Trump’s State of the Union and What It Means for America’s Small Businesses
President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address Tuesday night, a speech that invoked impassioned responses from both sides of the aisle.
And considering this was one of the longest State of the Union addresses on record (clocking in at 82 minutes), there was a lot to take in.
Putting forward “an agenda of the American people,” for the second State of the Union address of his presidency, Trump used the theme of “choose greatness” and started things off by stressing the need for bipartisan collaboration.
“We must reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution — and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good,” the President said to begin his address.
But politics wasn’t the only thing on display Tuesday night. There were also numerous highlights celebrating remarkable Americans. That included a nod to Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the courageous story of 10-year-old Grace Eline who survived brain cancer, and happy birthday sung to an 81-year-old survivor of the Holocaust and last year’s shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.
And perhaps the most memorable moment of the night came when the women of Congress cheered with enthusiasm as Trump spoke about the many successes of women, including the fact that the 116th Congress has a record number of female lawmakers.
While the speech touched on many key aspects that affect the lives of all Americans, we wanted to take a look at some of the main points that impact small businesses across the country.
One of the topics that dominated the President’s address was the current economic climate in the US.
Noting the country’s “economic boom,” Trump mentioned the creation of 5.3 million new American jobs in the last two years, including thousands of manufacturing jobs. (The 5.3 million figure includes jobs that were created between his election on Nov. 8, 2016 and inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017.)
He also noted the unemployment rate, which reached a nearly 50-year low in September 2018 at 3.7%, and that in January 2019 alone 304,000 new jobs were added.
“The US economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office, and we are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world,” the President stated, later adding that the American economy is the “envy of the world.”
It’s worth noting that, while the economy is strong, it’s not the fastest growing economy in the world. In its latest World Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that India will have the highest rate of economic growth among major global economies in 2019 and 2020, with GDP growth averaging around 7.5% to 7.7%. China is projected to grow at a pace of 6.2% in 2019 and 2020. But estimates for the US project a 2.5% growth rate in 2019 and 1.8% in 2020.
The most interesting comment of the night came when Trump stated what must happen to ensure the “economic resurgence” continues.
“An economic miracle is taking place in the United States, and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics or ridiculous partisan investigations. If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation.”
Given all the focus on trade disputes and negotiations over the past year, it was no surprise that the President used the address to highlight some issues.
However, what was mentioned didn’t really provide any new insight.
Speaking of the trade negotiations with China, Trump said his administration is making it clear to China that “after years of targeting our industries and stealing our intellectual property, the theft of American jobs and wealth has come to an end.”
The speech comes ahead of last-minute talks between the US and China that seek to reach a trade deal ahead of the March 1 deadline when a 90-day trade truce between the two countries ends and new tariffs would kick in. US negotiators are expected to arrive in Beijing early next week.
Further indicating that the US is taking a firm position in the negotiations, Trump said that a trade deal with China would require “structural changes to end unfair trade practices.”
The President also mentioned the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and urged Congress to pass the new trade deal.
“[USMCA] will replace NAFTA and deliver for American workers like they have not had delivered to for a long time. I hope you can pass the USMCA into law so we can bring back our manufacturing jobs in even greater numbers, expand American agriculture, protect intellectual property, and ensure that more cars are proudly stamped with our four beautiful words: made in the USA.”
Trump also pushed for legislation that would expand his ability to impose retaliatory tariffs.
“Tonight, I am also asking you to pass the United States Reciprocal Trade Act, so that if another country places an unfair tariff on an American product, we can charge them the exact same tariff on the exact same product that they sell to us,” he said.
Trade is an essential part of business — for companies both big and small. Having robust trade deals that promote innovation and expansion are beneficial for American business and, turn, the US economy. Hopefully that is kept in mind during the ongoing trade discussions.
Will There Be Another Shutdown?
Right now, who knows?
One thing is certain: the President isn’t backing down from his push to acquire funding to build a wall along the southern border of the US.
The President stated that his administration sent Congress a “common sense” proposal that includes the construction of a “strategic, see-through steel barrier.”
“Simply put, walls work and walls save lives,” stated Trump, adding: “I will get it built.”
But the State of the Union address didn’t exactly calm any fears that another government shutdown could be right around the corner when funding expires on February 15.
Though he addressed the looming deadline for federal funding, Trump made no mention of the 800,000 federal workers who went weeks without paychecks during the recent government shutdown. Nor did he reference the scores of small businesses around the country that are still trying to cope with revenue losses and delays accessing loans because of the shutdown.
And, unfortunately, the uncertainty of yet another shutdown clouds a lot of the positive news and achievements that small businesses could be celebrating.
That leaves one definite takeaway: when it comes to the potential of another government shutdown, small businesses would be wise to plan for the worst and hope for the best.