Trump's first State of the Union speech: New 'American moment' and other highlights

US President Donald Trump gestures at the podium in front of US Vice-President Mike Pence (top, left) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
US President Donald Trump gestures at the podium in front of US Vice-President Mike Pence (top, left) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.PHOTO: REUTERS

US President Donald Trump has delivered his first official State of the Union (SOTU) address on Capitol Hill, just a little over a year into his presidency.

It is the third longest SOTU ever - lasting more than one hour and 20 minutes - helped by frequent applause, mainly from the Republicans. The longest SOTU since the 1960s was President Bill Clinton's in 2000 which clocked in at just under one hour and 29 minutes.

Trump made a pitch for national unity and strong borders, calling for "one team, one people, and one American family" after a year plagued by acrimony, division and scandal.

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

Here are some of the highlights of his speech:

1. On Economy

Since election, the US has created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone. The US is also finally seeing rising wages after years of wage stagnation.

Unemployment claims have hit a 45-year low, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.

 
 

The stock market has smashed records and gained US$8 trillion (S$10.5 trillion) in value.

The US will protect American workers and American intellectual property, through strong enforcement of the country's trade rules.

2. On Taxes

Massive tax cuts to provide tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses. The US nearly doubled the standard deduction for everyone. Now, the first US$24,000 earned by a married couple is completely tax-free. Child tax credit has also been doubled.

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

Business tax rate is slashed from 35 per cent to 21 per cent, 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.

3. On making drugs more affordable

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 the history of US.

One of Trump's greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs.

The US is working towards allowing patients with terminal conditions to have access to experimental treatments that could potentially save their lives.

4. On improving infrastructure

Trump is calling on the Congress to produce a Bill that generates at least US$1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment America needs.

5. On education

As tax cuts create new jobs, the US wants to invest in workforce development and job training.

It aims to open great vocational schools so America's future workers can learn a craft and realise their full potential.

6. On Immigration, border control, and the wall

Trump calls on the Congress to finally close the deadly loopholes that have allowed MS-13, and other criminals, to break into the US. New legislation has been proposed that will fix the US immigration laws.

Over the next few weeks, the House and Senate will be voting on an immigration reform package. The four pillars of the plan represent a down-the-middle compromise, and one that will create a safe, modern, and lawful immigration system.

The four pillars also fulfill Trump's pledge to sign only a bill that puts America first.

The four pillars are:

- The first pillar generously offers a path to citizenship for 1.8 million illegal immigrants who were brought to America by their parents at a young age - that covers almost three times more people than the previous administration.

- The second pillar fully secures the border. That means building a wall on the Southern border. Crucially, the plan closes the loopholes exploited by criminals and terrorists to enter the US - and it finally ends the dangerous practice of "catch and release".

- The third pillar ends the visa lottery - a programme that randomly hands out green cards without any regard for skill, merit, or the safety of our people.

- The fourth pillar protects the nuclear family by ending chain migration.

7. On fighting the drug epidemic

In 2016, the country lost 64,000 Americans to drug overdoses: 174 deaths per day. Seven per hour.

The US must get much tougher on drug dealers and pushers to succeed in stopping this scourge.

8. On foreign, defence and nuclear weapons policies

America face rogue regimes, terrorist groups, and rivals like China and Russia that challenge the US interests, economy, and values.

In confronting these dangers, the US knows that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unmatched power is the surest means of our defence.

For this reason, Trump is asking the Congress to end the dangerous defence sequester and fully fund the military.

As part of the defence, the US must modernise and rebuild its nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it.

9. On North Korea

Trump says the US needs 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 its allies.

10. On fighting terrorism

The US will also continue its fight until ISIS is defeated.

Terrorists are unlawful enemy combatants.

In the past, the US has foolishly released hundreds of dangerous terrorists, so Trump has just signed an order to re-examine the US military detention policy and to keep open the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay.

The US troops in Afghanistan also have new rules of engagement.

11. On who America's friends are

Shortly after the US recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, dozens of countries voted in the United Nations General Assembly against America's sovereign right to make the recognition.

Trump notes that American taxpayers generously send those same countries billions of dollars in aid every year.

Trump is asking the Congress to pass legislation to help ensure American foreign-assistance dollars always serve American interests, and only go to America's friends.

Trump is also asking the Congress to address the fundamental flaws in the Iran nuclear deal.