January 30, 2018 State of the Union Address - History

January 30, 2018 State of the Union Address - History


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For Immediate Release January 30, 2018

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP

IN STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

U.S. Capitol

Washington, D.C.

9:10 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and my fellow Americans:

Less than one year has passed since I first stood at this podium, in this majestic chamber, to speak on behalf of the American people and to address their concerns, their hopes, and their dreams. That night, our new administration had already taken very swift action. A new tide of optimism was already sweeping across our land.

Each day since, we have gone forward with a clear vision and a righteous mission -- to make America great again for all Americans. (Applause.)

Over the last year, we have made incredible progress and achieved extraordinary success. We have faced challenges we expected, and others we could never have imagined. We have shared in the heights of victory and the pains of hardship. We have endured floods and fires and storms. But through it all, we have seen the beauty of America's soul, and the steel in America's spine.

Each test has forged new American heroes to remind us who we are, and show us what we can be.

We saw the volunteers of the Cajun Navy, racing to the rescue with their fishing boats to save people in the aftermath of a totally devastating hurricane.

We saw strangers shielding strangers from a hail of gunfire on the Las Vegas strip.

We heard tales of Americans like Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashlee Leppert, who is here tonight in the gallery with Melania. (Applause.) Ashlee was aboard one of the first helicopters on the scene in Houston during the Hurricane Harvey. Through 18 hours of wind and rain, Ashlee braved live power lines and deep water to help save more than 40 lives. Ashlee, we all thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

We heard about Americans like firefighter David Dahlberg. He's here with us also. David faced down walls of flame to rescue almost 60 children trapped at a California summer camp threatened by those devastating wildfires.

To everyone still recovering in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands -- everywhere -- we are with you, we love you, and we always will pull through together, always. (Applause.)

Thank you to David and the brave people of California. Thank you very much, David. Great job.

Some trials over the past year touched this chamber very personally. With us tonight is one of the toughest people ever to serve in this House -- a guy who took a bullet, almost died, and was back to work three and a half months later: the legend from Louisiana, Congressman Steve Scalise. (Applause.) I think they like you, Steve. (Laughter.)

We are incredibly grateful for the heroic efforts of the Capitol Police officers, the Alexandria Police, and the doctors, nurses, and paramedics who saved his life and the lives of many others; some in this room. In the aftermath -- (applause) -- yes. Yes.

In the aftermath of that terrible shooting, we came together, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as representatives of the people. But it is not enough to come together only in times of tragedy. Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground, and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people. This is really the key. These are the people we were elected to serve. (Applause.)

Over the last year, the world has seen what we always knew: that no people on Earth are so fearless, or daring, or determined as Americans. If there is a mountain, we climb it. If there is a frontier, we cross it. If there's a challenge, we tame it. If there's an opportunity, we seize it.

So let's begin tonight by recognizing that the state of our Union is strong because our people are strong. (Applause.) And together, we are building a safe, strong, and proud America.

Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including -- (applause) -- including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone. Tremendous numbers. (Applause.) After years and years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages. (Applause.)

Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low. (Applause.) It's something I'm very proud of. African American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded. (Applause.) And Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history. (Applause.)

Small-business confidence is at an all-time high. The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8 trillion, and more, in value in just this short period of time. The great news -- (applause) -- the great news for Americans' 401(k), retirement, pension, and college savings accounts have gone through the roof.

And just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history. (Applause.)

Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small business. To lower tax rates for hardworking Americans, we nearly doubled the standard deduction for everyone. (Applause.) Now, the first $24,000 earned by a married couple is completely tax-free. (Applause.) We also doubled the child tax credit. (Applause.) A typical family of four making $75,000 will see their tax bill reduced by $2,000, slashing their tax bill in half. (Applause.)

In April, this will be the last time you will ever file under the old and very broken system, and millions of Americans will have more take-home pay starting next month -- a lot more. (Applause.)

We eliminated an especially cruel tax that fell mostly on Americans making less than $50,000 a year, forcing them to pay tremendous penalties simply because they couldn't afford government-ordered health plans. (Applause.) We repealed the core of the disastrous Obamacare. The individual mandate is now gone. Thank heaven. (Applause.)

We slashed the business tax rate from 35 percent all the way down to 21 percent, so American companies can compete and win against anyone else anywhere in the world. (Applause.) These changes alone are estimated to increase average family income by more than $4,000. A lot of money. (Applause.)

Small businesses have also received a massive tax cut, and can now deduct 20 percent of their business income.

Here tonight are Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger of Staub Manufacturing, a small, beautiful business in Ohio. They've just finished the best year in their 20-year history. (Applause.) Because of tax reform, they are handing out raises, hiring an additional 14 people, and expanding into the building next door. Good feeling. (Applause.)

One of Staub's employees, Corey Adams, is also with us tonight. Corey is an all-American worker. He supported himself through high school, lost his job during the 2008 recession, and was later hired by Staub, where he trained to become a welder. Like many hardworking Americans, Corey plans to invest his tax‑cut raise into his new home and his two daughters' education. Corey, please stand. (Applause.) And he's a great welder. (Laughter.) I was told that by the man that owns that company that's doing so well. So congratulations, Corey.

Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses -- many of them thousands and thousands of dollars per worker. And it's getting more every month, every week. Apple has just announced it plans to invest a total of $350 billion in America, and hire another 20,000 workers. (Applause.) And just a little while ago, ExxonMobil announced a $50 billion investment in the United States, just a little while ago. (Applause.)

This, in fact, is our new American moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American Dream.

So to every citizen watching at home tonight, no matter where you've been, or where you've come from, this is your time. If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve absolutely anything. (Applause.)

Tonight, I want to talk about what kind of future we are going to have, and what kind of a nation we are going to be. All of us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family can do anything.

We all share the same home, the same heart, the same destiny, and the same great American flag. (Applause.)

Together, we are rediscovering the American way. In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of American life. The motto is, "In God We Trust." (Applause.)

And we celebrate our police, our military, and our amazing veterans as heroes who deserve our total and unwavering support. (Applause.)

Here tonight is Preston Sharp, a 12-year-old boy from Redding, California, who noticed that veterans' graves were not marked with flags on Veterans Day. He decided all by himself to change that, and started a movement that has now placed 40,000 flags at the graves of our great heroes. (Applause.) Preston, a job well done. (Applause.)

Young patriots, like Preston, teach all of us about our civic duty as Americans. And I met Preston a little while ago, and he is something very special -- that I can tell you. Great future. Thank you very much for all you've done, Preston. (Applause.)

Preston's reverence for those who have served our nation reminds us of why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the Pledge of Allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the National Anthem. (Applause.)

Americans love their country, and they deserve a government that shows them the same love and loyalty in return. For the last year, we have sought to restore the bonds of trust between our citizens and their government.

Working with the Senate, we are appointing judges who will interpret the Constitution as written, including a great new Supreme Court justice, and more circuit court judges than any new administration in the history of our country. (Applause.)

We are totally defending our Second Amendment, and have taken historic actions to protect religious liberty. (Applause.)

And we are serving our brave veterans, including giving our veterans choice in their healthcare decisions. (Applause.) Last year, Congress also passed, and I signed, the landmark VA Accountability Act. (Applause.) Since its passage, my administration has already removed more than 1,500 VA employees who failed to give our veterans the care they deserve. And we are hiring talented people who love our vets as much as we do. (Applause.)

And I will not stop until our veterans are properly taken care of, which has been my promise to them from the very beginning of this great journey. (Applause.)

All Americans deserve accountability and respect, and that's what we are giving to our wonderful heroes, our veterans. Thank you. (Applause.)

So, tonight, I call on Congress to empower every Cabinet Secretary with the authority to reward good workers and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people. (Applause.)

In our drive to make Washington accountable, we have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in the history of our country. (Applause.)

We have ended the war on American energy, and we have ended the war on beautiful clean coal. (Applause.) We are now very proudly an exporter of energy to the world. (Applause.)

In Detroit, I halted government mandates that crippled America's great, beautiful autoworkers so that we can get Motor City revving its engines again. And that's what's happening. (Applause.) Many car companies are now building and expanding plants in the United States -- something we haven't seen for decades. Chrysler is moving a major plant from Mexico to Michigan. Toyota and Mazda are opening up a plant in Alabama -- a big one. And we haven't seen this in a long time. It's all coming back. (Applause.)

Very soon, auto plants and other plants will be opening up all over our country. This is all news Americans are totally unaccustomed to hearing. For many years, companies and jobs were only leaving us. But now they are roaring back. They're coming back. They want to be where the action is. They want to be in the United States of America. That's where they want to be. (Applause.)

Exciting progress is happening every single day. To speed access to breakthrough cures and affordable generic drugs, last year the FDA approved more new and generic drugs and medical devices than ever before in our country's history. (Applause.)

We also believe that patients with terminal conditions, and terminal illness, should have access to experimental treatment immediately that could potentially save their lives.

People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure. I want to give them a chance right here at home. It's time for Congress to give these wonderful, incredible Americans the right to try. (Applause.)

One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs. (Applause.) In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States. And it's very, very unfair. That is why I have directed my administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of my top priorities for the year. (Applause.) And prices will come down substantially. Watch.

America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs, and our wealth. Our nation has lost its wealth, but we're getting it back so fast. The era of economic surrender is totally over. From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair and, very importantly, reciprocal. (Applause.)

We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones. And they'll be good ones, but they'll be fair. And we will protect American workers and American intellectual property through strong enforcement of our trade rules. (Applause.)

As we rebuild our industries, it is also time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. (Applause.)

America is a nation of builders. We built the Empire State Building in just one year. Isn't it a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a minor permit approved for the building of a simple road? (Applause.) I am asking both parties to come together to give us safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure that our economy needs and our people deserve. (Applause.)

Tonight, I'm calling on Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment that our country so desperately needs. Every federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with state and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit. And we can do it. (Applause.)

Any bill must also streamline the permitting and approval process, getting it down to no more than two years, and perhaps even one. Together, we can reclaim our great building heritage. (Applause.)

We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways all across our land. And we will do it with American heart, and American hands, and American grit. (Applause.)

We want every American to know the dignity of a hard day's work. We want every child to be safe in their home at night. And we want every citizen to be proud of this land that we all love so much. We can lift our citizens from welfare to work, from dependence to independence, and from poverty to prosperity. (Applause.)

As tax cuts create new jobs, let's invest in workforce development and let's invest in job training, which we need so badly. (Applause.) Let's open great vocational schools so our future workers can learn a craft and realize their full potential. (Applause.) And let's support working families by supporting paid family leave. (Applause.)

As America regains its strength, opportunity must be extended to all citizens. That is why this year we will embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance at life. (Applause.)

Struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families.

For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They've allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans. Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives.

Here tonight are two fathers and two mothers: Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddy Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado, and Robert Mickens. Their two teenage daughters -- Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens -- were close friends on Long Island. But in September 2016, on the eve of Nisa's 16th Birthday -- such a happy time it should have been -- neither of them came home. These two precious girls were brutally murdered while walking together in their hometown.

Six members of the savage MS-13 gang have been charged with Kayla and Nisa's murders. Many of these gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as illegal, unaccompanied alien minors, and wound up in Kayla and Nisa's high school.

Evelyn, Elizabeth, Freddy, and Robert: Tonight, everyone in this chamber is praying for you. Everyone in America is grieving for you. Please stand. (Applause.) I want you to know that 320 million hearts are right now breaking for you. We love you. (Applause.)

While we cannot imagine the depths of that kind of sorrow, we can make sure that other families never have to endure this kind of pain.

Tonight, I am calling on Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13, and other criminal gangs, to break into our country. We have proposed new legislation that will fix our immigration laws and support our ICE and Border Patrol agents -- these are great people; these are great, great people -- that work so hard in the midst of such danger so that this can never happen again. (Applause.)

The United States is a compassionate nation. We are proud that we do more than any other country anywhere in the world to help the needy, the struggling, and the underprivileged all over the world. But as President of the United States, my highest loyalty, my greatest compassion, my constant concern is for America's children, America's struggling workers, and America's forgotten communities. I want our youth to grow up to achieve great things. I want our poor to have their chance to rise.

So, tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed. (Applause.) My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans, to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers too. (Applause.)

Here tonight is one leader in the effort to defend our country, Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent Celestino Martinez. He goes by "DJ" and "CJ." He said, "Call me either one." So we'll call you "CJ." Served 15 years in the Air Force before becoming an ICE agent and spending the last 15 years fighting gang violence and getting dangerous criminals off of our streets. Tough job.

At one point, MS-13 leaders ordered CJ's murder. And they wanted it to happen quickly. But he did not cave to threats or to fear. Last May, he commanded an operation to track down gang members on Long Island. His team has arrested nearly 400, including more than 220 MS-13 gang members.

And I have to tell you, what the Border Patrol and ICE have done -- we have sent thousands and thousands and thousands of MS-13 horrible people out of this country or into our prisons.

So I just want to congratulate you, CJ. You're a brave guy. (Applause.)

And I asked CJ, "What's the secret?" He said, "We're just tougher than they are." And I like that answer. (Laughter and applause.) Now let's get Congress to send you -- and all of the people in this great chamber have to do it; we have no choice. CJ, we're going to send you reinforcements, and we're going to send them to you quickly. It's what you need. (Applause.)

Over the next few weeks, the House and Senate will be voting on an immigration reform package. In recent months, my administration has met extensively with both Democrats and Republicans to craft a bipartisan approach to immigration reform. Based on these discussions, we presented Congress with a detailed proposal that should be supported by both parties as a fair compromise, one where nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs and must have. (Applause.)

Here are the four pillars of our plan: The first pillar of our framework generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age. That covers almost three times more people than the previous administration covered. (Applause.) Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States over a 12-year period. (Applause.)

The second pillar fully secures the border. (Applause.) That means building a great wall on the southern border, and it means hiring more heroes, like CJ, to keep our communities safe. (Applause.) Crucially, our plan closes the terrible loopholes exploited by criminals and terrorists to enter our country, and it finally ends the horrible and dangerous practice of catch and release. (Applause.)

The third pillar ends the visa lottery, a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of American people. (Applause.) It's time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system, one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country. (Applause.)

The fourth and final pillar protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration. (Applause.) Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. (Applause.) This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security and for the future of America.

In recent weeks, two terrorist attacks in New York were made possible by the visa lottery and chain migration. In the age of terrorism, these programs present risks we can just no longer afford. (Applause.)

It's time to reform these outdated immigration rules, and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century. (Applause.)

These four pillars represent a down-the-middle compromise, and one that will create a safe, modern, and lawful immigration system.

For over 30 years, Washington has tried and failed to solve this problem. This Congress can be the one that finally makes it happen.

Most importantly, these four pillars will produce legislation that fulfills my ironclad pledge to sign a bill that puts America first. (Applause.) So let's come together, set politics aside, and finally get the job done. (Applause.)

These reforms will also support our response to the terrible crisis of opioid and drug addiction. Never before has it been like it is now. It is terrible. We have to do something about it. In 2016, we lost 64,000 Americans to drug overdoses -- 174 deaths per day; 7 per hour. We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge. (Applause.)

My administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need, for those who have been so terribly hurt. The struggle will be long and it will be difficult, but as Americans always do -- in the end, we will succeed. We will prevail. (Applause.)

As we have seen tonight, the most difficult challenges bring out the best in America. We see a vivid expression of this truth in the story of the Holets family of New Mexico. Ryan Holets is 27 years old, an officer with the Albuquerque Police Department. He's here tonight with his wife Rebecca. (Applause.) Thank you, Ryan.

Last year, Ryan was on duty when he saw a pregnant, homeless woman preparing to inject heroin. When Ryan told her she was going to harm her unborn child, she began to weep. She told him she didn't know where to turn, but badly wanted a safe home for her baby.

In that moment, Ryan said he felt God speak to him: "You will do it, because you can." He heard those words. He took out a picture of his wife and their four kids. Then, he went home to tell his wife Rebecca. In an instant, she agreed to adopt. The Holets named their new daughter Hope. Ryan and Rebecca, you embody the goodness of our nation. (Applause.) Thank you, Ryan and Rebecca.

As we rebuild America's strength and confidence at home, we are also restoring our strength and standing abroad.

Around the world, we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups, and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values. In confronting these horrible dangers, we know that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unmatched power is the surest means to our true and great defense.

For this reason, I am asking Congress to end the dangerous defense sequester and fully fund our great military. (Applause.)

As part of our defense, we must modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it, but making it so strong and so powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression by any other nation or anyone else. (Applause.)

Perhaps someday in the future, there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we are not there yet, sadly.

Last year, I also pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the Earth. One year later, I am proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated very close to 100 percent of the territory just recently held by these killers in Iraq and in Syria and in other locations, as well. (Applause.) But there is much more work to be done. We will continue our fight until ISIS is defeated.

Army Staff Sergeant Justin Peck is here tonight. Near Raqqa, last November, Justin and his comrade, Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy, were on a mission to clear buildings that ISIS had rigged with explosive so that civilians could return to that city hopefully soon, and hopefully safely.

Clearing the second floor of a vital hospital, Kenton Stacy was severely wounded by an explosion. Immediately, Justin bounded into the booby-trapped and unbelievably dangerous and unsafe building, and found Kenton, but in very, very bad shape. He applied pressure to the wound and inserted a tube to reopen an airway. He then performed CPR for 20 straight minutes during the ground transport, and maintained artificial respiration through two and a half hours and through emergency surgery.

Kenton Stacy would have died if it were not for Justin's selfless love for his fellow warrior. Tonight, Kenton is recovering in Texas. Raqqa is liberated. And Justin is wearing his new Bronze Star, with a "V" for "valor." Staff Sergeant Peck, all of America salutes you. (Applause.)

Terrorists who do things like place bombs in civilian hospitals are evil. When possible, we have no choice but to annihilate them. When necessary, we must be able to detain and question them. But we must be clear: Terrorists are not merely criminals. They are unlawful enemy combatants. (Applause.) And when captured overseas, they should be treated like the terrorists they are.

In the past, we have foolishly released hundreds and hundreds of dangerous terrorists, only to meet them again on the battlefield -- including the ISIS leader, al-Baghdadi, who we captured, who we had, who we released.

So today, I'm keeping another promise. I just signed, prior to walking in, an order directing Secretary Mattis, who is doing a great job, thank you -- (applause) -- to reexamine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities in Guantanamo Bay. (Applause.)

I am asking Congress to ensure that, in the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda, we continue to have all necessary power to detain terrorists, wherever we chase them down, wherever we find them. And in many cases, for them, it will now be Guantanamo Bay. (Applause.)

At the same time, as of a few months ago, our warriors in Afghanistan have new rules of engagement. (Applause.)

Along with their heroic Afghan partners, our military is no longer undermined by artificial timelines, and we no longer tell our enemies our plans. (Applause.)

Last month, I also took an action endorsed unanimously by the U.S. Senate just months before. I recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. (Applause.)

Shortly afterwards, dozens of countries voted in the United Nations General Assembly against America's sovereign right to make this decision. In 2016, American taxpayers generously sent those same countries more than $20 billion in aid.

That is why, tonight, I am asking Congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to friends of America, not enemies of America. (Applause.)

As we strengthen friendships all around the world, we are also restoring clarity about our adversaries.

