During an interview on Fox News today, Portman discussed the new jobs, higher wages, and other positive benefits we’re seeing as a result of tax reform, what he hopes to hear during the president’s State of the Union Address tonight, and his stunning new bipartisan report released last week that details how drug traffickers exploit vulnerabilities in our international mail system to easily ship synthetic drugs like fentanyl from China into the United States. Portman said that President Trump should talk tonight about the need to improve workforce development for 21st century jobs and do more to address the opioid crisis.

Excerpts of the interview can be found below and a video can be found here.

PORTMAN ON THE ECONOMY

It's really exciting because it’s what all of us have been hoping for. Not just the increase in the stock market, which helps a lot of 401(k) plans out there, not just the increase in economic growth – we now have projections of next year to be going over 2.5 percent – and not just the jobs, though job numbers have been good. For me, the most exciting news is that we are seeing wages beginning to go up. This is something we really haven't seen in a couple of decades. If you look at it from an inflation-adjusted basis, wages have been flat whereas expenses, particularly health care, have gone up dramatically. This is exactly what some of us were hoping for. A combination of reforming burdensome regulations and, very significantly, fixing a broken tax system that actually encouraged jobs and investments going overseas, is beginning to make a big difference for workers in Ohio and across the country. That’s exciting to me.”

PORTMAN ON WHAT HE BELIEVES POTUS WILL DISCUSS DURING SOTU

I think talking about the economy is important, but the next step in the economy in my view—which I hope he will talk about, I know he cares about and his team cares about—is our workforce. Right now, we're seeing, across the country, many employers who are read to hire, ready to add more people, encouraging more investment through this tax cut, but you have to have the workforce to be able to have the expansion we all want. I hope he will talk some about that, making sure workers have the skills needed for 21st century jobs, whether it’s in healthcare, whether it’s in IT, or whether it’s in manufacturing. We have big gaps in all those areas.

“Second, the opioid crisis. He has a passion for this, but we need to figure out much more constructive ways to deal with this issue. In my own state of Ohio, we had overdoses and deaths increase again last year from the previous year. Unfortunately, we’re not seeing this getting better around the country, but rather getting worse. This has an impact on everything: families being broken apart, communities devastated, increase in crime and an impact on the economy. There are many employers who are having a tough time getting people to pass drug tests. Part of it is because of the opioid epidemic that has gripped our country. I hope he will talk about that as well.”

PORTMAN ON FENTANYL INVESTIGATION

We studied it for a year. The Subcommittee that I chair had a hearing on this and we did a report last week that was shocking. It showed that this fentanyl and carfentanil—these are the synthetic opioids, so a synthetic form of heroin—are being produced in China primarily and shipped through our own U.S. mail system right into our communities. We have to stop this poison from coming into our communities. We know what the Post Office could do better in order to provide law enforcement the information they need to be able to identify and stop these packages. Our legislation called the STOP Act is something the president's commission supported. We have to get it done. It's one of the things that can be done and should be done right away to begin to keep some of this deadly drug out of our communities.

“I met with the Postmaster General yesterday on that topic. They're concerned about us putting this in place because they say they don't have the resources, they need more time, and so on. But this is an urgent matter. Back in 2002, Congress directed the Post Office to study this issue and gave them the authorization to do it. We required all the private carriers to do it, so FedEx, and UPS, and DHL have to do it. All we're saying is give law enforcement the information they need about the packages—where they're from, what's in it, where it is going—then they can identify these packages. Law enforcement wants it, communities back home in Ohio want it, we need to get it done.”

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