The highly orchestrated political tradition of a State of the Union address may seem out of step with a presidency birthed from a “outsider” campaign, but Donald Trump made sure to deliver a succinct message with the opportunity (Washington Post).
“This is our New American Moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American dream,” is one of many excerpts from the speech released by the White House prior to the speech. (New York Times).
A significant portion of the scripted speech was dedicated to the tax package passed in December, which Trump incorrectly labeled as the largest tax reform bill in U.S. history.
- The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget determined that Trump’s tax cut is the eighth largest in terms of GDP since 1918.
But in a year with few other legislative victories, much of the State of the Union came in the form of wide-ranging visions. This was especially the case for the issue of immigration.
Trump used personal accounts in order to support his pitch for an overhaul in the U.S. immigration system. A Long Island family whose children were killed by a member of the MS-13 gang, a group with ties to Central America, was used to highlight the need to close “glaring loopholes” in the immigration system. An Immigration and Customs Enforcement officer’s fight with MS-13 was used as an example for greater border security.
After listing the perceived dangers of the current immigration system, Trump gave “four pillars” of what he sees as the ideal path forward.
He offered a broad framework that includes a pathway to citizenship for “Dreamers” and increased border security, two tenets of the current budget negotiations between Democrats and the White House.
The last two pillars are the more divisive ones. Trump repeated his desire to moves away from the visa-lottery system, and towards something more “merit-based,” which will likely prioritize foreigners with a higher-level of eduction and wealth.
The fourth pillar was to end what is known as “chain migration,” the practice of prioritizing the family members of immigrants who are already state-side. When he said that “virtually an unlimited numbers of distant relatives” could legally come to the U.S. through the policy, a few Democrats groaned and hissed. (Los Angeles Times).
WikiTribune will be itemizing and analyzing the claims, promises and themes in the State of the Union. Help us fact-check and add context by using EDIT STORY, or offer a suggestion through TALK. We have bolded key points Trump raised.
- Enacted the largest tax cuts, and reforms, in American history
- Not true: The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget determined that Trump’s tax cut is the eighth largest in terms of GDP since 1918.
- Our tax cuts bring relief to middle class and small businesses. Lowered standard deduction for everyone
- Now the first $ 24,000 earned by a married couple is completely tax-free
- Doubled the child tax credit. Typical family of four will have their taxes reduced by $2,000 slashing their tax bill by half.
- This April will be the last time you’ll file under the old and broken system. And more Americans will have more take home pay.
- Small businesses have also received a massive tax cut, 20 percent of their business income tax.
- 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses.
- Apple will invest $350 billion in America and hire another 30,000 workers.
- Exxon Mobil invest $50 billion in the United States.
Employment and Economy
- Created 2,000 manufacturing jobs
- After years of stagnation, we’re seeing raising wages.
- Unemployment claims have yet a 45 year low
- African-American unemployment rate the lowest ever recorded
- Hispanic unemployment reached lowest levels in history
- 401K, college saving accounts, retirement have gone “through the roof”
- Reduced the most regulations in history
- Ended the war on American energy, and ended the war on “beautiful, clean coal.”
- Back to being the number one exporter of energy in the world.
- Many car companies are building and expanding plants in the United States, something we haven’t seen in decades. Toyota, Mazda and Chrysler. “We haven’t seen this in a long time.”
- “Very soon” auto plants will be opening up all around our country. Before, jobs and companies were “only leaving us.” Now they are coming back “where the action is.”
- We built the Empire State Building in one year, now it takes years to get a permit to build a simple road. I’m asking both parties to come together to build infrastructure that our economy needs and our people deserve.
- Calling on congress to generate $1.5 trillion for infrastructure. Every federal dollar should be a state, local and federal partnership. Tapping into private sector investment where appropriate.
- “Together we can reclaim our great building heritage.”
- We will rebuild infrastructure with “American heart, American hands and American grit.”
Labor and training
- Invest in vocational training
- Supports paid family leave
- Corrections: We will help reformed inmates get a second chance at life through more educational opportunities.
- Open border policies have let gangs, drugs and crime come into the country. Immigrant communities will also benefit from policies of immigration reform.
- Gives an anecdote. Trump points to families of hispanic descent who were the victims of violent crime. Six members of MS-13 killed them in Long Island. These gang members took advantage of “glaring loopholes” in our immigration policy and ended up in their children’s high school.
- We can’t fathom this pain, but we can stop it from happening. We have proposed new laws that will close these immigration “loopholes.”
- We will invest in ICE to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
- Gives an anecdote. Points to an ICE agent. MS-13 leaders ordered the murder of this ICE officer. Team arrested more than 400 MS-13 gang members. What the border patrol and ICE have done, they have sent thousands and thousands of these gang members out of the country or to our prisons.
- Proposes an immigration package: Four pillars.
- 1) Pathway to citizenship for some: We will extend a pathway to citizenship to 1.8 million undocumented immigrants. Will happen over a 12 year period.
- 2) Secure the border. Says he will invest in ICE. End the practice of “catch and release,”
- 3) End visa lottery. We need a merit based system. Where those who work, love and respect our country are prioritized.
- 4) End chain-migration: Under the current system, immigrants can bring in “unlimited number of distant relatives.” We will limit this immediate family, to spouses and children.
- Says that the terrorist attack in New York City was made possible by visa lottery and chain migration.
- End the defense sequester: a reference to congresses inability to pass a traditional budget under the Obama Administration, limiting funding of several federal programs.
- Ideally there would be no nuclear weapons. We are not there yet, sadly.
- Takes credit for degrading ISIS: Trump says he pledged to destroy ISIS. One year later, they are being successfully pushed back.
- Terrorists are not criminals, they are enemy combatants: a reference to how captured suspects overseas are treated. “They should be treated for the terrorists that they are.” We’ve released hundreds of these terrorists and released them, they see them again on the battlefield. This includes Al-Baghdadi.
- Keep Guantanamo Bay open. Asking congress to remove laws on detaining terrorists.
- New rules of engagement. Our soldiers are no longer hampered, our enemies no longer know our plans.
- United Nations voted against U.S. sovereign right to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel. But these UN countries generously get U.S. taxpayer dollars. Asking congress to make sure that U.S. money only goes to friends of America, not enemies of America.
- Overturn Iran nuclear deal. “Stands with Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom.”
- No country has repressed its country like North Korea. Now they are pursuing nuclear weapons. “We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure.” Complacency makes things worse, bringing more aggression.
Healthcare and addiction
- Give veterans choice for their healthcare.
- Individual mandate: We eliminated a “cruel tax”, of those making less than $50,000 a year, just because they “couldn’t afford government health plan.” We removed the individual mandate, its gone!
- The FDA approved more medical devices and drugs this year than any other year in history.
- Patients with terminal illnesses should have access to experimental treatment. “they shouldn’t have to go country to country” for treatment. “They should have the right to try.”
- One of my “biggest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs.” These drugs cost far less than what we pay in the US, this is very very unfair. That’s why I told my administration to make reducing drug prices my top priority. “And prices will come down substantially, watch.”
- Faith is at the center of American life, not government or bureaucracy. The motto is “In God we Trust.”
- After speaking about Preston Sharpe, a boy who laid flags on the graves of deceased soldiers, Trump says that the flag, and the dedication of our troops “..is why we stand for the national anthem.” A possible elusion American football players who decline to stand for the pre-game anthem ritual.
- We’ve taken “historic” measures to protect the Second Amendment.