When the people of Iran rose up against the crimes of their corrupt dictatorship, I did not stay silent. America stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom. (Applause.)

I am asking Congress to address the fundamental flaws in the terrible Iran nuclear deal.

My administration has also imposed tough sanctions on the communist and socialist dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela. (Applause.)

But no regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea. North Korea's reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland. We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from ever happening.

Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this very dangerous position.

We need only look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it could pose to America and to our allies.

Otto Warmbier was a hardworking student at the University of Virginia -- and a great student he was. On his way to study abroad in Asia, Otto joined a tour to North Korea. At its conclusion, this wonderful young man was arrested and charged with crimes against the state. After a shameful trial, the dictatorship sentenced Otto to 15 years of hard labor, before returning him to America last June, horribly injured and on the verge of death. He passed away just days after his return.

Otto's wonderful parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, are here with us tonight, along with Otto's brother and sister, Austin and Greta. Please. (Applause.) Incredible people. You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength truly inspires us all. (Applause.)

Tonight, we pledge to honor Otto's memory with total American resolve. (Applause.)

Finally, we are joined by one more witness to the ominous nature of this regime. His name is Mr. Ji Seong-ho.

In 1996, Seong-ho was a starving boy in North Korea. One day, he tried to steal coal from a railroad car to barter for a few scraps of food, which were very hard to get. In the process, he passed out on the train tracks, exhausted from hunger. He woke up as a train ran over his limbs. He then endured multiple amputations without anything to dull the pain or the hurt. His brother and sister gave what little food they had to help him recover and ate dirt themselves, permanently stunting their own growth.

Later, he was tortured by North Korean authorities after returning from a brief visit to China. His tormentors wanted to know if he'd met any Christians. He had -- and he resolved, after that, to be free.

Seong-ho traveled thousands of miles on crutches all across China and Southeast Asia to freedom. Most of his family followed. His father was caught trying to escape and was tortured to death.

Today he lives in Seoul, where he rescues other defectors, and broadcasts into North Korea what the regime fears most: the truth.

Today, he has a new leg. But, Seong-ho, I understand you still keep those old crutches as a reminder of how far you've come. Your great sacrifice is an inspiration to us all. (Applause.) Seong-ho's story is a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom.

It was that same yearning for freedom that nearly 250 years ago gave birth to a special place called America. It was a small cluster of colonies caught between a great ocean and a vast wilderness. It was home to an incredible people with a revolutionary idea: that they could rule themselves; that they could chart their own destiny; and that, together, they could light up the entire world.

That is what our country has always been about. That is what Americans have always stood for, always strived for, and always done.

Atop the dome of this Capitol stands the Statue of Freedom. She stands tall and dignified among the monuments to our ancestors who fought, and lived, and died to protect her. Monuments to Washington, and Jefferson, and Lincoln, and King. Memorials to the heroes of Yorktown and Saratoga; to young Americans who shed their blood on the shores of Normandy and the fields beyond; and others, who went down in the waters of the Pacific and the skies all over Asia.

And freedom stands tall over one more monument: this one. This Capitol -- this living monument -- this is the moment to the American people. (Applause.)

AUDIENCE: USA! USA! USA!

THE PRESIDENT: We're a people whose heroes live not only in the past, but all around us, defending hope, pride, and defending the American way.

They work in every trade. They sacrifice to raise a family. They care for our children at home. They defend our flag abroad. And they are strong moms and brave kids. They are firefighters, and police officers, and border agents, medics, and Marines. But above all else, they are Americans. And this Capitol, this city, this nation, belongs entirely to them. (Applause.)

Our task is to respect them, to listen to them, to serve them, to protect them, and to always be worthy of them.

Americans fill the world with art and music. They push the bounds of science and discovery. And they forever remind us of what we should never, ever forget: The people dreamed this country. The people built this country. And it's the people who are making America great again. (Applause.)

As long as we are proud of who we are and what we are fighting for, there is nothing we cannot achieve. As long as we have confidence in our values, faith in our citizens, and trust in our God, we will never fail.

Our families will thrive. Our people will prosper. And our nation will forever be safe and strong and proud and mighty and free.

Thank you. And God bless America. Goodnight. (Applause.)


FactChecking the State of the Union

The president's address included false and misleading claims on jobs, wages, energy, immigration and more.

Posted on February 5, 2020

Summary

In his 2020 address to Congress, President Donald Trump stretched and distorted the facts:

  • Trump claimed the economy is “the best it has ever been.” But GDP growth fell to 2.3% last year and economists predict further slowing this year.
  • He said he brought about low unemployment by reversing “years of economic decay” and “failed economic policies,” when in fact over 1 million more jobs were added in the 35 months before he took office than in the first 35 months since.
  • Trump boasted that the “unemployment rate for women reached the lowest level in almost 70 years.” That’s true, but it had been trending down for several years before he took office.
  • The president wrongly said, “After decades of flat and falling incomes, wages are rising fast.” They’ve gone up under Trump, but also have risen under the last several presidents.
  • Trump claimed that people’s 401(k)s and pensions have increased “60, 70, 80, 90, and 100% and even more.” Some may have, but that’s far higher than the average.
  • He said “real median household income is now at the highest level ever recorded.” However, the Census Bureau noted that was partly due to a change in survey questions in 2014. Based on “adjusted” figures, median household income was slightly higher in 1999 than in 2018.
  • Trump claimed the new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico “will create nearly 100,000 … auto jobs.” But an independent federal commission puts the job gains at 28,000 over five years.
  • The president boasted t hat “a long, tall, and very powerful wall is being built” along the southern border, and more than 100 miles have been completed. But only one mile is located where no barriers previously existed.
  • Trump said “illegal crossings” at the southwest border “are down 75% since May.” But total apprehensions in 2019 were 81% higher than in 2016, the year before Trump took office.
  • He said that “after losing 60,000 factories under the previous two administrations, America has now gained 12,000 new factories under my administration.” He’s referring to what the Bureau of Labor Statistics calls manufacturing “establishments,” and most of the growth under Trump has been in facilities with fewer than five employees.
  • Trump compared apples to oranges in claiming a doubling of insurance premiums in five years before he took office and “less expensive” plans under his administration.
  • The president said he made an “iron-clad” promise to “always protect patients with preexisting conditions,” but that ignores the fact he has supported Republican health plans that would reduce the current protections under the Affordable Care Act.
  • He suggested, misleadingly, that his administration was responsible for the U.S. becoming the world’s top producer of oil and natural gas. But the U.S. has been No. 1 in the world for natural gas for more than a decade, and tops in petroleum since 2013.
  • Trump said “300,000 working age people” left the workforce during Obama’s eight years. Actually, the workforce grew by 5.4 million.

We also reviewed the Democratic response and found that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer got the story on wages wrong, too, when she said they have “stagnated while CEO pay has skyrocketed.” Pay at the top may have grown more rapidly over the long term, but wages overall have gone up.

Analysis

Trump delivered the State of the Union on Feb. 4, a day before the Senate is expected to acquit him in the impeachment trial and nine months before the presidential election.

Trump’s Twisted ‘Comeback’

The president twisted the facts when he said his administration “launched the great American comeback” ending “years of economic decay.” Actually, as we reported three years ago when he took office, the economy was already experiencing steady growth in output, jobs and incomes in the years before he took office.

GDP — Trump boasted that “our economy is the best it has ever been,” which isn’t true.

As of the most recent official estimate the nation’s real (inflation-adjusted) gross domestic product grew 2.3% last year. It grew 2.9% in 2018 and also in 2015, before Trump’s tenure. And it grew 3.8% in 2004 and 3.5% in 2005.

Most economists predict further slowing this year last month’s Wall Street Journal’s monthly survey of business and university economists produced an average prediction of 1.9% growth for this year, for example.

Jobs — “Since my election, we have created 7 million new jobs,” Trump said (taking credit for thousands of jobs created after the election but while Barack Obama was still president). The most recent figures show that in the 35 months after Trump actually took office, the economy added just under 6.7 million jobs.

In fact, the rate of job growth has slowed down a bit under Trump. In the 35 months of supposed “economic decay” before he took office, the economy added nearly 8 million jobs.

Unemployment — The president said the unemployment rate is the lowest in over half a century, which is true enough. It was 3.5% in December.

He was also correct when he said “ the average unemployment rate under my administration is lower than any administration in the history of our country.” The average rate during Trump’s first 35 months is 3.9%, compared with an average monthly rate of 7.4% under Obama, 5.3% under George W. Bush and 5.2% under Bill Clinton.

But Trump claimed too much credit for that when he claimed this wouldn’t be true “if we hadn’t reversed the failed economic policies of the previous administration.” The fact is, the jobless rate was down to 4.7% by the time Trump took office — well below the historical norm of 5.6%, which is the median monthly rate for all the months since the start of 1948.

Women’s Unemployment Rate

Trump also claimed that the “unemployment rate for women reached the lowest level in almost 70 years.” That’s true. But, as with the overall unemployment rate, the unemployment rate for women has been trending down for nearly a decade.

The women’s rate had reached a 10-year low of 4.6% under President Obama in July, November and December of 2016. It dropped further under Trump, falling to 3.4% in April and again in September of 2019 — the lowest since September 1953. That’s almost 70 years, as Trump said.

As of December 2019, the women’s unemployment rate was 3.5% — 1.2 percentage points lower than what it was when Trump took office. Under Obama, the women’s unemployment rate declined 2.3 percentage points — from 7% in January 2009, during the Great Recession, to 4.7% in January 2017, when he left office.

USMCA

Trump claimed that the new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico “will create nearly 100,000 new high-paying American auto jobs.” But the U.S. International Trade Commission estimates the job gains at 28,000 over five years.

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which Trump signed into law Jan. 29, replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement. The Trump administration has estimated that it will create 76,000 automotive jobs over five years.

However, i n its April 2019 analysis of the new trade deal, the USITC said that the Trump administration’s estimate is too high. The trade commission is “an independent, nonpartisan, quasi-judicial federal agency.”

“U.S. government officials who are familiar with USMCA negotiations and have access to aggregate data from vehicle manufacturers estimate that the impact of USMCA will be an increase of 76,000 vehicle and parts manufacturing jobs, and investments totaling $34 billion over five years,” the analysis said. “This estimate is larger than the Commission’s estimate, which predicts an increase of 28,000 jobs.”

The USITC also reviewed three independent analyses of the trade deal and found that two of them were “generally consistent” with the commission’s findings. A third — from the Center for Automotive Research — extended its analysis to include “impacts on downstream service employees (e.g., at dealerships), which concludes with a more negative result” than the USITC.

The commission said that one key difference between its estimate and the administration’s is in the area of auto manufacturing. The administration projects an increase in vehicle manufacturing jobs, while the commission “finds a decline due to decreased volume.”

“It’s not at all clear that there is going to be a positive effect on jobs in the auto industry,” Mary Lovely, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, which produced one of the reports reviewed by the USITC, told the New York Times last year. “This is the hard lesson of economics, which is basically there’s a lot of factors here.”

Wages Have Gone Up Under Past Presidents

Trump was wrong when claimed: “After decades of flat and falling incomes, wages are rising fast.”

Wages have gone up under Trump, but they haven’t been “flat” for “decades.” Real wages, adjusted for inflation, have gone up over the last several presidencies.

During Obama’s last four years in office, the average weekly earnings for production and nonsupervisory workers went up 4.9%. Over his eight years in office, wages went up 4.2%.

Under President George W. Bush, wages also increased by 4.2%, and they rose by 6.4% under President Bill Clinton.

During Trump’s time in office, those wages have gone up by 2.6%.

These figures come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The long-term trend shows a U-shaped curve, not a flat line. Real wages hit their peak in the early 1970s, and then generally dropped before beginning to rise again starting in the mid-1990s.

Democratic Response Also Wrong on Wages

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer claimed in the Democratic response to the State of the Union: “In my own state, our neighbors in Wisconsin and Ohio, Pennsylvania and all over the country, wages have stagnated while CEO pay has skyrocketed.” As we explained, wages, adjusted for inflation, have been rising.

Whitmer has a point that wages for those at the top, over the long-term, have grown more rapidly than for those in lower-income groups. The Economic Policy Institute, a think tank that advocates for low- and middle-income workers, said in a 2019 report that every income percentile saw some growth in inflation-adjusted hourly wages from 1979 to 2018, though the 50th percentile saw a 14% increase while the 95th percentile experienced a 56.1% increase.

Household Income

Trump claimed that “real median household income is now at the highest level ever recorded.” That’s true by one inflation-adjusted measure, but not by another.

As we wrote in our latest update of “ Trump’s Numbers ,” the Census Bureau’s official measure of median household income reached $63,179 in 2018 – which is the highest ever recorded. But Census officials said recent figures are due in part to a change in the survey questions in 2014. Since then, the annual survey has included additional sources of income that were previously left out.

According to the “estimated adjusted” figures Census officials published to reflect the change, the median household income in 2018 was less than it was in 1999 – $63,231.

Stocks/401(k)s

Trump exaggerated the success of the stock market gains under his leadership, claiming, “Since my election, United States stock markets have soared 70 percent.” And, he said, “All of those millions of people with 401(k)s and pensions are doing far better than they have ever done before with increases of 60, 70, 80, 90, and 100% and even more.”

As we wrote recently in “Trump’s Numbers January 2020 Update,” stock prices continued their decade-long rise with Trump in office. But he is overstating that success, and he’s goosing the numbers a bit by taking credit for gains while Obama was still in office, but after Trump’s election.

At the close on Feb. 4, the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock average was 45.2% higher than it was on the day of Trump’s inauguration. Over the same period, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, made up of 30 large corporations, was up 45.3 % under Trump. And the NASDAQ composite index, made up of more than 3,000 companies, was up 70.4%.

It’s certainly possible that some 401(k) plans have increased dramatically, even as high as 100%, as the president said. But those would be outliers. According to an analysis by Fidelity Investments, the average 401(k) balance increased about 1% between the first quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019, and increased 8% between the first quarters of 2017 and 2018.

And as we have written, not everyone in the U.S. is enjoying the stock market gains. Only about half of U.S. households owned stocks directly or indirectly (through mutual funds, trust funds or pension plans) in 2016, according to a paper published in November 2017 by the National Bureau of Economic Research. And only about a third of Americans contribute to a 401(k), according to the U.S. Census.

Border Wall

Trump boasted that “as we speak, a long, tall, and very powerful wall is being built” along the southern border. “We have now completed over 100 miles,” he said.

The administration has improved the barriers along the southern border, but nearly all construction has been to replace existing barriers — not extend the length of the miles of physical barriers between the U.S. and Mexico.

As of fiscal year 2015, there were 654 miles of primary barriers on the southwest border, “including 354 miles of primary pedestrian barriers and 300 miles of primary vehicle barriers,” according to a July 2018 report by the Government Accountability Office. As of Jan. 24, U.S. Customs and Border Protection “has 655 miles of primary barriers on the southwest border,” according to a CBP fact sheet.

Under Trump, “approximately 99 miles of new border wall system [has been] constructed in place of dilapidated and/or outdated designs and approximately 1 mile of new border wall system constructed in locations where no barriers previously existed,” the fact sheet said.

In addition to those primary barriers, CBP said the administration has completed so far 10 miles of secondary barriers, which are located behind the primary barriers.

Border Apprehensions

Trump said “illegal crossings” at the southwest border “are down 75% since May.” But measured over a longer period of time, border apprehensions under Trump are up, not down.

Trump: As a result of our unprecedented efforts, illegal crossings are down 75% since May — dropping eight straight months in a row.

There are technically no statistics for those who cross the border illegally, but apprehensions by U.S. Customs and Border Protection are used to measure such trends.

Total southwest border apprehensions did decline by nearly 75% from 132,856 in May to 32,858 in December, according to CBP. But attempted border crossings tend to be highest in March, April and May and lowest in December.

As we wrote in “Trump’s Numbers January 2020 Update,” there were 799,669 total apprehensions at the southern border in 2019, the highest annual total since 2007 and 81% higher than in 2016, the year before Trump took office.

‘Factories’

Boasting about growth in manufacturing, Trump claimed: “After losing 60,000 factories under the previous two administrations, America has now gained 12,000 new factories under my administration.” But there’s less here than meets the eye.

He’s likely referring to Bureau of Labor Statistics data on the “Number of Establishments in Private Manufacturing,” which indicates there was a decline of 54,865 manufacturing “establishments” between the first quarter of 2001 and the first quarter of 2017. That was a roughly 13% decrease during the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. And there has been an increase of 12,074 of those establishments (3.5%) between the first quarter of 2017 and the second quarter of 2019, the last quarter for which such data is available.

However, some context is in order. The BLS counts all establishments “engaged in the mechanical, physical, or chemical transformation of materials, substances, or components into new products.” Although manufacturing establishments “are often described as plants, factories, or mills” — Trump called them “factories” — and “characteristically use power-driven machines and materials-handling equipment,” they also include “establishments that transform materials or substances into new products by hand or in the worker’s home and those engaged in selling to the general public products made on the same premises from which they are sold, such as bakeries, candy stores, and custom tailors.”

The figures also include all sizes of establishments, and when we looked into this claim in October, Caleb Foote at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation noted that the vast majority of gains under Trump’s watch have been establishments with fewer than five employees.

Also, the upward trend began before Trump took office. In Obama’s last four years, the number of establishments grew by 10,407.

Health Insurance Premiums

The president compared apples to oranges in claiming, “Before I took office, health insurance premiums had more than doubled in just five years. I moved quickly to provide affordable alternatives. Our new plans are up to 60 percent less expensive and better.”

The administration had claimed a doubling of the “average premium” from 2013 to 2017, but, as we wrote, that compares individual market premiums before the Affordable Care Act’s major provisions went into effect with 2017 HealthCare.gov exchange premiums. The ACA required insurers to charge the same premiums, regardless of health status, and include a minimum set of benefits. So, cheap, barebones plans could no longer be offered to those who buy their own insurance.

Also, as we explained in detail, the Department of Health and Human Services report that included these estimates said there were several limitations and caveats, including relying on data for 2013 that HHS acknowledged wasn’t a “perfect comparison.”

As for the “affordable alternatives” Trump touted, his administration has issued rules to expand cheaper, less comprehensive insurance options, such as short-term insurance. Whether those plans would be “better,” as Trump claimed, would be a matter of opinion, as we’ve said before. They would cost less because they wouldn’t have to cover certain benefits and could vary premiums more widely than the ACA allows.

Not So ‘Iron-Clad’ on Preexisting Conditions

Trump said he made an “iron-clad” promise to Americans: “We will always protect patients with preexisting conditions.” But he has backed Republican health plans that would lessen the current protections for those with preexisting conditions, and his administration has supported a lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act by arguing the health law’s preexisting condition protections would have to be eliminated.

As we’ve explained, under the ACA, insurers can’t deny coverage or set premiums based on an individual’s medical conditions. The GOP health plans debated in 2017 and supported by Trump, however, could have caused some with health conditions to pay higher premiums. (See “ Bloomberg, Trump Spar on Preexisting Conditions ” for more.)

