Tom Hebert

ATR Supports President Trump's Schedule B Rule

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Tuesday, December 10th, 2019, 10:52 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist submitted the following comments on President Trump's proposed rule to reform Schedule B. This important proposal would streamline the filing process for nonprofits and prevent future administrations from targeting organizations by leaking sensitive information. 

You can find the full comments here or below: 

Room 5203
Internal Revenue Service
P.O. Box 7604
Ben Franklin Station
Washington, D.C. 20044

Dear Sir or Madam:

I write in support of the Trump Administration’s proposed rule to reform Schedule B, “Guidance Under Section 6033 Regarding the Reporting Requirements of Exempt Organizations,” a proposal that would streamline the filing process for nonprofits and prevent future administrations from targeting organizations by leaking sensitive information. 

Today, tax exempt organizations must disclose the name, address, and amount donated for each donation above $5,000 on the Schedule B form. These Schedule B forms are submitted to the IRS, redacted of names and addresses. Under the proposed rule, only 501(c)(3)s and 527s would still have to file the Form 990, Schedule B, but all non-profits would need to present the information upon IRS request.

Schedule B forms are not used for any official purpose – the IRS is prohibited from sharing this sensitive information. During the Obama administration, there were several cases where agency officials leaked sensitive Schedule B information for political purposes. In 2014, the IRS had to pay the National Organization for Marriage $50,000 after disclosing their donors to an oppositional organization who published it.

The proposed rule would hold the IRS more accountable and protect free speech of donors and those working for non-profits. American citizens have the right to associate with and donate to organizations freely and privately. Unelected IRS bureaucrats should not be able to use Schedule B information to chill political speech for Americans.

Instead of serving a legitimate purpose, the disclosure requirement creates needless compliance costs on both non-profits and the IRS. Under the proposed rule, the information available to the public will not change, though money and time will be saved for both taxpayers and the IRS by eliminating this tedious process. In fact, The Institute for Free Speech estimates that nonprofits would save about $63 million per year compliance costs if Schedule B were repealed. 

Critics have falsely stated that the rule will allow for illegal foreign transactions.  However, there are already measures in place to track these transactions, and it is highly unlikely that anyone will admit to funneling illegal money on the form. Even if the IRS did suspect laws were being broken, it has no authority to share the information it collects with the FCC and the DOJ, the two agencies with the ability to enforce campaign finance laws.

This proposed rule will save taxpayers time and money while also protecting privacy and free speech for all Americans. ATR strongly supports this rule and urges Congress to follow the Trump Administration’s lead by codifying Schedule B reform into law.


Grover G. Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform


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Despite Liberal Misinformation, the Trump Tax Cuts Are Working

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Monday, December 9th, 2019, 2:19 PM PERMALINK

Despite the left’s claims, the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) is still benefiting all Americans two years after President Donald Trump signed the tax cuts into law.  

Reality has not matched the left’s rhetoric. When Trump signed the TCJA into law, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed tax cuts for the American people, saying the TCJA was akin to “Armageddon” and bonuses given to American workers were “crumbs.” 

Two years later, taxpayers are still benefiting from the TCJA’s individual tax rate cuts: 

  • 90 percent of wage earners have seen more money in their paychecks. 
  • Taxpayers earning between $20,000 and $50,000 are seeing net federal tax cuts of 10 percent or higher, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. 
  • 91 percent of taxpayers with annual income between $64,000 and $108,000 are seeing a 2018 federal tax cut averaging $1,400, according to the left of center Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy. 

Families large and small are also benefiting from the Trump tax cuts: 

  • A single parent with one child with annual income of $41,000 saw a tax cut of $1,304, a 73 percent reduction in federal taxes. 
  • A family of four with annual income of $73,000 is seeing a 60 percent reduction in federal taxes, totaling more than $2,058. 
  • According to the Heritage Foundation, the typical American family will be almost $45,000 better off over the next decade because of higher take-home pay and a stronger economy.

American workers have also benefited from the TCJA’s corporate rate cut. Businesses have responded to the tax cuts by giving employees higher wages and creating new employee benefit programs, while utility companies are passing tax savings onto consumers in the form of lower rates. 

