U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed last Tuesday’s State of the Union address and the economic progress we’ve made. Thanks to Republican policies like the historic tax cuts that became law in late 2017, America’s economy is thriving. For the past 12 months, the unemployment rate has been below 4 percent. Thune also discussed the struggling agriculture economy and the steps Congress and the administration are taking to strengthen it for farmers and ranchers.
Click here to watch Thune’s speech.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, last Tuesday the president delivered the State of the Union address.
“He discussed some of our biggest accomplishments over the past three years.
“And of course chief among those accomplishments is the economic progress we’ve made.
“During the Obama administration, our economy spent years in the doldrums.
“American families and American workers struggled to advance, and a historically slow recovery had left some experts predicting that a weaker economy would be the new normal.
“But Republicans didn’t believe that we should be resigning ourselves to that future.
“We knew that the real strength of the American economy – American businesses and American workers – was still there.
“But we also knew that burdensome regulations and an outdated tax code were preventing our economy from thriving the way it should.
“And so we took action.
“We cut burdensome regulations.
“And we passed a historic reform of our tax code.
“We cut tax rates for families, doubled the child tax credit, and nearly doubled the standard deduction.
“And then we took aim at the parts of the tax code that were holding back American workers and American businesses.
“We lowered tax rates across the board for owners of small and medium-sized businesses, farms, and ranches.
“We lowered our nation’s massive corporate tax rate, which was the highest corporate tax rate in the developed world.
“We expanded business owners’ ability to recover the cost of investments they make in their businesses, which frees up cash that they can reinvest in their operations and their workers.
“And we brought the U.S. international tax system into the 21st century so that American businesses are not operating at a competitive disadvantage next to their foreign counterparts.
“And tax reform is working.
“Unemployment is near its lowest level in 50 years.
“For the past 12 months, unemployment has been below 4 percent – a record that was last achieved in the late 1960s.
“African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Asian-Americans all saw record-low unemployment in 2019.
“Strong economic growth has also given discouraged workers the confidence to come off the sidelines and rejoin the labor force.
“Currently, the labor force participation rate is at its highest level in seven years.
“Last month, the economy created 225,000 jobs – well over market expectations.
“All told, the economy has created an average of 171,000 jobs per month over the past 12 months – a strong number.
“Wages are growing.
“For the past 18 months, wage growth has been at or above 3 percent.
“And as the president said in the State of the Union, this is a blue-collar boom.
“In contrast to the Obama administration, in this economy it’s blue-collar workers who are seeing the strongest wage growth.
“Gains in the stock market have also meant good news for American workers’ 401ks and pensions.
“And the list goes on.
“Of course, while we’ve made a lot of progress, our work isn’t done.
“While our economy as a whole has thrived, our nation’s farm economy continues to struggle.
“Low commodity and livestock prices, natural disasters, and protracted trade disputes have made the last few years challenging ones for farmers and ranchers.
“One of the most important things we can do to help the farm economy is to negotiate trade deals that expand markets for American agriculture products and give our farmers and ranchers certainty about what markets will look like going forward.
“That’s why I pushed for passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which the president signed last month.
“This agreement will maintain and expand farmers and ranchers’ access to the two biggest markets for American agriculture products and provide certainty about what these markets will look like for the foreseeable future.
“I’m particularly pleased about the improvements the agreement makes for the dairy industry – a growing industry in South Dakota.
“We need to conclude more strong trade agreements going forward that will expand markets for American agriculture products.
“The president also mentioned the trade agreement we’re negotiating with China.
“The president recently signed Phase One of the agreement, which includes a pledge from China to substantially increase its imports of American agriculture products.
“That’s excellent news for farmers and ranchers, but we need to make sure that China actually lives up to its commitments.
“China doesn’t have the best record in this regard, and it’s important that the United States make clear that any agreements must be honored.
“Mr. President, we’ve made a lot of progress for the American people over the past three years.
“But as I said, there’s more work to be done.
“I hope to work with my colleagues of both parties this year to continue to build on the economic progress we’ve made and create even more opportunities for American workers.
“And I will continue to make the needs of our nation’s farmers and ranchers one of my top priorities.
“I’m committed to seeing our nation’s farm economy catch up to our economy as a whole.
“I’m proud that Republican economic policies have made life better for American workers.
“And I will continue to work to ensure that every American has access to the benefits of our strong economy.”