The Republican plaintiffs in the court case, Texas v. United States, say the entire ACA should be found unconstitutional. We don’t know what the administration would do regarding preexisting conditions if the plaintiffs ultimately win that case, but a 2018 Justice Department letter said that two provisions of the ACA would need to be eliminated if the suit were successful: those guaranteeing that people can’t be denied coverage by insurers or charged more based on certain factors, such as health status.

Energy

As he has done previously, Trump attributed the U.S.’s position as the top producer of oil and natural gas to his administration’s actions. “Thanks to our bold regulatory reduction campaign,” he said, “the United States has become the No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world, by far.”

While energy production has risen under Trump, the hydraulic fracking boom that has propelled the U.S. to its current heights began under previous administrations — and some of the top rankings were hit years ago.

As we have written on other occasions when Trump has made similar claims, including in last year’s State of the Union, the U.S. outstripped Russia to become the world’s largest producer of natural gas more than a decade ago, in 2009 .

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the U.S. also took the top spot for petroleum production well before Trump was in office, in 2013 . Total petroleum, EIA explains , is “made up of several different types of liquid fuels, including crude oil and lease condensate, tight oil, extra-heavy oil, and bitumen.”

Trump was president when the U.S. surpassed Russia on crude oil production in the summer of 2018 . That achievement, however, was long expected , and based on a surge in crude that began about a decade ago. The International Energy Agency’s 2012 energy outlook, for example, predicted that the U.S. would become the largest crude oil producer by 2020, primarily because of advances in fracking technology.

Trump also claimed the U.S. was energy independent, saying, “With the tremendous progress we have made over the past three years, America is now energy independent.” While there isn’t necessarily a single definition for energy independence — and as a concept it may be impossible, given global markets — one metric would be whether the U.S. produces more energy than it consumes.

The latest monthly data from EIA, which is current up to October 2019, shows that for six out of the 10 months of last year, U.S. total primary energy production exceeded total consumption.

The U.S., however, still has energy imports.

Workforce

Trump made a puzzling and misleading claim when he said, “In eight years under the last administration, over 300,000 working-age people dropped out of the workforce. In just three years of my administration, 3.5 million people, working-age people, have joined the workforce.”

The fact is that the total civilian workforce grew during Obama’s eight years — adding 5.4 million. It has grown faster under Trump, adding 4.9 million during his first 35 months.

(The workforce is made up of those age 16 and over who are either employed or seeking employment.)

It’s not clear what Trump means by “working age.” If he meant to refer to workers in what is commonly called the “prime” working years of 25 to 54, then he would be correct to say there was a decline. But the loss was actually close to 1.6 million (not 300,000) during Obama’s time. And there has been a gain under Trump in this age group, but the figure is just under 2.5 million (not 3.5 million).

Sources

Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Employment, Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics survey (National) Total Nonfarm Employment, Seasonally Adjusted.” Data extracted 4 Feb 2020.

Wall Street Journal. “ WSJ Economic Forecast Survey .” Jan 2020.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. “ Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey Unemployment Rate, Seasonally Adjusted. ” Data extracted 4 Feb 2020.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. “ Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey Civilian labor force, 16 years and over. ” Data extracted 4 Feb 2020.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey Civilian labor force level – 25 to 54 years.” Data extracted 4 Feb 2020.

U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “Border Wall Status. As of January 24, 2020.” 24 Jan 2020.

Jackson, Brooks. “Trump’s Numbers January 2020 Update.” FactCheck.org. 20 Jan 2020.

Kiely, Eugene et. al. “ FactChecking the State of the Union .” FactCheck.org. 6 Feb 2019.

Robertson, Lori et. al. “ Trump’s Campaign Kickoff Claims .” FactCheck.org. 19 Jun 2019.

Kiely, Eugene. “ FactChecking Trump’s Energy Boasts .” FactCheck.org. 8 Jun 2018.

Neuhauser, Alan. “ U.S. Nears ‘Energy Independence’ .” U.S. News & World Report. 19 July 2019.

Yahoo! Finance. “Dow Jones Industrial Average.” Accessed 4 Feb 2020.

Yahoo! Finance. “S&P 500.” Accessed 4 Feb 2020.

Yahoo! Finance. “NASDAQ Composite.” Accessed 4 Feb 2020.

Dressel, Edward. “U.S. Census Research Reveals Horrible 401(k) Statistics.” Retire Ready Solutions. Accessed 4 Feb 2020.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. Number of Establishments in Private Manufacturing for All establishment sizes in U.S. TOTAL, NSA. Accessed 4 Feb 2020.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “About the Manufacturing sector.” Accessed 4 Feb 2020.

Q: Can employers, colleges and universities require COVID-19 vaccinations?


Remarks of President Barack Obama – State of the Union Address As Delivered

The White House is once again making the full text of the State of the Union widely available online. The text, as prepared for delivery, is also available on Medium and Facebook notes, continuing efforts to meet people where they are and make the speech as accessible as possible. Through these digital platforms, people can follow along with the speech as they watch in real time, view charts and infographics on key areas, share their favorite lines, and provide feedback.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:

Tonight marks the eighth year that I’ve come here to report on the State of the Union. And for this final one, I’m going to try to make it a little shorter. (Applause.) I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa. (Laughter.) I've been there. I'll be shaking hands afterwards if you want some tips. (Laughter.)

And I understand that because it’s an election season, expectations for what we will achieve this year are low. But, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the constructive approach that you and the other leaders took at the end of last year to pass a budget and make tax cuts permanent for working families. So I hope we can work together this year on some bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform -- (applause) -- and helping people who are battling prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse. (Applause.) So, who knows, we might surprise the cynics again.

But tonight, I want to go easy on the traditional list of proposals for the year ahead. Don’t worry, I’ve got plenty, from helping students learn to write computer code to personalizing medical treatments for patients. And I will keep pushing for progress on the work that I believe still needs to be done. Fixing a broken immigration system. (Applause.) Protecting our kids from gun violence. (Applause.) Equal pay for equal work. (Applause.) Paid leave. (Applause.) Raising the minimum wage. (Applause.) All these things still matter to hardworking families. They’re still the right thing to do. And I won't let up until they get done.

But for my final address to this chamber, I don’t want to just talk about next year. I want to focus on the next five years, the next 10 years, and beyond. I want to focus on our future.

We live in a time of extraordinary change -- change that’s reshaping the way we live, the way we work, our planet, our place in the world. It’s change that promises amazing medical breakthroughs, but also economic disruptions that strain working families. It promises education for girls in the most remote villages, but also connects terrorists plotting an ocean away. It’s change that can broaden opportunity, or widen inequality. And whether we like it or not, the pace of this change will only accelerate.

America has been through big changes before -- wars and depression, the influx of new immigrants, workers fighting for a fair deal, movements to expand civil rights. Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future who claimed we could slam the brakes on change who promised to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control. And each time, we overcame those fears. We did not, in the words of Lincoln, adhere to the “dogmas of the quiet past.” Instead we thought anew, and acted anew. We made change work for us, always extending America’s promise outward, to the next frontier, to more people. And because we did -- because we saw opportunity where others saw only peril -- we emerged stronger and better than before.

What was true then can be true now. Our unique strengths as a nation -- our optimism and work ethic, our spirit of discovery, our diversity, our commitment to rule of law -- these things give us everything we need to ensure prosperity and security for generations to come.

In fact, it’s that spirit that made the progress of these past seven years possible. It’s how we recovered from the worst economic crisis in generations. It’s how we reformed our health care system, and reinvented our energy sector how we delivered more care and benefits to our troops and veterans, and how we secured the freedom in every state to marry the person we love.

But such progress is not inevitable. It’s the result of choices we make together. And we face such choices right now. Will we respond to the changes of our time with fear, turning inward as a nation, turning against each other as a people? Or will we face the future with confidence in who we are, in what we stand for, in the incredible things that we can do together?

So let’s talk about the future, and four big questions that I believe we as a country have to answer -- regardless of who the next President is, or who controls the next Congress.

First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy? (Applause.)

Second, how do we make technology work for us, and not against us -- especially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change? (Applause.)

Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman? (Applause.)

And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?

Let me start with the economy, and a basic fact: The United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world. (Applause.) We’re in the middle of the longest streak of private sector job creation in history. (Applause.) More than 14 million new jobs, the strongest two years of job growth since the ‘90s, an unemployment rate cut in half. Our auto industry just had its best year ever. (Applause.) That's just part of a manufacturing surge that's created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years. And we’ve done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters. (Applause.)

Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction. (Applause.) Now, what is true -- and the reason that a lot of Americans feel anxious -- is that the economy has been changing in profound ways, changes that started long before the Great Recession hit changes that have not let up.

Today, technology doesn’t just replace jobs on the assembly line, but any job where work can be automated. Companies in a global economy can locate anywhere, and they face tougher competition. As a result, workers have less leverage for a raise. Companies have less loyalty to their communities. And more and more wealth and income is concentrated at the very top.

All these trends have squeezed workers, even when they have jobs even when the economy is growing. It’s made it harder for a hardworking family to pull itself out of poverty, harder for young people to start their careers, tougher for workers to retire when they want to. And although none of these trends are unique to America, they do offend our uniquely American belief that everybody who works hard should get a fair shot.

For the past seven years, our goal has been a growing economy that works also better for everybody. We’ve made progress. But we need to make more. And despite all the political arguments that we’ve had these past few years, there are actually some areas where Americans broadly agree.

We agree that real opportunity requires every American to get the education and training they need to land a good-paying job. The bipartisan reform of No Child Left Behind was an important start, and together, we’ve increased early childhood education, lifted high school graduation rates to new highs, boosted graduates in fields like engineering. In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by providing Pre-K for all and -- (applause) -- offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one. We should recruit and support more great teachers for our kids. (Applause.)

And we have to make college affordable for every American. (Applause.) No hardworking student should be stuck in the red. We’ve already reduced student loan payments to 10 percent of a borrower’s income. And that's good. But now, we’ve actually got to cut the cost of college. (Applause.) Providing two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student is one of the best ways to do that, and I’m going to keep fighting to get that started this year. (Applause.) It's the right thing to do. (Applause.)

But a great education isn’t all we need in this new economy. We also need benefits and protections that provide a basic measure of security. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that some of the only people in America who are going to work the same job, in the same place, with a health and retirement package for 30 years are sitting in this chamber. (Laughter.) For everyone else, especially folks in their 40s and 50s, saving for retirement or bouncing back from job loss has gotten a lot tougher. Americans understand that at some point in their careers, in this new economy, they may have to retool and they may have to retrain. But they shouldn’t lose what they’ve already worked so hard to build in the process.

That’s why Social Security and Medicare are more important than ever. We shouldn’t weaken them we should strengthen them. (Applause.) And for Americans short of retirement, basic benefits should be just as mobile as everything else is today. That, by the way, is what the Affordable Care Act is all about. It’s about filling the gaps in employer-based care so that when you lose a job, or you go back to school, or you strike out and launch that new business, you’ll still have coverage. Nearly 18 million people have gained coverage so far. (Applause.) And in the process, health care inflation has slowed. And our businesses have created jobs every single month since it became law.

Now, I’m guessing we won’t agree on health care anytime soon. (Applause.) A little applause right there. (Laughter.) Just a guess. But there should be other ways parties can work together to improve economic security. Say a hardworking American loses his job -- we shouldn’t just make sure that he can get unemployment insurance we should make sure that program encourages him to retrain for a business that’s ready to hire him. If that new job doesn’t pay as much, there should be a system of wage insurance in place so that he can still pay his bills. And even if he’s going from job to job, he should still be able to save for retirement and take his savings with him. That’s the way we make the new economy work better for everybody.

I also know Speaker Ryan has talked about his interest in tackling poverty. America is about giving everybody willing to work a chance, a hand up. And I’d welcome a serious discussion about strategies we can all support, like expanding tax cuts for low-income workers who don't have children. (Applause.)

But there are some areas where we just have to be honest -- it has been difficult to find agreement over the last seven years. And a lot of them fall under the category of what role the government should play in making sure the system’s not rigged in favor of the wealthiest and biggest corporations. (Applause.) And it's an honest disagreement, and the American people have a choice to make.

I believe a thriving private sector is the lifeblood of our economy. I think there are outdated regulations that need to be changed. There is red tape that needs to be cut. (Applause.) There you go! Yes! (Applause.) But after years now of record corporate profits, working families won’t get more opportunity or bigger paychecks just by letting big banks or big oil or hedge funds make their own rules at everybody else’s expense. (Applause.) Middle-class families are not going to feel more secure because we allowed attacks on collective bargaining to go unanswered. Food Stamp recipients did not cause the financial crisis recklessness on Wall Street did. (Applause.) Immigrants aren’t the principal reason wages haven’t gone up those decisions are made in the boardrooms that all too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns. It’s sure not the average family watching tonight that avoids paying taxes through offshore accounts. (Applause.)

The point is, I believe that in this new economy, workers and start-ups and small businesses need more of a voice, not less. The rules should work for them. (Applause.) And I'm not alone in this. This year I plan to lift up the many businesses who’ve figured out that doing right by their workers or their customers or their communities ends up being good for their shareholders. (Applause.) And I want to spread those best practices across America. That's part of a brighter future. (Applause.)

In fact, it turns out many of our best corporate citizens are also our most creative. And this brings me to the second big question we as a country have to answer: How do we reignite that spirit of innovation to meet our biggest challenges?

Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn’t deny Sputnik was up there. (Laughter.) We didn’t argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget. We built a space program almost overnight. And 12 years later, we were walking on the moon. (Applause.)

Now, that spirit of discovery is in our DNA. America is Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers and George Washington Carver. America is Grace Hopper and Katherine Johnson and Sally Ride. America is every immigrant and entrepreneur from Boston to Austin to Silicon Valley, racing to shape a better world. (Applause.) That's who we are.

And over the past seven years, we’ve nurtured that spirit. We’ve protected an open Internet, and taken bold new steps to get more students and low-income Americans online. (Applause.) We’ve launched next-generation manufacturing hubs, and online tools that give an entrepreneur everything he or she needs to start a business in a single day. But we can do so much more.

Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources that they’ve had in over a decade. (Applause.) So tonight, I’m announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he’s gone to the mat for all of us on so many issues over the past 40 years, I’m putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. (Applause.) For the loved ones we’ve all lost, for the families that we can still save, let’s make America the country that cures cancer once and for all. (Applause.)

Medical research is critical. We need the same level of commitment when it comes to developing clean energy sources. (Applause.) Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You will be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of America’s business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it’s a problem and intend to solve it. (Applause.)

But even if -- even if the planet wasn’t at stake, even if 2014 wasn’t the warmest year on record -- until 2015 turned out to be even hotter -- why would we want to pass up the chance for American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future? (Applause.)

Listen, seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history. Here are the results. In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power. On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills, and employs more Americans than coal -- in jobs that pay better than average. We’re taking steps to give homeowners the freedom to generate and store their own energy -- something, by the way, that environmentalists and Tea Partiers have teamed up to support. And meanwhile, we’ve cut our imports of foreign oil by nearly 60 percent, and cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth. (Applause.)

Gas under two bucks a gallon ain’t bad, either. (Applause.)

Now we’ve got to accelerate the transition away from old, dirtier energy sources. Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future -- especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels. We do them no favor when we don't show them where the trends are going. That’s why I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet. And that way, we put money back into those communities, and put tens of thousands of Americans to work building a 21st century transportation system. (Applause.)

Now, none of this is going to happen overnight. And, yes, there are plenty of entrenched interests who want to protect the status quo. But the jobs we’ll create, the money we’ll save, the planet we’ll preserve -- that is the kind of future our kids and our grandkids deserve. And it's within our grasp.

Climate change is just one of many issues where our security is linked to the rest of the world. And that’s why the third big question that we have to answer together is how to keep America safe and strong without either isolating ourselves or trying to nation-build everywhere there’s a problem.

I told you earlier all the talk of America’s economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. Let me tell you something. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. (Applause.) Period. It’s not even close. It's not even close. (Applause.) It's not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world. (Applause.) No nation attacks us directly, or our allies, because they know that’s the path to ruin. Surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this office, and when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead -- they call us. (Applause.)

I mean, it's useful to level the set here, because when we don't, we don't make good decisions.

Now, as someone who begins every day with an intelligence briefing, I know this is a dangerous time. But that’s not primarily because of some looming superpower out there, and certainly not because of diminished American strength. In today’s world, we’re threatened less by evil empires and more by failing states.

The Middle East is going through a transformation that will play out for a generation, rooted in conflicts that date back millennia. Economic headwinds are blowing in from a Chinese economy that is in significant transition. Even as their economy severely contracts, Russia is pouring resources in to prop up Ukraine and Syria -- client states that they saw slipping away from their orbit. And the international system we built after World War II is now struggling to keep pace with this new reality.

It’s up to us, the United States of America, to help remake that system. And to do that well it means that we’ve got to set priorities.

Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks. (Applause.) Both al Qaeda and now ISIL pose a direct threat to our people, because in today’s world, even a handful of terrorists who place no value on human life, including their own, can do a lot of damage. They use the Internet to poison the minds of individuals inside our country. Their actions undermine and destabilize our allies. We have to take them out./p>

But as we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands. Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks, twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages -- they pose an enormous danger to civilians they have to be stopped. But they do not threaten our national existence. (Applause.) That is the story ISIL wants to tell. That’s the kind of propaganda they use to recruit. We don’t need to build them up to show that we’re serious, and we sure don't need to push away vital allies in this fight by echoing the lie that ISIL is somehow representative of one of the world’s largest religions. (Applause.) We just need to call them what they are -- killers and fanatics who have to be rooted out, hunted down, and destroyed. (Applause.)

And that’s exactly what we’re doing. For more than a year, America has led a coalition of more than 60 countries to cut off ISIL’s financing, disrupt their plots, stop the flow of terrorist fighters, and stamp out their vicious ideology. With nearly 10,000 air strikes, we’re taking out their leadership, their oil, their training camps, their weapons. We’re training, arming, and supporting forces who are steadily reclaiming territory in Iraq and Syria.

If this Congress is serious about winning this war, and wants to send a message to our troops and the world, authorize the use of military force against ISIL. Take a vote. (Applause.) Take a vote. But the American people should know that with or without congressional action, ISIL will learn the same lessons as terrorists before them. If you doubt America’s commitment -- or mine -- to see that justice is done, just ask Osama bin Laden. (Applause.) Ask the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, who was taken out last year, or the perpetrator of the Benghazi attacks, who sits in a prison cell. When you come after Americans, we go after you. (Applause.) And it may take time, but we have long memories, and our reach has no limits. (Applause.)

Our foreign policy hast to be focused on the threat from ISIL and al Qaeda, but it can’t stop there. For even without ISIL, even without al Qaeda, instability will continue for decades in many parts of the world -- in the Middle East, in Afghanistan, parts of Pakistan, in parts of Central America, in Africa, and Asia. Some of these places may become safe havens for new terrorist networks. Others will just fall victim to ethnic conflict, or famine, feeding the next wave of refugees. The world will look to us to help solve these problems, and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet-bomb civilians. That may work as a TV sound bite, but it doesn’t pass muster on the world stage.

We also can’t try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into crisis, even if it's done with the best of intentions. (Applause.) That’s not leadership that’s a recipe for quagmire, spilling American blood and treasure that ultimately will weaken us. It’s the lesson of Vietnam it's the lesson of Iraq -- and we should have learned it by now. (Applause.)

