U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the economy’s strong progress over the last year and how its success has positively affected middle-income Americans across the nation, including in South Dakota.
Thune’s speech below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, Republicans started out the last Congress with one goal: make life better for American families.
“After years of economic stagnation in the Obama administration, too many families were struggling.
“Wages were stagnant, and opportunities were few and far between.
“Republicans were determined to change that.
“We knew that American workers and American businesses were as driven, creative, and innovative as ever.
“But we also knew that they were facing a lot of obstacles, including burdensome regulations and an outdated tax code that acted as a drag on economic growth.
“And so we took action.
“We eliminated excessive regulations.
“And we undertook a historic reform of our tax code to put more money in Americans’ pockets and get our economy going again.
“The tax code may not be the first thing people think of when they think about economic growth, but it is actually one of the key factors that determine how well our economy functions.
“The tax code can encourage growth and job creation, or it can make it difficult for businesses to even operate, much less grow and create jobs.
“Prior to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, our tax code was not helping our economy.
“Large and small businesses were weighed down by high tax rates and growth-killing tax provisions, and all the regulatory and compliance burdens that came along with them.
“And our outdated international tax rules left America’s global businesses at a competitive disadvantage in the global economy.
“That had real consequences for American workers.
“A small business owner struggling to afford the annual tax bill for her business was highly unlikely to be able to hire a new worker or raise wages.
“A larger business struggling to stay competitive in the global marketplace while paying substantially higher tax rates than its foreign competitors too often had limited funds to expand or increase investment in the United States.
“And so in December 2017, after months of work, we passed a comprehensive reform of our nation’s tax code.
“We took action to put more money in American families’ pockets immediately by cutting tax rates, doubling the child tax credit, and nearly doubling the standard deduction.
“And then we focused on improving the playing field for American workers by improving the playing field for 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 up until January 1 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 now we’re seeing the results.
“Our economy is thriving.
“The economy grew at a robust 3.4 percent in the third quarter of 2018.
“312,000 jobs were created in December, and more than 2.6 million jobs have been created since tax reform was signed into law.
“2018 saw the most impressive job growth in the manufacturing industry since 1997.
“2018 also saw 19 states reach record-low unemployment rates.
“This month, initial jobless claims dropped below 200,000 for the first time since 1969.
“And in 2018, for the first time ever, the number of job openings outnumbered the number of job seekers.
“The Department of Labor reports that for nine straight months, there have been more job openings than people looking for work.
“Wage growth has accelerated.
“Wages are currently growing at the fastest rate since 2009.
“Small business optimism hit record highs in 2018.
“And the list goes on.
“In human terms, what this means is that job seekers are finding it easier to find jobs, and jobs they actually want.
“Fewer families are having to choose between repairing the car, or paying for a kid’s braces.
“More individuals are able to put money away for their retirement.
“More families can afford to take that family vacation, and put money away for the kids’ college.
“I’m proud that the work we’ve done is making life better for American families.
“And Republicans are going to continue working to expand opportunities for Americans even further.”