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Amid coronavirus, the Great American Comeback is underway

Amid coronavirus, the Great American Comeback is underway
© Greg Nash

Some people just placate; others get things done. Prior to the pandemic, real total household and nonprofit net wealth increased by 12.1 percent over the first 11 quarters of the Trump administration, concentrated among the bottom 50 percent of households that experienced a net increase of 47 percent; hourly wage growth for production and non-supervisory workers also hovered over 3 percent for over 17 consecutive quarters; and overall dependence on welfare declined as more people were lifted out of poverty.

But, the coronavirus pandemic has hit minorities, working class families and small businesses the hardest. While the CARES Act, and the subsequent executive order that President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Trump's remaking of the judicial system Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit MORE signed following the failure for Congress to agree on a second round of stimulus, has helped inject some liquidity in peoples’ balance sheets, what we need is not more stimulus, but rather growth and long-run planning.

That’s why we have to keep building on the foundation that was developed prior to the pandemic.

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The Trump administration knows that the secret to America’s greatness resides at the intersection of its people and timeless virtues. If people are empowered to learn, grow and contribute in their workplace and communities, we’ll all be better off for it. They’ve done this in three ways.

First, reshoring and modernizing our supply chain and industrial base. Although there is value in outsourcing some things, we cannot outsource everything. Trade is good, but only if it is reciprocal. Unfortunately, China, among others, has taken advantage of the United States by shipping low quality (and sometimes harmful) exports at superficially low prices that were only made possible through subsidies and regulatory arbitrage. That’s harmed the American worker in health and well-being, as well as labor market outcomes and a thinning of the middle class. By confronting these countries head on, rather than brushing past grievances under the rug, the Trump administration has increased employment in traditionally stagnant, or even declining, sectors beyond what people thought was possible. Moreover, regulatory reform has reduced the barriers to entry, strengthening competition and leading to greater wage growth.

Second, modernizing workforce development and investing in distressed communities. Given the pace of technological change, and the deterioration of traditional higher education and the college experience, we need to allow for and encourage other learning pathways, ranging from apprenticeships to coding bootcamps. That’s why the National Council for the American Worker (NCAW) has been such an integral ingredient in our approach towards upskilling in the 21st century. Already, the Pledge to America’s Workers has secured over 16 million new education and training opportunities for students and workers.

Even beyond these training and development opportunities, the designation of Opportunity Zones (OZ) from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has brought billions of dollars of investment into distressed communities by reducing the cost of investment in areas that need it most. For example, a recent report from the Council of Economic Advisers found that Qualified Opportunity Funds raised $75 billion in private capital that would have largely not been invested absent the OZ incentive. Moreover, OZs have contributed to a 1.1 percent increase in housing values, which totals an additional $11 billion in new wealth for homeowners in these areas. Given the growing disparities across cities and crowding out of the middle class, these gains are especially timely.

Third, technological dominance in artificial intelligence (AI) and work of the future. The Trump administration has consistently prioritized AI investments, ranging from reallocations of research and development (R&D) resources for strategic AI priorities to an expansion of talented workers within the federal government. Moreover, technological dominance doesn’t mean doing away with certain industries, such as agriculture and manufacturing, but rather embracing AI to make them even more productive and internationally competitive so that we can become more self-reliant as a nation.

Although some pundits in the media have been sounding the alarm about increases in coronavirus cases, these counts are much lower than some initial models predicted —not to mention that the pandemic was outside the United States’ control. Moreover, the fatality and hospitalizations rates have significantly over the past two months, particularly as immunity develops, better habits solidify and hospitals become better prepared. The battle for an economic and social revival is not yet over, but we’re running hard and in the right direction — let’s keep pressing forward.

Christos A. Makridis is an assistant research professor at Arizona State University, a non-resident fellow at Baylor University and a senior adviser at Gallup. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @camakridis.