Fortunately, there is a smarter approach, a patient and disciplined strategy that uses every element of our national power. It says America will always act, alone if necessary, to protect our people and our allies but on issues of global concern, we will mobilize the world to work with us, and make sure other countries pull their own weight.

That’s our approach to conflicts like Syria, where we’re partnering with local forces and leading international efforts to help that broken society pursue a lasting peace.

That’s why we built a global coalition, with sanctions and principled diplomacy, to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. And as we speak, Iran has rolled back its nuclear program, shipped out its uranium stockpile, and the world has avoided another war. (Applause.)

That’s how we stopped the spread of Ebola in West Africa. (Applause.) Our military, our doctors, our development workers -- they were heroic they set up the platform that then allowed other countries to join in behind us and stamp out that epidemic. Hundreds of thousands, maybe a couple million lives were saved.

That’s how we forged a Trans-Pacific Partnership to open markets, and protect workers and the environment, and advance American leadership in Asia. It cuts 18,000 taxes on products made in America, which will then support more good jobs here in America. With TPP, China does not set the rules in that region we do. You want to show our strength in this new century? Approve this agreement. Give us the tools to enforce it. It's the right thing to do. (Applause.)

Let me give you another example. Fifty years of isolating Cuba had failed to promote democracy, and set us back in Latin America. That’s why we restored diplomatic relations -- (applause) -- opened the door to travel and commerce, positioned ourselves to improve the lives of the Cuban people. (Applause.) So if you want to consolidate our leadership and credibility in the hemisphere, recognize that the Cold War is over -- lift the embargo. (Applause.)

The point is American leadership in the 21st century is not a choice between ignoring the rest of the world -- except when we kill terrorists -- or occupying and rebuilding whatever society is unraveling. Leadership means a wise application of military power, and rallying the world behind causes that are right. It means seeing our foreign assistance as a part of our national security, not something separate, not charity.

When we lead nearly 200 nations to the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change, yes, that helps vulnerable countries, but it also protects our kids. When we help Ukraine defend its democracy, or Colombia resolve a decades-long war, that strengthens the international order we depend on. When we help African countries feed their people and care for the sick -- (applause) -- it's the right thing to do, and it prevents the next pandemic from reaching our shores. Right now, we’re on track to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS. That's within our grasp. (Applause.) And we have the chance to accomplish the same thing with malaria -- something I’ll be pushing this Congress to fund this year. (Applause.)

That's American strength. That's American leadership. And that kind of leadership depends on the power of our example. That’s why I will keep working to shut down the prison at Guantanamo. (Applause.) It is expensive, it is unnecessary, and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies. (Applause.) There’s a better way. (Applause.)

And that’s why we need to reject any politics -- any politics -- that targets people because of race or religion. (Applause.) Let me just say this. This is not a matter of political correctness. This is a matter of understanding just what it is that makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal it respects us for our diversity, and our openness, and the way we respect every faith.

His Holiness, Pope Francis, told this body from the very spot that I'm standing on tonight that “to imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place.” When politicians insult Muslims, whether abroad or our fellow citizens, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid is called names, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. (Applause.) It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. It betrays who we are as a country. (Applause.)

“We the People.” Our Constitution begins with those three simple words, words we’ve come to recognize mean all the people, not just some words that insist we rise and fall together, and that's how we might perfect our Union. And that brings me to the fourth, and maybe the most important thing that I want to say tonight.

The future we want -- all of us want -- opportunity and security for our families, a rising standard of living, a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids -- all that is within our reach. But it will only happen if we work together. It will only happen if we can have rational, constructive debates. It will only happen if we fix our politics.

A better politics doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. This is a big country -- different regions, different attitudes, different interests. That’s one of our strengths, too. Our Founders distributed power between states and branches of government, and expected us to argue, just as they did, fiercely, over the size and shape of government, over commerce and foreign relations, over the meaning of liberty and the imperatives of security.

But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens. It doesn’t work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice. It doesn’t work if we think that our political opponents are unpatriotic or trying to weaken America. Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise, or when even basic facts are contested, or when we listen only to those who agree with us. Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get all the attention. And most of all, democracy breaks down when the average person feels their voice doesn’t matter that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some special interest.

Too many Americans feel that way right now. It’s one of the few regrets of my presidency -- that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better. I have no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I’ll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.

But, my fellow Americans, this cannot be my task -- or any President’s -- alone. There are a whole lot of folks in this chamber, good people who would like to see more cooperation, would like to see a more elevated debate in Washington, but feel trapped by the imperatives of getting elected, by the noise coming out of your base. I know you’ve told me. It's the worst-kept secret in Washington. And a lot of you aren't enjoying being trapped in that kind of rancor.

But that means if we want a better politics -- and I'm addressing the American people now -- if we want a better politics, it’s not enough just to change a congressman or change a senator or even change a President. We have to change the system to reflect our better selves. I think we've got to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around. (Applause.) Let a bipartisan group do it. (Applause.)

We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families or hidden interests can’t bankroll our elections. (Applause.) And if our existing approach to campaign finance reform can’t pass muster in the courts, we need to work together to find a real solution -- because it's a problem. And most of you don't like raising money. I know I've done it. (Applause.) We’ve got to make it easier to vote, not harder. (Applause.) We need to modernize it for the way we live now. (Applause.) This is America: We want to make it easier for people to participate. And over the course of this year, I intend to travel the country to push for reforms that do just that.

But I can’t do these things on my own. (Applause.) Changes in our political process -- in not just who gets elected, but how they get elected -- that will only happen when the American people demand it. It depends on you. That’s what’s meant by a government of, by, and for the people.

What I’m suggesting is hard. It’s a lot easier to be cynical to accept that change is not possible, and politics is hopeless, and the problem is all the folks who are elected don't care, and to believe that our voices and actions don’t matter. But if we give up now, then we forsake a better future. Those with money and power will gain greater control over the decisions that could send a young soldier to war, or allow another economic disaster, or roll back the equal rights and voting rights that generations of Americans have fought, even died, to secure. And then, as frustration grows, there will be voices urging us to fall back into our respective tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don’t look like us, or pray like us, or vote like we do, or share the same background.

We can’t afford to go down that path. It won’t deliver the economy we want. It will not produce the security we want. But most of all, it contradicts everything that makes us the envy of the world.

So, my fellow Americans, whatever you may believe, whether you prefer one party or no party, whether you supported my agenda or fought as hard as you could against it -- our collective futures depends on your willingness to uphold your duties as a citizen. To vote. To speak out. To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us. (Applause.) We need every American to stay active in our public life -- and not just during election time -- so that our public life reflects the goodness and the decency that I see in the American people every single day.

It is not easy. Our brand of democracy is hard. But I can promise that a little over a year from now, when I no longer hold this office, I will be right there with you as a citizen, inspired by those voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humor and kindness that helped America travel so far. Voices that help us see ourselves not, first and foremost, as black or white, or Asian or Latino, not as gay or straight, immigrant or native born, not as Democrat or Republican, but as Americans first, bound by a common creed. Voices Dr. King believed would have the final word -- voices of unarmed truth and unconditional love.

And they’re out there, those voices. They don’t get a lot of attention they don't seek a lot of fanfare but they’re busy doing the work this country needs doing. I see them everywhere I travel in this incredible country of ours. I see you, the American people. And in your daily acts of citizenship, I see our future unfolding.

I see it in the worker on the assembly line who clocked extra shifts to keep his company open, and the boss who pays him higher wages instead of laying him off.

I see it in the Dreamer who stays up late to finish her science project, and the teacher who comes in early because he knows she might someday cure a disease.

I see it in the American who served his time, and made mistakes as a child but now is dreaming of starting over -- and I see it in the business owner who gives him that second chance. The protester determined to prove that justice matters -- and the young cop walking the beat, treating everybody with respect, doing the brave, quiet work of keeping us safe. (Applause.)

I see it in the soldier who gives almost everything to save his brothers, the nurse who tends to him till he can run a marathon, the community that lines up to cheer him on.

It’s the son who finds the courage to come out as who he is, and the father whose love for that son overrides everything he’s been taught. (Applause.)

I see it in the elderly woman who will wait in line to cast her vote as long as she has to the new citizen who casts his vote for the first time the volunteers at the polls who believe every vote should count -- because each of them in different ways know how much that precious right is worth.

That's the America I know. That’s the country we love. Clear-eyed. Big-hearted. Undaunted by challenge. Optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. (Applause.) That’s what makes me so hopeful about our future. I believe in change because I believe in you, the American people.

And that’s why I stand here confident as I have ever been that the State of our Union is strong. (Applause.)


January 30, 2018 State of the Union Address - History

[1] Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, Members of the Seventy-seventh Congress:

[2] I address you, the Members of the members of this new Congress, at a moment unprecedented in the history of the Union. I use the word “unprecedented,” because at no previous time has American security been as seriously threatened from without as it is today.

[3] Since the permanent formation of our Government under the Constitution, in 1789, most of the periods of crisis in our history have related to our domestic affairs. And fortunately, only one of these–the four-year War Between the States–ever threatened our national unity. Today, thank God, one hundred and thirty million Americans, in forty-eight States, have forgotten points of the compass in our national unity.

[4] It is true that prior to 1914 the United States often had been disturbed by events in other Continents. We had even engaged in two wars with European nations and in a number of undeclared wars in the West Indies, in the Mediterranean and in the Pacific for the maintenance of American rights and for the principles of peaceful commerce. But in no case had a serious threat been raised against our national safety or our continued independence.

[5] What I seek to convey is the historic truth that the United States as a nation has at all times maintained opposition, clear, definite opposition, to any attempt to lock us in behind an ancient Chinese wall while the procession of civilization went past. Today, thinking of our children and of their children, we oppose enforced isolation for ourselves or for any other part of the Americas.

[6] That determination of ours, extending over all these years, was proved, for example, in the early days during the quarter century of wars following the French Revolution.

[7] While the Napoleonic struggles did threaten interests of the United States because of the French foothold in the West Indies and in Louisiana, and while we engaged in the War of 1812 to vindicate our right to peaceful trade, it is nevertheless clear that neither France nor Great Britain, nor any other nation, was aiming at domination of the whole world.

[8] And in like fashion from 1815 to 1914–ninety-nine years–no single war in Europe or in Asia constituted a real threat against our future or against the future of any other American nation.

[9] Except in the Maximilian interlude in Mexico, no foreign power sought to establish itself in this Hemisphere and the strength of the British fleet in the Atlantic has been a friendly strength. It is still a friendly strength.

[10] Even when the World War broke out in 1914, it seemed to contain only small threat of danger to our own American future. But, as time went on, as we remember, the American people began to visualize what the downfall of democratic nations might mean to our own democracy.

[11] We need not overemphasize imperfections in the Peace of Versailles. We need not harp on failure of the democracies to deal with problems of world reconstruction. We should remember that the Peace of 1919 was far less unjust than the kind of “pacification” which began even before Munich, and which is being carried on under the new order of tyranny that seeks to spread over every continent today. The American people have unalterably set their faces against that tyranny.

[12] I suppose that every realist knows that the democratic way of life is at this moment being directly assailed in every part of the world–assailed either by arms, or by secret spreading of poisonous propaganda by those who seek to destroy unity and promote discord in nations that are still at peace.

[13] During sixteen long months this assault has blotted out the whole pattern of democratic life in an appalling number of independent nations, great and small. And the assailants are still on the march, threatening other nations, great and small.

[14]Therefore, as your President, performing my constitutional duty to “give to the Congress information of the state of the Union,” I find it, unhappily, necessary to report that the future and the safety of our country and of our democracy are overwhelmingly involved in events far beyond our borders.

[15] Armed defense of democratic existence is now being gallantly waged in four continents. If that defense fails, all the population and all the resources of Europe, and Asia, and Africa and Australasia will be dominated by conquerors. And let us remember that the total of those populations in those four continents, the total of those populations and their resources greatly exceeds the sum total of the population and the resources of the whole of the Western Hemisphere–yes, many times over.

[16] In times like these it is immature–and incidentally, untrue–for anybody to brag that an unprepared America, single-handed, and with one hand tied behind its back, can hold off the whole world.

[17] No realistic American can expect from a dictator’s peace international generosity, or return of true independence, or world disarmament, or freedom of expression, or freedom of religion–or even good business.

[18] Such a peace would bring no security for us or for our neighbors. “Those, who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

[19] As a nation, we may take pride in the fact that we are softhearted but we cannot afford to be soft-headed.

[20] We must always be wary of those who with sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal preach the “ism” of appeasement.

[21] We must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American eagle in order to feather their own nests.

[22] I have recently pointed out how quickly the tempo of modern warfare could bring into our very midst the physical attack which we must eventually expect if the dictator nations win this war.

[23] There is much loose talk of our immunity from immediate and direct invasion from across the seas. Obviously, as long as the British Navy retains its power, no such danger exists. Even if there were no British Navy, it is not probable that any enemy would be stupid enough to attack us by landing troops in the United States from across thousands of miles of ocean, until it had acquired strategic bases from which to operate.

[24] But we learn much from the lessons of the past years in Europe-particularly the lesson of Norway, whose essential seaports were captured by treachery and surprise built up over a series of years.

[25] The first phase of the invasion of this Hemisphere would not be the landing of regular troops. The necessary strategic points would be occupied by secret agents and by their dupes- and great numbers of them are already here, and in Latin America.

[26] As long as the aggressor nations maintain the offensive, they-not we–will choose the time and the place and the method of their attack.

[27] And that is why the future of all the American Republics is today in serious danger.

[28] That is why this Annual Message to the Congress is unique in our history.

[29] That is why every member of the Executive Branch of the Government and every member of the Congress face great responsibility and great accountability.

[30] The need of the moment is that our actions and our policy should be devoted primarily–almost exclusively–to meeting this foreign peril. For all our domestic problems are now a part of the great emergency.

[31] Just as our national policy in internal affairs has been based upon a decent respect for the rights and the dignity of all of our fellow men within our gates, so our national policy in foreign affairs has been based on a decent respect for the rights and the dignity of all nations, large and small. And the justice of morality must and will win in the end.

[32] Our national policy is this:

[33] First, by an impressive expression of the public will and without regard to partisanship, we are committed to all-inclusive national defense.

[34] Second, by an impressive expression of the public will and without regard to partisanship, we are committed to full support of all those resolute people everywhere who are resisting aggression and are thereby keeping war away from our Hemisphere. By this support, we express our determination that the democratic cause shall prevail and we strengthen the defense and the security of our own nation.

[35] Third, by an impressive expression of the public will and without regard to partisanship, we are committed to the proposition that principles of morality and considerations for our own security will never permit us to acquiesce in a peace dictated by aggressors and sponsored by appeasers. We know that enduring peace cannot be bought at the cost of other people’s freedom.

[36] In the recent national election there was no substantial difference between the two great parties in respect to that national policy. No issue was fought out on this line before the American electorate. And today it is abundantly evident that American citizens everywhere are demanding and supporting speedy and complete action in recognition of obvious danger.

[37] Therefore, the immediate need is a swift and driving increase in our armament production.

[38] Leaders of industry and labor have responded to our summons. Goals of speed have been set. In some cases these goals are being reached ahead of time in some cases we are on schedule in other cases there are slight but not serious delays and in some cases–and I am sorry to say very important cases–we are all concerned by the slowness of the accomplishment of our plans.

[39] The Army and Navy, however, have made substantial progress during the past year. Actual experience is improving and speeding up our methods of production with every passing day. And today’s best is not good enough for tomorrow.

[40] I am not satisfied with the progress thus far made. The men in charge of the program represent the best in training, in ability, and in patriotism. They are not satisfied with the progress thus far made. None of us will be satisfied until the job is done.

[41] No matter whether the original goal was set too high or too low, our objective is quicker and better results.

[43] We are behind schedule in turning out finished airplanes we are working day and night to solve the innumerable problems and to catch up.

[44] We are ahead of schedule in building warships but we are working to get even further ahead of that schedule.

[45] To change a whole nation from a basis of peacetime production of implements of peace to a basis of wartime production of implements of war is no small task. And the greatest difficulty comes at the beginning of the program, when new tools, new plant facilities, new assembly lines, and new ship ways must first be constructed before the actual materiel begins to flow steadily and speedily from them.

[46] The Congress, of course, must rightly keep itself informed at all times of the progress of the program. However, there is certain information, as the Congress itself will readily recognize, which, in the interests of our own security and those of the nations that we are supporting, must of needs be kept in confidence.

[47] New circumstances are constantly begetting new needs for our safety. I shall ask this Congress for greatly increased new appropriations and authorizations to carry on what we have begun.

[48] I also ask this Congress for authority and for funds sufficient to manufacture additional munitions and war supplies of many kinds, to be turned over to those nations which are now in actual war with aggressor nations.

[49] Our most useful and immediate role is to act as an arsenal for them as well as for ourselves. They do not need man power, but they do need billions of dollars worth of the weapons of defense.

[50] The time is near when they will not be able to pay for them all in ready cash. We cannot, and we will not, tell them that they must surrender, merely because of present inability to pay for the weapons which we know they must have.

[51] I do not recommend that we make them a loan of dollars with which to pay for these weapons–a loan to be repaid in dollars.

[52] I recommend that we make it possible for those nations to continue to obtain war materials in the United States, fitting their orders into our own program. And nearly all of their materiel would, if the time ever came, be useful in our own defense.

[53] Taking counsel of expert military and naval authorities, considering what is best for our own security, we are free to decide how much should be kept here and how much should be sent abroad to our friends who by their determined and heroic resistance are giving us time in which to make ready our own defense.

[54] For what we send abroad, we shall be repaid, repaid within a reasonable time following the close of hostilities, repaid in similar materials, or, at our option, in other goods of many kinds, which they can produce and which we need.

[55] Let us say to the democracies: “We Americans are vitally concerned in your defense of freedom. We are putting forth our energies, our resources and our organizing powers to give you the strength to regain and maintain a free world. We shall send you, in ever-increasing numbers, ships, planes, tanks, guns. This is our purpose and our pledge.”

[56] In fulfillment of this purpose we will not be intimidated by the threats of dictators that they will regard as a breach of international law or as an act of war our aid to the democracies which dare to resist their aggression. Such aid . . . such aid is not an act of war, even if a dictator should unilaterally proclaim it so to be.

[57] And when the dictators, if the dictators, are ready to make war upon us, they will not wait for an act of war on our part. They did not wait for Norway or Belgium or the Netherlands to commit an act of war.

[58] Their only interest is in a new one-way international law, which lacks mutuality in its observance, and, therefore, becomes an instrument of oppression.

[59] The happiness of future generations of Americans may well depend upon how effective and how immediate we can make our aid felt. No one can tell the exact character of the emergency situations that we may be called upon to meet. The Nation’s hands must not be tied when the Nation’s life is in danger.

[60] Yes, and we must all prepare–all of us prepare–to make the sacrifices that the emergency– almost as serious as war itself–demands. Whatever stands in the way of speed and efficiency in defense–in defense preparations of any kind–must give way to the national need.

[61] A free nation has the right to expect full cooperation from all groups. A free nation has the right to look to the leaders of business, of labor, and of agriculture to take the lead in stimulating effort, not among other groups but within their own groups.

