2020 State of the Union Address: The Highlights and Inaccuracies

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Kevin Dietsch/UPI

McKenna Christy, Co-editor-in-chief

Political tension has reached its peak this week with President Trump’s third State of the Union address on Tuesday, and the very next day being acquitted of two articles of impeachment by the Senate, officially putting an end to the impeachment process. 

President Trump’s theme during his speech was “The Great American Comeback.” He asserted through his statements that “America’s fortunes are on the rise,” rewarding the credit to his successful three years in office. 

The President, without any uncertainty, reported to the chambers and to the country that “the economy is the best it has ever been.” In general, the economy was a lingering topic intertwined throughout his entire speech. Without ever specifically referring to Obama’s presidency, Mr. Trump stated that ever since he was elected to the presidency, he worked to “revive” the nation’s economy that was once strained because of the previous administrations “failed economic policies.”

Through an analysis of his speech, NPR correspondents fact checked areas of the address that were seemingly exaggerated. Jim Zarroli, a business correspondent, saw the inaccuracy of President Trump placing blame on the Obama administration. In reality, the economy has been rising ever since the Great Recession. Although President Trump’s tax cuts in 2018 did increase the growth rate of the economy, his new policies were not as phenomenal and successful as he made them out to be. Last year, the growth rate actually fell from 2.9 percent to 2.3 percent. 

President Trump transitioned from the general overview of the economy’s condition for a short period of time in order to address the criminal justice reforms that have granted former prisoners “the ability to get a great job and a fresh start.” But overall, Mr. Trump credited the economy for being able to create these opportunities for citizens. 

Directly after the discussion of criminal justice reforms, President Trump showed appreciation to the “bold regulatory reduction campaign,” that he stated has made the United States “the No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world, by far.” According to the Energy Information Administration, “the U.S. became the world’s leading producer of natural gas in 2009.”

Another leading topic that will never lose relevance is the nation’s health care system. President Trump declared that his “new plans are up to 60 percent less expensive.” 

Under the Affordable Care Act of 2010, there are 10 essential benefits required in insurance plans. Selena Simmons-Duffin, an NPR Health Policy Reporter, clarified that President Trump’s new health plans would not have to require these benefits. 

Simmons-Duffin also provided the example that someone “might pay only $70 a month in premiums but have a deductible that’s $12,500, so if you get really sick or get into an accident, you could be in serious financial straits.”

Towards the end of Mr. Trump’s speech, Rush Limbaugh, conservative political commentator and radio personality, was placed under the spotlight. Limbaugh, who was diagnosed with advanced state 4 lung cancer this week, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom: one of the highest civilian awards of the United States. President Trump thanked Limbaugh for his “decades of tireless devotion” to the United States. 

President Trump granting the medal to Limbaugh appeared as a shock to a lot of Americans. 

Limbaugh is known for his brash radio personality and his racist comments on his talk show and radio show.

An appropriate end to a dramatic and emotional State of the Union address was met by Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, who after the President thanked listeners and stood up to leave, ripped up a copy of the speech while applause from the room continued on.