- - Tuesday, August 15, 2017


The American economy has been in a funk for a decade. Donald Trump was elected largely on his promise to see the economy regain traction and resume speed on the road to prosperity. There are encouraging signs that his strategy of releasing the regulatory brakes is working. Combined with changes in immigration policy, the years in the doldrums may soon be at an end.

A study by the free-market think tank, American Action Forum, demonstrates that the president’s administration has made tangible progress in rolling back the regulatory state that has been choking the economy. During its first six months in office, the Trump administration has imposed rules costing $1.2 billion, compared to $24.4 billion during the same period of the Obama administration. He has imposed one-eleventh the annual regulatory costs imposed by his predecessor, one-twentieth of the cost of rules over the life of the rules, and required one-eighth the volume of paperwork.

The Trump administration has imposed 41 regulations reviewed by the federal Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, with 16 considered “economically significant,” or imposing an economic impact of at least $100 million annually. The next lowest number of rules reviewed during the past 23 years was 180, with 80 rated as economically significant.

Reeling back the red tape is already enabling the economy to pick up speed. From 2013 to 2016, the years of Barack Obama’s second term, the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP) had averaged only an unimpressive 2.1 percent, by the account of the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Since Mr. Trump took office in January, GDP leaped from 1.6 percent during the first quarter of 2017 to 2.6 percent during the second quarter. It’s a promising trend, one bolstered by the continuation of job creation that added 1 million jobs nationwide.

Economic growth is invariably intertwined with immigration policy; it’s human labor that translates into wealth. This has led the superficial conclusion that the Raise Act, an immigration reform bill introduced by two Republican senators, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, would hobble the U.S. economy. The Raise Act would reduce the number of green cards to arriving legal immigrants by half annually. It would establish a merit-based point system for awarding work visas and ending “chain migration” by families.

An analysis of the legislation, by the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, predicts the proposal would reduce the gross domestic product by 0.7 percent and 1.3 million fewer jobs by 2027. While the growth of the GDP would be reduced, tightening the supply of workers could be a boon for the families already here.

The combined effects of the Great Recession and the overwhelming flood of both legal and illegal immigrants has stalled median family income. In 2015 this figure was $55,775, less than it was a decade earlier. It’s not surprising that a majority of Americans surveyed in a Morning Consult/Politico poll last week favor screening immigration applications on the basis of real qualifications, such as education and professional achievement, and proficiency in speaking English.

Amid the endless Washington flapdoodle over who colluded with whom, Donald Trump is making good on his pledge to enable the wheels of progress to turn freely once more. Congress should come alive to bring order to the chaotic immigration system. This would restore the American dream of prosperity.

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