[62] The best way of dealing with the few slackers or trouble makers in our midst is, first, to shame them by patriotic example, and, if that fails, to use the sovereignty of government to save government.

[63] As men do not live by bread alone, they do not fight by armaments alone. Those who man our defenses, and those behind them who build our defenses, must have the stamina and the courage which come from unshakable belief in the manner of life which they are defending. The mighty action that we are calling for cannot be based on a disregard of all things the worth fighting for.

[64] The Nation takes great satisfaction and much strength from the things which have been done to make its people conscious of their individual stake in the preservation of democratic life in America. Those things have toughened the fibre of our people, have renewed their faith and strengthened their devotion to the institutions we make ready to protect.

[65] Certainly this is no time for any of us to stop thinking about the social and economic problems which are the root cause of the social revolution which is today a supreme factor in the world.

[66] For there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:

[67] Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.

[68] Jobs for those who can work.

[69] Security for those who need it.

[70] The ending of special privilege for the few.

[71] The preservation of civil liberties for all.

[72] The enjoyment . . . the enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.

[73] These are the simple, the basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The inner and abiding strength of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations.

[74] Many subjects connected with our social economy call for immediate improvement.

[76] We should bring more citizens under the coverage of old-age pensions and unemployment insurance.

[77] We should widen the opportunities for adequate medical care.

[78] We should plan a better system by which persons deserving or needing gainful employment may obtain it.

[79] I have called for personal sacrifice. And I am assured of the willingness of almost all Americans to respond to that call.

[80] A part of the sacrifice means the payment of more money in taxes. In my Budget Message I will recommend that a greater portion of this great defense program be paid for from taxation than we are paying for today. No person should try, or be allowed, to get rich out of the program and the principle of tax payments in accordance with ability to pay should be constantly before our eyes to guide our legislation.

[81] If the Congress maintains these principles, the voters, putting patriotism ahead of pocketbooks, will give you their applause.

[82] In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

[83] The first is freedom of speech and expression–everywhere in the world.

[84] The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way–everywhere in the world.

[85] The third is freedom from want–which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants-everywhere in the world.

86] The fourth is freedom from fear–which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor–anywhere in the world.

[87] That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

[88] To that new order we oppose the greater conception–the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.

[89] Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change–in a perpetual peaceful revolution–a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions–without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.

[90] This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose.


The full speech – Trump's State of the Union address

Mr Speaker, Mr vice-president, members of Congress, the first lady of the United States and my fellow Americans:

Less than one year has passed since I first stood at this podium, in this majestic chamber, to speak on behalf of the American People – and to address their concerns, their hopes and their dreams. That night, our new administration had already taken swift action. A new tide of optimism was already sweeping across our land.

Each day since, we have gone forward with a clear vision and a righteous mission – to make America great again for all Americans.

Over the last year, we have made incredible progress and achieved extraordinary success. We have faced challenges we expected, and others we could never have imagined. We have shared in the heights of victory and the pains of hardship. We endured floods and fires and storms. But through it all, we have seen the beauty of America’s soul, and the steel in America’s spine.

Each test has forged new American heroes to remind us who we are, and show us what we can be.

We saw the volunteers of the “Cajun Navy”, racing to the rescue with their fishing boats to save people in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane.

We saw strangers shielding strangers from a hail of gunfire on the Las Vegas strip.

We heard tales of Americans like Coast Guard Petty Officer Ashlee Leppert, who is here tonight in the gallery with Melania. Ashlee was aboard one of the first helicopters on the scene in Houston during Hurricane Harvey. Through 18 hours of wind and rain, Ashlee braved live power lines and deep water, to help save more than 40 lives. Thank you, Ashlee.

We heard about Americans like firefighter David Dahlberg. He is here with us too. David faced down walls of flame to rescue almost 60 children trapped at a California summer camp threatened by wildfires.

To everyone still recovering in Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, California and everywhere else – we are with you, we love you, and we will pull through together.

Some trials over the past year touched this chamber very personally. With us tonight is one of the toughest people ever to serve in this House – a guy who took a bullet, almost died, and was back to work three and a half months later: the legend from Louisiana, Congressman Steve Scalise.

We are incredibly grateful for the heroic efforts of the Capitol police officers, the Alexandria police, and the doctors, nurses, and paramedics who saved his life, and the lives of many others in this room.

In the aftermath of that terrible shooting, we came together, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as representatives of the people. But it is not enough to come together only in times of tragedy. Tonight, I call upon all of us to set aside our differences, to seek out common ground and to summon the unity we need to deliver for the people we were elected to serve.

Over the last year, the world has seen what we always knew: that no people on Earth are so fearless, or daring or determined as Americans. If there is a mountain, we climb it. If there is a frontier, we cross it. If there is a challenge, we tame it. If there is an opportunity, we seize it.

So let us begin tonight by recognizing that the state of our union is strong because our people are strong.

And together, we are building a safe, strong and proud America.

Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone. After years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages.

Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low. African American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.

Small business confidence is at an all-time high. The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining $8tn in value. That is great news for Americans’ 401k, retirement, pension, and college savings accounts.

And just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history.

Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.

To lower tax rates for hardworking Americans, we nearly doubled the standard deduction for everyone. Now, the first $24,000 earned by a married couple is completely tax-free. We also doubled the child tax credit.

A typical family of four making $75,000 will see their tax bill reduced by $2,000 – slashing their tax bill in half.

This April will be the last time you ever file under the old broken system – and millions of Americans will have more take-home pay starting next month.

We eliminated an especially cruel tax that fell mostly on Americans making less than $50,000 a year – forcing them to pay tremendous penalties simply because they could not afford government-ordered health plans. We repealed the core of disastrous Obamacare – the individual mandate is now gone.

We slashed the business tax rate from 35% all the way down to 21%, so American companies can compete and win against anyone in the world. These changes alone are estimated to increase average family income by more than $4,000.

Small businesses have also received a massive tax cut, and can now deduct 20% of their business income.

Here tonight are Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger of Staub Manufacturing – a small business in Ohio. They have just finished the best year in their 20-year history. Because of tax reform, they are handing out raises, hiring an additional 14 people, and expanding into the building next door.

One of Staub’s employees, Corey Adams, is also with us tonight. Corey is an all-American worker. He supported himself through high school, lost his job during the 2008 recession, and was later hired by Staub, where he trained to become a welder. Like many hardworking Americans, Corey plans to invest his tax-cut raise into his new home and his two daughters’ education. Please join me in congratulating Corey.

Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses – many of them thousands of dollars per worker. Apple has just announced it plans to invest a total of $350bn in America, and hire another 20,000 workers.

This is our new American moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American Dream.

So to every citizen watching at home tonight – no matter where you have been, or where you come from, this is your time. If you work hard, if you believe in yourself, if you believe in America, then you can dream anything, you can be anything, and together, we can achieve anything.

Tonight, I want to talk about what kind of future we are going to have, and what kind of nation we are going to be. All of us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family.

We all share the same home, the same heart, the same destiny, and the same great American flag.

Together, we are rediscovering the American way.

In America, we know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy, are the center of the American life. Our motto is “in God we trust”.

And we celebrate our police, our military, and our amazing veterans as heroes who deserve our total and unwavering support.

Here tonight is Preston Sharp, a 12-year-old boy from Redding, California, who noticed that veterans’ graves were not marked with flags on Veterans Day. He decided to change that, and started a movement that has now placed 40,000 flags at the graves of our great heroes. Preston: a job well done.

Young patriots like Preston teach all of us about our civic duty as Americans. Preston’s reverence for those who have served our nation reminds us why we salute our flag, why we put our hands on our hearts for the pledge of allegiance, and why we proudly stand for the national anthem.

Americans love their country. And they deserve a government that shows them the same love and loyalty in return.

For the last year we have sought to restore the bonds of trust between our citizens and their government.

Working with the Senate, we are appointing judges who will interpret the constitution as written, including a great new supreme court justice, and more circuit court judges than any new administration in the history of our country.

We are defending our second amendment, and have taken historic actions to protect religious liberty.

And we are serving our brave veterans, including giving our veterans choice in their healthcare decisions. Last year, the Congress passed, and I signed, the landmark VA Accountability Act. Since its passage, my administration has already removed more than 1,500 VA employees who failed to give our veterans the care they deserve – and we are hiring talented people who love our vets as much as we do.

I will not stop until our veterans are properly taken care of, which has been my promise to them from the very beginning of this great journey.

All Americans deserve accountability and respect – and that is what we are giving them. So tonight, I call on the Congress to empower every cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers – and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.

In our drive to make Washington accountable, we have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in history.

We have ended the war on American energy – and we have ended the war on clean coal. We are now an exporter of energy to the world.

In Detroit, I halted government mandates that crippled America’s autoworkers – so we can get the Motor City revving its engines once again.

Many car companies are now building and expanding plants in the United States – something we have not seen for decades. Chrysler is moving a major plant from Mexico to Michigan Toyota and Mazda are opening up a plant in Alabama. Soon, plants will be opening up all over the country. This is all news Americans are unaccustomed to hearing – for many years, companies and jobs were only leaving us. But now they are coming back.

Exciting progress is happening every day.

To speed access to breakthrough cures and affordable generic drugs, last year the FDA approved more new and generic drugs and medical devices than ever before in our history.

We also believe that patients with terminal conditions should have access to experimental treatments that could potentially save their lives.

People who are terminally ill should not have to go from country to country to seek a cure – I want to give them a chance right here at home. It is time for the Congress to give these wonderful Americans the “right to try”.

One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs. In many other countries, these drugs cost far less than what we pay in the United States. That is why I have directed my administration to make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities. Prices will come down.

America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs, and our nation’s wealth.

The era of economic surrender is over.

From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair and to be reciprocal.

We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones.

And we will protect American workers and American intellectual property, through strong enforcement of our trade rules.

As we rebuild our industries, it is also time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.

America is a nation of builders. We built the Empire State Building in just one year – is it not a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?

I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve.

Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5tn for the new infrastructure investment we need.

Every federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with state and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment – to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit.

Any bill must also streamline the permitting and approval process – getting it down to no more than two years, and perhaps even one.

Together, we can reclaim our building heritage. We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land. And we will do it with American heart, American hands and American grit.

We want every American to know the dignity of a hard day’s work. We want every child to be safe in their home at night. And we want every citizen to be proud of this land that we love.

We can lift our citizens from welfare to work, from dependence to independence, and from poverty to prosperity.

As tax cuts create new jobs, let us invest in workforce development and job training. Let us open great vocational schools so our future workers can learn a craft and realize their full potential. And let us support working families by supporting paid family leave.

As America regains its strength, this opportunity must be extended to all citizens. That is why this year we will embark on reforming our prisons to help former inmates who have served their time get a second chance.

Struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American workers and American families.

For decades, open borders have allowed drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities. They have allowed millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans. Most tragically, they have caused the loss of many innocent lives.

Here tonight are two fathers and two mothers: Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddy Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado and Robert Mickens. Their two teenage daughters – Kayla Cuevas and Nisa Mickens – were close friends on Long Island. But in September 2016, on the eve of Nisa’s 16th birthday, neither of them came home. These two precious girls were brutally murdered while walking together in their hometown. Six members of the savage gang MS-13 have been charged with Kayla and Nisa’s murders. Many of these gang members took advantage of glaring loopholes in our laws to enter the country as unaccompanied alien minors – and wound up in Kayla and Nisa’s high school.

Evelyn, Elizabeth, Freddy, and Robert: tonight, everyone in this chamber is praying for you. Everyone in America is grieving for you. And 320m hearts are breaking for you. We cannot imagine the depth of your sorrow, but we can make sure that other families never have to endure this pain.

Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13, and other criminals, to break into our country. We have proposed new legislation that will fix our immigration laws, and support our Ice and border patrol agents, so that this cannot ever happen again.

The United States is a compassionate nation. We are proud that we do more than any other country to help the needy, the struggling, and the underprivileged all over the world. But as president of the United States, my highest loyalty, my greatest compassion, and my constant concern is for America’s children, America’s struggling workers, and America’s forgotten communities. I want our youth to grow up to achieve great things. I want our poor to have their chance to rise.

So tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties –- Democrats and Republicans – to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed. My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans – to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers too.

Here tonight is one leader in the effort to defend our country: homeland security investigations special agent Celestino Martinez – he goes by CJ. CJ served 15 years in the air force before becoming an Ice agent and spending the last 15 years fighting gang violence and getting dangerous criminals off our streets. At one point, MS-13 leaders ordered CJ’s murder. But he did not cave to threats or fear. Last May, he commanded an operation to track down gang members on Long Island. His team has arrested nearly 400, including more than 220 from MS-13.

CJ: Great work. Now let us get the Congress to send you some reinforcements.

Over the next few weeks, the House and Senate will be voting on an immigration reform package.

In recent months, my administration has met extensively with both Democrats and Republicans to craft a bipartisan approach to immigration reform. Based on these discussions, we presented the Congress with a detailed proposal that should be supported by both parties as a fair compromise – one where nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs.

Here are the four pillars of our plan:

The first pillar of our framework generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents at a young age – that covers almost three times more people than the previous administration. Under our plan, those who meet education and work requirements, and show good moral character, will be able to become full citizens of the United States.

The second pillar fully secures the border. That means building a wall on the southern border, and it means hiring more heroes like CJ to keep our communities safe. Crucially, our plan closes the terrible loopholes exploited by criminals and terrorists to enter our country – and it finally ends the dangerous practice of “catch and release”.

The third pillar ends the visa lottery – a program that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people. It is time to begin moving towards a merit-based immigration system – one that admits people who are skilled, who want to work, who will contribute to our society, and who will love and respect our country.

The fourth and final pillar protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration. Under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives. Under our plan, we focus on the immediate family by limiting sponsorships to spouses and minor children. This vital reform is necessary, not just for our economy, but for our security, and our future.

In recent weeks, two terrorist attacks in New York were made possible by the visa lottery and chain migration. In the age of terrorism, these programs present risks we can no longer afford.

It is time to reform these outdated immigration rules, and finally bring our immigration system into the 21st century.

These four pillars represent a down-the-middle compromise, and one that will create a safe, modern, and lawful immigration system.

For over 30 years, Washington has tried and failed to solve this problem. This Congress can be the one that finally makes it happen.

Most importantly, these four pillars will produce legislation that fulfills my ironclad pledge to only sign a bill that puts America first. So let us come together, set politics aside, and finally get the job done.

These reforms will also support our response to the terrible crisis of opioid and drug addiction.

In 2016, we lost 64,000 Americans to drug overdoses: 174 deaths per day. Seven per hour. We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge.

My administration is committed to fighting the drug epidemic and helping get treatment for those in need. The struggle will be long and difficult – but, as Americans always do, we will prevail.

As we have seen tonight, the most difficult challenges bring out the best in America.

We see a vivid expression of this truth in the story of the Holets family of New Mexico. Ryan Holets is 27 years old, and an officer with the Albuquerque police department. He is here tonight with his wife Rebecca. Last year, Ryan was on duty when he saw a pregnant, homeless woman preparing to inject heroin. When Ryan told her she was going to harm her unborn child, she began to weep. She told him she did not know where to turn, but badly wanted a safe home for her baby.

In that moment, Ryan said he felt God speak to him: “You will do it – because you can.” He took out a picture of his wife and their four kids. Then, he went home to tell his wife Rebecca. In an instant, she agreed to adopt. The Holets named their new daughter Hope.

Ryan and Rebecca: you embody the goodness of our Nation. Thank you, and congratulations.

As we rebuild America’s strength and confidence at home, we are also restoring our strength and standing abroad.

Around the world, we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups, and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values. In confronting these dangers, we know that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unmatched power is the surest means of our defense.

For this reason, I am asking the Congress to end the dangerous defense sequester and fully fund our great military.

As part of our defense, we must modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it, but making it so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression. Perhaps someday in the future there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we are not there yet.

Last year, I also pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish Isis from the face of the Earth. One year later, I am proud to report that the coalition to defeat Isis has liberated almost 100% of the territory once held by these killers in Iraq and Syria. But there is much more work to be done. We will continue our fight until Isis is defeated.

Army Staff Sergeant Justin Peck is here tonight. Near Raqqa last November, Justin and his comrade, Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy, were on a mission to clear buildings that Isis had rigged with explosives so that civilians could return to the city.

Clearing the second floor of a vital hospital, Kenton Stacy was severely wounded by an explosion. Immediately, Justin bounded into the booby-trapped building and found Kenton in bad shape. He applied pressure to the wound and inserted a tube to reopen an airway. He then performed CPR for 20 straight minutes during the ground transport and maintained artificial respiration through two hours of emergency surgery.

Kenton Stacy would have died if not for Justin’s selfless love for a fellow warrior. Tonight, Kenton is recovering in Texas. Raqqa is liberated. And Justin is wearing his new Bronze Star, with a “V” for “Valor”. Staff Sergeant Peck: all of America salutes you.

Terrorists who do things like place bombs in civilian hospitals are evil. When possible, we annihilate them. When necessary, we must be able to detain and question them. But we must be clear: terrorists are not merely criminals. They are unlawful enemy combatants. And when captured overseas, they should be treated like the terrorists they are.

In the past, we have foolishly released hundreds of dangerous terrorists, only to meet them again on the battlefield – including the Isis leader, al-Baghdadi.

So today, I am keeping another promise. I just signed an order directing Secretary Mattis to re-examine our military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay.

I am also asking the Congress to ensure that, in the fight against Isis and al-Qaida, we continue to have all necessary power to detain terrorists – wherever we chase them down.

Our warriors in Afghanistan also have new rules of engagement. Along with their heroic Afghan partners, our military is no longer undermined by artificial timelines, and we no longer tell our enemies our plans.

Last month, I also took an action endorsed unanimously by the Senate just months before: I recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Shortly afterwards, dozens of countries voted in the United Nations General Assembly against America’s sovereign right to make this recognition. American taxpayers generously send those same countries billions of dollars in aid every year.

That is why, tonight, I am asking the Congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to America’s friends.

As we strengthen friendships around the world, we are also restoring clarity about our adversaries.

When the people of Iran rose up against the crimes of their corrupt dictatorship, I did not stay silent. America stands with the people of Iran in their courageous struggle for freedom.

I am asking the Congress to address the fundamental flaws in the terrible Iran nuclear deal.

My administration has also imposed tough sanctions on the communist and socialist dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela.

But no regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea.

North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear missiles could very soon threaten our homeland.

We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from happening.

Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat the mistakes of past administrations that got us into this dangerous position.

We need only look at the depraved character of the North Korean regime to understand the nature of the nuclear threat it could pose to America and our allies.

Otto Warmbier was a hardworking student at the University of Virginia. On his way to study abroad in Asia, Otto joined a tour to North Korea. At its conclusion, this wonderful young man was arrested and charged with crimes against the state. After a shameful trial, the dictatorship sentenced Otto to 15 years of hard labor, before returning him to America last June – horribly injured and on the verge of death. He passed away just days after his return.

Otto’s parents, Fred and Cindy Warmbier, are with us tonight – along with Otto’s brother and sister, Austin and Greta. You are powerful witnesses to a menace that threatens our world, and your strength inspires us all. Tonight, we pledge to honor Otto’s memory with American resolve.

