By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON, D.C.—President Donald J. Trump spoke Tuesday to Congress and the Nation about “The Great American Comeback.” The 45th President spoke on: The Blue-Collar Economic Boom; Supporting Working Families; Lowering the cost of Healthcare; and Protecting National Security in the annual State of the Union Address.
Trump delivered his third State of the Union Address speech one day before the Senate is expected to vote to acquit him of the impeachment charges brought by House Democrats. At least five House representatives boycotted the speech: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY); Ayanna Pressley (D-MA); Steve Cohen (D-TN), Frederica Wilson (D-FL) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi became the controversial figure of the night when she stood up and tore up her copy of President Trump’s speech at the close of the night. When asked why? “It was the courteous thing to do,” Pelosi said.
President Donald J. Trump began the night by saying: “Three years ago, I launched a Great American Comeback. Let me share the results: jobs booming; income soaring; poverty falling; crime is falling, confidence is surging; and our country is thriving and highly respected again.
“The years of economic decay are over. The days of our country being used and taken advantage of and scorned by other nations are long behind us. Gone are the broken promises.
“In three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline. We have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny. We are moving forward in a pace that is unimaginable. We are never going back. Our economy is the best it has ever been.
“The military is completely rebuilt. Our power is unmatched. The border is secure. Families flourish and our values are renewed. Pride is restored, so I say to our great nation and members of Congress, the state of our great country is stronger than ever before.”
The Blue-Collar Economic Boom:
“Our agenda is pro-worker, pro-worker, pro-growth and pro-American,” said President Trump who celebrated a 50-year low-unemployment rate of 3.5 percent and one million more job openings than job seekers. In 2019, employers added an average of roughly 175,000 jobs per month. The U.S. economy added 2.1 million jobs last year and seven million news jobs since his election. The African American, Hispanic American, and Asian American unemployment rates have reached the lowest rate ever recorded and the unemployment rate for women is the lowest in 70 years. Women have filled 72 percent of all new jobs.
Veteran unemployment dropped to a new low while unemployment for disabled American reach an all-time low. Workers without a high school diploma have the lowest unemployment rate in U.S. history with a record number of young Americans now employed.
“Seven million Americans are off food stamps. Ten million are off welfare. Since my election, net worth of wage earners increased by 47 percent—which is three times faster than the top one percent. This is a blue collar boom,” said President Trump.
“The median household income is at the highest level ever recorded. Since my election, the stock markets have soared 70 percent and added 12 trillion dollars in our nation’s wealth.”
The President also highlighted the signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada (USMC) Agreement and the first phase of the trade deal with China. He stated that the United States became a net energy exporter and touted his administration’s Opportunity Zones for investment in economically distressed areas.
Supporting Working Families:
The president gave his support for paid family leave and affordable childcare. He called on Congress to pass legislation on School Choice, which will allow parents to take federal funds allocated to their children to a school of their choice.
“No parent should be forced into a failing government school. Every young person should have a safe and secure environment to learn and grow. My administration will give our citizens the opportunities they need regardless of race or background.
President Trump challenged Congress to support vocational and technical education in every single high school in America.
Lowering the cost of Healthcare:
“We made a pledge, we will always protect patients with pre-existing condition. I will protect Medicare and your Social Security, always,” said President Trump. “The American patient should never be blind-sided by medical bills. There are those who want to take away health care and abolish private health insurance for 180 million happy Americans.
“We will never let socialism destroy American healthcare. We will not allow those who unlawfully cross our borders raid the Medicare benefits of our seniors.
“Last year, was the first time in 51 years, the cost of prescription drugs went down. Working together, we can lower the price of prescription drugs. Get a bill on my desk and I will sign it immediately.
“Our goal is to give every baby the best chance to thrive,” said Trump. “I am asking Congress to pass legislation to stop late-term abortions. Whether, you are Republican, Democrat, or Independent, every human life is a gift from God.”
President Trump also asked Congress to extend family leave to all mothers and fathers across the nation. “Our child tax credit gives 40 million families an extra $2,200.”
Protecting national security:
President Trump criticized illegal alien sanctuary cities which he claimed were undermining federal immigration enforcement efforts. He celebrated the reduced flow of illegal immigrants across the southern border. The U.S. border with Mexico now has 100 miles of new wall.
“My administration defends religious freedom and the constitutional right to pray in public schools. In America, we don’t banish prayer, we don’t tear down the Cross. We don’t tear down symbols of faith. We celebrate faith. We cherish religion. We raise our sights to the glory of God. We believe in the first amendment.
“We believe in another constitutional right, so long as I am president, I will always protect your second amendment right to keep and bear arms.
“We will keep America safe and support men and women at every level, including our ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) officers. Last year, they arrested more than 120,000 aliens who committed 10,00 burglaries, 45,000 assaults and 2,000 murders.”
President Trump says he wants Congress to provide “justice for victims of sanctuary cities” by passing legislation to allow victims to sue cities or the state when “loved ones are hurt or killed.”
