Posts tagged with "State of the Union address"

Who do you trust? Trump claims a wall made El Paso safe; Mayor Margo disagrees

February 12, 2019

As President Donald Trump confirmed plans for a Monday night rally in El Paso, Texas, the city’s mayor, Dee Margo, asserted that the lower incidence of crime that the area has enjoyed in recent years has not been the direct result of fencing at the southern border.

The president is expected to exhort his base for a wall at what amounts to a major campaign event—being held just days ahead of the deadline for Congress to hammer out a deal on the budget and border security, NBC News reported on February 11.

“The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime—one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities,” Trump said in his State of the Union Address on February 6 “Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.”

But the statistics don’t back him up. Mayor Margo notes. According to law enforcement data, the city had low crime rates well before a border barrier was constructed between 2008 and mid-2009.

Indeed, NBC News reports, violent crime has been dropping in El Paso since its modern-day peak in 1993 and was at historic lows before a fence was authorized by Congress in 2006. Violent crime actually ticked up during the border fence’s construction and after its completion, according to police data collected by the FBI.

Democratic officials immediately took issue with the picture Trump painted, saying the president was using their city to justify a pointless and unnecessary wall.

“The facts are clear. While it is true that El Paso is one of the safest cities in the nation, it has never been ‘…considered one of our Nation’s most dangerous cities,'” the city’s sheriff, Richard Wiles, a Democrat, said in a statement after Trump concluded his address. “And, El Paso was a safe city long before any wall was built.”

“I believe he was given some misinformation,” Mayor Margo told CNN in an interview, adding the idea that El Paso was a lawless and dangerous place before fencing was built is “not factually correct.”

Margo said he’d correct the president if he reiterated falsehoods about El Paso on Monday. “The geography of Texas won’t allow a fence from El Paso to Brownsville even if you wanted to do it,” Margo said.

When pressed on the inaccuracy of the president’s claims, the White House said the high rate of crime in the city directly across the border—Juarez—proved that the barrier was responsible for the low crime rate in El Paso.

Research contact: @janestreet

2020 Democratic contenders take Trump to task with State of the Union guests

February 6, 2019

Democratic 2020 contenders are using President Donald Trump’s second State of the Union Address on February 5 to “put a human face” on their points of contention with the current administration, CNN reports.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is bringing a decorated transgender Navy member to the House chambers to view the speech. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has invited a labor leader recently furloughed from his job at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. And California Senator. Kamala Harris will attend along with a woman who lost her home in a wildfire.

Gillibrand’s guest is Blake Dremann, a transgender Navy lieutenant commander who has been deployed 11 times. The invitation comes after the Supreme Court allowed Trump’s ban on transgender military service to go into effect.

Gillibrand, who battled the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, told CNN that she will introduce legislation in the Senate later this week that would protect transgender Americans’ ability to serve in the military.

Transgender service members like Lieutenant Commander Dremann make extraordinary sacrifices every day to defend our freedom and our most sacred values, and President Trump’s decision to ban them from military service is cruel and undermines our military readiness,” she said in a statement on her official website.

Harris invited Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik, whose home was destroyed in the Thomas wildfire that ravaged Southern California last year. What’s more, during a year of adversities, Pesiri-Dybvik and her husband both work for air traffic control and were furloughed during the government shutdown this year, Harris said.

“Trisha’s story is just one of many stories I heard during the shutdown of Americans whose lives were upended and who faced those difficult days with strength and resilience,” Harris said in a statement on her own Senate website. “Washington needs to hear her story and avoid another harmful shutdown.”

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s guest is Sajid Shahriar, a HUD staffer and labor leader with roles in both the local American Federation of Government Employees and the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.

“It’s time to send a message to President Trump and Senate Republicans: federal and contract workers are the backbone of our economy and their livelihoods should never be used as pawns in Republican political games,” Warren said her February 4 statement.

Others considering presidential runs are also using the State of the Union to advance their political priorities.

Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is taking aim at prescription drug costs, she said on February 1. Her guest is Nicole Smith-Holt, the mother of Alec Raeshawn Smith, a Type 1 diabetic who died from diabetic ketoacidosis because he couldn’t afford his $1,300-a-month insulin prescription.