Finally, we are joined by one more witness to the ominous nature of this regime. His name is Mr Ji Seong-ho.

In 1996, Seong-ho was a starving boy in North Korea. One day, he tried to steal coal from a railroad car to barter for a few scraps of food. In the process, he passed out on the train tracks, exhausted from hunger. He woke up as a train ran over his limbs. He then endured multiple amputations without anything to dull the pain. His brother and sister gave what little food they had to help him recover and ate dirt themselves – permanently stunting their own growth. Later, he was tortured by North Korean authorities after returning from a brief visit to China. His tormentors wanted to know if he had met any Christians. He had – and he resolved to be free.

Seong-ho traveled thousands of miles on crutches across China and south-east Asia to freedom. Most of his family followed. His father was caught trying to escape, and was tortured to death.

Today he lives in Seoul, where he rescues other defectors, and broadcasts into North Korea what the regime fears the most – the truth.

Today he has a new leg, but Seong-ho, I understand you still keep those crutches as a reminder of how far you have come. Your great sacrifice is an inspiration to us all.

Seong-ho’s story is a testament to the yearning of every human soul to live in freedom.

It was that same yearning for freedom that nearly 250 years ago gave birth to a special place called America. It was a small cluster of colonies caught between a great ocean and a vast wilderness. But it was home to an incredible people with a revolutionary idea: that they could rule themselves. That they could chart their own destiny. And that, together, they could light up the world.

That is what our country has always been about. That is what Americans have always stood for, always strived for, and always done.

Atop the dome of this Capitol stands the Statue of Freedom. She stands tall and dignified among the monuments to our ancestors who fought and lived and died to protect her.

Monuments to Washington and Jefferson – to Lincoln and King.

Memorials to the heroes of Yorktown and Saratoga – to young Americans who shed their blood on the shores of Normandy, and the fields beyond. And others, who went down in the waters of the Pacific and the skies over Asia.

And freedom stands tall over one more monument: this one. This Capitol. This living monument to the American people.

A people whose heroes live not only in the past, but all around us – defending hope, pride, and the American way.

They work in every trade. They sacrifice to raise a family. They care for our children at home. They defend our flag abroad. They are strong moms and brave kids. They are firefighters, police officers, border agents, medics, and marines.

But above all else, they are Americans. And this Capitol, this city, and this nation, belong to them.

Our task is to respect them, to listen to them, to serve them, to protect them, and to always be worthy of them.

Americans fill the world with art and music. They push the bounds of science and discovery. And they forever remind us of what we should never forget: The people dreamed this country. The people built this country. And it is the people who are making America great again.

As long as we are proud of who we are, and what we are fighting for, there is nothing we cannot achieve.

As long as we have confidence in our values, faith in our citizens, and trust in our God, we will not fail.

And our nation will forever be safe and strong and proud and mighty and free.


Fact-checking President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address

President Trump’s State of the Union speech once again was chock-full of stretched facts and dubious figures. Many of these claims have been fact-checked repeatedly, yet the president persists in using them. Here, in the order in which he made them, are nearly 30 statements by the president.

As is our practice with live events, we do not award Pinocchio rankings, which are reserved for complete columns.

“We have created 5.3 million new jobs and importantly added 600,000 new manufacturing jobs.”

Trump often inflates the number of jobs created under his presidency by counting from Election Day, rather than when he took the oath of office. There have been almost 4.9 million jobs created since January 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, of which 436,000 are manufacturing jobs, according to the BLS.

This is an impressive gain for almost two years under President Barack Obama, about 900,000 manufacturing jobs were gained over seven years from the 2010 nadir after the Great Recession. Moreover, despite the recent gains, the number of manufacturing jobs is still nearly 1 million below the level at the start of the Great Recession in December 2007.

“Wages are rising at the fastest pace in decades.”

Wages rose 3.1 percent from December 2017 to December 2018, according to the Labor Department’s Employment Cost Index for civilian workers, a widely watched measure of pay that does not take inflation into account. That is the biggest increase — not adjusted for inflation — since the year that ended in December 2008.

But adjusted for inflation, wages for all workers grew 1.3 percent from December 2017 to December 2018, making the increase only the largest since August 2016, according to the Labor Department.

It’s worth noting that although real wage gains were higher in 2015 and 2016, that was a period of almost no inflation. So Trump can claim some credit for decent real wage growth now with inflation back at about 2 percent.

The Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, says nominal wage growth has been below a 3.5 percent target during the recovery. But the White House argues that traditional economic measures do not fully capture increases in compensation, such as bonuses, and so real wages have actually increased even more than shown in the economic data.

“Nearly 5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps.”

About 3.6 million people (not nearly 5 million) have stopped receiving food stamps since February 2017, according to the latest data. But experts say the improvement in the economy may not be the only reason for the decline.

Several states have rolled back recession-era waivers that allowed some adults to keep their benefits for longer periods of time without employment. Reports have also suggested immigrant families with citizen children have dropped out of the program, fearing the administration’s immigration policies. Moreover, the number of people collecting benefits has been declining since fiscal 2014.

“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 — not even close.”

Trump accurately says the most recent numbers, showing 3.4 percent GDP growth in the third quarter of 2018, are roughly twice the 1.8 percent rate from his first quarter in office. But GDP growth fluctuates. It has gone up and down and into negative territory and then up again since the end of the Great Recession.

GDP growth has averaged 2.8 percent per quarter so far in Trump’s presidency, not much higher than Obama’s average of 2.1 percent for his two terms in office. Trump has seen growth top 4 percent in one quarter, but Obama topped it three times during his term and in one quarter topped 5 percent.

“Unemployment has reached the lowest rate in half a century. African American, Hispanic American and Asian American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded.”

This is all in the past. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that the unemployment rate increased to 4 percent in January. The unemployment rate in December was no longer at a 49-year low, but an 18-year low. Now it is merely the best since the beginning of 2018.

The African American unemployment statistic has been in existence for less than 50 years. It reached a low of 5.9 percent in May 2018, but rose to 6.8 percent in January. The Hispanic American unemployment statistic has been in existence for less than 50 years. It reached a low of 4.4 percent in 2018, but rose to 4.9 percent in January. The Asian American statistic has been around for less than 20 years. And while it reached a low of 2.1 percent in May 2018, it rose to 3.2 percent rate in January.

“More people are working now than at any time in our history — 157 million.”

This is a pretty meaningless statistic. The U.S. population is growing, so of course more people would be employed.

“We virtually ended the estate, or death, tax on small businesses, ranchers and family farms.”

This is an enormous stretch. Trump often claims he saved family farms and small businesses by gradually reducing the federal estate tax. Reducing the estate tax primarily benefits the wealthy. The estate tax rarely falls on farms or small businesses, since only those leaving behind more than $5 million pay it. According to the Tax Policy Center, nearly 5,500 estates in 2017 — out of nearly 3 million — were subject to the tax. Of those, only 80 taxable estates would be farms and small businesses.

“We have unleashed a revolution in American energy — the United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas in the world.”

The notion that “a revolution” in energy began under the Trump administration is wrong. The United States has led the world in natural gas production since 2009. Crude oil production has been increasing rapidly since 2010, reaching record levels in August 2018, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.

In September 2018, the United States passed both Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the largest global crude oil producer. It is expected to hold that position, according to predictions from the International Energy Agency.

“And now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy.”

The United States is not yet a net energy exporter, although the Energy Information Administration estimates it will become one in coming years. Trump overstates the impact of his energy policy.

(Correction: We previously said the United States has been a net energy exporter since 2015. Trump’s claim is still inaccurate.)

“One in three women is sexually assaulted on the long journey north.”

The White House attributes the 1-in-3 estimate to a 2017 report by Doctors Without Borders. But there’s less to that number than meets the eye.

Trump states as a fact that 1 out of 3 women traveling through Mexico are sexually assaulted. But the report did not conduct a random-sample survey that could be applied to all migrant women. Instead, the group interviewed nearly 500 people whom its doctors treated. Of those people, 12 percent were women. So the statistic is derived from the experiences of 56 women and cannot necessarily be considered representative of all migrant women.

In the interviews, 31.4 percent of women said they were “sexually abused” on the journey, not “sexually assaulted” as Trump says. Considering only rape and other forms of direct sexual violence, 10.7 percent of the women who were interviewed said they were affected during their journey.

“The lawless state of our southern border is a threat to the safety, security and financial well-being of all Americans. We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens.”

By any available measure, there is no new security crisis at the border.

Apprehensions of people trying to cross the southern border peaked most recently at 1.6 million in 2000 and have been in decline since, falling to just under 400,000 in fiscal 2018. The decline is partly because of technology upgrades tougher penalties in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks a decline in migration rates from Mexico and a sharp increase in the number of Border Patrol officers.

The fiscal 2018 number was up from just over 300,000 apprehensions at the U.S.-Mexico border for fiscal 2017, the lowest level in more than 45 years.

There are far more cases of travelers overstaying their visas than southern border apprehensions. In fiscal 2017, the Department of Homeland Security reported 606,926 suspected in-country overstays, or twice the number of southern border apprehensions. In fiscal 2016, U.S. officials reported 408,870 southern border apprehensions and 544,676 suspected in-country overstays.

The big issue at the southern border: waves of thousands of Central Americans running from poverty and violence in their home countries and seeking entry to the United States.

But here’s the catch: Any wall would be built a mile or so inland from the border. Many of those attempting to immigrate are Central Americans seeking asylum. To petition for asylum, a person needs to be on U.S. soil under current law. So in theory, immigrants could cross the border and file a legally valid petition for asylum before reaching Trump’s wall. The incentive would still exist, and so would the visa overstays.

“Meanwhile, working-class Americans are left to pay the price for mass illegal migration — reduced jobs, lower wages, overburdened schools, hospitals so crowded you can’t get in, increased crime, and a depleted social safety net.”

Trump exaggerates the link between immigration and crime almost all research shows legal and illegal immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than the native-born population.

In general, economists say illegal immigration tends to affect less-educated and low-skilled American workers the most, which disproportionately encompasses black men and recently arrived, low-educated legal immigrants, including Latinos.

The consensus among economic research studies is that the impact of immigration is primarily a net positive for the U.S. economy and to workers overall, especially over the long term. According to a comprehensive 2016 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on the economic impacts of the U.S. immigration system, studies on the impact of immigration showed “the seemingly paradoxical result that although larger immigration flows may generate higher rates of unemployment in some sectors, overall, the rate of unemployment for native workers declines.”

“The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime — one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.”

Trump appears to be echoing comments he heard from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Jan. 10, but this claim is wrong.

The El Paso Times, in a fact check, said some form of barrier has existed between El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, for decades, though Trump appeared to be referring to fencing that was completed in mid-2009: “Looking broadly at the last 30 years, the rate of violent crime reached its peak in 1993, when more than 6,500 violent crimes were recorded. Between 1993 and 2006, the number of violent crimes fell by more than 34 percent and less than 2,700 violent crimes were reported. The border fence was authorized by [President George W.] Bush in 2006, but construction did not start until 2008. From 2006 to 2011 — two years before the fence was built to two years after — the violent crime rate in El Paso increased by 17 percent.”

The city had the third-lowest violent crime rate among 35 U.S. cities with a population over 500,000 in 2005, 2006 and 2007 — before construction of a 57-mile-long fence started in mid-2008.

“Tens of thousands of innocent Americans are killed by lethal drugs that cross our border and flood into our cities, including meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl.”

Most drugs come into the United States across the southern border with Mexico. But a wall would not necessarily stanch the flow, as much of these drugs are smuggled through legal ports of entry or underground tunnels. Trump mentioned meth, heroin, cocaine and fentanyl, but leaves out that the death toll from drug abuse is mostly attributable to prescription and illicit drug overdoses, which claim more lives than cocaine and heroin overdoses combined.

“The savage gang, MS-13, now operates in at least 20 different American states, and they almost all come through our southern border. . . . We are removing these gang members by the thousands, but until we secure our border they’re going to keep streaming back in.”

Trump mentions 20 different states, but experts say MS-13 is concentrated in three areas: Los Angeles, Long Island and the Washington area.

His claim that MS-13 members are being removed “by the thousands” is dubious. The Trump administration is deporting hundreds of MS-13 members per year. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it deported 1,332 members of MS-13 in fiscal 2018, and another 1,000 or so in the previous year, fiscal 2017, which included part of Obama’s term.

“In the last two years, our brave ICE officers made 266,000 arrests of criminal aliens, including those charged or convicted of nearly 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes and 4,000 killings.”

These figures involve a mix of serious and nonviolent offenses such as immigration violations.

Notice how Trump switches quickly from the total for arrests over two years to the total for charges and convictions: “nearly 100,000 assaults, 30,000 sex crimes and 4,000 killings.”

These numbers for arrests and charges are apples and oranges. By switching from one to the other, Trump confuses the issue and exaggerates the criminality. In many cases, the people arrested face multiple counts. Furthermore, not all charges result in convictions.

“My administration has sent to Congress a common-sense proposal to end the crisis on our southern Border. It includes humanitarian assistance, more law enforcement, drug detection at our ports, closing loopholes that enable child smuggling, and plans for a new physical barrier, or wall, to secure the vast areas between our ports of entry.”

Actually, Trump’s proposal would not provide humanitarian assistance to Central American children. The purpose of his plan is to dissuade these children from attempting the trip to the United States. But they could still be in danger in their home countries. For many of them, that’s the whole point of seeking asylum in the United States — escaping violence and poverty in the Northern Triangle of Central America.

Trump has proposed barring all minors from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras from being able to present asylum claims in person to U.S. officials at the border or in other parts inside the United States. This could have a huge effect, since thousands of such children show up each month at the border and claim asylum.

Trump’s proposal would limit asylum grants to minors from these three countries at 15,000 a year, provided they apply while remaining in another country. It would also impose a new fee for their asylum applications, remove judicial review of asylum decisions by administration officials, require that these minors already have a qualified parent or guardian in the United States, and other limitations.

“San Diego used to have the most illegal border crossings in the country. In response, a strong security wall was put in place. This powerful barrier almost completely ended illegal crossings.”

For San Diego, Trump’s comparison goes back 23 years, to 1992, when a wall went up in that border area. But the apprehension numbers are not just down in fenced parts of the border — they’re down everywhere, including in border sections without these barriers.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials reported 1.6 million southwest border apprehensions for fiscal 2000. In fiscal 2017, CBP reported nearly 304,000. That’s an 81.5 percent decline overall. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, the San Diego fence that Trump mentioned, by itself, “did not have a discernible impact on the influx of unauthorized aliens coming across the border.”

“All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before.”

As a raw number, this was correct in December (it dropped slightly in January), but it mainly reflects the increasing size of the U.S. population. The number of overall workers is also at a high. The more relevant figure — the labor participation rate of women — is not at a record high. It stands at 57.5 percent, well below the 60.3 percent reached in April 2000.

“Therefore, we recently imposed tariffs on $250 billion dollars of Chinese goods — and now our Treasury is receiving billions of dollars.”

Treasury data show that there was an increase of $6.7 billion in customs duties collected in the fiscal year that ended in September, and it’s possible most of the increase is due to tariffs. But the exporters do not pay the tariffs it is the importer, who in turn passes it on to consumers. A study by the Council on Foreign Relations estimated that 115 percent of the money raised from tariffs is being used by the administration to aid farmers hurt by the tariffs, so it’s a net loser.

“Our new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement — or USMCA — will replace NAFTA and deliver for American workers: bringing back our manufacturing jobs, expanding American agriculture, protecting intellectual property, and ensuring that more cars are proudly stamped with the four beautiful words: Made in the USA.”

Trump claims that he significantly overhauled the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It’s not a total trade revolution, as Trump promised, but USMCA does make changes to modernize trade rules in effect from 1994 to 2020, and it gives some wins to U.S. farmers and blue-collar workers in the auto sector. Economists and auto experts think USMCA is going to cause car prices in the United States to rise and the selection to go down. Some elements of the deal were borrowed from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the trade deal Trump scrapped at the start of his term.

“The next major priority for me, and for all of us, should be to lower the cost of health care and prescription drugs — and to protect patients with preexisting conditions.”

The Trump administration has refused to defend the Affordable Care Act against a lawsuit that would end protection for patients with preexisting conditions. When the district court ruled against the law, Trump celebrated the ruling.

“Already, as a result of my administration’s efforts, in 2018 drug prices experienced their single largest decline in 46 years.”

The consumer price index for prescription drugs fell by 0.6 percent for the 12 months ending in December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The decline is the first time in 46 years in the December-to-December time frame, but there have been other 12-month periods with index declines, mostly recently in 2013.

The Trump administration has made it less costly for companies to apply for generic approvals. The FDA says it set a record for generic approvals in fiscal 2018 (September through October), 781, breaking the record of 763 set in the previous fiscal year.

“Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth. . . . And then, we had the case of the governor of Virginia where he stated he would execute a baby after birth.”

The debate over abortion has moved to the forefront in recent weeks as many state legislatures where a majority of residents are in favor of abortion rights are moving to incorporate the Roe v. Wade standards into state law.

Now, all but seven states have prohibitions on gestational limits, from 20 to 24 weeks, or the point of “viability.” (A woman is considered to have reached full term when she is between 37-42 weeks.) Indeed, only 1.3 percent of abortions — or about 8,500 a year — take place at or after 21 weeks, according to 2014 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Guttmacher Institute.

The legislation in New York would not have “allowed a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth.” It states that a health-care practitioner “may perform an abortion when, according to the practitioner’s reasonable and good faith professional judgment based on the facts of the patient’s case: the patient is within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.”

The now-tabled bill in Virginia would have reduced the number of doctors — from three to one — required to agree that “the continuation of the pregnancy is likely to result in the death of the woman” or “impair the mental or physical health of the woman.” It would have also removed the phrase “substantially and irremediably” from the section describing the required conditions for a woman to have an abortion. In other words, continuing pregnancy would no longer have to “substantially and irremediably impair” a woman’s physical or mental health it would simply need to “impair” it. Lastly, the bill would have removed the 24-hour waiting period. The bill also specifies that measures of life support “shall be available and utilized” if there is evidence of viability.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) was widely criticized for his comments on the bill after he told a radio show that the procedures are “done in cases where there may be severe deformities. There may be a fetus that’s not viable. So in this particular example, if a mother’s in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” Critics suggested the governor was endorsing infanticide. His office later said the governor was referring to medical treatment, not ending the life of a baby.

“For years, the United States was being treated very unfairly by NATO — but now we have secured a $100 billion increase in defense spending from NATO allies.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last summer that NATO allies had spent $41 billion more toward defense since Trump took office. He said in an interview with Fox News on Jan. 27 that NATO allies will have added $100 billion extra toward defense by the end of 2020. But the effort to push NATO members to spend more on defense began well before Trump took office. At the 2014 NATO summit in Wales, the Obama administration secured an agreement by member nations to aim to increase their spending on defense to 2 percent of each nation’s gross domestic product within 10 years.

“When I took office, ISIS controlled more than 20,000 square miles in Iraq and Syria. Today, we have liberated virtually all of that territory from the grip of these bloodthirsty killers.”

