Q: What was President Trump’s message at the 2020 State of the Union?
A: Three years into his presidency, President Trump shared good news during his State of the Union address in February. Right off the bat, the president delivered a remarkable report card on the U.S. economy. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. economy has added seven million new jobs, unemployment rates are at historic lows, workforce participation is climbing, wages are growing, poverty is declining, consumer confidence is booming and opportunity for more Americans is on the rise. The policies of the Trump administration, from cutting taxes, reducing regulatory overreach – such as rescinding the Obama administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) – and negotiating market-opening trade agreements for U.S. goods and services are restoring opportunity and prosperity, especially for blue-collar jobs and Iowa farmers. In just the first month of 2020, President Trump signed the phase one trade deal with China and the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) agreement. And the Trump administration’s phase one trade agreement with Japan took effect on Jan. 1, 2020. It opens the barn door for a bigger volume of U.S. pork and beef exports and other agricultural products with lower import tariffs, adding value to the bottom lines of farmers, ranchers and workers across the food supply chain. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over matters of trade, I’m working with the Trump administration to pave the way for additional trade agreements with the United Kingdom and the European Union, and phase two of the trade agreement with Japan. President Trump also reminded Americans he’s delivering on his promises to strengthen the federal judiciary, restore fairness and accountability to the criminal justice system and improve immigration laws and border security to protect American sovereignty and public safety. The president saluted the sacrifice and service of U.S. military families and celebrated the hard work and resilience of those buoyed by expanded economic opportunities to participate in our great American comeback. President Trump also shared his vision to help more Americans enjoy even better days ahead, such as expanding education and child care initiatives to help working families get ahead and stay ahead.
Q: What other legislative priorities did President Trump mention in his State of the Union speech?
A: In addition to advancing new trade agreements, my chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee puts me squarely in the mix of two additional priorities President Trump spoke about in his State of the Union speech: investing in America’s infrastructure and reducing prescription drug prices. In fact, the president said he would sign bipartisan legislation immediately that lowers drug prices for Americans, if Congress can just get it to his desk. I’m working hard to make that happen. At nearly every county meeting I hold in Iowa, concerns about the rising prices of prescription drugs are shared by concerned seniors who sometimes have to choose between filling a prescription or buying groceries. I hear from families who are paying more year after year for their child’s life-saving insulin, a century-old medicine used to manage diabetes. My prescription drug pricing bill is the only true bipartisan bill in Congress, and I am pleased that it has the support of the White House. The Grassley-Wyden Prescription Drug Pricing Reduction Act passed the Senate Finance Committee last summer with a two-thirds majority. It would improve price transparency and competition to help drive down sticker shock at the pharmacy counter. It would make more affordable generic drugs available to consumers, cap out-of-pocket payments for seniors and apply a penalty for runaway price increases. Drug companies would be required to pay a rebate for price increases that rise above inflation. My bill also would stop pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) from playing games that end up costing taxpayers and consumers more. It would tackle spread pricing, a strategy PBMs use to charge an insurer more than they charge the pharmacy, and then pocket the difference. Iowans call that gaming the system. I’m working to stop these shenanigans and fix what’s broken in the drug supply chain.
Infrastructure is high on the priority list for Iowans. Improving America’s roads, bridges, rails and waterways is vital to our way of life and the nation’s economy. I’m pleased President Trump advocated for investment in rural broadband to connect our communities, businesses, schools, hospitals and homes to the 21st century digital economy. Beefing up America’s infrastructure has broad, bipartisan appeal. Finding the path forward to pay for repairs and investment is the tricky part. I’ll continue working with President Trump and lawmakers in Congress to map the best route forward to get the job done.