The president claimed that border crossings had gone down by 75 percent since May (dropping eight straight months in a row). “My administration strongly defends our national security and combatting radical Islamic terrorism,” said Trump.
- USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada) Trade Agreement: This trade agreements got rid of the 25-year-old North America Free Trade Agreement, known as NAFTA which the President blamed for encouraging U.S. companies to move their manufacturing plants south of the border to take advantage of low-wage Mexican laborers.
The U.S. Senate approved the new trade bill in January. One goal of the new trade bill is to increase auto production in the United States, with workers earning an average of at least $16 an hour.
- The China Trade Deal: After 18 months, the U.S. and China agreed to a trade deal instead of a trade war. China agreed to buy an additional $200 billion of U.S. manufacturing, energy and farm exports this year and next. In return, Trump agreed to scrap $160 billion of tariffs on Chinese imports and he halved his import taxes on an additional $110 billion while still maintaining import tariffs on $360 billion on Chinese products. In addition, China agreed to do more to protect intellectual property and to stop requiring foreign companies to hand over trade secrets as a requirement to enter Chinese markets.
- Death of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Qasem Soleimani: The military raid that led to the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. His predecessor Abu Omar al-Baghdadi was killed in 2010 after detonating a suicide vest once U.S. Special Forces entered a Syrian compound where he was located. President Trump called his capture or death “the top national security priority of my administration.”
Soleimani, killed on Jan. 3 by a drone missile, was an Iranian major general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and commander of its Quds Force, a division primarily responsible for terrorist operations.
- Federal Judges confirmed: As of mid-January, 187 federal judges and two Supreme Court Justices had been confirmed during Trump’s presidency—with one of every four circuit judges (total of 50) appointed by Trump and confirmed by the Senate in three years.
President Trump invited 17 guests he introduced during the State of the Union Address:
- Oklahoma mother Kelli Hake and her son Gage. Hake’s husband was killed while serving his second duty in Iraq after a roadside bomb went off that was supplied by forces loyal to Iranian leader Qassem Soleimani;
- Stephanie and Janiyah Davis from Philadelphia. Stephanie is a single-mother who applied for a tax credit scholarship for her daughter Janiyah. She was denied by Pennsylvania’s governor; but received a school choice tax credit scholarship from President Trump;
- Honored Carl and Marsha Mueller of Arizona, parents of Kayla Mueller, who was captured and later killed by terrorists in Syria in 2015 after two years of captivity. She was a humanitarian aid worker who was kidnapped on her way back from a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo;
- Jody Jones from Farmersville, California. His brother, Rocky, was killed in 2018 by an illegal immigrant who carried out a “brutal murder” after having been arrested and deported;
- Border Patrol Deputy Chief Raul Ortiz of Texas who has “helped protect America’s homeland for nearly three decades;
- Tony Rankins of Cincinnati, Ohio, a former U.S. Army veteran, who now works in an Opportunity Zone after becoming addicted to drugs and serving several prison sentences before getting back on his feet;
- A Kansas City toddler, Ellie Schneider, and her mother, Robin, after she beat the odds and survived despite being born at just 21 weeks and weighting just over one pound;
- Honored one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen Brig. General Charles McGee from Arizona, 100-years-old and his great grandson, 13-year-old Iain Lanphier who aspires to join the Space Force—the 6th branch of the US Armed Forces;
- Surprised Amy Williams, a Fort Bragg, North Carolina military wife and her two children with the announcement that 1st Class Townsend Williams on his fourth deployment to the Middle East was actually in the House chamber;
- Juan Guaido, backed by President Trump as the “true” President of Venezuela during the State of the Union; and
- Talk show radio host Rush Limbaugh, 69 years-old, who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom presented to him by Melania Trump during the State of the Union Address. Limbaugh had announced on Monday that he had advanced lung cancer during his radio show:
President Donald J. Trump ended his speech by saying: “America is a land of heroes, where greatness is born, destinies forged and legends come alive. America is a vast frontier with the toughest and fiercest men and women. We tamed the wilderness and settled the Wild West. We vanquished tyranny, raised skyscrapers, and our ancestors built the most exceptional Republic to exist in human history.
“This is our glorious and magnificent inheritance. The American pioneers, our pathfinders settled the Old World and built a New World where we embrace the eternal truth that everyone is made equal by the hand of Almighty God.
“America is the place where anything can happen, where anyone can rise and here on this land, on this soil, on this continent, the most incredible dreams come true. This nation is our canvas. This country is our masterpiece. We see unlimited frontiers to be explored. Our most thrilling stories are still untold. The American age, the American epic, the American adventure has just begun. Our spirit is young. My fellow Americans, the best is yet to come.”
The Democratic response to the State of the Union was given by 48-year-old Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer who referenced her experiences serving as a mother and governor; highlighted the accomplishment of Democrats; and attacked Republicans and the President as thinking he was “above the law” (mentioning the impeachment hearings concluding in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday).
Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He has worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected].