Weekly Columns

Ten years ago, the global financial crisis roiled the economy in the United States and elsewhere. The way our economy is performing right now means it might be easy to forget how dire the situation was then, but reflecting on this contrast helps us appreciate how far we’ve come and how we got here.

October’s jobs report was widely celebrated, and for good reason. The economy exceeded expectations and added 250,000 jobs. The unemployment rate remains at a nearly 50-year low.

Wages grew by 3.1 percent – the best year-over-year gain since 2009. Additionally, real disposable personal income is up 3.5 percent so far in 2018.

The U.S. economy grew by 4.2 percent in the second quarter and by 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2018, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. We’re growing the economy at the fastest pace in nearly four years.

These are all positive indicators that our economy is healthy and that federal policy is helping to create a climate where businesses are positioned to capitalize and flourish.

When I travel across Arkansas speaking with business people and local leaders, I hear an unmistakable sense of optimism and excitement in their voices as they explain how businesses feel empowered to grow and expand. This didn’t happen by accident or coincidence. It’s the result of thoughtful, deliberate policies that are designed to boost confidence, relieve unnecessary burdens and spur growth.

Tax reform is at the top of the list of reasons why our economic indicators are moving in the right direction. Reforming America’s tax code for the first time in 31 years was long overdue and something that businesses were desperate for in order to make them more globally competitive. The changes we made to the tax code not only sought to help individuals and families, but by lowering the tax rate for pass-through businesses to 21 percent we’ve incentivized them to use their resources to hire new employees or invest further in their operations.

More than 1.8 million jobs have been created since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act became law.

We have also used the Congressional Review Act to roll back harmful regulations from the Obama era. I, like most Arkansans, agree that there are some regulations and safeguards that we need in place to ensure safety and fairness. At times, though, the federal government tends to create regulations for regulation’s sake which often hinder businesses, forcing them to divert resources to comply with overburdensome rules that stifle growth and hiring.

By removing excessive red tape, Republicans in Congress and this administration have saved Americans at least $50 billion in regulatory costs in the last 1.5 years.

These policies are working for Americans and for our economy. Consumer confidence is now at a 17-year high. Optimism from small business owners is at historic levels. Business investment is up. Median household incomes are at an all-time high and the percentage of Americans living in poverty is at the lowest level since 2006.

We are moving in the right direction and people across Arkansas and America can feel it. They know that when Washington gets out of the way and frees businesses and entrepreneurs to do what they are capable of doing, the benefits reach far and wide.

We’ve seen the results for ourselves. Now we must commit to keep working toward solutions that help build on the strong fundamentals of this economy and improve the lives of people across our state and throughout the country.