Tuesday night, President Donald J. Trump delivered his third State of the Union address. And if you were too busy re-watching The Office for the 357th time, your completely qualified music writer is here to provide you with a quick recap and fact check.
Donald was met with an extremely partisan room from the very beginning. Even before his first word was uttered, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as well as dozens of other women in Congress, were seen wearing white to show solidarity with the women’s equality movement.
Trump spent the majority of the first part of his speech discussing the economy. He noted, “The unemployment rate is the lowest in over half a century.” This is in fact true. As of December, the unemployment rate was 3.5%, with that number going as high as 10% during the Great Recession in 2008 and dropping to 4.7% by January 2017.
Later he would go on to discuss wages for workers across the country. “After decades of flat and falling incomes, wages are rising fast, and wonderfully, they are rising fastest for low-income workers, who have seen a 16% pay increase since my election.” Scott Horsley, NPR’s Chief Economic Correspondent, would later comment that “although the federal minimum wage hasn’t increased in a decade, many states have raised their own minimums, which is one factor driving bigger paychecks for low-wage workers.”
Further on in his speech, Trump would talk about his important military changes and accomplishments, starting with his newest addition to the U.S. Armed Forces, The Space Force. In a heart-touching, made-for-TV moment, he tells the room of the 13-year-old grandson of Charles McGee, the last surviving Tuskegee airman. “Iain has always dreamed of going to space. He was the first in his class and among the youngest at an aviation academy. He aspires to go to the Air Force Academy, and then he has his eye on the Space Force. As Iain says, ‘most people look up at space, I want to look down on the world.’”
Trump went on to discuss healthcare. “A good life for American families also requires the most affordable, innovative, and high-quality health care system on earth. Before I took office, health insurance premiums had more than doubled in just five years. I moved quickly to provide affordable alternatives. Our new plans are up to 60% less expensive, and better.” And while this Trump-care might sound good in a speech, NPR’s Health Policy reporter Selena Simmons-Duffin would comment that “the cheaper plans Trump refers to are association health plans and short-term health plans that don’t have to offer the 10 essential benefits required in insurance plans by the Affordable Care Act. These “skinny” plans often do have low premiums but can cost people in other ways. For instance, you might pay only $70 a month in premiums but have a deductible that’s $12,500, so if you get really sick or get into an accident, you could be in serious financial straits.”
He would later go on to describe what he doesn’t want to see in the future of the American Healthcare system, taking jabs at some democratic candidates for the 2020 election. “To those watching at home tonight, I want you to know, we will never let socialism destroy American healthcare.” Selena would again respond to this comment. “‘Socialism’ is a favorite line of attack against Medicare for All by President Trump. But the plan supported by Democratic presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren is not actually a socialized medical system in which the government runs everything, owns hospitals, and employs doctors. Instead, it envisions a universal health insurance program run by the government, one with privately employed doctors and privately run hospitals continuing to provide care. ‘Socialism’ has been a critique lobbed at national health insurance proposals since the 1940s — see this 1945 letter to Congress from President Harry Truman, which is similar to the present-day debate.”
Trump then shifted the conversation to immigration, specifically his wall on the Southern border. “We have now completed over 100 miles and have over 500 miles fully completed in a very short period of time.” While the wall is in fact being built, the president failed to mention setbacks such as parts of the wall toppling over into Mexico in 39 mph winds.
Further on in the evening, Donald addressed his special guests in the audience. First, notably, was conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh. Famous for quotes such as “Look, let me put it to you this way: the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons. There, I said it,” and “NAACP should have riot rehearsal. They should get a liquor store and practice robberies,” Limbaugh was recently diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. The president honored Limbaugh Tuesday night by presenting him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, a highly prestigious award given to individuals such as Mother Teresa, the Apollo 13 Crew, soul singer Aretha Franklin, Vice President Joe Biden, Paul “Bear” Bryant, Elvis Presley, Ronald Regan, and Bill Cosby.
For the sake of my editors, I’ll skip to the end of the speech where things got too close to reality TV. Near the end of his speech, Trump discussed his military plans for the future, doubling down on his 2016 campaign promise, “We are working to finally end America’s longest war and bring our troops back home,” followed by a heart-touching moment of introducing another special guest, military spouse and mother Amy Williams. Trump went on to describe how her husband, Sgt. First Class Townsend Williams, was on his fourth military tour of Afghanistan. He then surprised the room by announcing that the Sargent was actually already back, and came down to see his wife and children. This sweet moment was met with much applause, however, Trump failed to mention that despite his claims to bring our troops out of the Middle East, there have actually been 4,500 MORE troops sent to the area, on top of the 50,000 already occupying the area.
After wrapping up his speech, Trump concluded with “The American age, the American epic, the American adventure has only just begun. Our spirit is still young. The sun is still rising. God’s grace is still shining. And my fellow Americans, the best is yet to come.” After cheers and applause from the crowd, he added, “Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you very much.” After which Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped up her copy of the speech — an act that woke mainstream media loved. However, it begs the question: if she is comfortable tearing up a speech from the president, why would she also be okay with passing Trump’s $733 billion dollar defense budget?
I tried to keep this short as possible, but if you want to see the full speech, you can find NPR’s SOTU transcript as well as more commentary right here.
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