Local party chairs react to State of the Union

President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union speech on Tuesday night, which local supporters of the president praised and which Democrats panned.

In his speech, Trump claimed the country had created 2.4 million new jobs, that unemployment claims hit a 45-year low and that African-American and Latino employment were also at record lows.

He also said the stock market had reached new highs and touted the Republican-led tax cut as an achievement.

Immigration held a central place in the speech, with Trump hitting familiar notes in regards to restricting immigration, claiming gangs like MS-13 were running rampant, and calling for a border wall to be built.

According to the PolitiFact fact checker, Trump made eight statements that were at least partially untrue, three mostly true claims and one true claim.

One false statement, according to the website, was that the tax cut was the largest in history. It said there have been three larger tax cuts since 1940.

Trump said wages were rising, which was true for the first three quarters of 2017 but they again fell in the final quarter, PolitiFact said.

Other at least partially untrue statements included that the tax bill provided “tremendous relief for the middle class,” that immigrants can enter the country randomly through the immigration lottery system, that immigrants can bring anyone into the country with them, that the U.S. released the leader of ISIS and that the U.S. was a net exporter of energy.

Trump correctly said that ISIS had lost most of its territory in Iraq and Syria and that around 3 million workers received tax cut bonuses.

Tina Podlodowski, chair of the Washington State Democratic Party, said the speech was much of the same from Trump.

“It was more divisive than I ever would have anticipated and it definitely was a speech for his base,” she said.

Podlodowski took particular issue with the way Trump talked about immigrants, especially using DACA recipients as leverage for what she described as his hardline anti-immigration policies.

At one point in the speech, Trump tried to tie DACA recipients to the gang murder of two teenagers.

“He talked about immigrants in sort of unacceptable and hate-filled terms,” she said.

Podlodowski said Trump tried to portray immigrants as less than human.

She also took issue with Trump’s economic claims and his passage of the tax reform bill.

“Donald Trump is selling a scam to working Americans and he has betrayed working Americans,” she said.

She was also concerned that Trump didn’t mention the investigation by the FBI into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

“It’s kind of ridiculous, everything that’s happening has been ridiculous, I don’t think Trump and the Republicans can be trusted to defend our democracy or protect our national security,” she said.

However, Trump’s speech did have its supporters, including many Republicans who attended, as well as Susan Hutchinson, chair for the Washington State Republican Party.

“I think he did a good job outlining his accomplishments and the conditions of the economy compared to how it’s been,” she said.

Hutchinson said she agreed with Trump that the economy is in a better place than it was under Obama.

She also praised the emphasis on black and Latino employment, his tax cut and is hopeful for future economic growth.

On a deal to fix DACA, Hutchinson said she liked that Trump put the ball in the Democrats’ court.

Many Congressional Democrats did not participate in the applause during the speech.

“It was such a show on the Democrats’ side that I think they’re well deserving of all the fun that’s being made of them on social media today,” she said.

One phrase that resonated with Hutchinson was when Trump addressed DACA recipients, called Dreamers.

“He said Americans are dreamers too,” she said. “Americans are dreamers too, I thought that was a beautiful statement.”

To Hutchinson, this meant that both immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children, as well as native-born Americans, share the American dream of prosperity.

“I thought as an overall speech, you cannot get a better speech,” she said. “I don’t think any State of the Union could be shown to be a better speech than what we heard last night.”

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