Trump Addresses Joint Session of U.S. Congress


Hilbert Morales

President Donald J. Trump addressed a joint session of U.S. Congress this past Tuesday, 02.28.17. I was impressed by the comprehensive scope of issues presented while staying with policy statements prepared by his advisory staff. Is this not the same individual who categorized us Latinos as ‘drug addicts, criminals, and rapists’? Then, like a chameleon he changed his posture when wanting support.

During this presentation Trump was on his best behavior. I hope that ‘Chicanos-Latinos-Hispanics’ have learned to be wary and careful when dealing with his administration. I note that his Cabinet appointees have much wealth (several billionaires), much military experience, and almost no public service experience. Trump is trying to manage America in the same manner that he operates as a CEO who expects his staff to always agree with him and/or support him. He has already dismissed some public servants who were providing correct expert advice when trying to warn him about his Executive Orders. Trump likes to ‘win’ all the time. He has selective listening skills which enable him to create his own ‘reality bubble’. It was obvious to me that he wanted the U.S. Congress to support his proposed governance program proposals. He has recently experienced the ‘checks & balances’ system built into this nation’s constitution. This nation’s citizens must appreciate that the Legislative and Judicial sectors have exercised their powers with authority. Trump is not used to being subject to ‘checks & balances’.

The domestic issues which the Trump Administration must deal with remain stonewalled by Congress, dominated by partisan Republicans. These are: 1) Comprehensive Immigration Reform; 2) Comprehensive IRS Tax reform; 3) Domestic Economy Maintenance & Stimulation;4) Addressing Infrastructure neglect; 5) The 2010 Affordable Health Care Insurances; 6) Education issues; 7) National and community safety & security issues; 8) International Trade & Foreign Affairs, and many related matters. Trump correctly asked U.S. Congress members to set aside partisan behavior in order to become an ‘engaged active and supportive’ legislative body through decision-making.

The most important public policy change was that of not having America continue to function as the chief global police force. Trump emphasized “I represent America and its security interests”. His administration will favor formation of ‘direct treaties’ on a one-on-one format rather than ‘international group efforts such as the Trans Pacific Treaty’ from which America has already withdrawn.’ NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) is to be renegotiated to obtain ‘a better deal for Americans’.

In addition, Trump emphatically stated America will stand by its NATO allies now that all are

‘paying their fair share of costs. “We will respect their sovereignty; they must respect America’s sovereignty.”

Trump also acknowledged that there is a new level of activism in America which is evident at local ‘town hall meetings’. The President took a very different tone which was upbeat, optimistic, and very conventional. Trump insisted, “America is a nation that stands united in condemning racism, hatred and violence.”

As an American of Mexican Heritage, I remain concerned about THAT WALL which Trump insists on building. The U.S. Congress must allocate resources to other programs having higher return on investment, e.g., apply those resources to infrastructural projects. History teaches us that the Great Wall of China, Adrian’s Wall (Roman Empire), Siegfried Wall (France vs. Germany post WWI), and Berlin Wall all failed. THAT WALL is a misallocation of scarce resources needed elsewhere. Illegal immigrants will use underground tunnels or fly over THAT WALL which will be a constant reminder of the racism, bias, and bigotry which indigenous people have endured since European ‘White Supremacists’ arrived as immigrants themselves. In addition some 150 nations are the source of immigrants. It is appropriate to secure our national borders; to deport the criminals; and to define our national sovereignty.

Immigration reform is possible if, and when, those who benefit from existing practices are willing to support the legislation needed. Trump and his advisors would do well to review America’s deportations beginning with those which happened during the Great Depression (Book: Decades of Betrayal authored by Francisco Valderrama and Raymundo Ramirez, University of New Mexico Press, 2006). Read about the Bracero Program (1942-46). Even the Eisenhower Administration had its ‘Operation Wetback’ deportation program. Obama was not the only ‘Deporter-in-Chief”.

