President Trump Delivers State of the Union Address

  Photo courtesy of Digg  

Photo courtesy of Digg  

By Brian Edsall

I highly encourage readers to watch and read the State of the Union Address. Excellent fact-checking was done by both The New York Times and The Washington Post, to which most of my “Notable Information” and “Notable Misinformation” can be attributed to.

Foreign Affairs

 Korean People's Army -  Photo courtesy of Business Insider

Korean People's Army - Photo courtesy of Business Insider

Countries such as Russia, China and Syria have gained strength over the last few decades. However, although some may argue that Russia poses the greatest threat to democracy and world peace, North Korea has been actively strengthening their military and missile capabilities. Clinton, Bush and Obama can all be blamed for North Korea’s rise to power. We are far from the brink of war, but North Korea is a legitimate threat. Although China and Russia have supposedly agreed to U.N. sanctions against North Korea, they have both violated those sanctions and thus cannot be trusted. Growth of world powers, growth of military technologies, growth of tensions; it’s a resemblance to the Cold War. How President Trump handles foreign affairs will be critical.

  • Notable Information

    • Recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

    • Supporting people of Iran in their struggle for freedom

    • Tough sanctions on the communist and socialist dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela

    • North Korea's reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles - wage a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that

    • Congress to address the fundamental flaws in the Iran nuclear deal

  • Notable Audience Member(s)

  • Notable Quote

    • “Around the world, we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups, and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values. In confronting these dangers, we know that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unmatched power is the surest means of our defense.”

Military

The Islamic State has been forced from most of its held territory (98 percent) in Iraq and Syria. However, this military action began during the Obama administration, and President Trump is seeing a continuation of existing military success. We can praise President Trump’s continued efforts in the Middle East, but radical ideologies are hard to defeat. As one terrorist organization forms, another is born. Innocent people in the Middle East have gone through years of war and destruction. Hopefully this region will eventually find peace.

  • Notable Information

    • Modernize and rebuild nuclear arsenal

    • The coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated almost 100 percent of the territory once held in Iraq and Syria

    • Reexamine military detention policy and keep open the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay

  • Notable Audience Member(s)

  • Notable Quote(s)

    • “Perhaps someday in the future there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we are not there yet.”

Economy/Manufacturing

 The New York Stock Exchange -  Photo courtesy of Business Insider

The New York Stock Exchange - Photo courtesy of Business Insider

The economy and manufacturing are two of President Trump’s largest interests. Much of the economic prosperity currently experienced can be attributed to President Obama. Moreover, many of the trends are decades in the making. This does not mean that we, as American citizens, cannot celebrate the continuation of these trends - specifically stock market records and job growth. However, much of what President Trump credits himself to economically is either an over exaggeration or completely false. A president in his first year in office has little to no effect on the state of the economy. Let’s talk about this again at the end of his time in office.

  • Notable Information

    • 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone

    • African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded; Hispanic American unemployment has reached the lowest levels in history

    • The stock market records, gaining $8 trillion in value

    • Create vocational schools

    • Supporting paid family leave

  • Notable Misinformation

    • Rising wages

    • Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low

    • Biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history - provides tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses

    • Apple has just announced it plans to invest a total of $350 billion in America, and hire another 20,000 workers

    • Many car companies are now building and expanding plants in the United States - something we have not seen for decades

Immigration

 Border wall prototypes -  Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

Border wall prototypes - Photo courtesy of the Los Angeles Times

President Trump talks about a four-pillar approach to immigration. Trump suggests that both the visa lottery system and chain migration allow immigrants into the United States without necessitating any background check. This is completely false. In fact, these programs require extensive background checks. Moreover, building a border wall will be extremely costly to the American people - $70 billion to build and $150 million a year to maintain. The wall is not guaranteed to even make a significant impact on illegal immigration, drug trafficking and crime. Just 30 percent of known illegal entries took place in areas without existing border fencing. Trump calls for bipartisan effort on this issue, but the misinformation he supports and conveys on the topic will make that challenging.

  • Notable Information

    • House and Senate will be voting on an immigration reform package

    • Offer a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age

  • Notable Misinformation

    • “Securing” the Southern border through the construction of the wall

    • Ending the visa lottery - a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people

    • Ending chain migration - under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives

  • Notable Audience Member(s)

    • See Criminal Justice

  • Notable Quote(s)

    • “The United States is a compassionate nation. We are proud that we do more than any other country to help the needy, the struggling, and the underprivileged all over the world. But as President of the United States, my highest loyalty, my greatest compassion, and my constant concern is for America's children, America's struggling workers, and America's forgotten communities. I want our youth to grow up to achieve great things. I want our poor to have their chance to rise.”

