state of the union address

State of the Union Address: Opposing Views

Democrat

Donald Trump unsurprisingly mixed fact and falsehood in his State of the Union Address. He mainly focused on the economy, trade deals and warnings against Democratic promises. Instead of ranting about my dislike, I will mainly present facts, which should unearth my opinion just as well.

In his speech, Trump claimed responsibility for the economy being “the best it has ever been,” but growth fell to 2.3% in 2019. He believes “the world would not be witnessing this great economic success” without him, but economists believe current growth was started before Trump’s term. The National Bureau of Economic Research shows that economic growth was higher under Obama and in the 1990s. Trump’s tax cuts may have augmented it, but it was most certainly not declining when he took office.

Trump said he lowered unemployment rates by solving “years of economic decay” and “failed economic policies,” but the Department of Labor’s data shows that 1 million more jobs (8.2 million) were created in the three years before his term than in the first 3 during (6.7 million). Allegedly, “300,000 working age people” left the workforce under Obama, but it grew by 5.4 million. The Census Bureau noted that the statement, “real median household income is now at the highest level ever recorded,” is inaccurate as the high of $63,476 was in 1999. Following the trend of exaggerated announcements, Trump declared that “after losing 60,000 factories under the previous two administrations, America has now gained 12,000 new factories under [his] administration.” He’s referring to what is called manufacturing “establishments” by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and most of the growth under Trump has been in facilities with fewer than five employees.

Trump claimed his leadership allowed 401ks and pensions to increase “60, 70, 80, 90, and 100% and even more.” One does not have to go back very far to find better 401ks than what the last three years display. Assuming 401ks are invested in an S&P 500 tracker fund, times existed under his three predecessors when the stock market did better. Under Obama, the S&P 500 return was 34.2% in his first term and 41.1% in his second term, according to Yahoo Finance. Trump’s has reached 27.6%. Both fall to relative insignificance in the shadow of Reagan’s 92.2% and Clinton’s 71.7%. I realize it is possible for someone in the U.S. to have a 401k increase by the amount Trump stated, but that’s an assumption that could be made during any decade. Since the start of 2018, the S&P 500 has been relatively flat. Trump’s tax cuts and deregulatory policy may have helped stock values, but his protectionist trade policy undermined that. Moreover, the Census Bureau reports just 32% of Americans saving for retirement with such plans. Fidelity Investments divulged the average 401k balance as increasing less than 1% when comparing the first quarters of 2018 and 2019.

The president boasted 100 miles of “long, tall, and very powerful wall” along the southern border. Only 1 mile of entirely new wall exists according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Virtually all other work mentioned replaced pre-existing barriers. Trump said “illegal crossings […] are down 75% since May,” but total arrests in 2019 were 81% higher than in 2016. The president made an “iron-clad” promise to “protect patients with pre-existing conditions,” but that contradicts the support given to reducing the current protections under the Affordable Care Act. He is working to declare Obamacare as unconstitutional, and has not given details on a new plan to protect pre-existing conditions. Trump also spoke of illegalizing “late-term abortion.” Pro-life politicians define “late-term abortion,” not a medical term, as any performed after 21 weeks. 1.3% of abortions in 2015 fell in this window, noted by the Center for Disease Control, and concerned fatal fetal conditions or risk to the mother’s life. He misleads the audience, stating his responsibility for the U.S. becoming the world’s top producer of oil and natural gas. The Energy Information Administration shows the U.S. became the world’s top energy producer in 2012. The U.S. has been number one in the world for natural gas for more than a decade, and reached the top for petroleum in 2013.

Trump’s apparent effort to aid child cancer is proven a lie, slashing $897 million from the National Cancer Institute in the 2020 budget. His protection of medical care is also questionable, considering the $600 billion cut for Medicare. His claim of doing all he can to bring troops home seems odd in conjunction with the 14,000 recently deployed. The alleged “plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians” is in Israel’s favor, fragmenting the Palestinian state and making it completely encompassed by Israel territory. Leaders were never consulted and The Guardian wrote that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas cut ties with Israel and the U.S. No data supports ‘sanctuary cities’ increasing crime and immigrants are less likely to be criminals than U.S. born citizens, according to the Cato Institute. ISIS is in no way “100% destroyed” as Trump says. Firstly, Obama is responsible for half of the territory taken and secondly, ISIS is still a very active threat in Syria.

Nancy Pelosi’s act was petty, but perhaps she too was wondering if the fact check would take more time and thought than writing the speech did, and felt overwhelmed with emotion. Regardless, I would hardly compare it to “ripping up the constitution,” as Pence put it. The speech resembled an undeserving victory lap. Some facts, false claims, and lots in between filled time, but not a word about one of the greatest issues: climate change. Nor any resembling humility, accountability, or integrity. Instead, our president awarded a radio host known for saying “Smokers aren’t killing anybody,” “the NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons” and “They’re 12% of the population. Who cares?” with the same honor given to Rosa Parks and Ronald Reagan. As for the line, “America, the best is yet to come,” I hope Trump is correct.

