede America's economic growth, and harm low- and middle-income Americans.
51

ENERGY

President Trump dramatically reversed Obama-era energy policies—with amazing effect. In April 2017, he issued an executive order to expand offshore oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans
and open more leases to develop offshore drilling. This was just four months after Obama withdrew these areas from development. At the signing ceremony Trump touted America's abundant offshore oil and gas reserves, lamenting that the federal government had kept 94 percent of these areas closed from exploration and production. “We're opening it up,” said Trump.
52
In March 2019 an Alaska district judge blocked Trump's order, declaring that presidents have the power under federal law to remove lands from development but cannot revoke those removals.
53
In May, the Trump administration appealed the ruling.
54
Separately, the Department of the Interior and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced they would offer 78 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas leasing in March 2019.
55

President Trump signed a bill to open the Alaskan Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to domestic energy production, with the Bureau of Land Management offering leases on 1.6 million acres.
56
Trump also signed executive orders to permit the building of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL oil pipelines, which had been blocked by the Obama administration. Keystone would be almost 1,200 miles long and pass through six states, shipping more than 800,000 barrels of petroleum daily from Canadian oil sands through Nebraska and on to the Gulf coast. The Dakota pipeline would transport crude oil from North Dakota through South Dakota and Iowa and on to Illinois.
57
The projects would create 42,000 temporary jobs and generate a projected $2 billion in earnings.
58
In April 2020, however, a Montana federal judge ordered the Army Corps of Engineers to suspend all filling and dredging activities on the pipeline pending proof that it complies with the Endangered Species Act.
59

In June 2017 Trump approved construction of a new petroleum pipeline between the United States and Mexico to boost American exports.
60
The Trump EPA also rescinded Obama's methane emissions rule that would cost energy companies a projected $530 million annually.
61

As a result of Trump's systematic reversal of Obama's energy
agenda, the United States, as noted, has become a net exporter of natural gas for the first time since 1957 and for the first time since 1973 is the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas, having surpassed Saudi Arabia and Russia.
62
More good news on this front came in April 2020 when it was reported that Pantheon Resources PLC, an oil exploration firm, discovered a deposit of some 1.8 billion barrels in Alaska's North Slope region, south of Prudhoe Bay.
63

TRADE

Initially many people mistakenly assumed President Trump was a protectionist, but as I've said from the beginning, his goal is not to isolate America from the rest of the world or restrict our international trade but to secure better trade deals that stop other nations from taking advantage of us. Fulfilling his campaign promise, Trump imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada, and Mexico, believing these industries had suffered from unfair trade practices that reduced our production of those products and imperiled our national security.
64

From the beginning of his term, Trump sought better trade deals with our trading partners. Early on, by executive order, he withdrew the United Sates from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), billed as a free trade agreement between the United States and eleven other countries. Critics of the agreement believed it was a regulatory nightmare that did more to advance non-trade special interests than to promote free trade.
65
“Great thing for the American worker what we just did,” said Trump as he signed the order ending our participation in the deal that was a central part of President Obama's Asia policy.

BOOK: Live Free Or Die: America (and the World) on the Brink
10.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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