President Donald Trump gave his first State of the Union address, and it marked his serious and consistent attitudes toward policies and the American people. I am now cautiously optimistic of what the rest of his presidency will look like. Although I am fully aware of the criticisms surrounding Trump, I believe more in what Trump does than what he says. But after hearing his State of the Union address, I am starting to believe in what he has to say as much as what he does.
Trump, who is often criticized for marginalizing minorities, proudly asserted that “African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded. And Hispanic-American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.” While there are some who may be skeptical of the role Trump played in this, the statistics themselves are true. As reported by Factcheck, African-American unemployment has been steadily going down over the years, and, under Trump, is the lowest it’s ever been. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last month that the unemployment rate for African-Americans dropped to the lowest that it’s been since 1972. For Latinos, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that their unemployment has also reached a record low of 4.9 percent. These figures are nothing to scoff at. And although economists and policy analysts will debate over who is exactly responsible for these figures, we should all at least acknowledge the value of them.
However, there are some, like the Congressional Black Caucus, who are not acknowledging these figures. I respect that they may hold certain attitudes towards Trump, but the fact that they fell silent even to the news that African American unemployment is at an all time low is a testament to the unyielding resentment some people hold toward the president. Although Trump’s recent “shithole” comment about Africa is unforgivable, the Black Caucus should at least acknowledge the unemployment figure. The fact that the Congressional Black Caucus can’t applaud for one moment speaks volumes to the growing political tensions that the United States faces. The type of political discourse where we can’t even acknowledge good news is what’s keeping us from accomplishing what needs to be done.
A main conservative talking point is tax cuts, and Trump, for the most part, has delivered on that front. Business Insider reports that an upper middle class family of four with an income of $75,000 would be saving between $1,711 and $2,244 a year. This type of money can go into mortgages, car payments, tuition or even vacations. I’m a supporter of tax cuts, but Trump should also look into more tax cuts for the many, not just the few. Many on the political Left accuse the tax plan as being something that furthers income inequality. However, I believe income inequality is inherent in a market economy. The real question, however, is not in the distribution of wealth, but in the attainment of wealth, and if everyone has an opportunity to pursue it. Trump should also rethink his position on repealing the Dodd-Frank Act, a set of regulatory laws that have improved both consumer protection and financial stability. The Dodd-Frank Act should instead be reformed to encourage the market and stimulate economic growth, while still protecting those who need it the most.
On immigration, Trump outlined four pillars of his immigration plan as: creating a path to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, building the walls for our southern border, ending the visa card lottery program and ending chain migration. One thing I want to focus on specifically is the pathway to citizenship for DACA recipients. I am against illegal immigration and believe in protecting our borders. However, DACA recipients are in a grey area that needs bipartisan efforts. DACA recipients are carefully vetted and are required to adhere to strict guidelines, such as having no prior felonies or misdemeanors. The conservative argument against DACA that I agree with is not why it should be implemented, but rather how it was implemented. Former president Barack Obama used an executive order to enforce DACA, which greatly enhanced the power of the presidency and undermined the power of Congress. One possible amendment that both parties might agree on would be an immigration tax. It would be a tax that DACA recipients pay temporarily, while their citizenship status is pending. It wouldn’t resort to deportation and it doesn’t let the DACA recipients gain citizenship without any penalties. Whatever the compromise might be, Congress needs to find a way of keeping DACA that both parties can agree on, as DACA is one of the most pressing issues facing this country.
As a moderate conservative, I believe that one of the most important things our government can do right now is compromise. Too often, we are unwilling to accept the concerns and viewpoints of those we disagree with. I believe that there might be a chance, however small, that we can solve the issues that face us today. We need to be more open-minded, and that goes for anyone in the political spectrum. We should be as willing to criticize President Trump as we are willing to acknowledge when he does something right. A careful reflection of Trump’s first State of the Union address reminds us that we must find a way to compromise on these issues without compromising our beliefs.