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Trump tax cuts architect: Trump probably would not be president without Jeff Sessions

Renowned economist and writer Stephen Moore, widely viewed as the architect of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, told Yellowhammer News on Monday that President Donald J. Trump would likely not have become president without the support of then-U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) in 2016.

Sessions is currently running in a crowded GOP primary field for his old Senate seat, and Moore traveled to Montgomery Monday for a Sessions campaign event.

Ahead of that appearance, Moore interviewed with Yellowhammer about why he supports Sessions, as well as important economic issues facing the nation and the state of Alabama.

Moore’s resume is that of legends. He was the founding president of Club for Growth and has served on the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal, worked two stints at the Heritage Foundation and served as director of President Ronald Reagan’s Privatization Commission, among many other feats. Moore advised Herman Cain’s 2012 presidential campaign on economic issues, as well as Trump’s 2016 campaign. Moore then went on to play a leading role in the crafting and passage of Trump’s signature tax reform legislation in 2017.

Those Trump tax cuts, Moore told Yellowhammer, are working for the American people.

“The tax cuts and reform have had a profoundly positive impact on the economy, we’re seeing,” Moore advised. “We have the lowest unemployment rate, lowest inflation rate, lowest interest rates in 50 years, and we’re starting to see really nice wage gains.”

“The whole idea of the tax cut was to try to help middle-class workers have more job opportunities — bigger pay increases,” he continued. “We’re seeing the average family in the United States since Trump took office has gained about $5,000 in annual income. That’s a big number.”

Moore noted that he saw the president a few weeks ago and told him that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is even “working out better than we thought it would.”

“We’ve imported one trillion dollars of capital from the rest of the world because of our low repatriation tax,” Moore added. “So, it’s worked like a charm.”

Sessions and the rest of Alabama’s Republican primary field are running for the chance to face Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) in the November general election. Jones has spoken in opposition to the Trump tax cuts and even voted in 2019 to undo part of the legislation.

State of the economy

Overall, Moore praised the state of the American economy under Trump’s leadership.

“This is about as good an economy as we’ve had in about 30 years,” Moore explained. “Some ways even in 50 years.”

Just as with Alabama’s economy, the largest issue now facing the nation is a shortage of qualified workers for the jobs currently available.

“When we’ve got 3.5% unemployment rate (nationally), the biggest problem in the economy today is too few workers, not too few jobs,” Moore remarked. “That’s a good problem for a country to have.”

“The stock market obviously keeps hitting all-time highs,” he added. “So, that’s a very good thing for all Americans who are on 401k plans or retirement plans and own individual stock.”

“It’s hard to find really anything to complain about with this economy,” Moore stressed. “I really do think it’s the best economy in three decades.”

Commenting further on the type of labor shortage states like Alabama are faced with due to unemployment rates well under the full employment rate of 4% (Alabama’s last recorded seasonally adjusted rate was 2.7%), Moore detailed, “The upside of that is it gives workers more flexibility to ask for raises, and it means the chances of being laid off are much smaller. So, that’s a good thing for the Alabama workforce.”

However, from a policy standpoint in the Yellowhammer State and federally, workforce development has become a major focus. For the president’s administration, Ivanka Trump has been instrumental in innovative, impactful workforce initiatives, including a concerted investment in apprenticeship programs across the U.S. She even visited Alabama in recent months to roll out a manufacturing-centric partnership.

“Nationally, and I’m sure this is probably the case in Alabama, too, we need to do a much better job educating and training kids for 21st century jobs,” Moore said. “And we need to retrain older workers, reskill them. And we need to make sure kids aren’t graduating with political science and psychology degrees but degrees that will actually prepare them for the science and technology and engineering and nursing jobs that are out there in abundance — anyone with a skill. Let me put it like this: we’re just graduating too many kids from college that don’t have a useful skill. And that’s a problem.”

Moore gave high praise to the work Ivanka Trump is doing in the workforce development arena.