Although the Islamic State may no longer control wide swaths of land in Iraq and Syria, that does not mean the group is defeated. Two recent independent reports from the United Nations and the Center for Strategic and International Studies estimate that 20,000 to 30,000 ISIS militants may remain in Iraq and Syria.

The group was far weaker a decade ago when U.S. forces last withdrew from Iraq. Then-CIA Director John O. Brennan said the group had been “pretty much decimated,” with “maybe 700 or so adherents left.” In other words, the group is far larger now than before the last withdrawal.

Plus, Obama set up virtually all the structure that did the key fighting against the Islamic State under Trump, and more fighters were trained and munitions dropped under Obama than under Trump. Trump’s claim of capturing 20,000 square miles is technically correct, but under Obama, all Iraqi cities (with the exception of the western half of Mosul) held by ISIS — such as eastern Mosul, Fallujah, Ramadi and Tikrit — were retaken by end of his term, as was much of the northeastern strip of Syria along the Turkish border. The basic plan of attack in 2017 was also developed under Obama, though Trump sped up the tempo by changing the rules of engagement.

“To ensure this corrupt dictatorship never acquires nuclear weapons, I withdrew the United States from the disastrous Iran nuclear deal.”

Although some parts of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) sunset over time, gradually allowing Iran to pursue more nuclear energy research, the deal includes this permanent restriction: “Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons.” CIA Director Gina Haspel last month testified to Congress that Iran was technically in compliance with the terms of the deal.

Other international agreements to which Iran has committed itself also prohibit the development of such weapons. Iran also has agreed to let international monitors peer closely into its nuclear activities.

However, critics of the JCPOA have voiced concerns that — despite these strictures — Iran could keep working toward nuclear weapons capability under the guise of pursuing peaceful goals, such as a nuclear energy program.

Trump is alluding to the fact that the JCPOA gradually lifts restrictions on the types of nuclear activities and the level of uranium enrichment Iran may conduct. These and other provisions sunset over 10, 15, 20 or 25 years.

The president argues that easing these restrictions over time would open the door to Iran’s attaining nuclear weapons capability, rendering the JCPOA ultimately ineffective. But supporters of the Iran deal dispute that and say the JCPOA at least buys time, subjecting Iran to strong constraints on its nuclear activities for 10 to 25 years. Without the JCPOA — and if it changed its current policy and chose to do so — Iran could hasten development of nuclear weapons on an even shorter timeline than the one Trump found unacceptable, they say.

“If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea.”

Trump exaggerates the possibility of war, which had been heightened by his own harsh rhetoric.

The president indicates that North Korea has let up its nuclear activities since he and Kim Jong Un signed a vague joint statement on denuclearization June 12. But experts say and satellite imagery indicates North Korea continues to pursue a nuclear program. The Washington Post reported that U.S. spy agencies are seeing signs that North Korea is constructing new missiles at a factory that produced the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States.

In a Worldwide Threat Assessment issued Jan. 29, the intelligence community concluded: “North Korea retains its WMD capabilities, and the IC continues to assess that it is unlikely to give up all of its WMD stockpiles, delivery systems, and production capabilities. North Korean leaders view nuclear arms as critical to regime survival. . . . We continue to observe activity inconsistent with full denuclearization.”

"We have spent more than $7 trillion dollars in the Middle East.”

Trump started making a version of this claim shortly after taking office, first saying $6 trillion but then quickly elevating it to $7 trillion. Trump acts as if the money has been spent, but he is referring to a Brown University study that included estimates of future obligations through 2056 for veterans’ care. The study combines data for both George W. Bush’s war in Iraq (2003) and the war in Afghanistan (2001), which is in Central/South Asia, not the Middle East it also includes nearly $1 trillion for homeland security spending. The cost of the combined wars will probably surpass $7 trillion by 2056, when interest on the debt is considered, almost four decades from now.


Remarks by the President in State of the Union Address

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought -- and several thousand gave their lives.

We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. (Applause.) For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. (Applause.) For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. (Applause.) Most of al Qaeda&rsquos top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban&rsquos momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.

These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness and teamwork of America&rsquos Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They&rsquore not consumed with personal ambition. They don&rsquot obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together.

Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. (Applause.) Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we&rsquore in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren&rsquot so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.

We can do this. I know we can, because we&rsquove done it before. At the end of World War II, when another generation of heroes returned home from combat, they built the strongest economy and middle class the world has ever known. (Applause.) My grandfather, a veteran of Patton&rsquos Army, got the chance to go to college on the GI Bill. My grandmother, who worked on a bomber assembly line, was part of a workforce that turned out the best products on Earth.

The two of them shared the optimism of a nation that had triumphed over a depression and fascism. They understood they were part of something larger that they were contributing to a story of success that every American had a chance to share -- the basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.

The defining issue of our time is how to keep that promise alive. No challenge is more urgent. No debate is more important. We can either settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well while a growing number of Americans barely get by, or we can restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. (Applause.) What&rsquos at stake aren&rsquot Democratic values or Republican values, but American values. And we have to reclaim them.

Let&rsquos remember how we got here. Long before the recession, jobs and manufacturing began leaving our shores. Technology made businesses more efficient, but also made some jobs obsolete. Folks at the top saw their incomes rise like never before, but most hardworking Americans struggled with costs that were growing, paychecks that weren&rsquot, and personal debt that kept piling up.

In 2008, the house of cards collapsed. We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn&rsquot afford or understand them. Banks had made huge bets and bonuses with other people&rsquos money. Regulators had looked the other way, or didn&rsquot have the authority to stop the bad behavior.

It was wrong. It was irresponsible. And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work, saddled us with more debt, and left innocent, hardworking Americans holding the bag. In the six months before I took office, we lost nearly 4 million jobs. And we lost another 4 million before our policies were in full effect.

Those are the facts. But so are these: In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than 3 million jobs. (Applause.)

Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005. American manufacturers are hiring again, creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s. Together, we&rsquove agreed to cut the deficit by more than $2 trillion. And we&rsquove put in place new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, so a crisis like this never happens again. (Applause.)

The state of our Union is getting stronger. And we&rsquove come too far to turn back now. As long as I&rsquom President, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place. (Applause.)

No, we will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward, and lay out a blueprint for an economy that&rsquos built to last -&ndash an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.

Now, this blueprint begins with American manufacturing.

On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. Today, General Motors is back on top as the world&rsquos number-one automaker. (Applause.) Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs.

We bet on American workers. We bet on American ingenuity. And tonight, the American auto industry is back. (Applause.)

What&rsquos happening in Detroit can happen in other industries. It can happen in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Raleigh. We can&rsquot bring every job back that&rsquos left our shore. But right now, it&rsquos getting more expensive to do business in places like China. Meanwhile, America is more productive. A few weeks ago, the CEO of Master Lock told me that it now makes business sense for him to bring jobs back home. (Applause.) Today, for the first time in 15 years, Master Lock&rsquos unionized plant in Milwaukee is running at full capacity. (Applause.)

So we have a huge opportunity, at this moment, to bring manufacturing back. But we have to seize it. Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed. (Applause.)

We should start with our tax code. Right now, companies get tax breaks for moving jobs and profits overseas. Meanwhile, companies that choose to stay in America get hit with one of the highest tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and everyone knows it. So let&rsquos change it.

First, if you&rsquore a business that wants to outsource jobs, you shouldn&rsquot get a tax deduction for doing it. (Applause.) That money should be used to cover moving expenses for companies like Master Lock that decide to bring jobs home. (Applause.)

Second, no American company should be able to avoid paying its fair share of taxes by moving jobs and profits overseas. (Applause.) From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax. And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here in America. (Applause.)

Third, if you&rsquore an American manufacturer, you should get a bigger tax cut. If you&rsquore a high-tech manufacturer, we should double the tax deduction you get for making your products here. And if you want to relocate in a community that was hit hard when a factory left town, you should get help financing a new plant, equipment, or training for new workers. (Applause.)

So my message is simple. It is time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America. Send me these tax reforms, and I will sign them right away. (Applause.)

We&rsquore also making it easier for American businesses to sell products all over the world. Two years ago, I set a goal of doubling U.S. exports over five years. With the bipartisan trade agreements we signed into law, we&rsquore on track to meet that goal ahead of schedule. (Applause.) And soon, there will be millions of new customers for American goods in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. Soon, there will be new cars on the streets of Seoul imported from Detroit, and Toledo, and Chicago. (Applause.)

I will go anywhere in the world to open new markets for American products. And I will not stand by when our competitors don&rsquot play by the rules. We&rsquove brought trade cases against China at nearly twice the rate as the last administration &ndash- and it&rsquos made a difference. (Applause.) Over a thousand Americans are working today because we stopped a surge in Chinese tires. But we need to do more. It&rsquos not right when another country lets our movies, music, and software be pirated. It&rsquos not fair when foreign manufacturers have a leg up on ours only because they&rsquore heavily subsidized.

Tonight, I&rsquom announcing the creation of a Trade Enforcement Unit that will be charged with investigating unfair trading practices in countries like China. (Applause.) There will be more inspections to prevent counterfeit or unsafe goods from crossing our borders. And this Congress should make sure that no foreign company has an advantage over American manufacturing when it comes to accessing financing or new markets like Russia. Our workers are the most productive on Earth, and if the playing field is level, I promise you -&ndash America will always win. (Applause.)

I also hear from many business leaders who want to hire in the United States but can&rsquot find workers with the right skills. Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job. Think about that &ndash- openings at a time when millions of Americans are looking for work. It&rsquos inexcusable. And we know how to fix it.

Jackie Bray is a single mom from North Carolina who was laid off from her job as a mechanic. Then Siemens opened a gas turbine factory in Charlotte, and formed a partnership with Central Piedmont Community College. The company helped the college design courses in laser and robotics training. It paid Jackie&rsquos tuition, then hired her to help operate their plant.

I want every American looking for work to have the same opportunity as Jackie did. Join me in a national commitment to train 2 million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job. (Applause.) My administration has already lined up more companies that want to help. Model partnerships between businesses like Siemens and community colleges in places like Charlotte, and Orlando, and Louisville are up and running. Now you need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers -&ndash places that teach people skills that businesses are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing.

And I want to cut through the maze of confusing training programs, so that from now on, people like Jackie have one program, one website, and one place to go for all the information and help that they need. It is time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system that puts people to work. (Applause.)

These reforms will help people get jobs that are open today. But to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, our commitment to skills and education has to start earlier.

For less than 1 percent of what our nation spends on education each year, we&rsquove convinced nearly every state in the country to raise their standards for teaching and learning -- the first time that&rsquos happened in a generation.

But challenges remain. And we know how to solve them.

At a time when other countries are doubling down on education, tight budgets have forced states to lay off thousands of teachers. We know a good teacher can increase the lifetime income of a classroom by over $250,000. A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance. Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives. Most teachers work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies -- just to make a difference.

Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let&rsquos offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. (Applause.) And in return, grant schools flexibility: to teach with creativity and passion to stop teaching to the test and to replace teachers who just aren&rsquot helping kids learn. That&rsquos a bargain worth making. (Applause.)

We also know that when students don&rsquot walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma. When students are not allowed to drop out, they do better. So tonight, I am proposing that every state -- every state -- requires that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18. (Applause.)

When kids do graduate, the most daunting challenge can be the cost of college. At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. (Applause.)

Extend the tuition tax credit we started that saves millions of middle-class families thousands of dollars, and give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs in the next five years. (Applause.)

Of course, it&rsquos not enough for us to increase student aid. We can&rsquot just keep subsidizing skyrocketing tuition we&rsquoll run out of money. States also need to do their part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets. And colleges and universities have to do their part by working to keep costs down.

Recently, I spoke with a group of college presidents who&rsquove done just that. Some schools redesign courses to help students finish more quickly. Some use better technology. The point is, it&rsquos possible. So let me put colleges and universities on notice: If you can&rsquot stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. (Applause.) Higher education can&rsquot be a luxury -&ndash it is an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.

Let&rsquos also remember that hundreds of thousands of talented, hardworking students in this country face another challenge: the fact that they aren&rsquot yet American citizens. Many were brought here as small children, are American through and through, yet they live every day with the threat of deportation. Others came more recently, to study business and science and engineering, but as soon as they get their degree, we send them home to invent new products and create new jobs somewhere else.

I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration. That&rsquos why my administration has put more boots on the border than ever before. That&rsquos why there are fewer illegal crossings than when I took office. The opponents of action are out of excuses. We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now. (Applause.)

But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let&rsquos at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away. (Applause.)

You see, an economy built to last is one where we encourage the talent and ingenuity of every person in this country. That means women should earn equal pay for equal work. (Applause.) It means we should support everyone who&rsquos willing to work, and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.

After all, innovation is what America has always been about. Most new jobs are created in start-ups and small businesses. So let&rsquos pass an agenda that helps them succeed. Tear down regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from getting the financing to grow. (Applause.) Expand tax relief to small businesses that are raising wages and creating good jobs. Both parties agree on these ideas. So put them in a bill, and get it on my desk this year. (Applause.)

Innovation also demands basic research. Today, the discoveries taking place in our federally financed labs and universities could lead to new treatments that kill cancer cells but leave healthy ones untouched. New lightweight vests for cops and soldiers that can stop any bullet. Don&rsquot gut these investments in our budget. Don&rsquot let other countries win the race for the future. Support the same kind of research and innovation that led to the computer chip and the Internet to new American jobs and new American industries.

And nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy. Over the last three years, we&rsquove opened millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration, and tonight, I&rsquom directing my administration to open more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources. (Applause.) Right now -- right now -- American oil production is the highest that it&rsquos been in eight years. That&rsquos right -- eight years. Not only that -- last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past 16 years. (Applause.)

But with only 2 percent of the world&rsquos oil reserves, oil isn&rsquot enough. This country needs an all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy. (Applause.) A strategy that&rsquos cleaner, cheaper, and full of new jobs.

We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years. (Applause.) And my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. Experts believe this will support more than 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade. And I&rsquom requiring all companies that drill for gas on public lands to disclose the chemicals they use. (Applause.) Because America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.

The development of natural gas will create jobs and power trucks and factories that are cleaner and cheaper, proving that we don&rsquot have to choose between our environment and our economy. (Applause.) And by the way, it was public research dollars, over the course of 30 years, that helped develop the technologies to extract all this natural gas out of shale rock &ndash- reminding us that government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground. (Applause.)

Now, what&rsquos true for natural gas is just as true for clean energy. In three years, our partnership with the private sector has already positioned America to be the world&rsquos leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries. Because of federal investments, renewable energy use has nearly doubled, and thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.

When Bryan Ritterby was laid off from his job making furniture, he said he worried that at 55, no one would give him a second chance. But he found work at Energetx, a wind turbine manufacturer in Michigan. Before the recession, the factory only made luxury yachts. Today, it&rsquos hiring workers like Bryan, who said, &ldquoI&rsquom proud to be working in the industry of the future.&rdquo

Our experience with shale gas, our experience with natural gas, shows us that the payoffs on these public investments don&rsquot always come right away. Some technologies don&rsquot pan out some companies fail. But I will not walk away from the promise of clean energy. I will not walk away from workers like Bryan. (Applause.) I will not cede the wind or solar or battery industry to China or Germany because we refuse to make the same commitment here.

We&rsquove subsidized oil companies for a century. That&rsquos long enough. (Applause.) It&rsquos time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that rarely has been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that never has been more promising. Pass clean energy tax credits. Create these jobs. (Applause.)

We can also spur energy innovation with new incentives. The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change. But there&rsquos no reason why Congress shouldn&rsquot at least set a clean energy standard that creates a market for innovation. So far, you haven&rsquot acted. Well, tonight, I will. I&rsquom directing my administration to allow the development of clean energy on enough public land to power 3 million homes. And I&rsquom proud to announce that the Department of Defense, working with us, the world&rsquos largest consumer of energy, will make one of the largest commitments to clean energy in history -&ndash with the Navy purchasing enough capacity to power a quarter of a million homes a year. (Applause.)

Of course, the easiest way to save money is to waste less energy. So here&rsquos a proposal: Help manufacturers eliminate energy waste in their factories and give businesses incentives to upgrade their buildings. Their energy bills will be $100 billion lower over the next decade, and America will have less pollution, more manufacturing, more jobs for construction workers who need them. Send me a bill that creates these jobs. (Applause.)

Building this new energy future should be just one part of a broader agenda to repair America&rsquos infrastructure. So much of America needs to be rebuilt. We&rsquove got crumbling roads and bridges a power grid that wastes too much energy an incomplete high-speed broadband network that prevents a small business owner in rural America from selling her products all over the world.

During the Great Depression, America built the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. After World War II, we connected our states with a system of highways. Democratic and Republican administrations invested in great projects that benefited everybody, from the workers who built them to the businesses that still use them today.

In the next few weeks, I will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects. But you need to fund these projects. Take the money we&rsquore no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home. (Applause.)

There&rsquos never been a better time to build, especially since the construction industry was one of the hardest hit when the housing bubble burst. Of course, construction workers weren&rsquot the only ones who were hurt. So were millions of innocent Americans who&rsquove seen their home values decline. And while government can&rsquot fix the problem on its own, responsible homeowners shouldn&rsquot have to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom to get some relief.

And that&rsquos why I&rsquom sending this Congress a plan that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low rates. (Applause.) No more red tape. No more runaround from the banks. A small fee on the largest financial institutions will ensure that it won&rsquot add to the deficit and will give those banks that were rescued by taxpayers a chance to repay a deficit of trust. (Applause.)

Let&rsquos never forget: Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that do the same. It&rsquos time to apply the same rules from top to bottom. No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts. An America built to last insists on responsibility from everybody.

We&rsquove all paid the price for lenders who sold mortgages to people who couldn&rsquot afford them, and buyers who knew they couldn&rsquot afford them. That&rsquos why we need smart regulations to prevent irresponsible behavior. (Applause.) Rules to prevent financial fraud or toxic dumping or faulty medical devices -- these don&rsquot destroy the free market. They make the free market work better.

There&rsquos no question that some regulations are outdated, unnecessary, or too costly. In fact, I&rsquove approved fewer regulations in the first three years of my presidency than my Republican predecessor did in his. (Applause.) I&rsquove ordered every federal agency to eliminate rules that don&rsquot make sense. We&rsquove already announced over 500 reforms, and just a fraction of them will save business and citizens more than $10 billion over the next five years. We got rid of one rule from 40 years ago that could have forced some dairy farmers to spend $10,000 a year proving that they could contain a spill -- because milk was somehow classified as an oil. With a rule like that, I guess it was worth crying over spilled milk. (Laughter and applause.)

Now, I&rsquom confident a farmer can contain a milk spill without a federal agency looking over his shoulder. (Applause.) Absolutely. But I will not back down from making sure an oil company can contain the kind of oil spill we saw in the Gulf two years ago. (Applause.) I will not back down from protecting our kids from mercury poisoning, or making sure that our food is safe and our water is clean. I will not go back to the days when health insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny your coverage, or charge women differently than men. (Applause.)

And I will not go back to the days when Wall Street was allowed to play by its own set of rules. The new rules we passed restore what should be any financial system&rsquos core purpose: Getting funding to entrepreneurs with the best ideas, and getting loans to responsible families who want to buy a home, or start a business, or send their kids to college.

