President Trump gave his State of the Union Address tonight before a packed house in Congressional chambers. This was a speech that all Americans could follow and relate to. It is perhaps President Trump’s most “presidential” speech ever, no controversial statements, nothing that could offend. It was peppered with personal stories that lifted the emotional content of the speech very nicely. With the quality of the speech, and size of a primetime national audience, it is likely his approval rates will go up, based on this event.
The Democrats were resistant as usual but were apparently advised by Nancy Pelosi not to do anything rude or to walk out. They mostly sat and did nothing.
Trump first made a summary of the challenges and accomplishments for the year. It was a good opening, what we would term “motherhood and apple pie,” that everyone can agree on. At one point he said “Our country is strong because our people are strong” to great applause.
He spoke about:
– Some of the tragedies of this year, hurricanes in Houston and Florida, the Las Vegas shooting, fires in California.
– The shooting of Congressman Steve Scalese at the Republican softball practice, and thanking the police, and emergency personnel in the process.
– Economic highlights:
— 2.4 million new jobs
— 200k in manufacturing
— rising real wages after years and years of wage stagnation
— unemployment at a 45-year low
— African American unemployment lowest rate ever recorded (cameras panned to the black caucus – they just sat)
— 401K, college savings, and other savings way up
– The biggest tax reform in history
– Business Economy is strong and optimistic:
— 3 million workers have gotten tax cut bonuses
— Apple will invest $350 billion in America and hire 20000 workers
— Exxon Mobil announced $50B investment in the U.S.
Then President Trump turned to his base and spoke of issues and events that appealed more to Conservatives.
– He emphasized respecting the flag (perhaps meant as a dig to the NFL) and “In God We Trust” faith and family
– He called for support the military and police
– He called for support of the constitution as written
– He expressed support for 2nd amendment and religious liberty
– He noted that 1500 VA employees were removed who failed to take care of veterans
– He challenged Congress to remove employees who undermine public trust or fail the American people
– He noted that his administration had eliminated more regulations in the first year than any administration in history of America
– He claimed to have ended the “war on American energy” and ended the war on clean coal
– America is now an exporter of energy to the world
– Detroit, “motor city” is revving again, car companies are building and expanding in America
– FDA has approved more generic and new drugs than ever before in history
The President then began to set up the agenda for the next year
– Patients with terminal conditions should have access to experimental treatment immediately – “the right to try”
– We must reduce the price of prescription drugs – one of top health care priorities for the year
Trump noted that we have turned the page on decades of unfair trade practices, “the era of economic surrender is over.” Trade from now on will be “fair and reciprocal.” He called upon Congress and intends to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new and good ones – protect workers and intellectual property.
– It is time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure
– He called on Congress to pass a bill that generates $1.5 Trillion in projects – partnering with local and private sources – streamline bidding and approval. Trump wants to rebuild with “American Grit”
– invest in workforce development and job training – open great vocational schools
– paid family leave
– reforming prisons to help prisoners get a second chance at life
MS-13 (the notorious El Salvadoran drug gang infesting America) and other violent illegals, because of loopholes are ending up in the high school with teens. To make sure other families never suffer from this violence, Trump called on Congress to fix immigration to close loopholes that allow in MS-13.
He described his immigration plans as a “down the middle compromise.” It has four pillars:
1. A path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought by parents at a young age. They will have to meet education and work requirements over 12 years.
2. A fully secure the border, including a “great wall,” more ICE officers, closing loopholes, and ending the practice of catch and release on terrorists.
3. End the visa lottery system, move to merit-based system, take people who are skilled and want to work
4. End chain migration – limit new entries to spouses and minor children, not 3rd nd 4th cousins
– Opioid and drug addiction – we have lost 64,000 Americans to drug addiction, we must be tougher on pushers and implement more treatment
– Trump called on Congress to end the defense sequester and fully fund the military
– Trump called on Congress to modernize and rebuild our nuclear armament – as a deterrent.
– Trump blasted North Korea and pledged “maximum pressure” to eliminate the threat of nuclear weapons in the hands of a rogue nation.
– Trump noted that last year he pledged to work with allies to extinguish ISIS, and that we have now liberated close to 100% of territory held by ISIS. He pledged to continue until ISIS is defeated
The optics of the speech could easily counter the rhetoric against Trump that he is uncontrolled and that his remarks can be offensive. The speech was measured, calm, controlled and designed to be all inclusive of Americans. The substance was “substantial” in that it outlined real goals within reach for the next year, and the report reinforced his continuing message that America is improving.
The pundits actually found little wrong with the speech. They mentioned he left out any mention of Russia and commented that any impression he left would be destroyed by the next tweet. They said likely the “fact checkers” would find many things wrong. One pundit said he expected Trump to go further toward his base. Another said he went to his base too much. In other words, the pundits can’t find anything of substance to criticize.