As the economy booms, the president can layout additional ways to create a brighter future
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On Tuesday, President Donald Trump will deliver the annual State of the Union address. In his first two years in office, the president has already helped to facilitate the strongest economy we have seen in decades. Unemployment is at a record low, job growth is booming, and the American people have more money in their pocket thanks to tax cuts that doubled the average family’s standard deduction and nearly doubled the child tax credit.

While the first two years have resulted in a record 4 million jobs created, including nearly 400,000 manufacturing jobs, I will be looking for the president to address how we in Congress can work together with him to expand opportunity for even more Americans. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act resulted not only in lower taxes for the average middle-class Americans, but it created opportunity. Just last week, the Labor Department reported more than 300,000 new jobs added to the workforce. Wages are up for a sixth straight month and more people than ever are in the workforce. It is my hope the president will propose additional areas where we can cut regulation, cut taxes and grow our economy so these successes continue.

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An area of focus during my first term is workforce education and training. Through my recent appointment to the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment, I want to work with President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist MORE to improve opportunity for Americans already in or joining the workforce. Manufacturing jobs like the 400,000 created in the last two years require more skill than ever before and a bold approach to expanded workforce education, such as a focus on apprenticeships, is necessary for Americans to gain the proper skills to land these good-paying jobs.

As the country has heard the last several months, securing our border is important to the president and for good reason. While some call a border barrier “immoral,” the truth is we have to act in order to prevent criminals from crossing our border. Immoral is the drug trafficking taking place at our southern border. We must act now to stop the flow of illicit drugs into our nation. Cocaine, heroine, methamphetamine, and marijuana have all been seized at the border. In FY2018, more than 6,000 pounds of cocaine was seized by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. More than 10,000 pounds of meth was seized.

As deadly as these drugs are, perhaps the deadliest drug of them all continues to grow in popularity in America. Fentanyl is being smuggled across our southern border and it is killing scores of Americans as the opioid epidemic rages on. FY2018 saw the largest seizure of fentanyl in Border Patrol history at 332 pounds, a number that increased more than 83 percent in one year. How deadly is fentanyl? Last year, police in Nebraska seized 118 pounds of fentanyl, which authorities said is enough to kill 26 million Americans. Just last week, the CBP announced its largest ever seizure of fentanyl - 254 pounds - at a border crossing with Mexico. That is enough to kill tens of millions more Americans. The president’s insistence on funding for a border barrier is about protecting the men, women, and children of this country from the ravages of drug smuggling and other crime. I look for him to again make the case for why a barrier on the southern border is a necessity.

While the president will no doubt discuss his administration’s successes during his speech Tuesday night, I believe that he will lay out a path to an even brighter future in his address to Congress and to the American people. I hope to see a confident vision of what America can be when we get government out of the way and allow America to prosper. It isn’t the government that creates jobs. It isn’t the president or Congress that creates opportunity. When given an environment with lower taxes, less red tape, and less government interference, the American people will thrive with opportunity for more of our citizens to achieve the American dream. I look forward to the president’s speech and I am hopeful about the future of our country under his leadership.

Ben ClineBenjamin (Ben) Lee ClineThe 27 Republicans who voted with Democrats to block Trump from taking military action against Iran House panel weighs easing federal marijuana laws 58 GOP lawmakers vote against disaster aid bill MORE became the 35th congressman to represent the 6th District of Virginia in 2019. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2002 to 2018.