Just the Facts
Five Facts on the President's State of the Union Address
By Emma Petasis
February 6, 2019 | Blog
Last night, President Trump gave his 2019 State of the Union address, where he covered a broad range of issues, including the economy, immigration, and foreign affairs. Before Tuesday night the president was predicted to make “unity” one of his themes. Here are five facts on how the SOTU panned out.
The president emphasized the U.S. economy.
Trump described what he views as major successes of his administration thus far, focusing primarily on the economy. Trump referenced job growth and opportunity: “The U.S. economy is growing almost twice as fast today as when I took office, and we are considered far and away the hottest economy anywhere in the world.” He went on to reference his tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, cutting regulations, the creation of “5.3 million new jobs.” In a surprising move, the president also claimed that “ridiculous partisan investigations” into the Trump Administration could hamper the U.S. economy.
Trump outlined policy goals in areas of infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, and national health.
Looking ahead to 2019, the president referenced two major policy goals: infrastructure and public health. Trump announced his goal of bringing both parties together to work on a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan to “give us the safe, fast, reliable and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve.” The president also asked both parties to rally around his goal of eradicating AIDS in the United States in the next 10 years, and to unite to fight against childhood cancer. Trump also called for legislation that would lower the prices of pharmaceutical drugs and require drug companies, insurance companies, and hospitals to disclose the real prices of drugs. Targeting drug titans like Merck and Pfizer, CNBC reports that the Trump Administration proposal would pass up to $29 billionin drug company rebates back to consumers.
Immigration continued to pervade the discussion.
Trump spent a large percentage of his address last night focusing on immigration, the most hotly debated topic in the Trump Administration and the core source of contention both parties will be looking to resolve in order to avoid another shutdown in February. Predictably, Trump continued to push for border wall funding, espousing references to caravans headed to the U.S., drug trafficking, and law enforcement. Notably, Trump did not address status for the Dreamers, young adults brought to the U.S. illegally as children seeking a path to citizenship. Also surprisingly, Trump did not threaten to declare a national emergency, despite speculation that he might in his address. He did, however, reiterate his resistance to a Democratic deal unless it included wall funding. If Congress fails to act, “I’ll get it built,” the president said.
Female members of Congress celebrated history made—in and out of Washington.
Trump faced multiple rows of Democratic women donning all white last night, a visual reminder of the unprecedented number of women serving in the 116th Congress. Female lawmakers dressed in white to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote, with their apparel a testament to the suffragette movement. “No one has benefited more from our thriving economy than women, who have filled 58 percent of the newly created jobs last year,” Trump said during his speech. The president went on to commend the record-breaking 117 women elected to Congress in the 2018 election. He was met with roaring applause from the lawmakers. In a lighthearted moment, the president responded “you weren’t supposed to do that” and thanked the audience.
Democratic rising star Stacey Abrams delivered the rebuttal speech post-SOTU.
Abrams covered several topics in her Democratic response speech, including the need for election reform, fighting racism in America, and the recent government shutdown. Abrams also touched on state and local politics. A 2018 candidate for governor of Georgia, Abrams narrowly lost to Republican Brian Kemp. Abrams asserted that if she had been elected Governor, extending health coverage would have been a top priority. Abrams also touted the need for bipartisanship, from local and state politics all the way up to Congress: “For seven years, I led the Democratic Party in the Georgia House of Representatives. I didn’t always agree with the Republican speaker or governor, but I understood that our constituents didn’t care about our political parties—they cared about their lives…It should be no different in our nation’s capital. We may come from different sides of the political aisle; but our joint commitment to the ideals of this nation cannot be negotiable.”