Trump’s State of the Union address

Trump paints bold vision of a stronger America

US President Donald Trump delivering his second State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington on Tuesday.
US President Donald Trump delivering his second State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington on Tuesday.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

But he takes jabs at Democrats even as he urges bipartisanship

In a rousing second State of the Union address to a deeply divided Congress, President Donald Trump painted a bold, optimistic vision of a stronger, prosperous America, urging bipartisanship in key legislation and reform to make it happen.

But he mixed conciliatory appeals with jabs at the opposition Democratic Party, saying "an economic miracle is taking place in the United States - and the only thing that can stop it are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations".

"If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn't work that way," he said.

"We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad."

And in strong remarks aimed at socialist elements of the Democratic Party like Senator Bernie Sanders and New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, he said: "We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country."

His agenda was an agenda for the American people, he insisted. "In the 20th century, America saved freedom, transformed science, and redefined the middle class standard of living for the entire world to see," he said.

"Now, we must step boldly and bravely into the next chapter of this Great American Adventure, and we must create a new standard of living for the 21st century."

"Together, we can break decades of political stalemate… bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America's future," he urged.

"The decision is ours to make," he said. "We must choose between greatness or gridlock, results or resistance, vision or vengeance, incredible progress or pointless destruction. Tonight, I ask you to choose greatness."

CALL FOR BORDER WALL

We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens. Tonight, I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country.

U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, making another pitch for a southern border wall.

The President touted his administration's "historic" achievements - including reversing "calamitous trade deals"; an energy revolution which had made the US the No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas in the world; a vigorous economy; and a military that is "the most powerful army on earth".

He drew bipartisan applause for successful prison reform legislation, and got whoops even from Democratic members when he lauded the record number of women in the House.

But the divisive issue of immigration loomed large, with the President pitching again for a wall on the southern border.

Democrats maintain building the wall will be ineffective and a waste of money. The issue of the wall has slammed the brakes on immigration system reform, which even many Trump critics say is badly needed.

"We have a moral duty to create an immigration system that protects the lives and jobs of our citizens," Mr Trump said.

 
 
 
 

"Tonight, I am asking you to defend our very dangerous southern border out of love and devotion to our fellow citizens and to our country."

"Walls work and walls save lives," he insisted. "So let's work together, compromise, and reach a deal that will truly make America safe."

Mr Trump did not mention declaring an emergency - one option if he does not get the US$5.7 billion (S$7.7 billion) he is demanding for the wall by Feb 15, after which there will be another federal government shutdown until the deadlock is broken.

The last such shutdown that ended last month, lasted a record 35 days. Analysts said declaring an emergency now seems the more likely route for the President.

Mr Trump devoted much time to foreign policy, denouncing Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who the US and a number of Latin American and European countries accuse of being an illegitimate leader.

He announced a second summit this month with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and outlined how he was pushing back against China and Iran, and negotiating a political settlement in Afghanistan which would enable American troops to come home.

Recalling how he had for long maintained that the US should not get involved in "endless wars", he added: "As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counter terrorism."

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 07, 2019, with the headline 'Trump paints bold vision of a stronger America'. Print Edition | Subscribe