The past year will go down in political history as the year that more people were wrong about more things than any other time – at least since the year before. President Trump was written off before inauguration day in the most derisive terms as someone who would be a failure from day one. And yet, as we look back on the first year of his presidency, it was one of consequence and accomplishment.
As we move forward in 2018, how can you not be rooting for this president? For the first time in a long time, Washington is getting things done. Last year, we saw major policy initiatives that had been talked about by the leadership of both parties for decades actually enacted.
There are many accomplishments for the Trump administration to trumpet – but there are three big ones that matter the most because of their tangible and relatively immediate impacts on economic growth. They have helped cement market dynamics that will drive continued economic expansion in the long term.
The first is tax reform. For the better part of a year, nearly every political professional – pundits, the media, consultants, and elected officials – talked down the president’s ability to get tax reform done. As late as October, we were treated to the analysis of major news outlets reminding us that tax reform is complicated and couldn’t possibly be completed before Christmas. Yet, here we are today, with the most sweeping tax reform in two generations – more than $3 trillion in tax cuts and a significant simplification of the tax code. The bill that President Trump signed lowers personal income tax rates, lowers corporate tax rates, doubles the personal deduction, and doubles the child-care tax credit, among other things. The law also allows companies like mine to fully expense the cost of investing in new equipment and facilities. This provision alone will be a huge growth signal to American businesses, and it means more investment and more hiring.
Trump’s regulatory rollback has been his second major accomplishment. One recent study put the cumulative compliance costs of the Obama administration’s regulatory legacy at close to $900 billion. President Trump has set a benchmark for at least 3 percent economic growth annually, and he knows that we can’t get there if the government is burdening job creators with $100 billion in annual compliance costs. Instead, for every proposed regulation, Trump has offered an elegant solution – find two that are outdated, overly burdensome, or ineffective and repeal them. With the help of Republicans in Congress, Trump has killed or frozen over 850 federal rules and regulations. Instead of a 2-to-1 ratio, Trump has over-delivered, repealing or freezing 22 regulations for every new one proposed.
The practical effect is that if a business can only afford to hire one employee, and their compliance obligations force them to bring on a paper pusher instead of someone that is producing a product – that business isn’t growing. The president understands that intuitively and has been willing to fight to see these costly burdens removed. By the end of his first term in office, this approach could stand as the single most impactful initiative of his presidency in terms of its overall economic impact and as a real-life demonstration of how a perpetually growing government can successfully be constrained.
Trump’s third main accomplishment comes in the area of American energy. Reliable and affordable energy not only bolsters consumer confidence and improves living standards, but also contributes more than $1 trillion annually to the U.S. economy, accounting for 8 percent of our national gross domestic product and tens of millions of jobs. When the president talks about American energy, he is acknowledging the need to focus on America’s long-term economic growth. To accomplish that, the president has done two important things.
First, he has improved access to American energy resources. Energy exploration is a long-term play. It takes the better part of ten years of research, mapping, and testing to bring a new source online. At every opportunity, Trump has worked to increase the ability to produce domestic energy by improving access to the places that hold the most promise, including federal lands, offshore, and in the Arctic.
Second, he has reduced the cost of moving American energy to market. The barriers that exist to move oil, coal, and natural gas from the source to consumers are enormous. These barriers to rail, pipeline, and truck traffic as well as the movement of energy products through our ports, hinder the reliability of our energy production, and create substantial costs that are born by all Americans. President Trump recognized this immediately, and one of his first actions as president was to approve the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, dramatically lowering the transportation costs for fuel in key parts of the U.S.
There are a number of other accomplishments of significance worth talking about, but these three big domestic accomplishments highlight the major differences between Trump and his predecessor. Lower taxes, lower regulatory burdens, and an emphasis on domestic energy is a recipe for long-term economic growth. Americans expect results, and with President Trump, they are getting the results they were promised.