America is experiencing the greatest economic turnaround in U.S. history. Two weeks after President Trump was inaugurated, I was in a small meeting in the Oval Office to establish the agenda for 2017 and 2018. He said that job one was to grow the economy, and he laid out a plan to focus on regulations, energy, taxes, and Dodd-Frank. President Trump’s agenda is working.
When I ran for the U.S. Senate in 2014, I talked about how $6 trillion was not at work in our economy. By rolling back regulations, undoing the most onerous parts of Dodd-Frank, and changing the tax code to end the archaic repatriation tax, we’ve begun freeing up that $6 trillion to work in our economy. Look at the results.
More than 4 million new jobs have been created. Middle-class income is the highest it’s ever been. Total unemployment is at a 50-year low. African-American unemployment is the lowest ever recorded. More than 1,500 bureaucrats have been fired at the VA for poor performance. Consumer confidence is at a 20-year high. Small business optimism is at a 35-year high.
President Trump promised to be there for farmers in Georgia and around the country. In December, we got a good Farm Bill across the finish line.
The U.S. Senate has taken action to fill judicial vacancies. Eighty-five federal judges have been confirmed. Nearly one out of every six circuit court judges was nominated by President Trump.
President Trump has been successful in getting European nations to commit to paying more for NATO. We’ve begun rebuilding our military. We are closer to a level playing field for American workers and businesses because of new trade deals with South Korea, Canada and Mexico. We have brought China to the trade table and are working toward zero tariffs with the European Union. We have rebuilt relationships with important allies.
After years of disinvestment, President Trump had to rebuild our military and get our readiness going again. Georgia is playing a major role in this effort. Robins Air Force Base has been named the home of the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System. The Army’s Cyber Command and Cyber School of Excellence continue to build their capability in Augusta. Production of the Columbia Class submarines that are coming soon to Kings Bay has been boosted.
Georgia is also seeing the results of the economic turnaround. Household income in Georgia grew by 4.3 percent in 2017. The population of Georgians living below the poverty line is the lowest it’s been since 2006. Unemployment claims in Georgia fell by 17 percent in 2017 and are the lowest they’ve been in 44 years.
These are the results of policies that boost private-sector job creation and grow the economy, not government. Thanks to 16 years of leadership under Govs. Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal, Georgia has been named the best state in the country in which to do business for six straight years. Just as I worked with Gov. Deal, I am already working with Gov.-elect Brian Kemp to ensure Georgia remains the best state in the country in which to do business.
There’s much more work to do. Health care, immigration and infrastructure are at the top of the president’s agenda for this year.
Unfortunately, Democrats have shown they will do whatever it takes to obstruct this president’s agenda, including shutting down the government. Political self-interest cannot continue to come before the national interest. We must break through the gridlock in order to deal with the big issues, including the $21 trillion debt crisis. This year’s economic growth is the first step toward tackling this debt. Now it’s time for action to change Washington’s broken budget process, cut redundant agencies, save Social Security and Medicare, and get after spiraling health care costs. Each of these is critical to dealing with the debt over the long-term.
2018’s results are not just Republican talking points. They are American accomplishments, some of which were done with bipartisan support. In 2019, we have to keep up the momentum. At the federal level, the key question in 2019 will be whether House Democrats will work with the president to legislate, or will they yield to political self-interest and only investigate?
Sen. David Perdue is the only Fortune 500 CEO in Congress and is serving his first term in the United States Senate, where he represents Georgia on the Armed Services, Banking, Budget, and Agriculture Committees.