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Opinion | The State of our Union is strong

Bradley Byrne

By U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne

Last Tuesday, President Donald Trump came before Congress and the American people to deliver his first State of the Union Address. President Trump presented an optimistic, unifying vision for the United States and called on Republicans and Democrats to work together for the betterment of America.

Many people have described the speech as a “pep rally for America,” and I tend to agree with that analysis. President Trump highlighted several things that make our country so great, but he also didn’t shy away from the challenges we still face.

I thought President Trump did an excellent job of highlighting many of our accomplishments. Despite what the national news media may report, the past year has seen many major accomplishments.

Just look at the American economy. The unemployment rate sits at 4.1 percent in the United States and 3.6 percent in Alabama, which is the lowest level ever recorded in our state’s history. It also came out last week that wages roses at the fastest rate in more than eight years.

The strong economy is likely due in part to passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, our landmark tax reform bill that President Trump signed into law in December. Starting this month, most Americans are seeing more money in their paychecks thanks to the tax cuts, and many businesses are giving bonuses to their employees.

The economic boom is also connected to the rollback of burdensome and costly government regulations. President Trump and Congress have worked together to ease the regulatory burden, which drove up costs and made it harder for businesses to grow. Every minute a business owner spends complying with government regulations is time he or she can’t spend growing their business.

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President Trump also highlighted some of the major progress we have made on the international stage. For example, ISIS is on the run in Iraq and Syria, the President followed through on his promise to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and countries across the globe are realizing that America can no longer be taken advantage of.

Despite our many successes, President Trump also outlined areas where more work is needed. For example, he spent time outlining the flaws with our nation’s immigration system and the need for stronger border security. I am committed to working with President Trump to secure our borders while also working toward an immigration system that is fair and free from abuse.

Another major topic in the speech was infrastructure. Right here in Southwest Alabama, we have numerous road and bridge projects that need attention, so I agree with President Trump that infrastructure must be a priority.

Another portion of the speech that didn’t get the attention it deserved was the President’s support for more career and technical education programs. These programs are key to building the workforce of tomorrow and helping take people off welfare and putting them back to work.

Arguably the most powerful moment was when President Trump recognized Ji Seong-ho, a North Korean man who escaped the brutal regime despite losing his leg and left hand. His story and resiliency should embolden all of us to continue standing up against North Korea and their rogue nation.

President Trump concluded his speech by saying, “As long as we have confidence in our values, faith in our citizens, and trust in our God, we will not fail.”

I think the President was spot on, and I look forward to doing my part to build a safer, stronger, more prosperous country for all Americans.

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Bradley Byrne is the president and CEO of the Mobile Chamber of Commerce and a former Republican congressman who represented Alabama's 1st Congressional District.

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