Trump's State of the Union focused largely on his tax reform and immigration proposal, while he steered clear of the investigation into Russian meddling and the threat of North Korea.
Donald Trump’s first State of the Union (SOTU) address certainly lived up to its theme of “building a safe, strong and proud America”.
He first shone a light on “new American heroes” that were forged during the throng of natural disasters and terrorist attacks that devastated the US in his first year as President.
He then talked about record unemployment rates, wage growth, and the stock market boom, before launching into the difference his tax reform is already making.
He boasted American families will be better off, saying the first $24,000 earned by a married couple is completely tax free and that “millions of Americans will have more take home pay starting next month… a lot more”.
Staub Manufacturing Solutions was then used as an example of a business enjoying its “best year in its 20-year history”, with founder Steve Staub being able to employ 14 new people and expand his premises.
He touched on Apple’s promise to inject $350 billion into the US economy because of the tax cut.
And then he changed course and applauded young Preston Sharp who went out of his way to start a charity drive adorning veterans’ graves with 40,000 American flags and carnations.
This led to a quick shot at those who have kneeled during the national anthem in protest, saying respect for the veterans is “why we proudly stand for our national anthem”.
Then attention turned to “beautiful coal” and his plans to open more plants and create more jobs.
We have ended the war on American energy and we have ended the war on beautiful clean coal.
Access to (cheaper) drugs and experimental treatments was next on the agenda, with Trump saying: “patients with terminal illness… should not have to go from country to country seeking a cure. It’s time for congress to give these people a right to try”.
It then became apparent that he meant “building” literally, when he labelled the bureaucratic red tape around infrastructure construction “a disgrace”. Particularly for a nation of builders, who have a proud history of erecting the Empire State Building in just a year.
“Isn’t it a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a minor permit approved for the building of a simple road?” He trumpeted.
“It is time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.”
Then came the cornerstone of the speech — immigration.
He told guest Evelyn Rodriguez, whose teenage daughter was reportedly brutally murdered by members of the MS-13 gang (of which many have originated from central American nations) two years ago, that “everyone in this chamber is praying for you, everyone in this chamber is grieving for you”.
Before condemning the “deadly loophole” that allows murderers like that to infiltrate the country.
Special Agent Celestino Martinez was then honoured in the chamber for his work combatting MS-13. Trump explained that the ruthless gang had ordered the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) agent’s execution and still he headed a taskforce that proceeded to take down 400-odd criminals.
He detailed the four pillars of his immigration proposal — DACA, border security (including the construction of the ‘great wall’), diversity visa lottery and family sponsorships — and claimed 1.8 million illegal immigrants brought to America as infants by their parents would have a clear path to citizenship.
People of “good moral character can become citizens over a 12-year period”, he continued. “Who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute and will love and respect our country”.
He added the recent New York terror attacks were enabled by the green card lottery and chain migration, and the immigration policy of the US needed to be brought into the 21st century.
Guantanamo Bay to remain open
Bronze Star recipient Justin Peck was then cheered by those in attendance after Trump recounted his bravery in Syria. Peck entered a hospital littered with ISIS’s improvised explosive devices to pull out a fellow soldier that had been critically injured in an explosion. He treated him in the field and saved his life.
And he used the reference to ISIS to segue into his bombshell announcement that he had signed an order to keep Guantanamo Bay open just prior to walking in for the address.
This reverses Barack Obama’s position, with the former president declaring in his own state of the union address that he would ensure the detention centre in Cuba would be shut down for good.
Trump wants to reexamine the country’s military detention policy, and give authorities “all necessary power to detain terrorists”.
He also wants to “modernise” America’s nuclear arsenal, but the threat of the rogue North Korean regime didn’t rate a mention.
And then he reiterated his detest for the countries that slammed his “sovereign right” to announce Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“Shortly afterwards, dozens of countries voted in the United Nations General Assembly against America’s sovereign right to make this recognition. American taxpayers generously send those same countries billions of dollars in aid every year,” he said.
“That is why, tonight, I am asking the congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to America’s friends.”
There was barely a mention of North Korea and Kim Jong-un, nor was the investigation into Russian meddling touched on.
Nevertheless, a CBS poll suggests Trump’s speech resonated with the majority of the population.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 31, 2018