Things to Note About the 2020 State of the Union


Branden Leong, Staff Writer

President Donald Trump delivered his third State of the Union address to Congress the evening of Tuesday, Feb. 4. This speech came less than two months after the House of Representatives impeached him and one day before the Senate acquitted him. In the address, Trump refrained from referencing the impeachment, but a partisan atmosphere still reigned.

Here are the five key takeaways from President Trump’s State of the Union address:

1. Tensions between Democrats and Republicans were on display.

Although President Trump did not comment on the impeachment process, the tension and division in the House chamber was palpable from beginning to end.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s outstretched hand was ignored by President Trump before the speech. As President Trump started his address by listing his administration’s accomplishments and measures, Pelosi clearly showed her disapproval of him. She rolled her eyes and clutched her chest as the president said, “we lift our voices in prayer.”

Immediately after the president finished his address, Pelosi physically tore up her copy of the speech. She later told reporters that “it was such a dirty speech” and that ripping up the papers “was a courteous thing to do considering the alternative,” according to Yahoo News.

Democratic lawmakers stood multiple times throughout the address to protest against President Trump’s remarks. Two attendees exited as the president spoke. After the speech, Democrats compared the experience to attending a Trump campaign rally, especially with Republican lawmakers chanting “four more years.”

2. The president honored multiple citizens in his address.

As the president’s guest, sitting squarely in the first lady’s box, President Trump introduced the wife of a U.S. service member serving in Afghanistan. The president explained that she hadn’t seen her husband in seven months. As a surprise to her, President Trump then called out the army sergeant, leading to a joyful and tearful reunion for millions of viewers to witness.

The president also invited conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Limbaugh, recently diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, stood as first lady Melania Trump placed the medal around his neck. The Democrats expressed their disapproval as they remained seated while Limbaugh received the high honor.

Finally, President Trump announced that a fourth grade girl would receive a scholarship to attend the school of her choice. He gave her the scholarship in an effort to get lawmakers to “pass legislation expanding the ability of students to relocate if their school is of poor quality,” according to the New York Post.

3. President Trump paints Democrats as socialists.

President Trump’s reelection campaign has pointed Democratic candidates as socialists. He continued that thought in the House chamber by discussing how some Democrats support the elimination of private health insurance.

“Lawmakers in this room have endorsed legislation to impose a socialist takeover of our healthcare system, wiping out the private health insurance plans of 180 million very happy Americans,” said President Trump in his address, as reported by Yahoo News. “To those watching at home tonight, I want you to know, we will never let socialism destroy American health care.”

As the Trump administration seeks to overturn Obamacare, President Trump promised to “always protect patients with preexisting conditions.” There is not a replacement plan ready, however.

Speaking on the issue of prescription drug pricing, President Trump instructed Congress to put a bill on his desk that he can sign into law immediately. In reaction, some Democrats stood up holding three fingers, chanting “H.R. 3.” This was in reference to a bill passed by the House of Representatives to lower drug costs that the Senate has yet to approve.

The president also talked about abortion. He asked Congress to “pass legislation banning the late-term abortion of babies,” mentioning his claim that Democrats support abortion from conception right until the moment of birth.

Democrats, however, view abortion rights as “putting women’s health first and leaving medical decisions to women and their health providers”, as explained by Donna Lieberman, the head of the New York Civil Liberties Union. 

4. The president takes credit for a “blue-collar boom.”

The president’s State of the Union address focused heavily on the growth of the economy. With unemployment at a 50-year low, wages growing, and the stock market up 20% since last year, the U.S. is in a record-setting 11th year of economic expansion.

“Jobs are booming. Incomes are soaring. Poverty is plummeting. Crime is falling,” stated President Trump, according to Yahoo News. “Confidence is surging and our country is thriving and highly respected again.”

Those statistics are in contrast to the real gross domestic product (GDP), a key historic measure of economic health. Real GDP increased 2.9% in 2018 and 2.3% in 2019, lower than the 4% promised by President Trump in his 2016 campaign.

5. No broad policy proposals were stated.

Being a divisive election year, with no hope of bipartisan legislative progress, the president chose not to discuss broad policy proposals in his address. He listed through his accomplishments in the first three years as president.

He voiced approval for expanding school choice, increase access to family leave, and support for an infrastructure bill.

The president’s address to the nation was seen as more of a summary of achievements than a vision for the future.


Photo courtesy of VOX.COM