We are in the most divisive political climate Capitol Hill has seen in years. Yet President Trump gave a State of the Union address Tuesday night that refocused our attention on the economic policies, tech innovations and infrastructure programs all Americans can support, regardless of their political leanings.
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The president outlined his case for widespread optimism about the future of American industry and innovation, outlining his vision for our "great American comeback." To realize this vision, he highlighted the need for bipartisan efforts to build an "inclusive society" that works for all Americans.
Trump's address laid out the case for what we in the tech industry have said for years – a truly inclusive economy must be future-oriented and technology-driven. New 5G infrastructure and connectivity alone promises to deliver three million jobs and $500 billion in growth to the U.S. economy.
The tech sector is driving this job growth. President Trump highlighted the White House's Pledge to America’s Workers – spearheaded by Senior Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump – which promises new job and education opportunities to nearly 15 million Americans. The future of work will increasingly be defined by tech skills, tech jobs and tech growth – and Trump's case for a tech-fueled "American comeback" is just what we need.
But an inclusive economy needs the support of sound economic policy, too. The president highlighted the success of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) – one of the triumphs of his administration and a long overdue update to NAFTA. The deal is expected to add 176,000 new jobs and $68.2 billion to the GDP.
The new trade deal is a win for everyone. Cross-border data flows cannot be taxed or subjected to tariffs, per the terms of the agreement. The member countries can't impose any data localization requirements that stem the free flow of information across borders. And thanks to Section 230-like language, American internet startups operating abroad will not face nuisance lawsuits in foreign courts.
In a global digital economy, these provisions make a huge difference, allowing us to share content and products online without having to pay extra to do so. Trump is right to tout ‘the new NAFTA’ as a major step toward building the inclusive economy of the future.
Another achievement the president highlighted – Phase One of a trade deal with China. These negotiations come as a relief to the thousands of American businesses hurt by tariffs; since February 2018, our country has lost $46 billion.
The president must continue to build on these successes in the coming year, removing the remaining tariffs that hinder our industry and economy -- because tariffs are taxes, and Americans pay the bill.
Immigration reform was another hallmark of Trump's address. He once again reminded the country of how important it is that we implement a system that attracts the best and brightest to the U.S. – one that is "based on merit."
The fact remains that our current immigration policy simply isn’t attracting high-skilled workers at a time when America needs them most. If the right immigration policy could make America globally competitive on immigration, then it, too, is a crucial part of the "American comeback" we're hoping for.
We must also ensure that all Americans, no matter where they live, have access to high-speed internet. This is crucial to creating the jobs and opportunities of the future.
The administration and the FCC's efforts to make spectrum available and streamline infrastructure siting policies are steps in the right direction toward bringing next-generation connectivity to all.
As I listened to President Trump's speech, I was reminded of what that comeback might look like for us as a nation. My hope is that we’ll take up the challenges and promises of his call for optimism and together bring our country to new heights of success in the years to come.
Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2000 consumer technology companies, and a New York Times best-selling author. He is the author of the new book, "Ninja Future: Secrets to Success in the New World of Innovation." His views are his own.