• Merideth VanSant

Ring the Bell of Freedom for Oklahoma Prosperity!

Earlier this week, I was on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange for the ringing of the

opening bell. As the sound of the ring faded, trading kicked off, beginning another day of

growing American prosperity. It reminded me of how far our nation’s economy has come since President Trump was elected less than 3 ½ years ago. For me, it was the sound of Oklahoma businesses hiring, Oklahoma families thriving, and Oklahoma prospering.

The Dow Jones Industrial opened at 29,390.71 today, up over 11,000 points from when President Trump was elected in November of 2016. The S&P 500 went up about 60% over the same time, and the NASDAQ is up about 80%. The markets know that America has discovered a new age of prosperity.

Unlike some of the booms of the past, the windfall of the last 3 ½ years has meant more money for everyone, not just for those who were already well-off. The unemployment rate is now the lowest in 50 years, with record levels of employment for all Americans: male and female, white and black, college grad and high school grad—everyone is benefiting.

Oklahoma is benefiting, too: our state’s unemployment, which rose from 4% in 2014 to 5% in

2016, fell under 4% in 2018 and just kept going. Similarly, Oklahoma’s real personal income

index, which had fallen to less than 145 by 2016, has now risen above 155. With weekly

earnings up more for lower-income workers than for higher-income employees, President Trump was right to call this economy “a blue-collar boom.”

The key to all this prosperity is simple: new foreign trade deals and smart domestic tax policies that ensure that American trade is free and fair, and that Americans have more money in their pockets. The signing of the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), combined with the Administration’s new trade deals with Japan, the concessions it has received from China, and sound domestic policies on business and taxes, create the perfect environment for prosperity across the whole country—and Oklahoma is certainly no exception to this rule.

Over 379,000 Oklahoma jobs are supported by trade—that’s 16.6% of all jobs in our state. As of 2015, 3,091 companies sold exports: 84% of these companies were small- and medium-sized businesses. Their exports made up part of the $5.4 billion exported to foreign markets as of 2017. In 2017, Oklahoma exported $284 million to Japan; in 2018, Oklahoma exported $2.4 billion to Canada and Mexico alone. The USMCA and the US-Japan trade deal will make it even easier for us to sell to these valuable partners, putting more money in Oklahoma citizens’ pockets.

What do other countries want to buy from Oklahoma? Pretty much everything we have to sell: Agricultural produce ($1.6 billion in 2016), machinery ($476 million to Canada & Mexico alone in 2018), chemicals ($402 million to Canada & Mexico in 2018), and many other goods. Just a few years after business elites on the country’s coasts were writing the epitaph for American factories and farms, Oklahomans have united with President Trump and national Republican leaders to usher in a new era of home-grown production and free trade.

The other crucial element of Oklahoma and America’s future prosperity is low taxes. The Trump tax cuts of 2017, which cut taxes for 90% of American wage earners, didn’t just put massive amounts of money back in the hands of Oklahoma consumers: it also supercharged our state’s businesses, allowing them to give money back to their employees in the form of rebates and bonuses. Oklahoma Natural Gas agreed to return approximately $27 million to customers in 2020; Oklahoma Gas and Electric Company passed on savings from corporate tax cuts to its customers, as did One Gas and the Public Service Company of Oklahoma. Meanwhile, dozens of businesses from Oklahoma City to Shawnee gave employees bonuses to share the wealth.

These trade deals and tax policies are more than isolated, flash-in-a-pan instances of good fortune: they’re the foundation of a new, broad, enduring economic prosperity, a prosperity built on the principles of national sovereignty and freedom.

With results like this, you would think that it would be as clear as the sound of the NYSE’s opening bell that the Trump economy is good for the United States and great for Oklahoma. But sadly, our current Representative in Congress, Democrat Kendra Horn, doesn’t seem to see it that way. She talked about supporting the USMCA last July, but then she joined Nancy Pelosi and let Congress drag its feet, delaying the vote until December. She put impeachment politics before doing the business of Congress and helping Oklahoma families. To support the President and to keep our economy growing, our state deserves better representation in Washington.

The sound of the opening bell of the NYSE is the sound of enduring economic freedom and prosperity for America and Oklahoma. It is also a reminder: if we want prosperity to endure, if we want Oklahoma workers and families to thrive, then we have to let economic freedom ring, every day.

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