Criminal Justice

President Trump blurred the line between immigration and criminal justice, essentially citing a need for tougher immigration due to criminal activity from illegal immigrants. Trump targets MS-13 as the basis for his tough-on-immigration rhetoric. However, MS-13 is an American-made gang, created in the 1980s in Los Angeles. MS-13 is one of the largest, most violent youth gangs in the Western hemisphere; however, the gang’s presence in the United States is miniscule compared to the Bloods, Crips and Latin Kings. There are an estimated 1.4 million gang members currently in the United States. MS-13 accounts for about 10,000 of those members, which is less than one percent. Trump is trying to use fear to strengthen his stance on immigration.

Opioid/Drug Crisis

This is not simple rhetoric of a conservative waging another War on Drugs. The drug problem in America, specifically related to opioids, has become an epidemic. The annual deaths from drug overdoses has surpassed the annual deaths for car accidents, as well as shootings. Heroin-related deaths increased 439 percent from 1999 to 2014. This epidemic needs immediate bipartisan cooperation and action.

  • Notable Information

    • In 2016, we lost 64,000 Americans to drug overdoses

    • Fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need

  • Notable Audience Member(s)

Health Care

 Former President Barack Obama, featured alongside 'Obamacare' logo -  Photo courtesy of CNN

Former President Barack Obama, featured alongside 'Obamacare' logo - Photo courtesy of CNN

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, can be credited with granting coverage to more than 16 million Americans in the first five years. However, it has increased taxes, created higher premiums, created fines for people without coverage and more. Healthline created a detailed list of the pros and cons of Obamacare. One thing is certain - the United States is far behind in health care compared to other developed nations. We rank last among 11 industrialized countries in measures of access, equity, quality, efficiency, and healthy lives, despite having the most expensive health care system. Health care is an issue which needs immediate bipartisan support and action.

  • Notable Information

    • The Food and Drug Administration approved more new and generic drugs and medical devices than ever before

    • Eliminated tax that fell mostly on Americans making less than $50,000 a year - forcing them to pay tremendous penalties

    • Repealed the core of Obamacare - the individual mandate is now gone

    • Reduce the price of prescription drugs - in many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States

    • The “right to try” - patients with terminal conditions should have access to experimental treatments that could potentially save their lives

Infrastructure

Most of our roads, bridges, transit, schools, and more are extremely outdated. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, America’s infrastructure rating is a D+. As one of the world’s most developed nation, we are severely falling behind on infrastructure. It’s time to change that.

  • Notable Information

    • Asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure

    • Calling on Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment

    • Streamline the permitting and approval process - getting it down to no more than two years, and perhaps even one

  • Notable Misinformation

    • We built the Empire State Building in just one year; it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a road

  • Notable Quote(s)

    • “Together, we can reclaim our building heritage. We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land. And we will do it with American heart, American hands, and American grit.”

Energy

 Coal mining -  Photo courtesy of Brookings

Coal mining - Photo courtesy of Brookings

President Trump has had a clear agenda to cut the Environmental Protection Agency's budget and EPA regulations, proposing to permit oil drilling in U.S. continental waters, proposing to shrink U.S. park land to allow oil drilling and mining, reopening and supporting the coal mining industry, and so on. Trump supports industry over environment, even though clean energy is a rapidly growing, highly profitable industry. Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement, although the U.S. may rejoin eventually. By the way, there is no such thing as “beautiful clean coal.”

  • Notable Misinformation

    • Ended the war on American energy

    • Ended the war on coal

    • Now an exporter of energy to the world

Closing Remarks

President Trump has been one of the most divisive presidents in recent history; however, he states that he wants to continue bringing Congress and the nation together. As Americans, we can only support these words. Let’s hope that Trump’s actions support his message.

  • Notable Quote(s)

    • “As long as we are proud of who we are, and what we are fighting for, there is nothing we cannot achieve. As long as we have confidence in our values, faith in our citizens, and trust in our God, we will not fail. Our families will thrive. Our people will prosper. And our Nation will forever be safe and strong and proud and mighty and free.”

Brian Edsall