Trump’s State of the Union address: No change in stand on immigration and trade
Trump’s speech indicated he will do nothing to address the long-term structural issues that bedevil the US society.editorials Updated: Feb 01, 2018 08:45 IST
United States President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union address on Wednesday showed how little the original agenda that he brought to office has changed in the past year. This, despite one of the lowest approval ratings of any first-year US president, a poor success rate in passing legislation even with majorities in both legislative houses and little evidence of an ability to grow in his office. President Trump remains supremely confident that he has been and remains on the right track.
Trump’s speech remained faithful, for example, to his dislike for both immigrants and trade. He did offer some concessions on the children of existing illegal migrants, but continued to demand his Mexican wall, an end to the visa lottery system and restrictions on family chain visas. Mr Trump did call for more merit-based visas – something that would benefit educated Indian migrants. But his tenor remained hostile and his connection of immigrants to crime and terror were specious. He also repeated suspect claims about the effects of trade on the US and claimed, without evidence, that he was successfully renegotiating a number of existing trade agreements.
Mr Trump was on solid ground with his claims that the US economy was booming. Unemployment levels have indeed fallen, growth is up and corporate earnings are rising. Much of this had little to do with Mr Trump. The US economy was recovering before he was elected. It can at best be said the president did not get in the way of such growth. Nonetheless, it is the prerogative of politicians to take credit for any positive trend that happens while they are in office.
However, Mr Trump’s speech indicated he will do nothing to address the long-term structural issues that bedevil US society. While lowering corporate taxes made economic sense, the administration’s tax reductions for even the wealthiest of Americans will only aggravate inequalities that have been spilling over into class and racial tensions. The poor education, drug addiction and health care issues that affect the US working class received only a passing mention in the speech – and are receiving even less attention in Mr Trump’s actual policy actions. Ironically, these afflictions are most evident among the angry white voters who brought Mr Trump to power.
The State of the Union is thought to be a reflection of the President’s domestic agenda. Mr Trump continues to adhere to a vision of his country marked by the closing of doors and the preservation of privilege.