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Text of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address

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Donald Trump began his first formal State of the Union address by praising the beauty of America’s soul and the steel in America’s spine in the face of hardships brought about by hurricane Harvey last year.

“Over the last year, we have made incredible progress and achieved extraordinary success. 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,” the US President said, citing tales of valour of people who aided in the rescue operation during the hurricane.

In his speech, themed ‘Building a safe, strong, and proud America’, Trump claimed that since the 2016 election, his government had created 2.4 million new jobs, including 2,00,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone. It also must be mentioned that the total includes job gains in November and December 2016 and January 2017, when Barack Obama was still the president.

The Republican had promised to champion US industries and workers and step back from global institutions. Trump, who had promised to revive the economy, said wages were rising after years of stagnation and unemployment claims had hit a 45-year low. “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,” the former business tycoon said.

Donald Trump State of Union speech

Melania Trump at the US Capitol on Tuesday. (Source: AP)

Following Trump’s shock election win, some experts had predicted that his unpredictable style and being a novice in governance would be bad for the market. However, the stock market has been in the pink of health ever since Trump assumed presidency. “Small business confidence is at an all-time high. The stock market has smashed one record after another, gaining eight trillion dollars and more in value in just this short period of time,” POTUS said amid applause from the Republican benches.

Harping on the bill passed last year for tax cuts, Trump said the move had provided tremendous relief for the middle class and small business. Calling it the biggest tax cut and reform in American history, the president said, “We nearly doubled the standard deduction for everyone. Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses – many of them thousands of dollars per worker.”

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Trump also highlighted the decision to withdraw the US from the Asia-Pacific trade pact, declaring, “The era of economic surrender is totally over.” He also laid bare potential agenda items for 2018, including a call for $1.5 trillion in new infrastructure spending and partnerships with states and the private sector.

On immigration, Trump detailed four points of his plan to settle the issue. Citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants, securing the border by building a wall, ending the visa lottery system and protecting the nuclear family by ending chain migration would be the main planks of the US immigration policy, Trump said. It remains to be seen if this blueprint passes muster with the Congress.

Republicans led multiple rounds of enthusiastic applause during the speech, but the Democrats offered muted reactions. On international affairs, Trump warned of the dangers from “rogue regimes”, like Iran and North Korea, terrorist groups, like the Islamic State, and ‘rivals’ like China and Russia “that challenge our interests, our economy and our values”. Calling on Congress to lift budgetary caps and boost spending on the military, Trump said “unmatched power is the surest means of our defence”. Reversing yet another Obama-era policy, the president also announced that he had signed an executive order directing the Defence Department to keep open the US prison at Guantanamo Bay.

On the “terrible crisis” of opioid and drug addiction, Trump said 64,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2016 — 174 deaths a day or 7 per hour. “We must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers if we are going to succeed in stopping this scourge,” the president said.

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