Live Reaction to Trump’s State of the Union Address

President Donald Trump is delivering his fourth State of the Union address tonight. This page will be updated to provide live reaction to the president’s policy proposals from Heritage Foundation experts.

Economy

Tax Cuts Continue to Boost Jobs and Wages

Thanks to the 2017 tax cuts and other pro-growth economic
reforms, like deregulation, the U.S. economy has outstripped expectations. The
president touted the economic success of slashing “job killing-regulations” and
“enacting historic and record-setting tax cuts.”

He is right, and the proof is in the numbers. 

Unemployment is at a 50-year low of 3.5%. Businesses have
added jobs for 111 straight months, the longest streak on record, and there are
more jobs available than people looking for them. 

Wages have also been increasing. Wage growth for the median
worker was 4% over the past year. What’s most impressive is that the lowest-income workers
in the U.S. have benefited the most from the strong labor market, seeing some
of the fastest wage growth of any workers.

Minority and lower-skilled workers have also seen some of
the largest drops in unemployment and largest wage gains in recent years. For
example, the median black female worker benefited from an 11% wage increase
over the last year. Our strong economy is truly benefiting all
Americans.

This isn’t happenstance. The 2017 tax cuts made American
workers globally competitive again by lowering punitive business taxes to
levels similar to most European countries. Coupled with sweeping reforms to
outdated and unnecessary regulations, tax cuts have made the U.S. an easier
place to do business and hire American workers.

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—Adam N. Michel, senior policy analyst, Hermann Center for the Federal Budget

Lifting
Americans Off Welfare

The president
rightly noted that millions of Americans have risen out of poverty—and been
lifted off welfare.—and that 7 million Americans have been lifted off food
stamps since the 2016 election.  

The best and necessary foundation for reducing
poverty: a strong economy, as the president has delivered. 

Congress and the president should build on
this foundation byreforming welfare
programs to promote marriage and work as the key long-term pathways out of
poverty. Specifically, Congress should reform the $1.1 trillion spent on the
means-tested welfare state by reducing welfare penalties against marriage and
requiring able-bodied recipients to work or prepare for work as a condition for
receiving assistance. 

Additionally, in programs designed to improve
behavior, Congress should pay only for outcomes rather than ineffective
services—e.g., pay when someone gets and stays off drugs, rather than just
paying for treatment that didn’t work.

Finally, Congress should accurately measure
benefits. When the government measures poverty, it excludes all welfare
benefits. This is unfair to the taxpayer and produces exaggerated, inaccurate
figures on poverty in the U.S. Policymakers should fix this by insisting that
all welfare benefits are correctly counted when estimating poverty. (For more,
see Robert Rector’s paper, Understanding the Hidden 1.1 Trillion
Welfare System and How to Reform It.
)

—Marie Fishpaw, director, domestic policy studies

Defense Foreign Policy

Progress in Rebuilding Military

The president declared that “our military is completely rebuilt.” 

The last three years have indeed been good for the U.S. military, and much of the lost readiness that had dwindled over the years has been restored.  Army readiness, for example, is up 55%. 

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But despite favorable budgets, the military is not yet fully rebuilt. Years of budget cuts and years of over-use had strained the military, postponed necessary equipment refresh, and caused the military to shrink in size. 

While there are unmistakable signs of progress, there is still work to be done to fully restore the military. Additional investment and attention will still be needed.

—Thomas Spoehr, director, Center for National Defense

Source material can be found at this site.

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