The left’s claims that the TCJA wasn’t “paid for” have also proven false. Stronger economic growth has already paid for 80 percent of the costs of the tax cuts according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office’s estimates before and after the law was enacted.

The left also misled the American people about tax refunds earlier this year, saying that Republicans raised taxes on Americans because the first few weeks of the filing season saw slightly lower refunds. Again, this was false – tax refunds ended up being at the same levels as 2018. 

Ultimately, the left’s constant disinformation campaign against the Trump tax cuts doesn’t change the fact that the law has been massively successful for millions of Americans.  

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Trump Economy Adds 266K Jobs In November

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Friday, December 6th, 2019, 11:00 AM PERMALINK

President Donald Trump’s economy added 266,000 jobs in November, defying market projections that businesses would create 185,000 jobs last month. November’s explosive job creation marks 7 million jobs added since Trump was elected. 

In 33 of the past 36 months since Trump was elected, businesses have added more than 100,000 jobs a month. 

Today’s Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that goods-producing employment (mining and logging, construction, manufacturing) saw an increase of 48,000 jobs in November, and service jobs saw an increase of 206,000. Since Trump was elected, the construction industry has created 713,000 jobs. 

Wages also continue to climb. Over the past year, average hourly earnings for American workers have increased by 3.1 percent. October is the 16th consecutive month that wages have grown above 3 percent –– prior to this streak, wages had not reached 3 percent growth during the previous 10 years. Workers are also experiencing higher wage growth than managers. 

The unemployment rate has decreased to 3.5 percent, marking a 50-year low. November was the 21st consecutive month that the unemployment rate has been at or below 4 percent, the longest streak in almost 50 years. 

The strong November jobs numbers are continued evidence that the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is continuing to revitalize the economy nearly two years after Trump signed it into law. 

Businesses have responded to the tax cuts by giving employees higher wages and creating new employee benefit programs, while utility companies are passing tax savings onto consumers in the form of lower rates.

Families are also seeing direct tax reduction – a family of four with annual income of $73,000 (median family income) will see a tax cut of more than $2,058, a 58 percent reduction in federal taxes. In net, households are paying an average of 24.9 percent in lower taxes according to a report released by H&R Block based on their clients’ tax returns. 

Just in time for Christmas, tax cuts and deregulation championed by the Trump Administration is continuing to deliver a prosperous economy for all Americans.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Pelosi 95% Drug Tax Will Lead To 100 Fewer Cures Created

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Wednesday, December 4th, 2019, 9:39 AM PERMALINK

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to levy a 95 percent tax on drug manufacturers could prevent 100 lifesaving medicines from being created over the next decade. 

The White House Council of Economic Advisors has released a report on H.R. 3, the disingenuously named Lower Drug Costs Now Act. While Pelosi claims that her bill will save taxpayers money, CEA projects that the resulting worse health outcomes due to lack of access to cures will cost $1 trillion a year for the next ten years. H.R. 3 also creates new entitlements for vision and dental that will cost taxpayers billions of dollars.

The Pelosi bill imposes a retroactive, 95 percent excise tax on up to 250 drugs if a manufacturer does not agree to government-imposed prices. The tax starts at a 65 percent rate, increasing by 10 percent every quarter a manufacturer is out of “compliance.”

The report shows that the Pelosi tax will lead to fewer cures, shorter lives, and less access to quality healthcare for American patients. If implemented, the Pelosi tax will prevent cures for diseases like cancer, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis C, and epilepsy from being available for American patients.

It gets worse. CEA forecasts that H.R. 3 will reduce Americans’ average life expectancy by approximately four months over the next decade. This drop in life expectancy is due to the decrease in access to drugs that will inevitably occur when the government slaps drug manufacturers with a 95 percent tax on their lifesaving products. 

The Pelosi tax will also have wide-ranging negative impacts on America’s population health. Estimates show that $2,000 in spending on pharmaceutical research and development increases population health by one statistical life-year. If implemented, CEA projects that the Pelosi tax would reduce population health by 37.5 million to 100 million life-years over the next decade. 

