On Tuesday, Jan. 30, President Donald Trump gave his highly anticipated first State of the Union speech. With a pin of the American flag and a democratic blue tie, Trump calmly addressed the nation in the chamber of the House of Representatives.
Flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Trump began his speech by praising the resiliency of the nation amid floods, fires and gunfire. The president emphasized the country’s economic successes over the past year. He said that since his election, 2.4 million new jobs have been created and wages are rising. He also said that unemployment claims are at a 45 year low with African American and Hispanic unemployment at their lowest rates ever recorded.
Trump spoke about the soaring stock market and the effects of his tax cuts, which he claimed to be the biggest in U.S history. “In April, this will be the last time you will ever file under the old and very broken system and millions of American will have more take home pay starting next month. A lot more.”
The president then congratulated 12-year-old Preston Sharp of Redding, California, who started a movement to place American flags at the graves of its veterans. In the process, Trump seemed to take a shot at the National Football League and its players for kneeling during the national anthem.”Preston’s reverence for those who have served our nation reminds us of why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance and why we proudly stand for the national anthem,” he said.
His speech was geared toward the future as it laid out goals to reduce the price of prescription drugs. Other goals listed by Trump were to fix and renegotiate bad trade deals, strongly enforce U.S. trade rules, and rebuild the crumbling infrastructure of the country by calling on Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion to invest in new infrastructure.
Next, the president shifted his focus towards immigration. He presented the parents of victims Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens, who were brutally murdered by members of the MS-13 gang. Trump called on Congress to close the loopholes that have allowed MS-13 and other criminal gangs to break into the country. “My duty and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber is to defend Americans. To protect their safety, their families, their communities and their right to the American dream. Because Americans are dreamers too,” said the President.
Trump laid down the four pillars of his immigration plan which he deemed as a compromise between Democrats and Republicans. The first pillar offers a path to citizenship for DACA children provided they meet education and work requirements over a 12-year period. The second pillar is to secure the border by building a wall and hiring more ICE agents. The third pillar is to end the visa lottery program and move to a merit-based system. The last pillar is to end chain migration.
Trump also said his administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic that is the opioid crisis and addiction. Trump called on Congress to fully fund the military as part of the U.S. defense to rebuild its nuclear arsenal. He pointed at rivals such as Russia and China that challenge U.S. interests, values and its economy. Trump said that almost 100 percent of the territory formerly held by ISIS in Iraq and Syria have been liberated within the past year. He promised to continue the fight until ISIS is defeated.
According to Anthony Salvanto of CBS, 43 percent of Democrats who watched the speech approved of it, along with 72 percent of Independents and 97 percent of Republicans. During his speech Trump didn’t speak on the specifics of healthcare after the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. He also didn’t delve deeper into his plans for investing in infrastructure or propose making E-Verify mandatory.
With recent protests against Trump including the Women’s March and the celebrity laden People’s State of the Union, in addition to the recent partial shutdown of the government and the impending vote on DACA, it remains to be seen what will happen next and if there will be any concessions.