Sen. John Thune
During his 1980 debate with then-President Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan famously asked Americans whether they were better off than they’d been four years earlier. That question has been a measuring stick for elected officials ever since. Republicans in Congress are committed to making life better for Americans. We’ve made great strides over the past two years, and there’s more on the horizon.
After a historically slow economic recovery from the Great Recession, too many Americans were struggling. That’s why Republicans passed a comprehensive reform of our outdated tax code to put more money in Americans’ pockets and get our economy going again. We cut tax rates for families and doubled the child tax credit, and in 2018 the average family of four saw a tax cut of more than $2,000.
The new tax law also made it easier for employers to grow and create jobs, and now we’re seeing the results. The economy is thriving. Job creation is up. Wages are growing at the fastest pace in a decade. Personal income is up. Business investment is up. Tax reform is bringing workers more opportunities, bigger paychecks, and a better quality of life.
But that’s not all we achieved. We expanded access to potentially life-saving experimental treatments for terminally ill patients. We passed the longest extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program in the program’s history. And we passed multibillion-dollar, bipartisan legislation to combat the nationwide opioid epidemic and to bring hope to families and communities that have been devastated by this crisis.
We also enacted legislation to provide better education and training to workers. We passed bipartisan legislation to support clean energy technologies. And we passed a farm bill to support our nation’s farmers and ranchers and protect our environment.
We’re not done. Republicans are working right now to develop and pass policies that will continue to grow the economy, including the struggling agriculture economy, help address the cost of living, and improve quality of life.
We’re committed to making tax relief for American families permanent. We’re also working to open new markets for American goods and services so that American workers, American companies, and American agricultural producers can prosper. One big priority is passing the United States-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement, which would grow our economy and support 176,000 new U.S. jobs.
One burden that nearly every family has struggled with at some point is the high cost of health care. That’s why Senate Republicans, led by Sens. Lamar Alexander and Chuck Grassley, are currently working on a number of measures to make health care more affordable, including legislation to reduce the cost of prescription drugs, increase access to lower-cost generic drugs, and address so-called surprise billing, those unexpected bills in the mail when it wasn’t disclosed to you that, for example, your emergency room physician was not in your insurance network.
Another burden facing families is the cost of education. Republicans on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee are focused on passing legislation this year to make it easier to apply for federal student aid and to pay back student loans. We will also continue to support career and technical education and will work to further increase the usefulness of popular 529 savings plans.
Still another pressure facing families is the cost of retirement, and Republicans are currently working on legislation to make it easier to enroll in retirement plans, easier for small businesses to offer plans to their employees, and easier to move plans from job to job.
One bright spot for family budgets in recent years has been energy costs. Republicans are committed to making sure that energy bills stay affordable by supporting responsible energy development. We’re also committed to keeping our air clean and our environment healthy by investing in clean energy. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, under the leadership of Sen. John Barrasso, recently passed bipartisan legislation to increase the use of carbon capture technologies to reduce emissions. Senate Energy Committee Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski recently introduced bipartisan legislation to support the development of next-generation reactors to boost the use of nuclear power, America’s most significant source of clean energy.
Not all of these measures Republicans are working on get a lot of attention in the news. Many of our proposals don’t have catchy names, and they certainly don’t make unrealistic, pie-in-the-sky promises to the public. But what our proposals do have is the potential to continue to make life better for American families — to make paychecks bigger, the cost of living more reasonable, the air cleaner, retirement easier, and college more affordable.
Thanks to tax reform and other legislation we’ve enacted, families are doing better than they have in a long time. Republicans are going to keep working to ensure families do even better in the future.
Note to editors: A similar version of this column first ran on www.washingtonexaminer.com.