Your pocketbook is on the ballot

Op-EdAppeared in The Hill on November 2, 2018By Alfredo Ortiz

Thanks to pro-growth Republican policies like tax cuts and deregulation, there has never been a better time to find a new job in this country. Today’s jobs report, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that an impressive 250,000 jobs were created last month, keeping the national unemployment rate at 3.7 percent, a half-century low. Historically low unemployment extends to all demographics, including blacks, Hispanics, and women.

At this level of unemployment, almost no one in the country needs to go to bed wondering if they are going to be able to provide for their families. This economic peace of mind is unique to the United States. Combined with the fastest wage, economic and stock market growth in a decade or more, there is currently unprecedented opportunity for ordinary families to achieve the “American Dream.”

This is the prosperity that is on the ballot on Tuesday. A vote for Republicans is a vote to continue and build on this economic momentum. A vote for Democrats is a vote to throw sand in its gears. Democrats and their media allies have desperately tried to explain away the booming economy. They have incessantly repeated the talking point about “stagnant” wages. Unemployment being down means nothing because of “wage stagnation,” said Nancy Pelosi in June. Yet wage growth has been strong. Today’s jobs report shows that average hourly wages grew by 3.1 percent over the last year, the fastest rate in a decade.

This wage growth is especially impressive when you consider that the new entrants to the labor force, or those represented by the 25 percent drop in the unemployment rate from 4.9 percent to 3.7 percent under Trump, are largely less-skilled individuals. And this top-line wage growth figure actually understates true wage growth this year because it is a pre-tax measure, meaning it doesn’t take into account the tax cuts that took effect this year that are putting about $2,000 back into the pockets of ordinary families.

Other Democrats have claimed that the roaring labor market and economy are merely the extension of a trend that began under President Obama. “Let’s just remember when this economic recovery started, Obama said in September. But a close look at the data shows that, on seemingly every economic indicator, from private sector investment to prime-age employment rates to small business creation, there was a clear inflection point that occurred when President Trump was elected.

Consider economic growth, arguably the most important indicator demonstrating living standards. Last week, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that economic growth in the third quarter was 3.5 percent. This follows second quarter economic growth of 4.2 percent. The country is now on pace to grow by more than 3 percent for the first time since 2005. Leading Democrats, including Obama’s chief economic advisor, Larry Summers, said this level of growth couldn’t be attained. And it’s true that it can’t, under Democratic policies.

Reflecting this strong economy, the stock market is up an incredible 30 percent since Trump’s election, buoying 401(k)s, pensions, and college savings accounts. Republican policies are responsible for fueling this economic fire. Exhibit A are the tax cuts that took effect this year. Bringing the corporate tax rate in line with the developed world average has reversed the surge of inversions, in which American corporations relocate abroad, and returned hundreds of billions of dollars to American shores.

The new 20 percent small business tax cut has strengthened the backbone of the economy and led to a surge in small business creation. Most small business owners in the country describe this long overdue tax relief as a “game changer,” according to a Bank of America survey. Yet Pelosi is on record saying she would repeal these tax cuts if Democrats retake Congress.

Outside of the Beltway and cable newsrooms, these economic issues are the ones Americans care about. While Democrats and the media want voters to focus on the noise of divisive social issues, the Republican majority has delivered on the signal of jobs and paychecks. Tuesday’s election is a referendum on this economy. Voters should ignore the sideshows and make their ballot decisions with their pocketbooks in mind because these are truly on the ballot.

Alfredo Ortiz is president and CEO of the Job Creators Network.