President Donald Trump had a strong performance Tuesday night during his speech to a joint session of congress.
He began by going over many of his campaign talking points about taking care of veterans, rebuilding infrastructure, and bringing back jobs to U.S. shores.
He laid out a strategy for immigration, saying:
“We will soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border. It will be started ahead of schedule and, when finished, it will be a very effective weapon against drugs and crime.”
This is great. Building a border wall could be one of Trump’s most important and lasting achievements. As one of Trump’s keynote proposals, a wall will protect Americans and finally ensure that our border is secure.
He continued on the topic of terrorism, saying:
“It is not compassionate, but reckless, to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur. Those given the high honor of admission to the United States should support this country and love its people and its values.”
This is also excellent. The safest and most compassionate way to deal with the refugee situation is to fund safe zones in the Middle East, which Trump has promised to do. Those who reject the mass importation of Syrian Refugees should no longer be condemned as unsympathetic and immoral. Trump then explained that he would develop a plan to combat ISIS and levy sanctions on those who support Iran’s nuclear program.
Then, Trump addressed his Supreme Court nominee:
“We have chosen Judge Neil Gorsuch, a man of incredible skill, and deep devotion to the law. He was confirmed unanimously to the Court of Appeals, and I am asking the Senate to swiftly approve his nomination.”
Confirming Gorsuch is one of the Senate’s most important tasks. Doing so would restore balance to the Supreme Court and fittingly honor late Justice Scalia.
Moving on to tax reform, Trump said:
“Right now, American companies are taxed at one of the highest rates anywhere in the world. My economic team is developing historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone. At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class.”
Tax reform is also a crucial task for the Republican Party. The corporate tax rate in through the roof. This is not making for a good environment to do business in. With Republican control of the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the White House, this should come sooner rather than later.
Trump went astray, however, when he mentioned trade policy:
“I believe strongly in free trade but it also has to be FAIR TRADE.”
This is not the first time that Trump has mentioned “fair trade”. The reality is, free trade is the fairest form of trade. This is an issue in which conservatives need to stand up to Trump. Protectionism will not help the U.S. economy, it will only serve to bolster Trump’s support in traditionally Democratic areas such as the rust belt.
Trump moved on to the issue of immigration reform, saying:
“Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others –- have a merit-based immigration system. It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.”
This is what we need to hear from Trump. With the current welfare state, we can not continue to allow mass immigration of unskilled workers. Before the welfare state, anyone was allowed into America and they had to make it on their own. Currently, we just can’t afford to pay for those with no job skills to be on the dole. Immigrants ought to be able to earn a living before we open up the gates.
He switched back into Bernie Sanders mode when he discussed infrastructure:
“To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital –- creating millions of new jobs.”
This infrastructure plan is nothing more than another failed Obama stimulus. If we do need to fix roads and bridges, Trump should say what he is fixing and get a quote instead of just throwing out an amount of money he wants to spend. As for the notion that this will create jobs, it may likely destroy jobs as well through the increased spending and debt passed on to future generations.
Things got better as he moved on to healthcare reform:
“I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in the Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster.”
Repealing and replacing Obamacare is such a high priority that it’s stunning congress hasn’t moved on it yet. This is likely because it is such a tremendous political risk. As one of the issues Trump ran on, replacing Obamacare has to be done quickly and correctly. He mentioned creating interstate healthcare markets (good), maintaining coverage for pre-existing conditions (eh) and improving health savings accounts (good).
He then moved on to one of the most important of his proposals, deregulating the FDA:
“But our slow and burdensome approval process at the Food and Drug Administration keeps too many advances from reaching those in need.”
This couldn’t have been said better. Many people die each year because of a lethargic and incompetent FDA. Expediting FDA approvals will be key in providing patients the best treatment possible.
“I am calling upon Members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children. These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them.”
School choice is certainly a priority and a welcome development. By breaking the deadlock on public schools by the teachers’ unions, Trump will provide a better education for more kids. Although education isn’t the end-all to fixing poverty, it’s a great first step.
Addressing crime, Trump said:
“Police and sheriffs are members of our community. They are friends and neighbors, they are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters – and they leave behind loved ones every day who worry whether or not they’ll come home safe and sound. We must support the incredible men and women of law enforcement.”
Donald Trump can and will end the war on cops. After eight years of President Obama exploiting police and inner-city residents for political points, support for law enforcement is key. In addition, Trump should support increasing police presence in the most troubled communities, where a surge in violence is occurring. We must reverse the Ferguson Effect, and supporting police is the first step.
He expressed support for NATO:
“We strongly support NATO, an alliance forged through the bonds of two World Wars that dethroned fascism, and a Cold War that defeated communism.”
Trump went on to say that NATO allies need to pay up, and they are beginning to do so. This is a dramatic departure from his campaign trail rhetoric bashing NATO. The U.S. must strongly support NATO, the most successful alliance in world history, and oppose the United Nations, a total failure.
He also made sure to address the racist shooting of two Indian men in Olathe, Kansas:
“Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”
This is absolutely the right move, however, no matter how much Trump condemns hatred and racism, he continues to be blamed for it. Publicly and loudly opposing racism and bigotry is going to be one of Trump’s most crucial tasks from a PR perspective.
All in all, and without too many bumps on the road, Trump notched a win in Tuesday’s speech. As long as congress gets in gear, we are looking at a long and productive eight years.