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John Block: Trump Speaks

By former USDA Secretary John R. Block

President Trump’s first major address to a joint session of Congress got a lot of attention. He told us what he is going to do. He reminded us what he has already done. He worked to sell his vision for the country to the Congress and the people.

He has already trashed a number of regulations that President Obama enacted in recent months. For every new regulation, two must be rescinded. President Trump will get rid of WOTUS – Waters of the U.S. – which is EPA’s most hated regulatory overreach.

The ag industry is rightly worried about a trade war. Can President Trump negotiate better trade agreements? There is no question that we have seen other countries throw up trade barriers whenever it suited their interest. We love China for buying our soybeans, but they have ignored World Trade Organization rules at their will.

Repeal and replace Obamacare is a high priority – won’t be easy. We don’t want to have 20 million people lose their health insurance, but Obamacare is going to disintegrate if it is not fixed.

President Trump’s budget proposal provides more money for defense — $54 billion. That is a 3% increase. That $54 billion will be taken away from non-defense programs. According to Budget Director Mike Mulvaney, “that is the largest reduction since the Ronald Reagan administration.” The EPA budget and staff could be cut by 25%. You can just hear the cheers from the country.

The President’s speech was about “economic opportunity and protecting the American people.”

Federal taxes are in the cross hairs and will be reformed and cut. Just remember – the President cannot reform our Tax Code without the Congress. Both parties have problems with the Tax Code. If President Trump is the real dealmaker, he should be able to get this done.

We have a new Secretary of Education – Betsy DeVos. She has been attacked by the left because she is not owned by the Teachers Union. She wants more school choice – competition in education. We need a lot of reform in big city schools. It can’t get worse.

President Trump has been in office only five weeks and he has four years to go. In this short time, he has critics going crazy. That’s because he is doing what he said he would do. “Promises made and promises kept.”

It’s way too soon to know how this will all work out. Can Republicans govern or will it just be more gridlock?  The stock market is optimistic and so am I.

John Block was Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 1981-1985, where he played a key role in the development of the 1985 Farm Bill.  If you would like to review his radio shows going back more than 20 years, visit

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