In sum, the CEA report shows that the Pelosi drug tax would lead to fewer cures, less access to lifesaving medicines, and a shorter lifespan for American patients. 

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Congress Should Act Now to Repeal Obamacare Taxes

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Monday, December 2nd, 2019, 5:30 PM PERMALINK

In the last month of 2019, lawmakers have a chance to repeal several Obamacare taxes. If Congress fails to act before the end of the year, these taxes will begin to go into effect, devastating millions of American families and small businesses. 

Congress has already taken one step towards achieving this goal. This summer, an overwhelming 419-6 bipartisan Congressional majority voted to repeal the “Cadillac tax,” a 40 percent excise tax on employer-provided healthcare plans. The bill repealing the tax had 367  cosponsors, including members of the far left like Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and conservatives like Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Doug Collins (R-Ga.).

If Congress fails to ensure repeal, the tax will go into effect in 2022 on plans exceeding $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families.

If implemented, the Cadilllac tax threatens the affordability and quality of healthcare for milions of Americans. According to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly half of all companies which offer health insurance to their employees could face the tax by 2030. According to Cigna, the Cadillac Tax could cost families with high quality insurance plans as much as $3,400 per year.

In order to avoid the Cadillac tax threshold, employers would be forced to raise deductibles and copays in the plans they offer their employees. The left-leaning Tax Policy Center reported that, “70 percent of the revenue raised by the Cadillac tax will be through the indirect channel of higher income and payroll taxes, rather than through excise taxes collected from insurers.”

The Cadillac tax is also broadly unpopular with the American people – a 2018 poll had 81 percent of respondents in opposition to the tax. 

This is not the only Obamacare tax that Congress must act on.

The Obamacare health insurance tax (HIT) will go into effect at the end of the year if lawmakers fail to act. Although the tax is on insurance premiums, it is passed onto the middle class, seniors, and small businesses in the form of higher healthcare costs. 

The HIT is estimated to negatively impact the 11 million households that purchase through the individual insurance market and 23 million households covered through their jobs. In 2020 alone, the HIT is projected to add an estimated $16 billion to the cost of coverage for families and Medicare Advantage seniors. 

If lawmakers fail to repeal this harmful tax, the HIT will increase premiums by 2.2 percent per year and by almost $6,000 over the next decade for a typical family of four with small or large group insurance. This tax is also highly regressive – half of the HIT is paid by those earning less than $50,000 a year. 

The HIT is also bad for small businesses. Because the tax only applies to fully-insured plans, large corporations and unions (which are universally self-insured) emerge unscathed. According to the American Action Forum, the tax will directly impact 1.7 million small businesses. One estimate, conducted by the National Federation for Independent Businesses, estimates the tax could cost up to between 146,000 and 262,000 jobs over a decade. 

Congress should also repeal the medical device tax. Obamacare imposed a 2.3 percent excise tax on the sale of medical devices by manufacturers and small businesses. This tax covers common hospital equipment like X-Ray machines, MRI machines, and hospital beds.

The medical device tax was in effect from 2013 and 2015 but Congress has suspended the tax since 2016. When it was in effect, research indicates that the tax reduced research and development by $34 million in 2013 and disproportionately harmed companies with lower profit margins. This resulted in a loss of approximately 28,000 jobs.

In the few short weeks left of 2019, lawmakers should work swiftly to repeal these and other Obamacare taxes. If Congress fails to act, these taxes will crush millions of American families and small businesses.

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It's Time For Pelosi To Bring USMCA Up For A Vote

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Tuesday, November 26th, 2019, 1:36 PM PERMALINK

Recent news reports indicate that House Democrats are “within range” of reaching a deal on the United States–Mexico–Canada Trade Agreement (USCMA). 

This is positive news –– for months, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has let the USMCA languish in the House. Instead of standing with workers and small businesses, Pelosi has allowed Big Labor to have veto power over an important agreement that will grow our economy and bring trade relations with Mexico and Canada into the 21st century. 

It is time for Congress to pass the USMCA. 

