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The Economy's Great — Let's Keep It That Way

The Economy's Great — Let's Keep It That Way
President Donald Trump gestures as he boards Air Force One at the at Sioux Falls Regional Airport after a fundraiser in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on September 7, 2018. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

Alfonse M. D'Amato By Wednesday, 12 September 2018 01:44 PM EDT Current | Bio | Archive

The good news continues to be that the U.S. economy is growing at a solid pace of nearly 4 percent, while unemployment is now below 4 percent. Even better news is that the benefit of this economic growth is flowing to American workers in the form of higher wages, which grew almost 3 percent over the past year.

You may not have heard much about all this good news as it’s so often drowned out by the mainstream media’s obsession with anything and everything negative related to Donald Trump. While the president invites the media’s distractions — like a bear who takes the bait and thereby encourages his detractors to attack more — he still deserves credit for helping steer the economy in the right direction.

Lower taxes and regulatory relief have combined to help fuel the economy’s growth. Manufacturing is on the rebound. American companies are building new plants and adding new workers. Construction is booming. Hiring signs are up everywhere.

The president’s relentless attention to the nation’s economy may pay even greater dividends over the next few years. The president is right to insist that free trade should be fair trade too. And his push for companies like Apple and Ford to move manufacturing production back to the U.S. is very much on target.

Apple employs a workforce chain of over a million people in Asia to make its highly profitable iPhones and other products. It’s estimated that because of low wages, lax labor laws, and weak environmental and worker health protections in these Asian countries, it costs Apple less than $375 to make an iPhone that sells here for almost $1,000. So when President Trump threatens to impose stiff tariffs on Apple imports and encourages Apple to instead build its iPhones in America, he’s making the kind of economic sense to working Americans they rightly believe has been missing for too long.

The same goes for American auto manufacturers. Ford’s recent announcement that it intends to import a new compact car into the U.S. from China met with Mr. Trump’s justifiable ire. He is pushing hard for Ford to relocate this production back to its U.S.-based plants. Again, the president is using the threat of increased tariffs if the cars aren’t produced here. That may not sit well with free trade professors and pundits, but it resonates with American assembly line workers whose jobs are at stake.

This focused presidential attention on U.S.-China trade matters is particularly timely. Last month China’s trade surplus with the U.S. hit a record $31 billion. That level of trade imbalance is simply not sustainable without eventually causing grave economic damage to America. Wielding the stick of tariffs over American companies along with the carrot of incentives for bringing factory jobs home can help chip away at this trade deficit.

The next big challenge right now is making sure there are enough well prepared American workers to fill all these new jobs. In some parts of the country there’s already a worker shortage, with too few qualified applicants for available openings. Companies are responding by recruiting workers who have been left out of the workforce, including undereducated and undertrained workers.

The U.S. education system must get in sync with the need to train these workers, redirecting more resources into job-preparing schooling. Rather than saddling graduates with big debts and irrelevant degrees, America’s colleges especially must turn attention to making young Americans employment ready. Congress should work with the president to see to it that higher education funds go to benefitting rather than burdening students, by tying federal grants and loans to graduates’ employment outcomes.

As the nation regains its economic footing it’s also imperative that we take a longer look forward to build on our growing prosperity. When things are going so well, it’s too easy to overlook some of the obvious challenges that are just down the road. Number one is the aging of the Baby Boomer generation and the impact this major demographic shift will have on the U.S. economy.

Economists of almost all persuasions agree that the pressure the retirement of Baby Boomers will place on the Social Security and Medicare systems is unsupportable for future generations. As lifespans have increased, modestly extending the eligibility age for future retirees’ eligibility for these programs is something that should not be put off until the programs are in the red.

So while we celebrate our good times now let’s not avoid our responsibility for the future too.

This column was originally published in the Long Island Herald Community Newspapers.

Former Senator D’Amato served a distinguished 18-year career in the U.S. Senate, where he chaired the Senate Banking Committee and was a member of the Senate Appropriations and Finance Committees. While in the Senate, Mr. D’Amato also Chaired of the U.S. Commission on Cooperation and Security in Europe (CSCE), and served on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The former Senator is considered an expert in the legislative and political process, who maintains close relationships with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. He is regularly called upon for his advice and counsel, and is recognized for his incisive analysis of national and international political affairs. The former Senator will share insights gained from his years in Washington “with a clear-eyed view of the political forces that shape the world we live in today.” To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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The good news continues to be that the U.S. economy is growing at a solid pace of nearly 4 percent, while unemployment is now below 4 percent.
trump, economy, trade
Wednesday, 12 September 2018 01:44 PM
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