Trump’s State of the Union Speech – Analysis

Elites can sleep easy following Trump’s State of Union Speech, which was applesauce, in which which Trump softened-up on immigration and promised significantly more spending.

From the speech:

America has spent approximately six trillion dollars in the Middle East, all this while our infrastructure at home is crumbling. With this six trillion dollars we could have rebuilt our country –- twice. And maybe even three times if we had people who had the ability to negotiate.

Finally, to keep America Safe we must provide the men and women of the United States military with the tools they need to prevent war and –- if they must –- to fight and to win.

I am sending the Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the Defense sequester, and calls for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.

My budget will also increase funding for our veterans.

Our veterans have delivered for this Nation –- and now we must deliver for them.

This part seemed kinda contradictory. Stopping wasteful foreign interventionism and simultaneously boosting the already large defense budget seems counterproductive. Trump spoke about veterans, but not sure how increasing defense spending helps veterans, because more war = more military personnel deaths? Like wanting more smoking and more lung cancer research at the same time. Trump is possibly advocating a ‘big stick’ approach to foreign policy, which is to make America’s military so formidable (even more so than it already is), that no one will dare challenge it.

He spoke a lot about ‘immigration reform’, which is so vague as to have no meaning. Even if Trump deports every single illegal immigrant, it won’t change the fact that America’s demographic makeup over the past quarter century has been irrevocably altered.

To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital –- creating millions of new jobs.

The evidence suggests infrastructure investments typically doesn’t work, because the jobs are temporary, overpriced, and crowd out the private sector.

This book presents overwhelming evidence that US government stimulus programs over the past fifty years have not worked. Using the best and most modern econometric testing models, it applies 228 separate hard science tests to examine the effects of different stimulus models that should, in theory, have shown positive results. By testing every possible alternative interpretation, starting with one time period and then retesting in three additional time periods, this definitive study finds that even when favoring pro-stimulus Keynesian models, public financing through government tax cuts and spending increase programs is more likely to drive down – or “crowd out” – as much private sector spending as it stimulates in the public sector.

The ‘crowding out’ occurs because private companies, which have to compete with each other, cannot compete with public works that are more wasteful and have theoretically infinite funding (that creates an incentive for waste). Waste is the biggest problem.

In fact, our children will grow up in a Nation of miracles.

But to achieve this future, we must enrich the mind –- and the souls –- of every American child.

Education is the civil rights issue of our time.

I am calling upon Members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children. These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them.

Joining us tonight in the gallery is a remarkable woman, Denisha Merriweather. As a young girl, Denisha struggled in school and failed third grade twice. But then she was able to enroll in a private center for learning, with the help of a tax credit scholarship program. Today, she is the first in her family to graduate, not just from high school, but from college. Later this year she will get her masters degree in social work.

We want all children to be able to break the cycle of poverty just like Denisha.

As if schools and minorities don’t get enough funding already. Obama and George W. Bush already tried that, and the results were underwhelming to say the least:

But hope springs eternal and the fantasy’s latest installment was President Obama’s $7 billion dollar failed School Improvement Grants Program whose aim, according to Arne Duncan Obama’s Secretary of Education from 2009 to 2016, was to “turn around” 1000 schools per year over five years (according to the DOE rhetoric, this initiative was to “…implement innovative, effective, ambitious, comprehensive, and locally driven strategies”). Alas, whether calibrated by test scores, graduation rates or college enrollment, nothing helped. And keep in mind that the multi-billion dollar nostrum has been around since the George W. Bush era though the Obama administration significantly increased funding.

There is no evidence that that these specified factors are, indeed, factors known to improve test scores. Nor are these hypothesized casual factors defined with sufficient precision so that variations in them can be separated—all curriculum modification, regardless of potentially vital details, are treated as if they were identical though, obviously variations must number in the hundreds. I suspect that these four factors were pulled out of thin air with zero attention to details like the proficiency of newly hired teachers vis-à-vis those they replaced. Hard to imagine the entire billion dollar enterprise surviving even cursory inspection at a decent graduate level course on research design (I’ve taught such courses and in my opinion this plan deserves an “F”).

Heaven forbid we confront biological reality in our approach to social problems. The black-white achievement gap has persisted for half a century despite billions of dollars thrown at the problem, even in spite of vouchers and other enrichment programs.

These parts of his speech were groan-inducing, but I guess it disabuses fears that Trump is ‘too extreme’.

Policy-wise, parts of the speech were underwhelming (such as the part about education) and contradictory or confusing (such as supporting $1 trillion of more defense sending but also denouncing America spending $6 trillion in the Middle East), but in agreement with my prediction a month ago of the Trump presidency being ‘surprisingly uneventful‘. Also, glad I ignored the doom and gloom media by remaining ‘long’ stocks. Overall, Trump came as across as exceptionally presidential and magnanimous…by that measure the speech was a success and surpassed expectations.

Trump is succeeding by lessening, to some extent, the left’s cultural grip on America, and he continues to drives the left insane by failing to live up to the left’s worst expectations of him.

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