Trump's State of the Union
This week we caught a glimpse as to what is in store for American politics when President Trump gave his annual State of the Union address. Postponed by about a week due to the government shutdown, the State of the Union is seen as a golden opportunity for the President of the United States to set the political agenda for the whole year ahead. We decided to present you with a few highlights from the event and see what we can expect from a President who has repeatedly proven difficult to predict the actions of.
Trump opened his speech by inviting all American politicians to set aside their partisan differences and work together for a better, stronger United States. However, the message rang hollow, as over the course of the speech Trump kept making remarks that were aimed at the Democrats. It is clear that in his eyes, the Democrats are responsible for the Russia investigation; Trump believes they are doing this as a grudge against Republicans, not in the interest of the American people. Here we would like to remind you that Robert Mueller’s investigation has already successfully produced tens upon tens of indictments against different people who are going to jail for undisputed criminal activities, and all of them are from Trump’s inner circle (a notable example being Michael Cohen, Trump’s lawyer). So while Trump and the Republican Party continue to claim the investigation is a “witch hunt,” it is undeniable that many important people in Trump’s surroundings have been found guilty of various sketchy things, proving that the investigation is at least doing some good against corruption.
In a memorable moment from the speech, Trump said that “peace and legislation” cannot come when there is “war and investigation.” The line has a nice ring to it and shines among things he has said as a President. Nevertheless, analysts pointed out that it sounds a little bit like a threat - unless you stop investigating the President, he will not allow you to do your jobs and pass legislation. This made it seem that Trump is using the State of the Union as a personal podium, approaching the speech not from the standpoint of he Potus, but as Donald Trump, the man who takes everything personally.
As expected, Trump also dedicated a significant amount of time to the issue of the wall along the border with Mexico. He adamantly insists on funding of $5.7 billion (which will come out of taxpayers’ pockets and could otherwise be used on healthcare or education) to build a 200-mile wall, which will only cover about 10% of the border with Mexico. As he continues to praise his wall plan, he still has not explained what he has in mind for the remaining 90% of the border that, according to his logic, can be easily crossed without a wall. Trump had previously threatened to declare a state of national emergency, which would allow him to take funds from the military’s infrastructure budget, but did not mention the issue during the speech. It is possible that he has been dissuaded from resorting to that, since the Democrats are likely ready to challenge it in court and prevent him from succeeding that way. Still, even as he ostensibly urged for peace, love, and understanding, he said he will force another shutdown after the current funding plan expires on February 15 if he doesn’t get his wall funding.
The SOTU speech essentially showed once again how Trump views his presidency. He is likely to continue to be a source of uncertainty on the markets. We now have to look forward to February 15 and see if another shutdown will happen, and then we have the summit with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un at the end of February.