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Trump’s Address to Congress: Highlights and Lowlights

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

President Donald J. Trump is receiving much praise from friend and foe alike for the unofficial State of the Union address that he delivered before a Joint-Session of Congress on Tuesday night. 

Chris Wallace, of Fox News, and Van Jones, of CNN, represent the view of no small number of pundits when they declare that Trump “became the President” with this most recent speech.

Indeed, stylistically and, in some respects, substantively, the President’s address was among the more powerful and memorable that had been given before that body.  And it undoubtedly had its share of highlights. President Trump:

--forcefully reiterated his resolve to construct a border wall and deport and ban criminal illegal immigrants.

--reminded the nation once more of the real-life victims of violent illegal immigrants by welcoming their loved ones—themselves victims—to his address and referring to them by name.

--insisted that he was the President of the United States, not the world, and that the creed by which the government would conduct itself during his tenure is simple: Buy American, Hire American.

--reminded the country of President Obama’s lies and broken promises that Obamacare would not upset the desire of Americans to keep their doctors and their insurance plans.

--distinguished himself from the 44th President by underscoring the importance of supporting, rather than undermining, law enforcement in its struggle to preserve civilization against the threats posed to it by criminals.

--called out the Obama administration for presiding over what could be among the worst of economic recoveries while adding to the national debt an amount exceeding that of all of his predecessors combined.

--alluded to a young, attractive black woman who he had invited to his speech and who served as a concrete illustration of the success that students can achieve if they are free to escape the monopoly of the public school system.

--acknowledged and thanked the widow of a slain Navy Seal, his guest who received the longest applause in the history of these Presidential addresses to Congress and the nation.

Trump articulated himself in his own inimitable manner.  The Democrats, in glaring contrast, appeared small, petulant, and even offensive. Their antics will surely cost them more losses in the future.

This being said, I can’t say that I liked all that I heard.

First, to resounding bipartisan applause, Trump expressed his commitment to infrastructure spending. “Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways, gleaming across our very, very beautiful land.”  Invoking “another Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower,” who “initiated the last truly great national infrastructure program [the system of interstate highways],” Trump declared: “The time has come for a new program of national rebuilding.”

To achieve this objective, the President announced that he “will be asking Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment” that will be “financed through both public and private capital [.]”

One trillion dollars.

Second, the President proposed, as he happily admitted, what amounts to a historically unprecedented increase in defense spending. “I am sending Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the defense sequester, and calls for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.”

Third, Trump’s determination to repeal and “replace” Obamacare is genuine enough. While the replacement, whatever it is, may prove to allow for more flexibility for states and individuals, the bad news for liberty-lovers is that this new scheme will be every bit as massive and every bit as centrally directed as the monstrosity that it will succeed.

Not only does Trump want to make sure that taxpayers arrange for those with “pre-existing conditions” to have coverage, he also maintains that “we” (government) make it possible for everyone else to purchase health care coverage.  In addition, “we” (government) must “give our state governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid [another Big Government program] to make sure that no one is left out.”

Fourth, the President thinks it is the task of the national government to make “child care accessible and affordable” and “to help ensure new parents that they have paid family leave [.]”  He evidently also believes that income-earners and wealth-creators should have more of their resources confiscated by government and redistributed so that “we” can “invest in women’s health [.]”

Fifthly, Trump ominously echoed George W. Bush in describing “education” as the “civil rights issue of our time.”  “I am calling on members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth [.]”  Some range of choices is better than no choice at all, I suppose, but it shouldn’t be lost on anyone that an agenda of so-called “school choice” that the national government will “fund” remains a centrally-directed, Big Government, plan by another name, for the options afforded the “disadvantaged” are still predetermined by central political authorities. 

Finally, Trump opened his speech by condemning a recent string of crimes directed against Jewish community centers and cemeteries.  These events “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.” 

While hate and evil are certainly worthy objects of condemnation, if the President was determined to tackle them in this venue and on this occasion, I wish he would’ve targeted the hate and evil that neo-communist leftist terrorists—those whom Democrats call “protesters”—have been unleashing on his own supporters in cities around the country.  It would have been refreshing to have heard him call upon Democrats in Congress to join the rest of us in condemning the violence, intolerance, and hatred of those on their side of the political divide.  Or maybe he could have condemned those hordes of gutless cyber-thugs—let’s call them the Unconscionables—who called for the raping of his wife and his assassination.

Time will tell where we go from here.  

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