When it wasn’t wandering in search of a theme (spoiler: it didn’t find one), Donald Trump’s 2019 State of the Union address contained the usual collection of fear-mongering over immigration that can be found in any Trump rally speech. In fact, the hardhearted core of the speech, with its ominous threats of coyotes and caravans ready to pour across the border and its over-the-top claims about immigrant violence, was just one roll of blue tape short of being a Trump rally speech. There were also the seemingly endless economic claims, almost all of them straight-out lies. The economy is not growing twice as fast as when Trump took office. The economy is not “the hottest in the world.” And those billions in tariffs that Trump is so proud of come from the pockets of U.S. consumers, not Chinese companies.
But Trump did find some new things to say—all of them ridiculous.
#7: “Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence—not government coercion, domination, and control.”
The funniest thing about this statement was that it was made to a room full of apparatchiks who dutifully leaped to their feet to applaud the autocrat who has created the most state-managed economy in decades. Trump has instituted tariffs that selectively promote and attack different industries, put his hand heavily on the scale to tilt energy demand away from what the market wants, and shuffled billions around the economy to prop up farms being destroyed by the very much not-invisible hand in the system. The man who just cost the economy $6 billion dollars and put millions of people at risk of fiscal disaster to satisfy his ego is concerned about coercion and domination. Now stand up and cheer!
#6: “The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime—one of the highest in the entire country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities. Now, immediately upon its building, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of the safest cities in our country.”
That’s a lie. El Paso was never one of the most dangerous cities in the US. In fact, it was the second-safest city of its size before any wall, barrier, fence, or steel slats were built. The already-low crime rate in El Paso continued falling further even before a fence was built in the area. In fact, the rate at which crime decreased in El Paso closely matches the rate that crime fell all over America—even in areas that were near the border but did not get a fence.
#5: “The savage gang MS-13 now operates in at least 20 different American states and they almost all come through our southern border.”
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