President gives his first State of the Union address
President Donald Trump gave his first State of the Union address on Tuesday night, highlighting his administration’s successes of the previous year and calling for unity between the Republicans and Democrats. Trump spoke for more than an hour about what he and his party had accomplished so far, and what they were hoping to do for the rest of his term.
Trump boasted about the growing economy, citing the tax cut plan that Congress passed last year. Trump said that “(this administration) enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history.” However, fact-checkers state that it is actually the 12th largest. In conjunction, Trump said that wages have risen since the tax cut with many workers receiving thousand dollar bonuses.
The stock market, which has grown in record amounts since Trump took office, was also another major talking point for the president. He also talked about job growth saying that 2.4 million new jobs have been added, although that also includes jobs added under Barack Obama. He also claimed credit for a 45-year low in unemployment, as well as the lowest unemployment rate for African and Hispanic Americans, though the labor market did grow steadily during Obama.
When Trump began to talk about his immigration proposals, there were audible boos from the Democrat side, who, unlike the Republicans, stayed seated and quiet for most of the evening.
Trump consistently repeated his “America First”campaign slogan. He spotlighted families whose children had been murdered by gangs, which Trump attributed to open borders. He said that while he plans to negotiate a deal in which DACA recipients would eventually be able to gain U.S. citizenship, Americans are “dreamers too,” further dividing Republicans and Democrats on what has been a highly-contested issue in Congress for the past few months.
Trump commended community members from Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands for their efforts in recent natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, and Californians who have been combatting wildfires. Trump, however, neglected to mention that 30 percent of Puerto Rico is still without power, and it was announced this week that FEMA would be stopping the distribution of water and emergency food.
In another divisive topic for Democrats and Republicans, Trump alluded to the recent mass shootings that have taken place since he took office, but did not mention any gun control policies, just that his administration will protect the Second Amendment. He applauded the ability of the American people to put their political differences aside and mourn together.
Despite Trump’s call for unity, 61 percent of Americans say Trump has divided the country since his election, according to a National Public Radio poll.
The president showed support for the military and the traditional “nuclear family,” the latter of which he said should be more important than politics. He cited the motto, “In God we trust,” and vowed to protect religious liberty.
Trump talked about ridding regulations on businesses and thus being able to create jobs in the “clean coal industry,” although the coal industry is shrinking due to companies switching to gas reliance.
Trump closed his address by admiring the the historical and political significance of the Capitol Building and by celebrating American ingenuity.
In a tradition started during Lyndon B. Johnson’s presidency, the Democrats gave a response to Trump’s State of the Union address. The Democrats chose Massachusetts Congressman Joseph Kennedy III to give the rebuttal.
Kennedy did not mention the president by name but rejected many of his ideals and talked about Trump’s divisive actions.
He talked about America’s history and how it was built by immigrants. In his address to Dreamers, he said in Spanish, “You are part of our story. We will fight for you and we will not walk away.”
He mentioned the Women’s March, the #MeToo movement, and the Black Lives Matter movement, while deriding the Trump Administration for not taking a positive stand on LGBT issues and for not calling out white supremacy.
Kennedy closed his rebuttal by vowing to keep the promises his party had made.
Both Trump and Kennedy called for unity and offered different perspectives on how to achieve it. Both talked about policies that would benefit the American people with different points of view.
Story by Olivia Malick, UP staff writer