President Trump delivered his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress last night and began by highlighting the accomplishments of his first year in office.
“Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone. After years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages.”
The president spent a considerable amount of time touting the positive effects of the tax overhaul legislation passed last month is having on the economy.
“A typical family of four making $75,000 will see their tax bill reduced by $2,000 — slashing their tax bill in half. This April will be the last time you ever file under the old broken system — and millions of Americans will have more take-home pay starting next month.”
He also listed a number of corporations that have announced major investments in the U.S. because of the tax cuts, such as Chrysler and Apple, and mentioned the number of U.S. employees who are going to benefit from bonuses or other compensation increases because of the tax legislation. The president put that number at 3 million.
“This is our new American moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American Dream.”
The president proposed a new infrastructure plan. He called on Congress to pass $1.5 trillion in new investments. He also emphasized the need to shorten the permitting and approval processes for such projects.
“America is a nation of builders. We built the Empire State Building in just 1 year — is it not a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?… Any bill must also streamline the permitting and approval process — getting it down to no more than two years, and perhaps even one.”
Another major focus of the president’s remarks was immigration. The issue has dominated debate on Capitol Hill over the past several months. The president laid out four major pillars of an immigration plan his administration is pushing: a solution to DACA, border security – including funding for a border wall, ending the visa lotter programs and ending chain migration.
The president has in recent weeks announced support for a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country when they were children, a number the president said, was almost three times more people than the previous administration sought to protect.
Divisions, however, remain in Congress as to the parameters any comprehensive immigration bill Congress would be able to pass.
The president struck a hawkish tone when it came to national security, especially on the subject of North Korea, which he accused of being the most brutal in the world.
The president had, as guests in the gallery, victims of the regimes brutality. An American couple was in attendance, whose son was arrested in North Korea and held captive there. He died shortly after being returned to the U.S. last year. Many attribute his death to torture he was subjected to while in captivity.
There was also a North Korean man who endured years of hardship – including the amputation of limbs – and ultimately escaped North Korea. He now lives in South Korea where he rescues other defectors and broadcast anti-regime messages into the North.
The president said North Korea is pursuing a nuclear missile program that could soon threaten the continental United States and that his administration was waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from happening. He vowed not to repeat the mistakes of past administrations.
“Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this dangerous position.”
He ended the speech by emphasizing the freedom that American stands for: the idea that people could rule themselves. And above all else what is expected of government is that it listen to, and execute, the will of the people.
“This Capitol… [is a] living monument to the American people. They work in every trade. They sacrifice to raise a family. They care for our children at home. They defend our flag abroad. But above all else, they are Americans. And this Capitol, this city, and this Nation, belong to them.
“Our task is to respect them, to listen to them, to serve them, to protect them, and to always be worthy of them.”