Fate of the Union


Sofija Radulovic

For Nyron Sawh ’18, an important topic of President Trump’s ‘State of the Union’ speech was the tax reform bill, which puts all of its focus on trickle-down economics.

On January 30, 2018, Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address was delivered on the floor of the House of Representatives. Traditionally, this address has been a way for the President to communicate with the people of the United States about his policy proposals for the coming year. Prior to the speech, there was a concern that Democrats would walk out. However, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House minority leader, managed to convince them not to do so.

On the domestic front of issues, Trump began his speech with small comments about natural disasters and unity. He later moved onto his other viewpoints, such as how every American should stand during the playing of the National Anthem. He also added statements about how he has appointed more circuit court judges than any other administration in history. This would mean that decisions for cases at the federal level would begin to lean more towards the conservative side. On the healthcare front, Trump discussed lowering the price of prescription drugs, veterans having more choices on where to receive treatment, and patients having more rights to engage in experimental treatments.

“Trump’s presidency has not instituted any policies to decrease unemployment – that was done during the Obama administration.”

However, the major domestic topic of the night was immigration, which led to the recent government shutdown after Republicans and Democrats could not reach a deal concerning DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival) and regarding Trump’s desire to build a wall on the United States/Mexico border. When discussing the new deal, Trump stated how it included four pillars with the first being providing 1.8 million people with a path to citizenship if they met educational, work, and personal benchmarks. The second part of this new deal included securing the border, with a wall and ending ‘catch-and-release,’ the policy which undocumented people are arrested and released before their hearing by an immigration judge. His immigration plan also includes eliminating the visa lottery, which Trump claimed allowed people into the country while not considering the safety and security of Americans. However, in order to qualify to be entered into the lottery, one must be vetted and pass educational and work criteria. The fourth pillar of Trump’s plan included the idea to stop allowing family members to sponsor their extended family for citizenship and green cards, allowing sponsorship of spouses and minor children only. Adding onto a theme of using pathos in order to persuade his listeners, Trump used a story of two girls who were murdered by the MS-13 gang in Long Island in order to create an anti-immigrant tone.

I was happy that President Trump reached for compromise, such as discussing amnesty for some of the illegal immigrants, while maintaining some rigidity. I liked his focus on ‘America First’ issues,” said Kellen Knight ’21.

Sofija Radulovic
Regarding President Trump’s State of the Union address, Kellen Knight ’21 enjoyed the information conveyed, the bipartisanship and compromises that were proposed, and the reactions of those in the audience who dislike President Trump.

Often praised by Republicans for his business ingenuity, President Trump took the opportunity to discuss how his administration had influenced the growth of the economy. For the subject of unemployment, Trump discussed how 2.4 million new jobs have been created since the November 2016 election, with rising wages and 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone. However, this is the slowest gain in jobs since 2010. Trump also discussed how the new tax bill, as well as his overall economic policy, has been instrumental in providing opportunities for car manufacturing jobs to be brought to the United States, pointing out that Chrysler is moving a factory from Mexico to Michigan, and Mazda and Toyota are opening new factories in Alabama. However, some Bronx Science students believed that Trump had a theme of taking credit for things which he did not influence.

He talked about what he’s accomplished so far, such as lowering unemployment, making it look like his administration is doing well. However, Trump’s presidency has not instituted any policies to decrease unemployment – that was done during the Obama administration,” said Nyron Sawh ’18.

Another major topic within the chapter of economics was the new Republican tax bill. Trump discussed how he had nearly doubled the standard deduction for all Americans, by making the first twenty-four thousand dollars earned by a married couple completely tax-free and doubling the child tax credit. However, what Trump failed to mention during his speech is that more than 75% of the tax cuts went to the wealthy— a use of trickle-down economics in an effort to distribute wealth.

International issues became the topic of discussion towards the end of the speech, with Trump discussing how it was important that the United States keep open Guantanamo Bay, an American prison for terrorists located in Cuba, and end the program of catching terrorists overseas. In addition to terrorism, Trump also stated his plans of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and sending aid to countries that reflect American interests. One of his last points on the international front was about North Korea and how he will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations. Trump stated how the nature of nuclear threat must be understood, including anecdotes about Otto Warmbier, the deceased UVA student who was imprisoned in North Korea and returned to the US in a coma, and Ji Seong-ho, a man who escaped the country.

Aside from the discussion on current political issues and plans, the divide between the Democrats and Republicans was clear throughout the night. Although Trump began his speech discussing how we should view each other as neither Democrats nor Republicans, this soon proved to not be the case. While the Republicans were eager to give President Trump a standing ovation every few minutes, the Democrats occupying roughly half of the room remained seated for the majority of the speech. One point of unity, however, came from government officials wearing purple ribbons in support of the opioid epidemic within the United States that kills ninety-one people each day.