It started with a snubbed handshake and ended with a speech torn to shreds. President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address was covered in the media for its dramatic opening and closing. However, the heartless proposals hidden in the middle – and largely ignored by the press – are what we should really focus on. Trump’s immoral agenda should sicken every American and be loudly rejected in Congress. 

Trump started off trumpeting his “accomplishments” in office, but many were boasts his administration should be ashamed of. The President bragged about how “seven million Americans have come off food stamps, and 10 million people have been lifted off of welfare” under his administration. Notwithstanding the fact that the second claim is unsubstantiated and the first number is exaggerated, many of these supposed seven million haven’t grown out of food stamps; rather, they have been kicked off due to stringent requirements imposed by the administration without any improvement in their financial situation. This is not a major accomplishment but a disgrace that puts at risk those who need the most help.

Trump next argued that “America is now energy independent, and energy jobs … are at a record high.” The President not only neglected to mention that the United States’ energy rise started over a decade ago but also that this boom is mostly in exporting gas and oil. Not only do these substances contribute to the climate crisis, but experts also agree that gas and oil will likely be replaced by renewable sources in the near future. This means that this “boom” Trump is bragging about will only help the economy in the short term; in the long term, it’s actually a burden. So the President is going out of his way to take credit for a trend that is a major factor in global warming and is marketing it as a good thing. 

In another moment built for television, Trump awarded Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom “in recognition of all that [he has] done for our nation.” This puts the radio personality among the likes of Mother Teresa, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Muhammad Ali, and Rosa Parks. Rush Limbaugh, whose quotes range from stating that “feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream,” to how “all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson,” and many other outrageously insulting, incorrect, and racist allegations. That this is the kind of person that the President wants to associate himself with and honor before the country, and coupled with Trump’s own history of controversial comments, it speaks volumes. 

Finally, Trump attempted to argue that he was the defender of Americans’ medical care. As sayeth Trump, “we will always protect patients with pre-existing conditions. And we will always protect your Medicare and we will always protect your Social Security. Always.” All it takes to debunk this statement is to look at the administration’s past and present actions. Trump’s first major legislative priority, the American Health Care Act, would have weakened these programs and would have increased the number of uninsured Americans by 23 million. Meanwhile, his Department of Justice continues to argue in federal court that protections for people with pre-existing conditions should be struck down. Plus, the President’s 2021 budget proposes cutting funding for Social Security, mostly for disabled workers. At the end of the day, Trump can talk all he wants, but his actions simply contradict his pledges. 

Donald Trump’s harmful and repugnant agenda was on full display at his Address. While most of his legislative agenda will be dead on arrival at Nancy Pelosi’s desk, the damage he can inflict through his cabinet agencies is still very substantial. It is a shame that the theatrics with which the Address began and ended overshadowed the substance of the speech, for the most disgraceful part of the night was not the Trump snub nor Nancy the Ripper. It was the life-threatening agenda the President promoted.

Bio:  Sam Husemann is currently a junior in high school with a focus on politics and social studies. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books, checking up on the news, and discussing recent news events. He is bilingual in English and Spanish and enjoys reading in either.