By Sofia Ciraulo

 

Republican

Talk about complete and utter disrespect… Shortly after the conclusion of Trump’s moving State of the Union (SOTU) Address, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi proceeded to rip up a copy of Trump’s speech for all the cameras to see. Congrats Nancy! You do know that’s not his actual speech, right? As with the entire impeachment hoax itself, this was just another stunt to detract from the monumental gains Mr. President is making for our country, the people. But no matter, the Republicans are more sure than ever of Trump, as indicated by Trump’s “approval rating reaching 94% among Republicans” within the past month according to Gallup. It is only a matter of time until Americans see the Democrats in office for what they really are: corrupt, toxic and in need of prompt removal.

While many facets of the SOTU are bothersome, I think what disturbs me the most is the blatant disrespect of The President, not just by Pelosi, but by many Democrats and politicians as well. Throughout Obama’s painfully long presidency, the Republicans didn’t agree with Obama and his administration more often that not. However, instead of making scenes and concocting an unlawful coup, we always maintained a sense of respect for him, as he was the president and that means something—at least it used to. Louisiana Republican Steve Scalise, speaking of himself and fellow House representatives affirms that despite having “had disagreements with a lot of Barack Obama’s policies,” they “never disrespected the office. [They] expressed [their] disagreements in a respectful way.”

Then, there’s the argument that Trump didn’t shake Nancy’s hand so her reaction is justified. What people conveniently omit is the fact that Pelosi broke congressional tradition by introducing The President by saying, “Members of Congress, the president of the United States” instead of “it is my high privilege and distinct honor of presenting to you the president of the United States,” further illustrating her insolence. I wouldn’t shake her hand either. Additionally, if you play back a clip of the interaction, or lack there-of I might add, clearly Trump doesn’t even see Pelosi’s extended hand, as he has already turned around by the time she raises it. Not to mention, Trump didn’t shake Vice President Pence’s hand, so why should Pelosi expect special treatment?

While most will agree that Pelosi’s shredding of Trump’s speech was petty, especially for the Speaker of the House, people diverge on her intentions. Some will say she was overcome by emotion, which moved her to respond in the way that she did. But, it is clear that Pelosi aimed to take the spotlight from Trump, giving the media, as Fox’s Steve Doocey said, “something to talk about,” as opposed to the content and raging successes of the actual SOTU Address. If you don’t believe me, check out The Guardian, which features a video of Pelosi pre-ripping the address under the headline, ‘Nancy Pelosi appears to prepare in advance to rip up Trump’s speech,’ proving her skewed motives. Clearly, this woman is so far removed from reason, morality and reality that she has absolutely no place in government and politics.

Following Pelosi’s shameful and unprecedented tearing of Trump’s speech, The President’s son, Donald J. Trump Jr., posted a compilation of clips featuring the guests from the SOTU, interlaced with Pelosi’s heinous response, which The President reposted. Soon after, Pelosi mandated that the video be taken down as it was “deliberately designed to mislead and lie to the American people” according to Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill. I would argue that the post does the exact opposite of deceiving the public: it informs of Pelosi’s discountenance of the American people. Depriving the people of their right to the truth, as Pelosi wishes to do by removing the video, is a violation of our First Amendment rights. If social media networks comply with this request of censure, media as we know it will cease to exist. As Vice President Pence eloquently put it: “[he] wasn’t sure if [Pelosi] was ripping up the speech or the Constitution,” as there is no telling what laws and rights the Dems will attempt to side-step next. But, nevertheless, loyal Democratic lawmakers won’t let their prized leader go down, immediately rushing to Pelosi’s aid. But honestly, what did they expect to happen? What I’d like to know is “what planet are [the Dems] living on” as Hammill asked of Republicans, if they expected Pelosi to go scot-free?

The Democrats like to say that, despite Trump’s acquittal, his record and legacy will always be stained by impeachment. But, I say that destroying Trump’s reputation was the sole intent of impeachment given that he did nothing wrong. Trump’s legacy will be marked by the lowest unemployment rates this nation has seen in 50 years, a thriving economy, the removal of terrorist threats and fortification of our national security and the uplifting of our courageous and impoverished veterans among countless other feats. Nancy’s legacy, in stark comparison, is ripping up and discounting “one of our last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, the survival of a child born at 21 weeks, the mourning families of Rocky Jones and Kayla Mueller, a service member’s reunion with his family,” that were honored during the SOTU as phrased by the White House. Each of these carefully selected guests represents the many facets of the American people, people who make our great nation exactly that: great. Nancy’s legacy is betraying the American people time and time again. Rebounding from the sham of an impeachment trial and other absurdities thrown his way, Trump managed to deliver an exceptionally executed speech to Congress and the American public, despite sideways attempts to refocus the spotlight. Given that “the State of our union is stronger than ever before,” Americans are currently enjoying the benefits garnered by the Trump administration (whether they’re willing to admit it or not) and Republicans are looking forward to the next 4 years.

By Grace Reskey

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