A Publication of WTVP

Two years ago, the United States was in the midst of a stagnant economy, holding steady with over five-percent unemployment, crawling at a mere 1.5-percent growth in GDP, showing minimal growth in both job creation and wages, and exhibiting low consumer confidence. We were idling in a low-wage, low-growth economy.

Possibly the worst part of all this was the idea that Americans were becoming complacent and accepting this economy as the norm. Even Paul Krugman, an economist for The New York Times, predicted in 2016: "So we are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight."

I, along with my colleagues, disagreed. Putting forth a pro-growth agenda, which included rolling back overreaching regulations and the first comprehensive tax reform seen in over 30 years, we set off to correct our country’s economic stagnation and bring about prosperity for our middle-class families and business communities. Today, I am happy to report that we have the strongest economy in 20 years.

Up until eight months ago, the American people were held back by a tax code that prioritized the government over families, workers and small business owners. I heard it regularly while traveling the 18th District—stories of small businesses, families, and even students who were struggling to get by thanks to an outdated tax code.

In eight months’ time, tax reform has helped bolster economic success as shown in the creation of more than 1.5 million jobs, an unemployment rate dipping as low as 3.8 percent, 4.1-percent GDP growth in the second quarter, the fastest pace of wage growth since 2008, bigger paychecks for 90 percent of Americans, and the highest measure of small business optimism in 45 years.

Specifically, for central and west-central Illinois, middle-class families making between $50,000 and $75,000 will see $2,100 in tax cuts on average. Additionally, local businesses in Peoria are already taking advantage of tax reform by reinvesting savings in their employees, in additional jobs, and in new equipment or expansion.

This year, the world is witnessing a U.S. economy hustle in ways not seen in decades. Economic reports are now highly anticipated as more positive news emerges month after month. But I want to keep this momentum moving forward.

Even with record job growth and small business confidence, we can still work to ease the burden taxes place on communities. Moving forward, as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, I stand committed to improve the tax code every year for American families and local businesses, which is why I have already introduced two pieces of bipartisan legislation aimed to provide tax relief to local communities.

In HR 6486, we look to assure community foundations aren’t penalized for providing post-graduation scholarships to top talent looking to relocate and enter the job force (not to mention paying off student debt). Another is HR 6081, which would increase the value of the historic tax credit so areas of our local community—like Peoria Heights or the Peoria Warehouse District—can preserve historic buildings and landmarks that make our communities so unique.

For years, our economy was stagnant as Washington tried to control things with top-down, big-government policies that stifled growth and opportunity. That was the old way. Now, we are back to a better way. A way where we are working to bolster free enterprise—where taxpayers get to keep more of their paychecks and businesses can compete on an even playing field.

There is more opportunity to help thousands of people across central and west-central Illinois, and we have come a long way from the gloom and stagnation of recent years. Americans have proven cynics wrong and, together, we are all making people’s lives better. We have made great strides in just a couple short years, and I believe the best is yet to come. iBi