So if you are a big bank or financial institution, you&rsquore no longer allowed to make risky bets with your customers&rsquo deposits. You&rsquore required to write out a &ldquoliving will&rdquo that details exactly how you&rsquoll pay the bills if you fail &ndash- because the rest of us are not bailing you out ever again. (Applause.) And if you&rsquore a mortgage lender or a payday lender or a credit card company, the days of signing people up for products they can&rsquot afford with confusing forms and deceptive practices -- those days are over. Today, American consumers finally have a watchdog in Richard Cordray with one job: To look out for them. (Applause.)

We&rsquoll also establish a Financial Crimes Unit of highly trained investigators to crack down on large-scale fraud and protect people&rsquos investments. Some financial firms violate major anti-fraud laws because there&rsquos no real penalty for being a repeat offender. That&rsquos bad for consumers, and it&rsquos bad for the vast majority of bankers and financial service professionals who do the right thing. So pass legislation that makes the penalties for fraud count.

And tonight, I&rsquom asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorney general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis. (Applause.) This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans.

Now, a return to the American values of fair play and shared responsibility will help protect our people and our economy. But it should also guide us as we look to pay down our debt and invest in our future.

Right now, our most immediate priority is stopping a tax hike on 160 million working Americans while the recovery is still fragile. (Applause.) People cannot afford losing $40 out of each paycheck this year. There are plenty of ways to get this done. So let&rsquos agree right here, right now: No side issues. No drama. Pass the payroll tax cut without delay. Let&rsquos get it done. (Applause.)

When it comes to the deficit, we&rsquove already agreed to more than $2 trillion in cuts and savings. But we need to do more, and that means making choices. Right now, we&rsquore poised to spend nearly $1 trillion more on what was supposed to be a temporary tax break for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households. Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.

Do we want to keep these tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans? Or do we want to keep our investments in everything else &ndash- like education and medical research a strong military and care for our veterans? Because if we&rsquore serious about paying down our debt, we can&rsquot do both.

The American people know what the right choice is. So do I. As I told the Speaker this summer, I&rsquom prepared to make more reforms that rein in the long-term costs of Medicare and Medicaid, and strengthen Social Security, so long as those programs remain a guarantee of security for seniors.

But in return, we need to change our tax code so that people like me, and an awful lot of members of Congress, pay our fair share of taxes. (Applause.)

Tax reform should follow the Buffett Rule. If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30 percent in taxes. And my Republican friend Tom Coburn is right: Washington should stop subsidizing millionaires. In fact, if you&rsquore earning a million dollars a year, you shouldn&rsquot get special tax subsidies or deductions. On the other hand, if you make under $250,000 a year, like 98 percent of American families, your taxes shouldn&rsquot go up. (Applause.) You&rsquore the ones struggling with rising costs and stagnant wages. You&rsquore the ones who need relief.

Now, you can call this class warfare all you want. But asking a billionaire to pay at least as much as his secretary in taxes? Most Americans would call that common sense.

We don&rsquot begrudge financial success in this country. We admire it. When Americans talk about folks like me paying my fair share of taxes, it&rsquos not because they envy the rich. It&rsquos because they understand that when I get a tax break I don&rsquot need and the country can&rsquot afford, it either adds to the deficit, or somebody else has to make up the difference -- like a senior on a fixed income, or a student trying to get through school, or a family trying to make ends meet. That&rsquos not right. Americans know that&rsquos not right. They know that this generation&rsquos success is only possible because past generations felt a responsibility to each other, and to the future of their country, and they know our way of life will only endure if we feel that same sense of shared responsibility. That&rsquos how we&rsquoll reduce our deficit. That&rsquos an America built to last. (Applause.)

Now, I recognize that people watching tonight have differing views about taxes and debt, energy and health care. But no matter what party they belong to, I bet most Americans are thinking the same thing right about now: Nothing will get done in Washington this year, or next year, or maybe even the year after that, because Washington is broken.

Can you blame them for feeling a little cynical?

The greatest blow to our confidence in our economy last year didn&rsquot come from events beyond our control. It came from a debate in Washington over whether the United States would pay its bills or not. Who benefited from that fiasco?

I&rsquove talked tonight about the deficit of trust between Main Street and Wall Street. But the divide between this city and the rest of the country is at least as bad -- and it seems to get worse every year.

Some of this has to do with the corrosive influence of money in politics. So together, let&rsquos take some steps to fix that. Send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of Congress I will sign it tomorrow. (Applause.) Let&rsquos limit any elected official from owning stocks in industries they impact. Let&rsquos make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can&rsquot lobby Congress, and vice versa -- an idea that has bipartisan support, at least outside of Washington.

Some of what&rsquos broken has to do with the way Congress does its business these days. A simple majority is no longer enough to get anything -&ndash even routine business &ndash- passed through the Senate. (Applause.) Neither party has been blameless in these tactics. Now both parties should put an end to it. (Applause.) For starters, I ask the Senate to pass a simple rule that all judicial and public service nominations receive a simple up or down vote within 90 days. (Applause.)

The executive branch also needs to change. Too often, it&rsquos inefficient, outdated and remote. (Applause.) That&rsquos why I&rsquove asked this Congress to grant me the authority to consolidate the federal bureaucracy, so that our government is leaner, quicker, and more responsive to the needs of the American people. (Applause.)

Finally, none of this can happen unless we also lower the temperature in this town. We need to end the notion that the two parties must be locked in a perpetual campaign of mutual destruction that politics is about clinging to rigid ideologies instead of building consensus around common-sense ideas.

I&rsquom a Democrat. But I believe what Republican Abraham Lincoln believed: That government should do for people only what they cannot do better by themselves, and no more. (Applause.) That&rsquos why my education reform offers more competition, and more control for schools and states. That&rsquos why we&rsquore getting rid of regulations that don&rsquot work. That&rsquos why our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a government program.

On the other hand, even my Republican friends who complain the most about government spending have supported federally financed roads, and clean energy projects, and federal offices for the folks back home.

The point is, we should all want a smarter, more effective government. And while we may not be able to bridge our biggest philosophical differences this year, we can make real progress. With or without this Congress, I will keep taking actions that help the economy grow. But I can do a whole lot more with your help. Because when we act together, there&rsquos nothing the United States of America can&rsquot achieve. (Applause.) That&rsquos the lesson we&rsquove learned from our actions abroad over the last few years.

Ending the Iraq war has allowed us to strike decisive blows against our enemies. From Pakistan to Yemen, the al Qaeda operatives who remain are scrambling, knowing that they can&rsquot escape the reach of the United States of America. (Applause.)

From this position of strength, we&rsquove begun to wind down the war in Afghanistan. Ten thousand of our troops have come home. Twenty-three thousand more will leave by the end of this summer. This transition to Afghan lead will continue, and we will build an enduring partnership with Afghanistan, so that it is never again a source of attacks against America. (Applause.)

As the tide of war recedes, a wave of change has washed across the Middle East and North Africa, from Tunis to Cairo from Sana&rsquoa to Tripoli. A year ago, Qaddafi was one of the world&rsquos longest-serving dictators -&ndash a murderer with American blood on his hands. Today, he is gone. And in Syria, I have no doubt that the Assad regime will soon discover that the forces of change cannot be reversed, and that human dignity cannot be denied. (Applause.)

How this incredible transformation will end remains uncertain. But we have a huge stake in the outcome. And while it&rsquos ultimately up to the people of the region to decide their fate, we will advocate for those values that have served our own country so well. We will stand against violence and intimidation. We will stand for the rights and dignity of all human beings &ndash- men and women Christians, Muslims and Jews. We will support policies that lead to strong and stable democracies and open markets, because tyranny is no match for liberty.

And we will safeguard America&rsquos own security against those who threaten our citizens, our friends, and our interests. Look at Iran. Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran&rsquos nuclear program now stands as one. The regime is more isolated than ever before its leaders are faced with crippling sanctions, and as long as they shirk their responsibilities, this pressure will not relent.

Let there be no doubt: America is determined to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and I will take no options off the table to achieve that goal. (Applause.)

But a peaceful resolution of this issue is still possible, and far better, and if Iran changes course and meets its obligations, it can rejoin the community of nations.

The renewal of American leadership can be felt across the globe. Our oldest alliances in Europe and Asia are stronger than ever. Our ties to the Americas are deeper. Our ironclad commitment -- and I mean ironclad -- to Israel&rsquos security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history. (Applause.)

We&rsquove made it clear that America is a Pacific power, and a new beginning in Burma has lit a new hope. From the coalitions we&rsquove built to secure nuclear materials, to the missions we&rsquove led against hunger and disease from the blows we&rsquove dealt to our enemies, to the enduring power of our moral example, America is back.

Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn&rsquot know what they&rsquore talking about. (Applause.)

That&rsquos not the message we get from leaders around the world who are eager to work with us. That&rsquos not how people feel from Tokyo to Berlin, from Cape Town to Rio, where opinions of America are higher than they&rsquove been in years. Yes, the world is changing. No, we can&rsquot control every event. But America remains the one indispensable nation in world affairs &ndash- and as long as I&rsquom President, I intend to keep it that way. (Applause.)

That&rsquos why, working with our military leaders, I&rsquove proposed a new defense strategy that ensures we maintain the finest military in the world, while saving nearly half a trillion dollars in our budget. To stay one step ahead of our adversaries, I&rsquove already sent this Congress legislation that will secure our country from the growing dangers of cyber-threats. (Applause.)

Above all, our freedom endures because of the men and women in uniform who defend it. (Applause.) As they come home, we must serve them as well as they&rsquove served us. That includes giving them the care and the benefits they have earned &ndash- which is why we&rsquove increased annual VA spending every year I&rsquove been President. (Applause.) And it means enlisting our veterans in the work of rebuilding our nation.

With the bipartisan support of this Congress, we&rsquore providing new tax credits to companies that hire vets. Michelle and Jill Biden have worked with American businesses to secure a pledge of 135,000 jobs for veterans and their families. And tonight, I&rsquom proposing a Veterans Jobs Corps that will help our communities hire veterans as cops and firefighters, so that America is as strong as those who defend her. (Applause.)

Which brings me back to where I began. Those of us who&rsquove been sent here to serve can learn a thing or two from the service of our troops. When you put on that uniform, it doesn&rsquot matter if you&rsquore black or white Asian, Latino, Native American conservative, liberal rich, poor gay, straight. When you&rsquore marching into battle, you look out for the person next to you, or the mission fails. When you&rsquore in the thick of the fight, you rise or fall as one unit, serving one nation, leaving no one behind.

One of my proudest possessions is the flag that the SEAL Team took with them on the mission to get bin Laden. On it are each of their names. Some may be Democrats. Some may be Republicans. But that doesn&rsquot matter. Just like it didn&rsquot matter that day in the Situation Room, when I sat next to Bob Gates -- a man who was George Bush&rsquos defense secretary -- and Hillary Clinton -- a woman who ran against me for president.

All that mattered that day was the mission. No one thought about politics. No one thought about themselves. One of the young men involved in the raid later told me that he didn&rsquot deserve credit for the mission. It only succeeded, he said, because every single member of that unit did their job -- the pilot who landed the helicopter that spun out of control the translator who kept others from entering the compound the troops who separated the women and children from the fight the SEALs who charged up the stairs. More than that, the mission only succeeded because every member of that unit trusted each other -- because you can&rsquot charge up those stairs, into darkness and danger, unless you know that there&rsquos somebody behind you, watching your back.

So it is with America. Each time I look at that flag, I&rsquom reminded that our destiny is stitched together like those 50 stars and those 13 stripes. No one built this country on their own. This nation is great because we built it together. This nation is great because we worked as a team. This nation is great because we get each other&rsquos backs. And if we hold fast to that truth, in this moment of trial, there is no challenge too great no mission too hard. As long as we are joined in common purpose, as long as we maintain our common resolve, our journey moves forward, and our future is hopeful, and the state of our Union will always be strong.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)


The formal basis for the State of the Union Address is from the U.S. Constitution:

  • The President “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Article II, Section 3, Clause 1.

The constitutionally mandated presidential message has gone through a few name changes:

  • It was formally known as the Annual Message from 1790 to 1946.
  • It began to be informally called the "state of the Union" message/address from 1942 to 1946.
  • Since 1947 it has officially been known as the State of the Union Address.

Earlier Annual Messages of the President included agency budget requests and general reports on the health of the economy. During the 20th century, Congress required more-specialized reports on these two aspects, separate from the Annual Message.

  • Budget Message, required by the National Budget and Accounting Act of 1921 (42 Stat. 20) to be delivered to Congress no more than two weeks after Congress convenes in January.
  • Economic Report, required by the Employment Act of 1946 (60 Stat. 23), with a flexible delivery date.

Over time, as the message content changed, the focus of the State of the Union also changed:


FACT CHECK: Trump Touts Low Unemployment Rates For African-Americans, Hispanics

A construction worker walks along an apartment and retail complex in Nashville, Tenn. earlier this month.

Updated Jan. 30

The job market is strong right now, with a 4.1 percent unemployment rate, and President Trump knows it.

In his State of the Union address, he said he is "proud" that "African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded. And Hispanic-American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history."

Earier this month, he also bragged about the latest jobs report, focusing in on minorities in particular.

On Twitter he cited that black unemployment is "the lowest ever recorded in our country." And he jabbed: "Dems did nothing for you but get your vote!"

And then at a speech to the American Farm Bureau Federation, he did it again, saying, "African-American unemployment is the lowest it's ever been in the history of our records."

Presidents often take credit for a strong economy, and Trump fits that mold, touting jobs and stock market numbers regularly. So we decided to fact-check Trump on this claim: Is he right, and are these numbers his doing?

The claim

Black and Hispanic unemployment are at or near record lows.

The short answer

Trump's numbers are right, but it's generally a stretch for presidents to take credit for job creation.

The long answer

Trump is right that African-American unemployment hit a record low in December. The unemployment rate for black Americans is currently 6.8 percent, the lowest level recorded since the government started keeping track in January 1972.

And he's also right that the Hispanic unemployment rate is down a point over the last year — it was at 4.9 percent in December, down from 5.9 percent in December 2016. That is close to a record low, though it's also up 0.1 point from November.

But still, fact check: true on Trump's numbers.

However, that's not all Trump is doing in this tweet. He is implying that he caused these low African-American and Hispanic unemployment rates.

And a big problem with that claim is that those rates had been falling for long before Trump took office, and their declines don't appear to have picked up speed. This implies that there's nothing specific that Trump did to change this rate.

Indeed, both of these rates have been falling relatively steadily since around 2010, early in President Obama's tenure in the White House.

So have the unemployment rates for all races and ethnic groups tracked by the Labor Department. In general, these unemployment rates tend to move together. So while Trump called out the African-American and Hispanic unemployment rates, they haven't changed in any remarkable way, relative to other groups' unemployment rates.

Separately, the president's Council of Economic Advisers touted the unemployment rate of other demographic groups on Friday, shortly after the latest jobs report was released.

"The overall unemployment rate, which by October had dropped to 4.1 percent, represented a 17-year low by year's end," they wrote. "The benefits of the low rates were felt broadly, resulting in unemployment rates for America's veterans, African-Americans and Hispanics that reached historic lows in 2017."

The total unemployment rate is quite low, at 4.1 percent. That's not a record, but for comparison with that African-American rate, it is near its lowest point since 1972.

So Trump here is trying to make a political point — one that he has made before — seeming to tell minorities that they should support him more than they do. But then, the president has a decidedly uneasy relationship with black Americans, as NPR's Brakkton Booker wrote on Saturday, and his rhetoric on immigration has also upset some Hispanics.

This leads to the bigger question of how much Trump has to do with any of this job growth, regardless of race or ethnicity.

By the jobs numbers themselves, it doesn't look like he has changed much here. In fact, the average job creation in Trump's first year is slightly lower than it has been in prior years. Employers added 171,000 new jobs each month, on average, in 2017. In 2016, that figure was 187,000, and in 2015, it was 226,000.

It is possible that the tax plan that Trump recently signed into law will inspire employers to hire more. Businesses could conceivably plow some of the money they save on their taxes thanks to that plan into job creation. In a late-November Yahoo poll of more than 1,200 business owners, half said the new tax plan would make them more likely to hire.

Then again, a majority of economists polled by the University of Chicago predict that long term, the tax plan won't lead to higher economic growth.

It's not that Trump has had zero effect on the economy. Though a strong global economy has been the main reason stocks are climbing ever higher, as NPR's Jim Zarroli reported in December, the president's agenda of deregulation and cutting corporate taxes has also likely very played some part in pushing stocks ever higher.

But the case that Trump has therefore significantly boosted job creation through the stock market isn't particularly strong, says one economist.

"To the extent that that affects business decisions, it may be that the president is having some impact on employment," said Michael Strain, director of economic studies at the American Enterprise Institute. "But it's very important not to overstate that."

There's also a bigger problem with the idea that Trump has created all these jobs — presidents don't have much immediate control over the economy, period.

It's true that they push policies or make hires that can affect economic performance — George W. Bush first appointed former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who helmed the central bank as it worked to pull the country out of recession and President Barack Obama signed the 2009 stimulus. It's also true that at the end of any given president's tenure, we look at the job market under that president.

But there's so much about the economy that presidents don't control — business cycles and other countries' economic health, for example. The White House also can't control broader macroeconomic trends, like the U.S. economy's long-term shift from goods-producing to service-based industries.

Indeed, a 2015 paper from Princeton economists Alan Blinder and Mark Watson found that while the economy has tended to grow faster under Democratic presidents, policy actions don't appear to account for that difference.

"Democrats would probably like to attribute a large portion of the D-R growth gap to better fiscal (and perhaps monetary) policies, but the data do not support such a claim," they wrote.

So could a president — with Congress' help — target communities with particularly high unemployment? Yes, says one expert — particularly in one policy area Trump already has been championing.

"There needs to be a deliberate attempt to retrain and recruit people into the economy through infrastructure programs," said Andre Perry, a fellow in the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution.

While the unemployment rate is relatively low — near what economists call "full employment" — it remains true that the black unemployment rate is always much higher than the national rate. He believes that targeted infrastructure policy could reduce that gap, helping disadvantaged Americans get back to work.

"Full employment means nothing to black folk in Baltimore or St. Louis or Pittsburgh," Perry said. "For far too long, black unemployment has been the sacrificial lamb of full employment, and so again, if there is an infrastructure plan put on the table, it should be targeted at populations in areas that are largely out of work. [And] not only inner-city black America it's also rural white men who are being left behind by the economy."

If that's true, it seems likely to remain a hypothetical. Democrats and Republicans alike champion the idea of infrastructure, but partisan divides on how to do it remain so wide that passing an infrastructure package this year would most likely be a heavy lift.


How Obama stacks up -- by his own metric

The president's other claims are true, although once again on the unemployment rate, it depends if you start counting from the day Obama took office or from the worst point during the Great Recession.

The unemployment rate was 7.8% the month Obama was sworn in. It hit a high of 10% in October 2009 and is now back to 5%.

In his speech, Obama did lament the inequality that persists in the United States. Wages and salaries have barely budged under his watch. The typical family is actually taking home less today than when he took office when you adjust for inflation.

"For the past seven years, our goal has been a growing economy that works better for everybody. We've made progress. But we need to make more," Obama concluded in his own assessment of his economic record.


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