Trump to brag of a 'great American comeback' that doesn't actually exist

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Debunking some of Trump's wildest claims ahead of Tuesday night's State of the Union.

Donald Trump will deliver the State of a Union address Tuesday night and is expected to tout a "great American comeback," according to a senior administration official who spoke to reporters on Friday.

In that briefing, the White House official said Trump would focus on several topics, including the impact of his trade policies, domestic policies like paid leave, and immigration.

"The speech will celebrate American economic and military strength and present an optimistic vision of America’s future," they added.

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But Trump's "vision" of an American comeback is mostly based on his own mythology — here's what's actually taken place under Trump's tenure.

Trade war

Trump's trade policy, centered around a prolonged trade war with China, has hurt workers, led to a massive spike in farm bankruptcies, and his attempts to end the trade war offer little hope to those already hurting.

Taken together, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin lost 27,000 manufacturing jobs from January through September 2019, thanks in part to the United States' trade war with China. Farm bankruptcies increased by 45% in some regions since it began, and Wisconsin saw a record number of dairy farms go out of business in 2019, in large part because of Trump's policies.

Meanwhile, Americans are stuck paying the full cost of Trump's tariffs, amounting to the equivalent of a multi-billion dollar tax hike every month.

In October, Trump announced a Phase 1 deal with China to begin deescalating the trade war, but farmers are skeptical of the outcomes, some wondering if it will be too little, too late.

Trump will likely tout the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, a trade deal to replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, which was approved by the House of Representatives in December after months of negotiations. In the end, the agreement had the support of unions and Democrats, but left some Republicans unhappy. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), for instance, called the agreement "counterproductive" and a step backwards.

Domestic policies and paid leave

After years of advocating for paid family leave for parents, Democrats in Congress won a key provision to give 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal workers. Yet, according to the Washington Post, Trump plans to take credit for the initiative, even though he opposed the idea during the 2016 campaign, saying "I think we have to keep our country very competitive, so you have to be careful of it."

In a late 2019 poll, 2 in 3 Americans said they were economically worse off or about the same since Trump took office, with only 34% saying they were better off. Trump's signature domestic policy achievement, the 2017 tax reform law, has also failed to stimulate the economy as promised, and corporations are paying substantially less taxes than before.

Immigration

Trump's immigration policies have caused irreparable harm to children and families and wreaked havoc on immigration courts. Trump's family separation policy alone was so horrific that a Health and Human Services investigation found "every single separated kid has been terrified."

"The entire approach of this administration towards immigrant children has been characterized by cruelty," Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) said last year.

The Trump administration's decision to place separated children in cages was even referenced in the 2020 Super Bowl halftime show. After the performance, Jenifer Lopez released a statement criticizing those who "try to build walls, keep us out, or put us in cages."

Additionally, several migrants have died while in U.S. custody on Trump's watch, and the "remain in Mexico" policy for asylum-seekers has led to kidnapping and rape of those turned away at the U.S. border.

Trump has begun building his promised border wall. But rather than forcing Mexico to pay for it, as Trump has repeatedly pledged, the administration has begun siphoning money congressionally allocated for military families to fund construction.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.