The USMCA is a much-needed update to the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The global economy has changed significantly since NAFTA was ratified in 1992. The new USMCA recognizes this reality and modernizes trade relations between the three nations to better fit the 21st century global economy. 

The USMCA was finalized nearly a year ago, but Pelosi continues to sit on her hands and allow the far-left to hold the agreement hostage.  

There is no good reason for Pelosi to continue blocking the USMCA from a floor vote. 

The trade agreement will increase wages, increase GDP by $68.2 billion, and create 176,000 jobs, according to the International Trade Commission’s report.  It will also increase U.S. exports to Canada by $19 billion, and to Mexico by $14 billion.  The Tax Foundation estimates that these positive economic effects are identical to a 4% corporate tax cut. 

The trade deal would also be a boon for the automotive industry. The Office of the United States Trade Representative estimates that USCMA ratification would add $34 billion in new automotive manufacturing investment, $23 billion in new annual purchases of U.S. automotive parts, and 76,000 jobs in the next five years. 

Crucially, the USMCA protects American medical innovation by including 10 years of data protection for innovative biologic medicine. Strong protection for biologics is critical. Biologics are the next generation of medicines, and are more costly and complex to produce than other cures. Data protection recognizes the extraordinary time, resources, and opportunity cost that innovators must devote to go through the FDA approval process. 

Finally, the USMCA would help American farmers. The increased market opportunities for Americans is projected to increase agriculture exports by more than $314 million. Through USMCA negotiations, Canada agreed to open market access to American farmers who wish to sell dairy, poultry, and eggs in Canada. In return, Canada will have access to American dairy and peanut products. The industry would benefit from stabilization of international markets, especially the U.S.’s two biggest trading partners that buy close to 2/3 of U.S. agricultural exports. 

The evidence is clear –– swift passage of the USMCA would grow our economy, help American workers, and benefit small businesses all across the country. Pelosi should stop letting the most radical elements of the Democrat party have veto power over the USMCA and work with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to swiftly ratify this important agreement. 

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The IRS Is Wrong To Expand Audits of Conservation Easement Agreements

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Thursday, November 14th, 2019, 2:53 PM PERMALINK

The Internal Revenue Service announced this week that it plans a “significant increase” in audits for taxpayers engaged in conservation easements. This unfortunate development continues the IRS’s disturbing pattern of harassing taxpayers that have entered into easement agreements.

The fact is, taxpayer abuse of the conservation easement deduction is few and far between. A recent analysis of cases in which the IRS took taxpayers to court over easement valuations found that over 80 percent of taxpayers’ claimed valuations were upheld. 

The conservation easement deduction has existed for decades and incentivizes property owners to conserve land and historic sites by offering a charitable deduction. In order to claim the deduction, the taxpayer must agree to restrict their right to develop or alter the property. Organizations known as land trusts agree to monitor the restrictions placed on the property. 

The taxpayer typically can deduct up to 50 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI) in any given year and carry forward any unused deductions for up to 15 years.  

Bipartisan Congressional majorities have consistently reaffirmed the conservation easement deduction. Congress initially codified the provision in 1976 and extended the provision in 1977. It was then made permanent in the Tax Treatment and Extension Act of 1980. In 2006, Congress narrowed the definition of conservation easements and expanded the deduction to 50 percent of AGI. In 2015, Congress made the expansion permanent. 

Despite this clear Congressional intent, the IRS has recently subjected taxpayers to unnecessary scrutiny over the deduction. In late 2016, the Obama IRS issued Notice 2017-10, which made partnership donations of conservation easements “listed transactions.” This subjected taxpayers to burdensome new filing requirements and onerous compliance costs. The IRS has also taken taxpayers to court over easement deductions, routinely challenging a tax benefit that Congress has expressly provided without evidence of taxpayer abuse. 

It is unfortunate that the IRS has decided to move forward and subject taxpayers that utilize the deduction to more scrutiny. Moving forward, if lawmakers and the IRS want to reform the deduction, they should do so through the proper legislative process and ensure that existing easements are protected. This means rejecting any retroactive disallowance of the easement deduction given that it would punish taxpayers for decisions already taken and would undermine confidence in the tax code.

