Trump Calls for a 'New American Moment' in Speech

31 January, 2018

President Donald Trump sought to unite a deeply divided nation with his call for a "new American moment" during his State of the Union address Tuesday night.

Trump declared that there has "never been a better time to start living the American dream."

Tax cuts and the economy

The president used the speech to talk about his biggest legislative victory, tax reform and reduction, and the healthy American economy.

He said, "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."

The president said he kept his promise to Americans and, in his words, "enacted the biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history."

He said, "Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses -- many of them thousands of dollars per worker."

Calling for unity

Speaking directly to millions of Americans watching on television, Trump said, "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."

Trump offered a deal on possible citizenship for "Dreamers" in exchange for compromises on other immigration issues. He said a path to citizenship could be given to hundreds of thousands of people who entered the U.S. illegally as children. In return, he said, lawmakers must support the building of a wall along the United States border with Mexico. He also said America's visa lottery program must end.

Trump asked lawmakers from both parties to join forces to rebuild the nation's infrastructure and reset immigration policies.

"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.

However, partisanship has only deepened in the year since Trump took office. The president, a Republican, has continued to make personal attacks against his political opponents. Democrats have continued to criticize Trump's policies and behavior.

In the hours before the president's speech, Republican lawmaker Paul Gosar called for the arrest and deportation of any, in his words, "illegal aliens" who attempt to attend the event. Democratic lawmakers had invited several "Dreamers" to attend as their guests. The future of the Dreamers led to a three-day shutdown of the U.S. government last week.

America around the world

Declaring "the era of economic surrender" over, Trump said he would fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones.

He said his administration will "protect American workers and American intellectual property, through strong enforcement of our trade rules."

The president called on Congress to "modernize and rebuild" the nation's nuclear weapons to "deter any acts of aggression."

He called North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons "reckless" and a threat to America and its allies. He pledged to launch "a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from happening."

Albuquerque Police Officer Ryan Holets and his wife Rebecca acknowledge their introduction by President Donald Trump as they stand with first lady Melania Trump during the State of the Union address
Albuquerque Police Officer Ryan Holets and his wife Rebecca acknowledge their introduction by President Donald Trump as they stand with first lady Melania Trump during the State of the Union address

First lady and guests

First lady Melania Trump listened from the gallery with several guests whose stories were noted by the president.

Among the guests were police officer Ryan Holets who adopted the baby of opioid-addicted parents. Other guests included Army Staff Sergeant Justin Peck, honored for saving a fellow soldier in Iraq, and Ji Seong-ho, a North Korean defector who walked with injured legs across China and Southeast Asia to seek freedom.

Democratic response

Representative Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts provided the Democratic response to this year's State of the Union. The grandson of political icon Robert Kennedy presented his party as the real champion of the middle class.

He said, "We choose the living wage, paid leave and affordable child care your family needs to survive. We choose pensions that are solvent, trade pacts that are fair, roads and bridges that won't rust away, and good education you can afford. We choose a health care system that offers mercy, whether you suffer from cancer or depression or addiction."

In a break with tradition, the Democrats added a second State of the Union response. Newly elected Elizabeth Guzman a member of the House of Delegates in the state of Virginia spoke in Spanish.

She said, "The President has attacked our families...The President has attacked those who are most vulnerable...This is unjust. This is unacceptable."

I'm Caty Weaver.

Hai Do wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.


Words in This Story

stagnation - n. lack of progress or development

creed - n. idea or belief

intellectual property - n. work or invention that is the result of creativity such as a design, a manuscript, software, etc. that one has copyright or trademark

deter - v. to prevent from happening

pursuit - n. the act of pursuing something

reckless - adj. not showing concern about result or action

gallery - n. the highest section of a room, a chamber

pension - n. amount of money paid to a retiree

solvent - adj. able to pay