Female Democratic Members are taking a page from the Golden Globes long history of protest fashion and wearing black to the State of the Union, in what they claim is an effort to raise awareness of the #MeToo movement and the continued problem of sexual harassment. Presumably it's no accident that they will also send a visual message during the President's address, suggesting that women are mourning the state of the union.
That may be true for some steeped in partisan politics, but most American women likely have a different take.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll released this month, 56 percent of American women are optimistic about the state of the economy. That's up from 45 percenta year ago. Unemployment for women is just 3.7 percent, which is the lowest it’s been since January 2001. Wages have finally started to tick up, rising by more than 2.5 percent over the last year. These trends should continue as tax reform returns trillions of dollars to working Americans and lightens the burden on American businesses, giving them the opportunity to expand and reinvest in the new year.
In fact, nearly every day, Americans are hearing companies announce that, thanks to the tax cut and their improved economic prospects, they are going to be able to do more for their employees. So far, over 250 companies have announced special bonuses, wage increases, new investments, increased benefits, and new job openings in response to the Tax Cut and Jobs Act. Starbucks recently revealed that they are extending paid leave benefits to hourly employees. This week, Home Depot awarded its hourly employees a tax reform cash bonus of up to $1,000. Apple announced a plan to build a new campus and create 20,000 new jobs. Walt Disney is handing out $1,000 bonuses to 125,000 workers.
That's a lot of good news for the President to share at the State of the Union, news that should earn bipartisan applause. Out-of-touch, wealthy Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Debbie Wasserman may pooh-pooh a thousand-dollar bonus as “crumbs,” but that's not how it feels to most Americans. A thousand dollars at the start of a new year can do a lot to pay off holiday credit cards, make repairs to the house, or take the kids on a long-awaited spring vacation. And Americans recognize that those new benefits and bonus payments mean that better times may be ahead.
Economic prospects are looking up not only because of the historic tax cuts, but also because the Administration has been reexamining our regulatory environment, which has also needlessly held back economic growth—and restricted Americans’ prosperity—for decades. From repealing the Clean Power Plan to onerous labor reporting requirements, the Administration has been unwinding red tape that was layered on by the Obama Administration. That's something that the President should be proud to highlight during his speech, and that Americans will overwhelming recognize as a win for everyone, and for common sense.
American women may notice that the President often speaks directly about efforts to boost women's economic prospects and address problems. Republican political leaders have typically shied away from talking about child care and paid leave policy, but President Trump has made it a priority. In fact, he is the first President to include a paid leave line item in his budget.
The President reiterated his commitment to taking action on paid leave benefits at a recent White House event. Some Americans are concerned that this could grow government and undermine tax reform by requiring a new payroll tax, but the good news is that helping more workers access paid leave wouldn’t necessarily require a costly new entitlement program or more tax revenue: The Independent Women's Forum is promoting a budget-neutral plan for reforming the Social Security system so that working parents could elect to take up to 12 weeks each of benefits today, following the birth of a child, in exchange for postponing their retirement benefits by just six weeks. Such an approach would provide many people with greater financial security, but wouldn't discourage companies from offering benefits on their own or developing other flexible solutions. This kind of modern and innovative thinking should have bipartisan appeal.
Many American women are getting tired of endless political posturing and empty gestures. They will be tuning in to hear about the Administration's plans for continued economic growth, enhancement in our national security, and other needed reforms, not to see what color anyone chooses to wear.