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President Trump delivered his third State of the Union address this week, joined by 11 special guests from across America, including three mothers. The President invited these mothers to witness this historic moment because he believes his domestic policies and trade negotiations are helping working families and that American mothers can look forward to a future that includes paid family leave and improved health care access.
Trump spoke about how America has become stronger under his administration. "American's fortunes are on the rise and America's future is blazing bright. The years of economic decay are over," he said.
"Our borders are secure, our families are flourishing, our values are renewed, our pride is restored. And for all of these reasons, I say to the people of our great country and to the members of Congress: the state of our union is stronger than ever before," the President stated.
"Our agenda is relentlessly pro-worker, pro-family, pro-growth, and, most importantly, pro-American." he said to applause.
Here's what you need to know about President Trump's State of the Union address:
What he said about health care
"A good life for American families also requires the most affordable, innovative, and high-quality health system on Earth," Trump stated, pledging to "always protect patients with preexisting conditions."
Criticism of Trump's address was swift, with Democrats suggesting the President has yet to produce the "phenomenal" health care plan promised last year. Critics point instead to cuts to Medicaid and a lawsuit aiming to overturn the Affordable Care Act as proof that the Trump administration is failing the American public, as the Affordable Care Act includes protections for pre-existing conditions.
He went on to say that requiring price transparency "will save families massive amounts of money for substantially better care, but as we work to improve American's health care, there are those who want to take away your health care, take away your doctor, and abolish private insurance entirely." The statement is a reference to the Democratic presidential candidates who are calling for Medicare for All (or all who want it) or to build on the existing Affordable Care Act.
"My administration is also taking on the big pharmaceutical companies. We have approved a record number of affordable generic drugs, and medicines are being approved by the FDA at a faster clip than ever before," Trump said.
He went on to ask "Congress to provide an additional $50 billion to fund neonatal research for America's youngest patients" and also asked Congress to "pass legislation finally banning the late-term abortion" (according to the CDC, 91% of abortions in America happen at or before 13 weeks gestation).
What he said about paid leave
President Trump stated that he was "proud to sign the new law offering parents in the [federal] workforce paid family leave, serving as a model for the rest of the country."
As Motherly previously reported, as of October 2020, federal employees of all genders who have worked for the government at least a year will be able to take 12 weeks paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child. About 2 million people who work for the federal government will soon have access to paid leave, but there are more than 157 million Americans working across the nation so millions still don't.
Some paid leave advocates quickly objected to what they see as Trump taking credit for progress on paid leave without offering a comprehensive national paid leave plan. During the State of the Union Trump called on "Congress to pass the bipartisan Advancing Support for Working Families Act" which would give families the option of accessing an advance of up to $5,000 of their future child tax credit. Workers would be able to access this even if they didn't take the time off work, and low-income parents who do not qualify for the child tax credit would be eligible for a 100% wage replacement for 12 weeks.
Critics of this plan suggest it doesn't go far enough, and the Democratic presidential candidates are pushing for other plans including the FAMILY Act, which would see a payroll deduction of an estimated 2 cents per $10 earned, and when a worker has a baby or needs to take time off to care for a family member, they'd be able to collect 66% of their wages for 12 weeks.
What he said about school choice + education
"For too long, countless American children have been trapped in failing government schools," Trump stated in a section of his speech dedicated to school choice.
Trump is calling on Congress to "pass the Education Freedom Scholarships and Opportunities Act," which would create a tax break for private school scholarships by "establish[ing] tax credits to encourage individual and corporate taxpayers to contribute to scholarships for elementary and secondary students through eligible scholarship-granting organizations."
He is also asking Congress to "back my plan to offer vocational and technical education in every single high school in America."
"I've also overseen historic funding increases for high-quality child care, enabling 17 states to help more children, many of which have reduced or eliminated their wait lists altogether. I set Congress a plan to expand access to high-quality child care and urge you to act immediately," he said (referring, in part, to Child Care Development Block Grants.)
However, as Motherly has previously reported, for many families in America child care remains unaffordable under the Trump administration. Politifact fact-checked the President's statement and rates it as "half true", noting that it asked the White House for evidence on the claims about child care made during the State of the Union but has yet to receive a response.
While Congress did approve a historic increase of $2.37 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant in 2018, the President actually proposed cutting the program by $95 million before eventually signing the increase into law. It is difficult for fact-checkers to confirm President Trump's claim that waitlists have been reduced or eliminated due to a lack of publicly available data.
What he said about the economy
"This is a blue-collar boom," Trump stated, telling America that "real median household income is now at the highest level ever recorded.'
Trump pointed to a low unemployment rate (a trend that Politico points out began under the previous administration): "The unemployment rate is the lowest in over half a century. And very incredibly, the average unemployment rate under my administration is lower than in any administration in the history of our country," Trump said.
CNN reports that "the average overall unemployment rate for Trump's presidency is the lowest under any president at least since Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s, but the New York Times' fact-checkers concluded President Trump's statement that the "economy is the best it has ever been" is not accurate because wage growth and the growth rate of the economy have been better, most recently under the Bush administration.
Trump is promising economic prosperity for blue-collar families in the future. "The people are the heart of our country. Their dreams are the soul of our country. And their love is what powers and sustains our country. We must always remember that our job is to put America first."
What is next
Tonight's speech comes less than than 24 hours before the Senate is expected to vote on two articles of impeachment against President Trump and 272 days before America decides who its next leader will be.
[This post was originally published on February 4, 2020. It has been updated.]