Sen. Cruz: ‘Small Business Drives Our Economy’
Addresses National Federation of Independent Businesses
I recently addressed Texas members of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). There I discussed my priorities for 2018, including my efforts to cut taxes, repeal Obamacare, and reduce the burden of federal regulations on small businesses.
My remarks may be viewed here and below:
Thank you very much. Welcome, good morning, it is great to be with you. I am a huge fan of NFIB and a huge fan of small business. Small business drives our economy. You all are well familiar with the stat that two-thirds of all new jobs come from small business. I actually think the jobs picture is very simple to understand: if you have an environment where small businesses are prospering, where they’re thriving, they’re expanding and they’re hiring, you have an environment where jobs are doing well, where everyone is doing well. If you want to see economic stagnation, it’s not complicated: you hammer the living daylights out of small businesses. You pound small businesses with taxes, with regulations and you dry up all the designated income. Looking at that, it’s gratifying everything we’ve done in the last year and a half. But these are unusual times. There’s an old Chinese curse, ‘may you live in interesting times.’ These are nothing, if not interesting. Despite all the craziness, you actually look at what’s getting accomplished, I’m deeply, deeply gratified by what we’ve been able to deliver in the last year and a half.
We started last January with a Republican president, Republican majorities in both Houses and an opportunity. An opportunity to really have a lasting impact. To my mind, on the domestic agenda, there were four big priorities: tax reform, regulatory reform, Obamacare and judges. My view was, if we could deliver on all four of those, it would have an incredible and positive impact on Texas and the entire country. And if we failed to deliver on any, it would’ve been one of the greatest missed opportunities of our lifetime. For much of last year, it wasn’t clear which one of those was going to happen. We spend a lot of last year wondering, ‘can Republicans get our act together and actually deliver on much of anything?’ But as the year came to a close, I think it was remarkable just how much had been accomplished.
In December of last year, as you know, we passed major tax cuts. I spent, literally, thousands of hours last year trying to bring Republicans together, trying to get us to the same page. We have barely a majority and to get 50 Republicans to ‘yes’ on just about anything, it isn’t easy. But the tax cut: cut taxes across the board, cut individual tax rates across the board, cut corporate tax rates across the board, cut small business tax rates across the board, doubled the standard deduction. The consequence of which is, starting next year, 90 percent of Americans will fill out their taxes on a postcard. That’s a big deal. Personally, I think it should be 100 percent, and we should pass a simple flat tax and abolish the IRS. But 90 percent is a very good start. It’s a significant step down the road and I’m very happy for it.
You look at the impact of the tax cut, we’ve seen over a million jobs created just since the tax cut was passed. Over three million jobs created in the last year and a half. We have for the first time in decades more job openings then we have people actively seeking jobs. That’s a remarkable dynamic. We have over four million people that have gotten pay raises, that have gotten bonuses because of the tax cut, $500, $1000 or as Nancy Pelosi calls them, ‘crumbs.’ I’m sure Marie Antoinette was proud.
I was on a Southwest Airlines flight, and a flight attendant walked up to me, hugged me, and said ‘Thanks for the pay raise.’ I said, ‘You’re welcome.’ But we’re seeing the results of the tax cuts, and I think Texas in particular is benefitting powerfully.
You look at the second piece of it, regulatory reform. Regulatory reform is one of the greatest successes in the last year and a half. Every cabinet agency, every secretary that I sit down and talk with, regulatory reform is among one of the first words out of their mouth. Pulling back job-killing regulations, just getting the boot of Washington off the back your necks, letting you guys do what you do best. And we’re seeing in Texas, as I’ve talked to small business owners, and all across the state in the six years I’ve been in office, we’ve hosted small business roundtables, where we’ll travel around the state, we’ll sit down with 10, 20 small business owners and just open it up and talk. Most of the time, I just listen. I ask, ‘What are the challenges you’re facing?’ What I’m hearing from business owners across Texas is a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm, of optimism. People are investing new capital, they’re opening new facilities, they’re hiring new workers, they’re raising wages. Texas is doing well right now. Tax reform and regulatory reform, pulling both of those back, is really opening up the economic environment in Texas.
Third big priority, Obamacare, clearly the biggest unfinished commitment of Republicans. But even that, it’s worth noting we did manage to come together and repeal the Obamacare individual mandate. That was a big deal, I led the fight to do that. And in October of last year, nobody thought we had a prayer. When I was advocating for that, we had maybe a half dozen senators supporting it. Most of the Republican conference was saying, look, we tried Obamacare twice, we came up short twice last year. Let’s not muck up tax reform with bringing anything related to Obamacare into it. I understood it, that wasn’t a crazy thing to say. But we made the case both publicly and privately, this made sense, this was real and meaningful tax relief to the six and a half million people getting fined every year by the IRS because they can’t afford health insurance. And we went from just a half dozen senators supporting it, to in December, all 52 Republicans coming together, getting it done, and repealing the individual mandate. That was a big deal, it was the first step, now we need to keep at it and finish the job. We need to finish the job, Obamacare is still causing enormous damage, particularly to small businesses. And one of the things I’m pressing very hard on is now focusing on the employer mandate, which is hammering small businesses, lifting that as well. I retain some hope we could repeal the employer mandate this year. I’m making the case to my colleagues to do that. It’s still an open question being debated. But I think we need to finish the job. And ultimately, when it comes to health care, we need more competition, more choices, and we need to lower premiums. That’s what Texans want, that’s what people want, health insurance that’s affordable. Obamacare has made premiums skyrocket. We need to turn that around.
Finally, fourth, judges. Judges, I think, have been an unmitigated success of this administration and this Congress. We’ve got Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, but we’ve also got the Federal Courts of Appeals. Last year, we confirmed more federal appellate judges in the first year of the president’s term than any other time in history. Obama, in his first year had four, we confirmed 12. Right now, today, one-eighth of federal appellate judges in this country have been appointed by Donald Trump. One out of eight. And we’re seeing strong, principled Constitutionalists, for all of us who care about the rule of law of enforcing contracts, of enforcing property rights, for all of us who care about regulatory predictability, for all of us who care about free speech and religious liberty and the Second Amendment and the Tenth Amendment and all of our fundamental liberties, it is the courts where those rights are upheld. As I look back on the last year and a half, I’m gratified in what we’ve gotten accomplished, but I also think we need to continue delivering real results for Texas.