A response and fact check of Trump’s State of the Union address
In the State of the Union address held on Jan. 30, President Donald J. Trump made a professional and well-organized speech to explain his viewpoints, address his critics, and state his vision for the nation. It was well received by the viewers.
Roughly 75 percent of Americans approved of the speech, 8/10 Americans said it made them think Donald Trump is trying to unite the country, and 2/3 Americans felt proud to be an American due to the speech, all according to CBS News.
However, CBS noted that among those who watched the speech, 42 percent were Republicans, meaning the partisan nature of American politics contributed to the positive response that the President received, rather than purely on the merits of his conciliatory speaking skills. This is further made clear to us as just over half of the Democrats who watched the speech said it made them feel angry. Partisanship has always hampered how the President is received in his speeches, and Trump’s speech was no different. However, there were some components of the speech that had misleading and false claims.
One of the first things the President stated was his pride and joy about the fact that the tax cut bill was recently passed. He claimed that “Just as I promised to the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history.”
Politifact rated this as false due to the fact that the tax cut bill was the fourth largest tax cut bill in terms of inflation-adjusted dollars, and only the seventh largest in terms of GDP. This clearly was an attempt to make the tax bill look more significant than it actually was, further muddying the waters of truth. This was something that really should not have been misrepresented, as it serves no purpose.
The president went on to say that wages were increasing after “years of wage stagnation,” but ignored the fact that the rise in wages started during the Obama administration and continued during the first three quarters of Trump’s presidency, but fell near the last quarter, wiping out all the gains that came in the first three quarters.
The president also brought up six MS-13 members, illegal immigrants who murdered 16 year old Kayla Rodriguez and 15-year-old Nisa Mickens on Long Island in 2016. He went so far as to invite the mother of Kayla Rodriguez to the White House before the speech.
However, this was slightly undercut by the fact that Kayla’s mother said she did not want this to be about immigration, but as a discussion about the safety of our nation, according to the New York Times.
Unfortunately, immigration was highlighted by her presence, as these murders were a clear part of the president’s speech. This brings us to the issue of crime by immigrants. This issue has polarized our nation along party lines, and understandably so, as we have to address the security of the nation and the humanity of our immigration policy.
Regardless, the fact remains that immigrant crime rates are lower for first generation immigrants than they are among native-born Americans, according to the Brookings Institute.
Illegal and legal immigrants combined have lower incarceration rates than native born Americans, according to the conservative CATO institute.
Mentioning these murders was clearly an attempt by the president to associate illegal immigrants with higher rates of crime, when that is factually not true.
This obvious attempt at fear mongering by the president was undoubtedly intended to promote his absurd Mexican border wall. It’s a costly policy that is unnecessary, especially considering the fact that illegal immigration into the U.S. has decreased by at least 1 million people since 2007, according to Pew Research.
Not only that, but the cost of the wall ranges from Trump’s estimate of 12 billion dollars to the Senate Democrat’s estimate of 70 billion dollars, with the middle ground between the two being a 22 billion dollar estimate from the Department of Homeland Security. To sum up the wall and immigration, our president is calling for a wall that costs our government billions of dollars, even though illegal immigration has gone down, with no known numbers as to how much it would cost to maintain a wall once it was created.
Overall, President Trump’s State of the Union, while soft spoken, was not any less of a problem than his off the cuff speeches. Soft spoken deception is still deception, and no matter how much the President reads off a teleprompter, that will not change. Simply because Trump’s speech made the American people comfortable and proud of America, it didn’t make him truthful, and it doesn’t mean that he has their interests at heart.
Due to technological difficulties, articles from the Feb. 15 issue were posted late. The Lorian apologizes for the late update.