A New Era in Politics: Donald Trump’s Address to Congress

Daphne Tang ‘19

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On February 28, 2017, President Donald Trump delivered his first address to Congress, replacing his provocative rhetoric with a less confrontational style.

According to Jerry Yang ‘19, “Donald Trump’s performance was by far his most presidential to date. Hopefully this reflects a long-term pivot away from his brash and divisive campaign rhetoric towards a more calm and composed Trump that can be recognized as the next leader of the free world.”

In his speech, the president outlined his stances on foreign policy, crime, economic development, immigration laws, health care, and the military.

In the beginning of the address, Trump denounced the anti-Semitism plaguing the nation, professing that the vandalism of cemeteries and shootings in Kansas City have torn at the fabric of society. In addition to condemning hate crimes, he called for national unity and affirmed that the U.S. will remain a leader in international affairs.

However, Trump’s foreign policy stance differs greatly from that of the previous administration, during which the U.S. intervened frequently in international conflicts. For instance, former president Barack Obama continued the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq after the rise of ISIS and endorsed Zionism in Israel [3]. Additionally, previous administration was responsible for killing Osama Bin Laden and launched airstrikes against ISIS in Syria.

Trump, however, disagrees with his predecessor’s foreign policies; from his perspective, the U.S. must prioritize its domestic interests to “make America great again”. During his address, he lamented that “we’ve defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open, for anyone to cross… And we’ve spent trillions and trillions of dollars overseas, while our infrastructure at home has so badly crumbled” [1]. In President Trump’s view, the U.S. has neglected the interests of its own citizens to meddle in the affairs of foreign countries.

With regard to America’s economic status, the president proclaimed that since his election, notable corporations such as Ford, General Motors, and Walmart have invested billions into the U.S. market, increasing the stock market’s value by $3 trillion. Trump stated as well that the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines will create an abundance of U.S. jobs. To that end, Trump has also petitioned Congress for a $1 trillion investment in rebuilding infrastructure.

Trump also declared that he will enforce immigration laws to assist the unemployed and decrease competition in the labor market. Furthermore, he maintained his support for a wall on the Mexican border, asserting that it will diminish the number of illegal immigrants, drug traffickers, and criminals entering the U.S. and save the government billions of dollars. CNN writes, “Trump signed two executive orders directing the construction of a wall on the US-Mexico border, boosting border patrol forces and increasing the number of immigration enforcement officers who carry out deportations” [7]. According to Jennifer Huang ‘18, however, his plan will squander “billions of unnecessary tax dollars. What you have here is a president who has never done anything remotely related to foreign policy – a failed businessman.”

Our nation’s newly elected president also revealed that he has been working with the Department of Defense on a plan to eradicate ISIS. However, his executive policies targeting Muslims have drawn backlash from the public. On March 7, Trump signed an executive order prohibiting immigration from primarily Muslim nations: Iran, Syria, Somalia, Libya, and Yemen [4], allegedly to prevent terrorists from entering the U.S. The move has proven controversial: the Washington Post reports that 51 to 55% of U.S. citizens are opposed to the travel ban, which has fueled protests across the nation [5].

One of the most important aspects of Trump’s speech was his insistence on repealing the Affordable Care Act. “Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits,” President Trump claimed, “as an example, Arizona went up 116 percent last year alone” [1]. This is only partially true: according to the New York Times, Arizona did experience a triple-digit increase, but it was the only state to do so [2]. Furthermore, “double digit increases in premiums are common” [2]. Trump has already taken action on healthcare. Time Magazine reports that Trump signed an executive order “allowing the federal government to dismantle the Affordable Care Act” immediately after moving into the Oval Office [6].

In his speech, Trump also proposed other changes to the healthcare system. Mainly, he wants U.S. citizens to be able to purchase health plans across state lines with the assistance of tax credits. The President did reassure people with pre-existing conditions, though, that their coverage will continue to be protected.

Finally, President Trump discussed rebuilding the military, healing the relationship between law enforcement and civilians, and encouraging our allies to fulfill their financial obligations in treaties, such as NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). He also recommended an education bill that assists disadvantaged youth in selecting colleges.

Overall, Trump’s address represents an important transition of power and highlights incoming changes to government policies. Will Obamacare be repealed? Will the U.S. build a wall on the Mexican border? Will Trump lead the U.S. in the right direction? Until the results of his policies manifest, one can only ruminate on these questions.

[1] http://fortune.com/2017/02/28/trump-congress-address-full-transcript/

[2]https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/02/28/us/politics/fact-check-trump-congress-address.html

[3] http://thehill.com/policy/defense/268854-obamas-unsettled-legacy-on-iraq-and-afghanistan

[4] http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/06/politics/trump-travel-ban-iraq/

[5]https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/02/13/americans-arent-rejecting-trumps-immigration-ban-outright-but-it-has-a-tough-road-ahead/?utm_term=.a0e029bad8ca

[6] http://time.com/money/4642125/trump-obamacare-executive-order/

[7]http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/25/politics/donald-trump-build-wall-immigration-executive-orders/

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A New Era in Politics: Donald Trump’s Address to Congress