Highlighting his advocacy for gun control, California Representative Eric Swalwell invited Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor and gun reform activist Cameron Kasky.

One of the sharpest critics of the Trump administration’s family separations at the US-Mexico border, Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, invited mother and daughter Albertina Contreras Teletor and Yakelin Garcia Contreras, age 12, who were separated at the southern border last spring.

This child separation policy came from a dark and evil place within the heart of this administration,” said Merkley in a statement on his official website. “Innocent children suffered because of deeds that were carried out in our names and using our tax dollars as Americans. I’m bringing Albertina and Yakelin as my guests to the State of the Union because we need to bear witness to the suffering that this cruel policy inflicted, and resolve to make sure that nothing like this ever happens in the United States of America again.” 

Research contact: @ericbradner

Pelosi: ‘State of the Union’ should be delayed due to lack of security during government shutdown

January 17, 2019

In a January 16 letter to President Donald Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) suggested that the State of the Union address, scheduled for January 29, should be postponed, due to security concerns caused by the partial government shutdown.

The annual statement—which covers the accomplishment and challenges of the current administration and is delivered by the president—is classified as a National Security Event under Public Law 106-544, passed in December 2000. Under that legislation, the U.S. Secret Service is designated as the lead federal agency responsible for coordinating, planning, exercising, and implementing security for the speech.

While the president is not required to deliver the information as a speech, every POTUS since Woodrow Wilson, except Herbert Hoover, has done so, in front of a joint session of Congress. Prior to that time, most presidents delivered the annual communication as a written report.

“Both the U.S. Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security have not been funded for 26 days now—with critical departments hamstrung by furloughs,” Pelosi noted.

“Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week,” she said, “I suggest that we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29th

The suggestion, which, The Washington Post reported, could deny Trump an opportunity to make his case for border-wall funding in a prime-time televised address, came as White House officials were urgently lobbying Republican senators against signing a bipartisan letter that would urge an end to a shutdown.

The White House had no immediate response.

According to the same Post report, Pelosi later told reporters that the letter was intended as a suggestion and that she was not rescinding the invitation for Trump to speak. “He can make it from the Oval Office if he wants,” she added.

Research contact: @SpeakerPelosi

Public doesn’t fully support protectionist tariffs

February 6, 2018

Many Americans are not convinced that tariffs on imported goods protect American jobs, based on findings of an Economist/YouGov poll released on February 2. Overall, 31% think they do protect jobs; 26% think they don’t; and 42 percent don’t know for sure.

However, the pollsters say, findings are split along political lines: While 55% of Republicans are “bullish” on tariffs; only 28% of Independents agree—as well as a mere 18% of Democrats.

Specifically, Republicans are more likely than others to favor imposing tariffs in order to protect US businesses and workers from unfair foreign trade and labor practices, while Democrats are more likely than others to support tariffs to protect the environment and to stop human rights abuses of foreign workers. Republicans also are more likely to accept tariffs as punishments against countries that impose tariffs on US goods.
So when it comes to a possible tariff related trade-off between protecting jobs and keeping prices low, Americans come down—narrowly—on the side of jobs; with 37% favoring such a policy, and 32% opposing it. Just under  one-third aren’t sure. Republicans favor tariffs—even if it means higher prices by—nearly three to one.

The President’s position is clear: In his State of the Union address on January 30, Trump referred to “decades of unfair trade deals” and declared “the era of economic surrender is over.”

Republicans favor the two tariffs President Trump has just imposed on washing machines and on solar panels, although skepticism is high among the public in general. Just 24% nationally think the tariff on foreign-made solar panels will increase American jobs, and 26% think the tariff on foreign-made washing machines will increase jobs. More think American jobs installing solar panels will decrease than increase. Americans as a group expect prices for washing machines will rise—and more think all washing machine prices will go up than think it will only be prices on foreign-made products.

In declaring his “America first” policy, the President has spoken and tweeted about respect for the United States in the world, noting that he believes the country is becoming more respected. Americans are not yet sure that has happened, or that it will happen by the end of the President’s first term in office. A majority say that the country is less respected now than it has been in the past, including just under a third of Republicans.

Research contact: kfrankovic@yahoo.com