Trump makes case he’s stoking American dream

 
Trump makes case he’s stoking American dream
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President Trump called for bipartisan action on immigration and infrastructure in his first State of the Union address on Tuesday, asking a deeply divided nation to come together after a tumultuous first year in office.

The president said his agenda is working, highlighting a growing economy that he linked to the tax-cut bill passed by Congress in December.

“This is our new American moment,” Trump said. “There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.”

Trump began the speech by congratulating his administration on all of the success it had made in its first year to “make American great again for all Americans,” earning a standing ovation from Republicans while Democrats remained in their seats.

He then pivoted to a more united messages, talking of the floods and fires the nation endured and recognizing special guests in the audience as well as Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who survived a shooting targeting GOP lawmakers last year.

Trump called on Congress to advance an immigration framework that would help build a wall on the Mexican border and cut back on legal immigration by overhauling long-standing programs. The deal would also allow nearly 2 million “Dreamers” illegally brought to the country as children to seek citizenship.

“Americans love their country. And they deserve a government that shows them the same love and loyalty in return,” the president said.

He cast the proposal as one that would benefit working Americans and immigrant families.

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

The address comes against the backdrop of a partisan divide in Washington that has deepened since Trump’s inauguration. After a three-day shutdown earlier this month, lawmakers face a Feb. 8 deadline to pass legislation to keep the government open. Those talks are closely tied to the negotiations on immigration.

Several Democrats brought “Dreamers” who could face deportation as early as March as their guests to the president’s speech. In a statement that reflected the stark differences in Congress over the issue, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), hours before Trump’s speech, said that Capitol Police should arrest them.

Other Democrats wore black in solidarity with the “Me Too” movement that has focused on sexual harassment and gender inequality. And a dozen Democrats announced they would boycott the speech altogether.

The White House had telegraphed in the days before Trump’s speech that he would use the address to reach out to all Americans, and there were several nods toward compromise.

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 and creed,” Trump said.

Infrastructure is one possible policy area where a deal between Republicans and Democrats could be reached, and Trump devoted several minutes to pitching his $1 trillion plan to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges and transit systems.

Trump revealed the plan would reduce the amount of time it takes builders to obtain permits, something he says has hindered major projects.

“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 permit approved for a simple road?” the president said. “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.”

Trump used a significant part of his speech to take a victory lap on the economy, arguing his tax overhaul and efforts to cut regulations have offered it a much-needed boost.

He claimed that roughly 3 million workers received bonuses as a result of the tax legislation and that his efforts to cut energy regulation have ended the “war” on coal production.

“Just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history,” Trump said of the tax-cut legislation he signed into law just last month.

He said the cuts would provide “tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.”

Trump also took a victory lap on national security, saying a year ago that he had vowed to “extinguish [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] ISIS” and was now “proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated almost 100 percent of the territory once held by these killers in Iraq and Syria.”

“Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat the mistakes of the past administrations that got us into this dangerous position,” Trump said, in a shot at his predecessor former President Obama.

First lady Melania Trump invited an eclectic group of military service members, first responders and workers who benefited from the GOP tax plan to Trump’s address.

One of the guests, Ryan Holets, was shot twice during his service as an Albuquerque, N.M., police officer, according to the White House. He and his wife adopted a baby from parents who were addicted to opioids.

Trump, in his first year in office, has presided over a divided country that is increasingly polarized on politics, something Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) blamed squarely on Trump during the official Democratic response.

“Bullies may land a punch. They might leave a mark. But they have never, not once, in the history of our United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of a people united in defense of their future,” he said.

Trump’s speech contained some inaccurate claims, including his declaration that the tax cut was the biggest in American history. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said last fall the package was the eighth biggest since 1918.

Democrats say Trump doesn’t deserve credit for the recovery, pointing out that the trends of higher growth and lower unemployment began under Obama.

Earlier on Tuesday, Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (N.Y.) said Trump should thank Obama for the economy.

The days leading up to the speech were dominated by Trump’s long-running feud with the FBI and Justice Department over the Russia investigation.

The developments have roiled partisan tensions surrounding the probe, but Trump made no direct mention of them in his address.

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