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Warren’s Wealth Tax Could Double the Size of the IRS

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Tuesday, November 12th, 2019, 11:05 AM PERMALINK

Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax could result in over 80,000 new full-time IRS agents, more than doubling the size of the IRS according to ATR analysis. 

A recent report from the left-of-center Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) suggests spending $5 billion to properly enforce and administer a wealth tax.

If this money was spent exclusively on IRS employees, it would be the equivalent of 80,800 new full time agents based on the average salary of $61,800. 

In FY 2018, the IRS used 73,519 full-time agents, meaning the Warren wealth tax could more than double the size of the IRS.  

Even IRS lifers are admitting that the Warren wealth tax would be nearly impossible to administer. In a Bloomberg report former IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said: “It would be difficult for the Service to get its arms around the wealth tax...The more money people have the more they tend to have in non-traditional assets.” 

Warren’s has proposed a wealth tax starting at 2 percent on Americans with assets above $50 million and 6 percent on taxpayers with more than $1 billion in assets. According to Warren’s analysis, this tax would raise taxes on American by $3.75 trillion over ten years – an extremely ambitious estimate that assumes high-earners do not relocate elsewhere.

Warren's wealth tax would empower IRS agents to keep a list of all household assets, an extremely invasive power. The Warren wealth tax also contains a 40% "exit tax." 

Even the Washington Post editorial board said this arrangement "conveys a certain authoritarian odor."

A wealth tax has failed every time it has been tried. In 1995, 15 OECD countries had a wealth tax. Today, only four still have a wealth tax: Switzerland, Belgium, Norway, and Spain. The 11 countries that repealed the wealth tax cited underwhelming revenue and extraordinary difficulty in collecting the tax as reasons for repeal.

The most recent country to repeal a wealth tax was France. The French wealth tax was imposed on assets over $1.4 million and led to an exodus of taxpayers from the country. In 2016 alone, 12,000 taxapayers left France, the highest outflow in the world. The year prior, in 2015, 10,000 millionaires left France for other countries, according to a report by New World Wealth.

The wealth tax proposed by Warren would be a nightmare to administer, would double the size of the IRS, would fail to generate revenue that supporters claim, and has failed every time it has been tried in the past. 

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Four Things You Need To Know About the RSC Healthcare Plan

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Posted by Tom Hebert, Samantha Capriotti on Tuesday, November 12th, 2019, 9:00 AM PERMALINK

The Republican Study Committee recently released a framework to reform our nation’s healthcare system. The plan, entitled “A Framework for Personalized, Affordable Care,” provides a much-needed alternative to the radical government takeover of healthcare that the left is pushing. 

The left’s plan, which they disingenuously call “Medicare for All,” would kick 180 million Americans off of their private coverage overnight and require $32 trillion in new taxes over the next decade. Government-run healthcare would raise taxes on every American and lead to drastic reductions in the quality of healthcare. 

In contrast to this radical proposal, the RSC healthcare plan makes numerous improvements to the U.S. healthcare system that will ensure competition, access, and quality for every American. 

Here are four things you need to know about the RSC’s healthcare plan. 

Expands Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

HSAs are tax-advantaged savings accounts that gives patients choice and flexibility in paying for their health needs. HSAs are double-tax advantaged: the funds are not taxed when earned as income or as they accrue interest. HSAs are used in conjunction with low premium, high deductible health insurance plans and are used by over 25 million American families and individuals. 

The RSC plan expands HSAs by allowing individuals to use them to pay their healthcare premiums. The RSC plan also expands the accessibility and effectiveness of HSAs by eliminating the requirement that HSAs be tied to a high-deductible plan. The plan also increases the HSA maximum contribution limit and expands the scope of eligible health care expenditures. 

Importantly, the RSC plan allows working seniors and other Medicare recipients to contribute to an HSA. This will end the discrimination against working seniors who cannot be on Medicare if they choose to keep their HSA.

Expands Access to Innovative, Patient Centered Care

The RSC plan expands access to innovative care for American patients in several ways. 

