Schumer Floor Remarks On The State Of The Union Address And President Trump’s Trail Of Empty Promises

February 5, 2019
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding tonight’s State of the Union address and President Trump’s broken promises to the American people.  Below are his remarks, which can also be viewed here:
 
Later this evening, in front of a joint session of Congress, President Trump will report on the state of our union. As is tradition, the president will say that the state of our union is strong. But the American people know the truth – unfortunately it is not.
 
The American people know the Trump Economy is failing the middle class and those struggling to get there. In Trump’s economy, multinational corporations and the already wealthy were given a tax cut while American workers were left behind. The Federal Reserve reports that over 40% of Americans would have trouble covering an emergency of just $400. 40% of working Americans – middle-class Americans – are just one medical bill, one unexpected car accident, one missed paycheck away from financial uncertainty.
 
The state of the Trump economy: failing the middle class.
 
The president will say the state of our union is strong, but the American people know that the state of the Trump healthcare system is failing American families.
 
After two years of relentless sabotage by the Trump administration and Congressional Republicans, premiums are higher than they should be, copays are higher than they should be, and for the first time in eight years, fewer Americans have health insurance than the year before.
 
The state of the Trump healthcare system: failing the middle class.
 
The president will say the state of our union is strong, but the American people know the state of the Trump administration is in chaos. No administration has had as much cabinet turnover as the Trump administration in over a century. Key positions are unfilled or covered by individuals in an acting capacity: the chief of staff, the attorney general, the defense secretary, interior secretary, OMB director, and EPA director. Of the 705 top positions in the government, close to a fifth, the President has not even nominated somebody.
 
So, the state of the Trump Administration: chaos.
 
The president will say the state of our union is strong, but the state of the Trump foreign policy is woefully backward. It’s inside out. Our allies are alienated and criticized, our adversaries emboldened and praised. Dictators and strongmen are given license by this administration while our NATO allies receive harsh words. American values – free speech, free elections, freedom of the press, humanitarian rights, civil rights – go undefended in the dark corners of the world.
 
The state of the Trump foreign policy: woefully backward.
 
So the state of the union is not strong. The state of the Trump economy: failing America’s middle class. The state of Trump healthcare: failing American families. The state of the Trump administration: chaos. The state of Trump foreign policy: woefully backward, inside out.
 
These are not the total extent of our nation’s challenges, but even on these four metrics – the economy, healthcare, governance, and foreign policy – the state of our union is need of drastic repair.
 
Still, knowing this president and his penchant for hyperbole, he will probably say the state of our union is stronger than it’s ever been before in our nation’s long history thanks to him. Knowing this president, he will rely on distortions and made-up facts, mislead the American people. The only question about the president’s state of the union – how often will he distort? How often will he make up facts? How often will he resort to fear and divisiveness? And if past states of the union are prologue, far too many times will he do that. Knowing this president, he will then make bold new promises and not even make an attempt to fulfil them. The president has so little integrity that a promise that he makes at the state of the union means nothing the next morning. Allow me to mention just a few of the things the President has said in previous state of the union addresses.
 
Remember this one? In his first address to a joint session, President Trump said, “education is the civil rights issue of our time.” It’s been two years, and we have heard almost nothing from the president about an education bill.
 
In the last State of the Union, just one year ago, the president said: “One of my greatest priorities is to reduce the price of prescription drugs…Prices will come down.” The president’s words. But over the course of the last month, nearly thirty drug-makers have taken steps to raise the prices of their medicines.
 
In the last State of the Union, the president promised, “[manufacturing] plants will be opening up all over the country.” I don’t know about you, Mr. President, but I haven’t seen a re-manufacturing policy from the White House. Meanwhile, Nissan has announced hundreds of layoffs in Mississippi. GM has announced the closure of five factories and the loss of 15,000 jobs.
 
In the last State of the Union, the president said, “We will protect American workers and American intellectual property through strong enforcement of our trade rules.” That’s something I strongly agree with, but six months after the president said that, he decided to let a Chinese telecom giant – ZTE – a company that violated multiple trade sanctions and put our nation’s security at risk – off the hook and begin operating in the US. And now, while some in the administration are pushing him to be tough on China, there are some who just want to sell out for a decrease in the trade deficit. That will not do the job. The president always promised he would.
 
In the last State of the Union, the president said, “No regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea. We are waging a campaign of maximum pressure to prevent that from happening.” After that, what happened? The president hosted a largely symbolic summit with Kim Jong-un and is already planning a second summit. North Korea has failed to dismantle its nuclear program. Some reports say it’s growing. And the US is not engaging in a pressure campaign – maximum or otherwise.
 
President Trump called for a compromise immigration bill that dealt with Dreamers and border security; Congress produced one along the lines he proposed, and then he threatened to veto it.
In the last State of the Union, the president said, “it is time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure” and called for new legislation to spur investment.
 
He said, “let us support working families by supporting paid family leave.”
 
He said, “we will continue our fight until ISIS is defeated.”
 
What are the facts? No infrastructure bill, though he promised one in a previous state of the union. No paid family leave proposal, though he promised one in a previous state of the union. And he’s withdrawing from Syria even though he promised we would continue to fight until ISIS is defeated. And by all reports, including our own intelligence, it is not.
 
I could go on. The list of broken or empty promises is long. The gap between the president’s rhetoric and the state of the union and reality is cavernous. Every president uses the state of the union to set goals, but few have done it so cheaply and indifferently. Many of those promises were discarded mere weeks after they were uttered. So forgive us if we Democrats and the American people have real doubts about any promise that the president makes, real doubt about him following through or really meaning it. How can we not? In previous states of the union, he has thrown around promises and not fulfilled them, more than any other president I know.
 
Perhaps even more empty than his policy promises are President Trump’s calls for unity each year.
 
It seems every year the president wakes up and discovers the desire for unity on the morning of the state of the union. Then the president spends the other 364 days of the year dividing us, and sowing a state of disunion.
 
…whether that’s using public servants as political pawns, the president’s false equivalence after Charlottesville, his attacks on the federal judiciary, the free press and the rule of law, or his near-daily twitter provocations.
 
The blatant hypocrisy of this president calling for unity is that he is one of the chief reasons Americans feels so divided now.
 
So tonight, it’s logical to believe based on his past speeches, the president’s speech will ignore the reality of his administration, the reality of our economy, the reality of our world, and instead weave a web of fiction. If past speeches are an indication, the president will be in his own bubble.
 
Democrats are not focused on the president’s rhetoric, we are focused on fighting for workers in this unequal economy, fighting for American families struggling to afford healthcare, fighting to bring a measure of accountability to this government and fighting for a foreign policy that reflects both our interests and our values.

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