“I think what Ivanka is doing is fantastic,” he said.

The Fed

Moore has also been well known as an outspoken critic of the Federal Reserve in recent years.

In December 2018, Moore stated that he believed “the people on the Federal Reserve Board should be thrown out for economic malpractice.” He had decried that the Fed was causing deflation in the economy.

In February 2019, Moore said, “There’s no bigger swamp in Washington than the Federal Reserve Board. It’s filled with hundreds of economists who are worthless, who have the wrong model in their mind. They should all be, they should all be fired and they should be replaced by good economists.”

The next month, Moore co-authored a column in the Wall Street Journal that asserted that the Fed’s policies were slowing the economy and causing “wild swings in the stock market.”

That column was shown to Trump by adviser Larry Kudlow, and the president soon thereafter announced his nomination of Moore to the Federal Reserve Board of Governors on March 22, 2019. Three months later, Moore withdrew his nomination.

However, during his nomination period, Moore vocally called on the Fed to lower interest rates. This was controversial — supported by Trump but opposed by Fed chairman Jerome Powell and others.

Yet, soon after his nomination was withdrawn, Moore seemed to be vindicated.

The Federal Reserve in September lowered rates by a quarter of a percent and again in October.

Moore reacted by calling it “an example of where I was right, and where my critics were wrong.”

Speaking to Yellowhammer News, Moore commented on the Fed’s actions in the last five months.

“A year ago the Fed was pursuing a disastrous policy, right? I mean, they were raising rates, and we saw in late 2018 that they crashed the stock market and took a lot of wind out of the sails of the economy when the Fed kept raising interest rates even when we had a dollar liquidity shortage,” he advised.

“The Fed in the last year, though, has really reversed course,” Moore continued. “And they’ve been cutting rates rather than raising them, creating more dollar liquidity in the economy, including overnight purchases of assets. That’s put more dollars in the economy. We have no inflation… I think the Fed’s in a much, much better place today than they were a year ago. And I don’t see inflation that’s any kind of threat right now. I think that the Fed should, if anything, cut rates one or two more times. But, at the very least, it should not raise rates. And I don’t think it’s very likely for 2020 [to raise rates]. That’s one of the reasons I’m very bullish on the U.S. economy this upcoming year.”

‘Enormous benefit to the conservative movement and to Donald Trump’

When asked about his support of Sessions’ 2020 candidacy, Moore responded, “How could I not support Senator Sessions? He was one of the best senators for many years when he was in the Senate.”

Moore continued, “He has played a heroic role in terms of getting Trump over the goal line in 2016. I mean, Trump may not have won — probably would not have won — the nomination of the party if it had not been for Sessions. So, Sessions is one of the guys who brought me in, Larry Kudlow [in] to the campaign. And he brought an incredible staff of people, like [Stephen] Miller and others, over to Trump.”

“Jeff Sessions is just a great man,” he added. “I was just flattered when he asked me to come [to his campaign event] and speak on his behalf. I’d love to see him get back in the Senate. I think on judicial issues, economic issues he is second to none.”

Moore, through his leadership in Club for Growth and Heritage Foundation especially, worked with Sessions on such issues of importance for the country. Both organizations support free-enterprise and limited government.

“We always rated him at or near the top,” Moore said of Sessions on the issues the organizations advocate for.

Sessions for years served on the Senate Budget Committee, rising to become the committee’s ranking member.

“I worked most closely with Sessions on budget issues… he was very tight-fisted, a real fiscal conservative and believes in limited government. That’s where I really got to know him, working most closely with him on fiscal discipline issues. Of course, boy do we need that now, because there’s no fiscal discipline whatsoever in Washington today. Neither party is showing much fiscal discipline.”

Moore concluded, “Sessions has been one of the consistent conservative voices in Washington now for almost two decades. I think he has proved his mettle, and having someone like him back in the Senate would be an enormous benefit to the conservative movement and to Donald Trump.”

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn