Until recently, the American government made it immensely difficult for major corporations to hire and invest in this country — but now that attitude is starting to change.
Before Donald Trump took office, complex bureaucratic hurdles and high corporate taxes discouraged firms from hiring American workers and opening new facilities in the country, since it was easier and cheaper to expand productive capacity in other countries and then export the resulting products to the American market.
This pessimistic view of America on the part of business owners was perfectly exemplified by the chief executive of Emerson Electric, David Farr, who once boldly declared that he would not expand his business in the U.S. because misguided federal policies made investment here too expensive and risky.
“I’m not going to hire anybody in the United States,” he said in 2009. “I’m moving. They are doing everything possible to destroy jobs.”
As a direct result of President Trump’s economic policies, however, this characterization of America is now thoroughly out of date, and Farr has accordingly become considerably more bullish about investing in the United States.
“For the first time now, I’m looking for best-cost U.S. locations,” Farr said in a recent interview with Reuters, confirming Emerson’s plan to invest $250 million in new U.S. facilities. According to the report, Emerson has already spent $407 million on U.S. operations in 2018, and plans to invest another $425 million this year.
In order to restore America’s image as a land of opportunity, President Trump had to change the way Washington looked at trade and government regulations.
Starting shortly after his inauguration, for instance, the President has followed through on his promise to renegotiate NAFTA and other unfair trade agreements, replacing them with reciprocal trade deals designed to empower U.S. workers.
Likewise, President Trump has placed strategic counter-tariffs on China — a bold response to Beijing’s aggressive trade manipulations that is already squeezing China’s economy and giving China an incentive to comply with its commitments to open its markets to American firms.
Of course, there are still many more impediments to prosperity that remain to be removed, but the progress we’ve made in such a short period of time is nothing short of remarkable, and the results are already becoming apparent in the form of robust job creation and strong GDP growth.
The White House economic agenda is not a one-step solution to fix the U.S. economy overnight — it’s a long-term strategy designed to strengthen the private sector and restore the levels of job-creation and economic growth that this country has enjoyed historically.
In just a little over two years, though, President Trump has made giant leaps toward achieving his ultimate economic vision, giving major corporations such as Emerson a strong incentive to invest in America.
Emerson is hardly alone in embracing America’s new pro-growth political climate, though.
John Ferriola, the chairman and CEO of Nucor, America’s largest steel producer, recently announced that the company will be investing $3.2 billion to expand and upgrade its facilities, $1.3 billion of which will go toward constructing a new steel plate mill in the Midwest.
Ferriola specifically credited the President’s trade policies for the decision, saying the company can increase production with much greater confidence now that it doesn’t have to worry about foreign rivals swooping in and undercutting its prices. Other steel producers have reached similar conclusions about our expanding economy as well.
Big River Steel unveiled a $1.2 billion project to double the capacity of a facility in Arkansas. Steel Dynamics, the third-largest U.S. steel producer, announced in November that it will be investing up to $1.8 billion to construct a new steel mill, and #2 producer U.S. Steel revealed in August that it plans to spend $750 million on revitalizing one of its plants in Gary, Indiana.
Finally, manufacturers have one thing that business leaders seek more than any other regardless of their industry or size: business certainty.
The days of anti-business policies and job-killing regulations are over. America is fast becoming a country that creates jobs, rather than outsourcing them, and the business leaders making those decisions are investing in American workers and communities once again as a result.
Jim Talent is a former US Senator and a visiting senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and concurrently a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center, where he specializes in defense and national security issues.