President Donald Trump made the case during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night that the United States is well on its way to restoring the greatness he promised during the 2016 campaign.
“The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or a Democrat agenda. It is the agenda of the American people,” Trump declared.
“In the 20th century, America saved freedom, transformed science, and redefined the middle class standard of living for the entire world to see,” he continued, echoing his famous “Make America Great Again” slogan.
“Now, we must step boldly and bravely into the next chapter of this great American adventure, and we must create a new standard of living for the 21st century,” he pledged.
The president spent a significant portion of his speech calling for Democrats to work with him to secure the southern border.
Ironically, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s decision to delay the address a week, due to the recent partial government shutdown over the issue of border wall funding, certainly had the effect of more media coverage leading into this year’s of the State of the Union.
Trump had teased ahead of his speech that he planned to make a major announcement about the wall, and he did not disappoint.
“My administration has sent to Congress a common sense proposal to end the crisis on the southern border,” he confirmed. “This is a smart, strategic, see through steel barrier,” Trump said, “not just a simple concrete wall.”
The president’s plan also includes humanitarian aid, additional personnel, with the intention of “closing loopholes that enable child smuggling.”
“Walls work and walls save lives,” he insisted, referencing existing barriers in places like California and Texas.
The president revealed that he had “ordered another 3,750 troops to our southern border to prepare to the tremendous onslaught” of the latest migrant caravans heading for the border.
“Not one more American life should be lost because our nation failed to control its very dangerous border,” Trump also said.
Some of the guests Trump invited to his address were clearly were meant to highlight the dangers caused by an unsecured border.
The invitees included the daughter, granddaughter, and great-granddaughter of Gerald and Sharon David, who were murdered in Reno, Nevada last month, allegedly by a 19-year-old illegal immigrant. Ernesto Martinez-Guzman from El Salvador has been charged in the brutal deaths of the Davids and two others, NBC News reported.
Ashley Evans was another of Trump’s guests. The Ohio single mom struggled with opioid abuse for years, which resulted in her losing custody of her daughter. Evans has been clean for over a year and due to be reunited with her child later this week.
During the course of the border wall debate, Trump has often pointed to the high toll illegal drugs are taking on the country, including in his Oval Office Address last month when he said, “More Americans will die from drugs this year than were killed in the entire Vietnam War.” He added that every week 300 of the nation’s citizens are being killed by heroin alone.
On Tuesday night, the president has also emphasized the devastation caused by human trafficking, which again he contended is being facilitated by the lack of barriers along key portions of the border, where “coyotes” smuggle people through rather than risking the ports of entry.
Among the achievements Trump spoke of during his address were the strong state of the U.S. economy, criminal sentencing reforms, and the progress in trade negotiations, including the USMCA deal signed between the United States, Mexico, and Canada in November, which is to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA.
Due to the week-long delay in his speech, the president was able to point to the January jobs report as further evidence his economic plan of lower taxes and less regulations is working of Americans across the board.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday there were an impressive 304,000 jobs added in January, topping economists estimates by 140,000, according to USA Today. Wages also grew by 3.2 percent for the month.
Over 5 million jobs have been created since Donald Trump was elected president on the promise to cut taxes and government regulations.
The Trump economy so far has added one million more jobs per year than under former President Barack Obama.
In January, claims for unemployment benefits fell to their lowest level in over 49 years, despite the U.S. population being over 120 million more.
Concerning trade, Trump urged the Congress to approve the USMCA, or United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
“Another historic trade blunder was the catastrophic known as NAFTA,” he said.
“I hope you can pass the USMCA into law so we can bring back our manufacturing jobs,” the president continued, adding that he looks forward to returning to a time when cars are “proudly stamped with the four beautiful words: Made in the USA.”
In recognition that the Democrats now control one of the two chambers of Congress, the president made a call to set aside partisanship for the good of the country, particularly on which issues where they fundamentally agree.
He offered the First Step Act as a recent example of bipartisanship, which easily passed both the House and Senate, and Trump signed into law in December. At the time, Trump touted the sentencing reform legislation as giving those imprisoned for non-violent crimes a “second chance.”
The president suggested other areas where the two sides can work together, including rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure; healthcare and prescription drug pricing reforms; trade; and even immigration.
“Together we can break decades of political stalemate,” Trump proclaimed. “We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make.”
Ahead of the president’s address, Senate Minority Chuck Schumer sought to make the case that Trump is failing the American people.
Schumer argued from the Senate floor, contrary to Trump’s assessment, the state of the union is not strong.
“The American people know the Trump economy is failing the middle class and those struggling to get there,” the minority leader.
Schumer charged, “In Trump’s economy, multinational corporations and the already wealthy were given a tax cut, while American workers were left behind.”
President Trump will report tonight on the state of our union.
But, the state of the Trump economy is failing America’s middle class.
The state of the Trump healthcare system is failing American families.
The state of the Trump Administration is chaos. https://t.co/TFZmaoD2Jw
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) February 5, 2019
The Republican tax reform law cut income taxes across the board and nearly doubled the standard deduction to $12,200 ($24,400 for married filing jointly), meaning millions of the lowest income earners would have no income tax liability at all. The legislation also doubled the child tax credit from $1,000 to $2,000 to help working families.
Additionally, the law lowered the corporate income tax from 35 percent — the highest in the industrialized world — to 21 percent, which is slightly below average. Millions of working Americans received bonuses and pay raises following its passage.
Trump had argued prior the tax reform bill becoming law it would spur economic growth. The United States experienced over 3 percent GDP growth in multiple quarters in 2018, and is expected to have done so for the year when the final numbers are tallied, CNBC reported. That would be the first time since 2005.
Schumer also described the Trump administration as being in chaos.
Trump responded to Schumer’s pre-address critique, tweeting, “I see Schumer is already criticizing my State of the Union speech, even though he hasn’t seen it yet.”
I see Schumer is already criticizing my State of the Union speech, even though he hasn’t seen it yet. He’s just upset that he didn’t win the Senate, after spending a fortune, like he thought he would. Too bad we weren’t given more credit for the Senate win by the media!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 5, 2019
The president added, “He’s just upset that he didn’t win the Senate, after spending a fortune, like he thought he would. Too bad we weren’t given more credit for the Senate win by the media.”
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