In regards to the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Republican partisan approach to ‘REPEAL AND REPLACE’ already acknowledged need to retain ACA’s good points. Health care must be uncoupled from employment. Comprehensive national health care policies will require dealing with some very complex health insurance industry issues. This nation’s residents need affordable health insurance. It is unethical and immoral to profit from the health misfortunes which many experience. I favor an approach which does not involve vouchers or privatization which enables a few to profit from the current practices which need to be improved. Trump admitted that this nation’s health care system is more complex than anyone imagined. Not true…The Obama Administration tried to accommodate the health insurance industry; 33 Republican governors sabotaged ACA success by not participating (which undercut enrollees in very large numbers).

The President’s proposal to increase funding for the Pentagon concerns me in that none know if this is an indication of the current influence of the ‘military-industrial complex’ which former President Eisenhower warned about. It was the Eisenhower Administration that invested in the existing inter-state highway system. This infrastructure element needs upgrade and repair. The U.S. Congress could behave in a non-partisan manner when dealing with repair and improvements of any and all infrastructural elements. Roads, highways, public transit, harbors, airports, high speed rail systems are all essential to this nation’s domestic economy and its growth. Many ‘shovel-ready’ projects already exist and would, when funded, immediately employ many working class folks. It is these folks who have the propensity to spend all their earnings each month…an activity which would boost the American domestic consumer economy to a higher GDP rate.

This President is an accomplished promoter, sales and business person. Trump will favor new business deals wherein it is possible to be nationalistic by ‘buying American and employing Americans’. Care must be taken to not become too protective and/or nationalistic because foreign relations and trade provide markets for many services and products ‘Made in America’. American productivity is higher now because of the investment in robotics and automation. It would be good to provide each chronically unemployed individual with a ‘guaranteed living allowance’ (which would be spent immediately when such persons purchase essential services & supples as well as pay their rents.) Economist Milton Friedman favors this GLA approach because no social services agencies & staff costs are needed.

When dealing with current levels of unemployment, it is essential that the current method for calculating ‘the available work force’ needs to be corrected by inclusion of those laborers who have chosen not to look for a job. Currently these folks are not included in the Department of Labor statistics, which ends up ‘skewing this data base into an ‘alternative fact’.

The Public School System, especially pre-K to 12, need to promote their accomplishments and to address the needs to eliminate corruption, waste, and inefficiencies. Their ‘core curriculum’ up to 7th grade needs to focus upon the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetics plus critical ‘evidence based thinking’ and interpersonal communication skills. Parents must be given options for their kids: public schools, charter schools, private and religious schools, etc. Education is never free; it must be underwritten. Any ‘Free college program’ must be accompanied by an agreement to payback through ‘public service’ in underserved communities.

Comprehensive IRS tax reform is very important. This nation may eliminate ‘tax avoidance practices’ by adopting a ‘value added’ approach. All subsidies must have a ‘sunset clause’ and the ultra-wealthy must pay their fair share of taxes; Corporations must not be able to stash their overseas profits offshore to avoid the current 35% corporate tax rate. It was reported that Apple had $220 billion stashed offshore to avoid payment of about $85 billion (which could easily have paid for local road improvements now being paid by a repressive sales tax…i.e., ordinary folks who pay sales taxes; have ordinary personal incomes. All unethical and immoral tax avoidance loophole must be eliminated.

I appreciated the several examples of ‘making a better deal for America’ which reflect President Trump’s business expertise and ability. But we all must remember that he does not follow precedents or existing standards of law & order behavior. So let’s ‘trust him but continue to check him out.’ President Trump appropriately asked the U.S. Congress to begin its legislative deliberations in a non-partisan manner. It is essential to eliminate the current legislative gridlock.˚ Maybe he read this nation’s constitution which is where ‘law and order’ begin. And “We, The People” must continue to speak up at Town Hall meetings. It is the best way to tell U.S. Congress members to ‘just do your job’ honestly and with integrity so as to re-establish public trust, integrity, and transparency.

Trump and his ilk must understand that many people of color exist in this American nation…and we are here to stay because we have been here since primordial times. ‘Aqui estamos y no nos vamos’. Try to display truthfulness, respect, consideration and integrity…we know we have earned that much if not more.