By Phillip Amur
It was shortly after 2:30 in the morning on Nov 9, 2016 that the associated press called the election for Mr. Donald Trump. What followed were tweets conveying inexplicable agony and despair, despair oriented around how supposedly the world would end with the new head of state who had been chosen. Rachel Maddow reminded her viewers on MSNBC that night how they were “awake and had not in-fact gone to hell, that this was real.” Americans faced internal conflicts regarding what to tell their daughters in the morning and how to make it through the potential fascist dictatorship that would ensue.
Willamette was overcome with a general gloominess, upset professors (I had a class cancelled) and outraged students. Pondering the significance of that day, while aware of the concerns expressed then, I find myself reinforced in my conviction that the state of the nation is not horrendous as anticipated before. In other words, after a year in office, the Trump presidency has not been a complete failure.
Everything from the initial outcries after the announcement all the way up to criticisms regarding the state of the union address overlooks how the country has not gone to hell, especially in the crucial area that is the economic front. The current U.S unemployment rate as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is 4.1 percent, down from the 4.8 percent at which the rate stood in January of 2017 when Trump took office. Chicago Tribune reporter Steve Chapman admitted that the stock market soared by 27 percent during Trump’s first year, that the economy is doing well in most respects and that Trump’s policies have contributed. According to Chapman, tax cuts are good for business, everything else being equal, and so is deregulation — though we have yet to see what kinds of consequences that may have long-term. Market Watch reported that 1.9 million more people were working in December than in February of 2017, a job growth that is comparable only to that of Bill Clinton (that is roughly 208,000 more jobs/month). Wages have continued to rise annually by 2.3 percent.
Wages after the recent tax cuts have also worked in the majority’s favor as reported by U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, with 90 percent of income earners to receive a pay raise and around 80% of households set to have their federal taxes lowered, as reported by TIME Money and calculated by the Independent Tax Policy Center. USA Today announced Walmart’s plan to increase workers’ minimum hourly wage to $11 while adding $1000 bonuses to eligible employees based on seniority. The conservative group Americans for Tax Reform has compiled a list that shows that more than 125 U.S. employers, big and small, have announced plans for bonuses and pay increases after the corporate tax rate was cut to 21 percent from 35 percent. According to ATR’s latest tally, at least two million American workers will “receive special bonuses” in the wake of tax reform. While it is possible that trends in pay raises may have been affected more by political momentum than by the tax cut itself, the tax cut itself in any case is crucial to the actualization of those decisions that firms have made in anticipation of the benefits that Washington was ready to provide for them.
All of this matters because we, along with our parents, will hopefully profit from this within the next few years. A higher disposable income for all of us along with our parents, whether now or in the future would make paying for the Willamette education we so vehemently cherish at least slightly easier. Additionally it means that all citizens here at Willamette, in the state of Oregon and across the entire country will be left holding more of the fruits of their labor, which sets a precedent for us seeking higher-paying jobs after Willamette or after graduate school.
In conclusion, what was thought to be a disaster in the making was far from that. The important thing to know is that President Trump didn’t ruin anything on the domestic front as his critics said he would. America remains the phalanx of the world, a position that has been enshrined, not decimated, by our president. While social issues are necessary to address, I would argue that economic growth serves as a prerequisite for being able to put more serious attention to those issues when all else has been decided. I humbly ask for this to be considered when evaluating the president’s record.