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The State of the Union Is Indeed Great Again—But the Job's Not Done

President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, as Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Nancy Pelosi look on. (Leah Millis/Pool via AP)

President Donald J. Trump explained last evening in his State of the Union address why the state of the union is great again — and indeed it is, yet much work remains to be done. Taxes and unemployment are low, regulations slashed, and the courts are loaded up with some good, solid, and young federal judges.  As great at the nation is right now, it would be greater if more work was done on things like getting activist lawmaking under control, reforming regulations (and—most importantly—spending), and ending Obama’s anti-business executive actions that survive today. True greatness can only come when we stop using the power of government to control private business decisions.

First, on the issue of spending, our nation is an unmitigated disaster. As Chris Edwards of the Cato Institute wrote in The National Interest on January 29, 2020, “the government will spend $4.6 trillion this year, raise $3.6 trillion in tax revenues, and fill the gap with $1 trillion in fresh borrowing. That is like a worker earning $36,000 in income but spending $46,000 and putting $10,000 on credit cards.” For average Americans like you and me, that would be unsustainable.

While the Trump economy is humming, the federal government is failing the taxpayer. One would think that the government could get by with $3.6 trillion in spending this coming year, but it seems the spenders in both the Republican and Democratic Parties in Washington can’t control themselves. One of the parties—I would prefer the Republican Party—needs to come up with a plan to cut spending and balance the budget. Democrats running for president have rolled out an expensive “Freedom Dividend,” Medicare-for-All, free college, and massive new entitlement spending, while Republicans have provided zero specific ideas on how to control spending. This is a bipartisan problem and President Trump should push hard to get his budget cuts signed into law.

Second, the federal government needs to get federal law under control and make it more reasonable. In a glaring example, liberal lawyers at the Department of Labor are implementing policies started by the Obama Administration that have allowed liberal activists to threaten government contractors with no future contracts on the baseless claim of discrimination. The activists have set up a system where they don’t need any actual evidence and they rely on manipulated statistics to bully large companies into big settlements to avoid being banned from federal contracting.

In the waning days of the Obama administration, the Department of Labor issued a number of last-minute lawsuits. The Obama Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), charged under the law with promoting affirmative action in federal contracting, sued Google for employment data during President Obama’s last few weeks and waited until the last few hours to sue Oracle. The Trump Administration has not ended the lawsuit against Oracle yet.

The OFCCP contains a number of ideologically-driven lawyers who have manipulated the statistical analysis of employment data to taint companies with allegations of discrimination. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce took notice and wrote a report on how this agency was hurting economic growth by harassing law-abiding government contractors. The Chamber recommended that the OFCCP “deliberately (1) return to its core mission of fostering true affirmative action by federal contractors and subcontractors, and (2) abandon its transformation to an opaque, plaintiff-style enforcement agency, purposefully hostile to the contracting community and singularly focused on issuing findings of discrimination, often where none exist.” The report is harsh, yet it is odd that the Trump Administration tolerates anti-business lawyers within a Trump-controlled agency.

A third issue is deeper regulatory reform. Price controls in health care start our nation in a march towards Medicare for All-style socialism. Regulations cloaked in legislation end up imposing socialist ideals on health care services and prices. As I wrote in Townhall on January 29, 2020, “the issue of surprise medical billing has become the latest shiny object for Congress, yet health insurance companies have found a way to shift blame to put the burden on doctors and providers.” Regulations and laws that favor one special interest over another end up hurting consumers and patients.

President Trump has done a pretty darn admirable job to date on a number of fronts, but more work needs to be done to battle both parties, particularly on debt, holdover Obama policies, and regulatory ideas that end up hurting voters.

Christian Josi is a leading communications advisor, author, and a veteran of center-right / libertarian politics and non-profit management. He is the Founder and Managing Director of C. Josi & Company, a global communications resource firm based in Virginia Beach and Washington, and Principal of SLAYMEDIA, based in same. Along with Dr. Keith Ablow, Josi is co-author of the forthcoming book “Trump Your Life.”