The Way Forward: 10 Steps Toward A More Resilient Rural America
Rural America was struggling before the Trump administration assumed office, with stagnant employment levels since the 2008 recession and suppressed agriculture prices since 2014. The federal government must take bold steps to build a more prosperous and inclusive rural economy. While Congress needs to take action in order to implement the big changes needed, here are 10 ways that a pro-rural executive branch could make a big difference.
Combatting The Opioid Crisis
Brought unprecedented attention and support to combat the opioid crisis.
Took action to seize illegal drugs and punish those preying on innocent Americans.
- In FY 2019, ICE HSI seized 12,466 pounds of opioids including 3,688 pounds of fentanyl, an increase of 35 percent from FY 2018.
- Seized tens of thousands of kilograms of heroin and thousands of kilograms of fentanyl since 2017.
- The Department of Justice prosecuted more fentanyl traffickers than ever before, dismantled 3,000 drug trafficking organizations, and seized enough fentanyl to kill 105,000 Americans.
- DOJ charged more than 65 defendants collectively responsible for distributing over 45 million opioid pills.
- Brought kingpin designations against traffickers operating in China, India, Mexico, and more who have played a role in the epidemic in America.
- Indicted major Chinese drug traffickers for distributing fentanyl in the U.S for the first time ever, and convinced China to enact strict regulations to control the production and sale of fentanyl.
Remaking The Federal Judiciary
Appointed a historic number of Federal judges who will interpret the Constitution as written.
- Nominated and confirmed over 230 Federal judges.
- Confirmed 54 judges to the United States Courts of Appeals, making up nearly a third of the entire appellate bench.
- Filled all Court of Appeals vacancies for the first time in four decades.
- Flipped the Second, Third, and Eleventh Circuits from Democrat-appointed majorities to Republican-appointed majorities. And dramatically reshaped the long-liberal Ninth Circuit.
Appointed three Supreme Court justices, expanding its conservative-appointed majority to 6-3.
- Appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch to replace Justice Antonin Scalia.
- Appointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.
- Appointed Justice Amy Coney Barrett to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
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Our Economy Is Smaller Than It Was Last Year
Real GDP grew by 7.4 percent in the third quarter of this year. While this is the fastest quarter of growth on record, this was nearly inevitable as it follows the steepest collapse on record in the second quarter, when real GDP fell by 9 percent . Given the sheer magnitude of the second-quarter contraction which wiped away five years of growth in just three months even a modest rebound was guaranteed to generate record-breaking growth rates in the third quarter.
Even so, growth last quarter was not nearly enough to return our economy to where it was at the end of last year. Real GDP is still 3.5 percent lower than its level in the fourth quarter of 2019 a hole about as deep as the Great Recession. Indeed, returning our economy to its size at the end of last year would have required real GDP growth of more than 53 percent on an annualized basis. The economy remains in an even deeper hole when considering our pre-pandemic trajectory: compared to what the Congressional Budget Office expected in January, real GDP in the third quarter was 5 percent lower.
Trumps Foreign Policy Moments
Donald J. Trumps presidency marked a profound departure from U.S. leadership in areas such as trade and diplomacy, as well as an across-the-board toughening of immigration policies.
In his inaugural address, President Donald J. Trump announces an America First approach to foreign policy and trade, which centers on reducing U.S. trade deficits and rebalancing burden sharing within alliances. Trump promises to unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism and emphasizes that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.
Trump directs the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a twelve-country, Asia-focused trade agreement the United States had championed under the Barack Obama administration.
The president signs an executive order banning nationals of six Muslim-majority countries from traveling to the United States for ninety days. The order, later amended to include an additional two countries, also indefinitely freezes refugee intake from Syria. Days later, a federal judge in Washington State blocks part of the order, beginning a series of judicial challenges. That same week, Trump signs two other executive orders concerning immigration. One directs federal funds to the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, and the other bars so-called sanctuary cities from receiving federal grants.
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The State Of The Trump Economy
The longest partial federal government shutdown in American history may be over, but the economic consequences for people across the country endure. Decades of conservative rhetoric about smaller government were tested in real time, with disastrous costs for individuals, families, and businesses. On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump will deliver a State of the Union address that is sure to pass the blame for his shutdown onto others while he takes credit for an economy that has been growing for nine years. In his two years in office, President Trump has done everything in his power to set American workers and families back and place the country on the road to a low-wage, high-cost economy in which a few hands hold all the economic power. The 35-day shutdown is just the latest in a series of actions that hurt everyone except the wealthy and those with political connections.
Is The Supply Chain Crunch Causing You Concern Now About Holiday Gift Buying
Anyone noticed through the fog of Russia, Comey, Charlottesville, and now two monster hurricanes that the U.S. economy is booming faster than any time since the late Clinton years?
It is undeniable. And the pace of improvement is quickening. In the last year of the Obama administration, the economy was decelerating with a dismal 1.6 percent growth rate. The economy revved up to a three percent growth rate in the April-June 2nd quarter this year, which is a nice bounce but still not a great number.
A preliminary sneak peek at the current 3rd quarter GDP by the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, estimates an even brisker 3.4 percent growth.
Its easy to read too much into short term trends and, yes, they can turn on a dime. But the new bounce in the step of the economy is confirmed by many other indicators, almost all of which point straight north.
The Dow Jones industrial average is up over 3,000 points and the net wealth of Americans mostly through their pension funds has increased by more than $4 trillion.
In August the University of Michigan, which tracks consumer sentiment, reported that confidence soared to near its highest level in at least a decade. Other surveys by the NFIB and the National Association of Manufacturers find that confidence for their members is hovering at near record highs.
Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at The Heritage Foundation and served as a senior economic adviser to the Trump campaign.
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New Concerns Over American Democracy
Throughout his tenure, Donald Trump questioned the legitimacy of democratic institutions, from the free press to the federal judiciary and the electoral process itself. In surveys conducted between 2016 and 2019, more than half of Americans said Trump had little or no respect for the nations democratic institutions and traditions, though these views, too, split sharply along partisan lines.
The 2020 election brought concerns about democracy into much starker relief. Even before the election, Trump had cast doubt on the security of mail-in voting and refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in the event that he lost. When he did lose, he refused to publicly concede defeat, his campaign and allies filed dozens of unsuccessful lawsuits to challenge the results and Trump personally pressured state government officials to retroactively tilt the outcome in his favor.
Most Americans placed at least some blame on Trump for the riot at the Capitol, including 52% who said he bore a lot of responsibility for it. Again, however, partisans views differed widely: 81% of Democrats said Trump bore a lot of responsibility, compared with just 18% of Republicans.
Improving Business Sentiment Versus Unrealistic Expectations
The most effective policy Trump has introduced to spur growth is to energize business leaders, making them more willing to invest and expand. The tax cut reinforces this by putting more money into the hands of companies and households and making the U.S. a more attractive place to invest.
But Trump has also introduced policies with a negative impact on growth, notably the restrictions on immigration and increases in the federal deficit. Trump seems incapable of any restraint in his claims of success and he talks about future growth rates that are very unlikely to occur. Over-promising and under-delivering is a dangerous game that can lead to disillusion and could undermine the optimism of business leaders. Perhaps the GDP statistics will soon be considered fake facts.
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Trump’s Impact On The Us Economy
Georgia Strong | United States Fellow
As American President Donald Trumps first Presidential term comes to a close, his economic efforts can start to be fully evaluated. Broadly, Trumps economic policy was greater employment for blue collar workers, and economic growth of 4 to 6 per cent. One of the first programs implemented by President Trump when he was elected was the corporate tax cut scheme. This move likely stimulated the US economy to some extent as gross domestic product rose to 2.9 per cent for 2018. However, the long term economic benefits are wearing off as business investment has declined for the previous two quarters. By February 2020 President Trump was expected to increase the federal deficit by 74 per cent over 4 years.
To put Trumps debt in context, the US annual budget deficit was expected to approximate 4.6 per cent of GDP for 2020, as calculated in January prior to the global economic downturn. Similarly, President Trumps first three years in office all recorded a deficit exceeding 4 per cent of GDP. The only other time the US has partaken in sustained budget deficits of this magnitude is during World War II. A typical budget deficit averages 1.5 per cent of GDP when the economy exhibits relatively strong growth – as was the case in 2016 to 2019.
Georgia Strong is the United States Fellow for Young Australian’s in International Affairs.
A Botched Public Health Response
The Trump administration failed to take the coronavirus outbreak seriously. In late February, while other high-income countries were ramping up testing and developing tracing procedures, President Donald Trump stated that the Coronavirus very much under control. It was during these critical early weeks and months that the United States should have been stockpiling protective gear for frontline workers and making testing widely available. In contrast, South Korea, a country whose first confirmed case of COVID-19 coincided with that of the United States, bought 720,000 masks for employees of businesses considered at risk of exposure to the coronavirus. When asked if the U.S. federal government would supply personal protective equipment to states, President Trump responded that it would not act as a shipping clerk.
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Proposing Draconian Cuts To Rural Investments
Almost immediately after Trump took office, the administration began enacting an agenda to systematically defund essential rural services and programs. The White Houses proposed USDA budget for 2018, for example, cut $4.7 billion dollars from the agency.18 These cuts would be achieved, in part, by eliminating critical rural investmentssuch as loans to local governments for infrastructure and programs to support rural businessesas well as drastically cutting funding for broadband grants and the Single Family Housing Direct Loans program, which helps low-income rural Americans finance the purchase of a home.19 Shockingly, the proposed budget would also shutter the Appalachian Regional Commissiona long-standing economic development institution serving one of the most distressed areas in the country.20
Trump has remained consistent on rural development funding. His proposed 2021 budget practically eliminated the Rural Business Cooperative Service, the program charged with promoting job creation and locally owned establishments, through a whopping 97 percent funding cut.21 Even programs for small farmers were not safe.22 The proposed budget offered a measly $2 millionone-fifth of the total sum authorized in the 2018 Farm Billto a program connecting farmers and ranchers to mental health services. While most of the draconian proposed cuts never became law, they nonetheless endangered crucial rural programs by creating uncertainty around their future funding.
The Economy Remains In A Massive Hole
Seven months into the crisis, COVID-19 and the Trump Administrations failure to control it continue to constrain the recovery. While the economy, with the help of the CARES Act, has made critical progress since Spring 2020, output and employment are still extremely depressed relative to their levels before the pandemic. And with labor market gains slowing and economic hardship on the rise, a brutally uneven and needlessly slow recovery will be all but guaranteed unless more fiscal support is delivered immediately.
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A Failure To Help Small Businesses
Even before shelter-in-place orders were commonplace across states, businesses were noticing sharp declines in consumer activity. By the beginning of April, 24 percent of small businesses had reported temporarily shutting down. By mid-May, more than 100,000 small businesses had closed permanently, representing 2 percent of the nations total. The Paycheck Protection Programa provision in the CARES Act intended to help employers keep operations running despite revenue shortfallswas plagued by reports of large, publicly traded companies receiving massive sums while small businesses were left without help. A May report released by the Small Business Administrations inspector general found that the Trump administrations implementation left out minority-owned, woman-owned, and rural businesses. Despite a second round of funding through the program, small businesses are still suffering immensely: Some projections estimate that small business closures could approach 7.5 million if businesses are forced to weather the economic impacts of the outbreak on their own. Though the HEROES Act would strengthen the PPP and provide other assistance to small businesses, much of the economic damage could have been avoided entirely had the Trump administration acted more quickly to contain the outbreak.