The most important questions that come to mind after a conciliatory (sort of) State of the Union Address are: Is the president capable of changing his aggressive and unproductive style towards his opponents and work in concert with them? Will Democrats continue to denigrate the administration in spite of his admirable agenda?
From my vantage point I would say no to both queries. For sure Trump will be tweeting away about how great he performed and how Democrats would be fools if they rejected his offer to cooperate for the betterment of the country. The president will continue to rub Americans the wrong way. Even in a speech that rightly lauded his accomplishments, he managed to make many average Americans cringe.
The answer to the second question became obvious as TV cameras panned the faces of Democrat lawmakers. They hate Trump with a passion there will be no peace or comity in Congress, that’s for sure. Even while Trump showcased the fact that African Americans unemployment rates are the lowest in history, the black caucus members scowled.
Nevertheless it’s worth thinking about the administration’s agenda because it could result in extraordinary gains for Republicans in the mid-term elections. The president launched into a review of all the good things happening economically that he inspired. One could see the reaction of the opposition as they falsely believe that Obama set the stage for the current economic bonanza .
The items discussed included a vibrant stock market that has benefited millions of Americans as the Dow Jones set new records repeatedly during 2017. The gains are widespread as average Americans have enjoyed excellent growth in their 401Ks and pensions. Americans, other than the affluent, will all receive tax decreases. Unemployment is down to record lows. Wages are increasing. Manufacturing jobs increased. Companies are paying bonuses, and building new plant and equipment in the US that will further grow employment.
Trump discussed a number of pet items relating to respect for the flag and our National Anthem, the appointment of many new conservative judges including a new Supreme Court member, accountability towards veterans, less regulations, energy independence, improved conditions in the auto industry, FDA approvals of new drugs, reduced prices for prescription drugs and improved trade agreements.
Trump then brought up our crumbling infrastructure. He suggested a $1.5 trillion government initiative that could be bolstered by leverage and private equity participation. The response from Republicans was tremendous and Democrats sat on their hands and made funny, disapproving faces.
Next was welfare, to be replaced by work. Trump said the secret to solving the welfare problem is workforce development, training and new vocational schools. Once again there were cheers from the right and slumping from the left.
Immigration reform received extra attention in the president’s speech. He said he has offered a bipartisan approach that includes critical reforms. There are four pillars to the administration’s proposal: (1) a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegals (2) a secure border with a wall and more officers (3) the end of the lottery system that gives green cards to random applicants and troublemakers (4) the end of migration in which a single migrant can bring his extended family to the US.
The president mentioned the growing drug problem and the 64,000 overdoses in the past year.
And finally the speech focused on the military, modernization of the nuclear arsenal, the extermination of ISIS and the $20 billion that has been given to countries that oppose the US at the United Nations. I hoped that Trump would order the UN to move its headquarters out of New York to some foreign city.
Trump made special mention of the rogue state of North Korea and its attempts to destabilize the world with their nuclear weapons.
Where does all this leave America? Getting anything done in Congress that requires support from the opposition will be impossible. We should expect continued unproductive commentary and jockeying on Russian collusion (fake news), investigations and memos by partisan members of Congress suggesting wrongdoing by the FBI, the Justice Department, Trump, Hillary Clinton, etc. and general obstruction and name calling straight into the mid-term elections.
I continue to believe Trump’s style and methods are abominable and greatly responsible for him not receiving the credit he deserves. Yet Democrats will lose big in November if they don’t develop alternative plans to solve the country’s problems.
Don’t expect any wisdom or olive branches from the opposition. They will continue to make funny faces and attack the president personally. Ultimately Democrats will be demolished in the mid-terms and all the old hacks will lose their leadership positions (finally). Hopefully the replacements will work for a better America.
I rate the content of the speech A-. Trump did not discuss the sexual revolution underway in America or any of the unproductive activities in Congress. I think Trump’s delivery earned a B-. I lowered his grade because there was too much self-aggrandizement for my taste.