The framework calls for expanding direct primary care — the facetime that patients share with doctors — without raising costs. The RSC plan will allow patients to use their HSAs to pay the $60 - $70 monthly fees that fund direct primary care.  

The proposal also contains reforms that allow individuals to increase their negotiation power and receive care through economies of scale. The plan promotes health sharing ministries, which allow members of nonprofits to pool their funds through monthly dues and to only fund programs for which they would need coverage. 

In addition to these reforms, the RSC codifies the Trump Administration’s expansion of short-term, limited duration plans into law. These plans are useful for consumers in between jobs or with temporary gaps in coverage. 

Strengthens Medicaid for Future Generations 

Medicaid is on an unsustainable path. Federal spending on the program has skyrocketed from $14 billion in 1980 to a projected $702 billion in 2029. Over the next decade, Medicaid expenditures on the Medicaid expansion population alone is projected to approach $938 billion. 

To streamline the program, the RSC healthcare plan calls for a moratorium on future Medicaid expansions and a phase out of the expansion’s enhanced FMAP rate. This ends the subsidization of able-bodied adults without dependents at the expense of the truly disadvantaged –– poor pregnant women, seniors, children, and the disabled. 

The RSC plan also replaces Medicaid’s open-ended entitlement structure with separate per capita grants to better serve Medicaid’s traditional beneficiaries. The plan allows for Medicaid to combine the Children’s Health Insurance Program with the Medicaid grant for children. A flex-grant would also allow states to subsidize the healthcare of low-income individuals, subject to work requirements. 

Protects Pre-Existing Conditions and Enhances Healthcare Portability

Healthcare portability — the ability of an individual to carry their healthcare protections with them — is a cornerstone of the RSC’s healthcare plan. Portability is essential to preventing breaks in coverage for individuals, where an individual could develop a condition that would serve as an impediment to getting reinsured. 

Most importantly, portability is a protection against individuals being denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. The RSC plan provides a legal framework to ensure that coverage protections are portable. 

The RSC plan ensures that individuals that move from the employer marketplace to the individual marketplace do not need to exhaust COBRA coverage before entering the market with portability protections. The RSC plan also ensures that individuals seeking coverage in the individual marketplace could not be refused a plan due to health status, medical condition, claims experience, receipt of healthcare, medical history, genetic information, evidence of insurability, or disability.

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Trump Economy Adds 128,000 Jobs in October

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Posted by Tom Hebert on Friday, November 1st, 2019, 11:00 AM PERMALINK

President Donald Trump’s economy added 128,000 jobs in October, easily beating industry expectations and showing that the Trump economic agenda continues to work for American workers. 

The Trump economy continued adding jobs at a record pace last month despite outside factors like the GM auto strike. This jobs report shattered industry expectations, as some economists estimated that the economy would only add 75,000 jobs in October. 

The unemployment rate rose slightly to 3.6 percent, a near-record 50 year low, and unemployment for African-Americans decreased by 0.1 percent. The labor force participation rate increased to 63.3 percent, meaning that the labor force has increased by over one million Americans in 2019. 

Wages also continued to grow, rising by 0.1 percent for a year-over-year 3 percent gain. 

The October jobs report also significantly revised reports from the previous few months, showing the resilience of the Trump economy. Jobs created in August rose from the reported 168,000 to 219,000. Jobs created in September rose from the reported 136,000 to 180,000. 

The strong October jobs numbers are continued evidence that the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is continuing to revitalize the economy nearly two years after Trump signed it into law. 

Businesses have responded to the tax cuts by giving employees higher wages and creating new employee benefit programs, while utility companies are passing tax savings onto consumers in the form of lower rates.

Families are also seeing direct tax reduction – a family of four with annual income of $73,000 (median family income) will see a tax cut of more than $2,058, a 58 percent reduction in federal taxes. In net, households are paying an average of 24.9 percent in lower taxes according to a report released by H&R Block based on their clients’ tax returns. 

Tax cuts and deregulation championed by the Trump Administration is continuing to deliver a prosperous economy for all Americans.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore