Trump Touches on Trade, Taxes in First State of the Union

Both key issues impacting specialty chemical industry

After more than a month in office, President Donald Trump gave his first State of the Union address Tuesday evening, touching on a number of issues that directly impact SOCMA members and the specialty chemical industry, including taxes and free trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Robert F. Helminiak joins SOCMA as Managing Director of Government Relations.This speech was a significant departure for President Trump. Instead of the short, clipped, twitter-like sound bites he has previously produced, this was much more formal, more Presidential.

Among issues important to SOCMA members, the President spoke at length about trade and noted several statistics about TPP and NAFTA and the negative impact on the U.S. economy. He didn’t offer solutions, but in a non-Trumpian way, suggested that we must put aside party loyalty to resolve those issues.

SOCMA welcomes the opportunity to work with Congress and the Administration to further open markets for our members, whether it be NAFTA or other strong future trade agreements. We at SOCMA are of the view that the new Administration is providing significant opportunities, including the benefits it might bring to small and medium-sized companies and specialty chemical manufacturers. We would like to see a continuance of trade policies that will create new opportunities and address barriers that impede the ability of U.S. specialty chemical manufacturers from growing their businesses.

Trump also hit on taxes, mentioning one of his frequent talking points, that the U.S. has one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. He also promised relief to the middle class, addressing one of the main criticisms of his tax plan, that the middle class will not benefit.

The President discussed many points that were expected. He touched on the border, drugs, lobbying, deregulation, energy and, of course, American jobs. But he seemed to reach out to his critics, too. He shifted some of his previous talking points and highlighted positive contributions and the work his administration will do for minorities and women.

Trump talked about some of his goals, such as repeal and replacement of Obamacare and a trillion-dollar infrastructure investment (which requires an act of Congress). Trump pointed to the important factors in replacing Obamacare, access to health care for those with pre-existing conditions, tax credits and health savings accounts, and bringing down the high price of drugs. He also noted that he would have to work with Congress to resolve these issues, another nod to working together.

The slow process the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) goes through to approve drugs was also a focus for Trump, who said he will encourage the agency to move faster. This is a point that may contrast with his desire to cut the budgets of FDA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) among other agencies.

The truth, though, is that it wasn’t the policy statements that were the most important part of this speech. It was the shift in tone and delivery from the President. He seemed to deliver a message of compromise and hope instead of the harsh language from the campaign trail. We look forward to working with the Administration to help create American jobs and alleviate some of the economic stresses on American small business.

Return Home