President Donald Trump just delivered his first State of the Union address, and like most SOTU's, he elaborated on his administration's achievements and his goals going forward.
But this wasn't Trump's first address to Congress. Remember that speech he gave last February? It was the one he gave a month into his presidency. Technically, it wasn't a SOTU, but he did lay out some of his goals for the coming year. Here is how the two speeches compared.
"We must restart the engine of the American economy — making it easier for companies to do business in the United States, and much, much harder for companies to leave our country," Trump told Congress last year. He explained how he wanted to slash the corporate tax rates, then the highest in the developed world, to make the U.S. more competitive in business.
Love it or hate it, Trump and Republicans in Congress were able to achieve this through the passage of a recent tax reform bill. Meanwhile, the U.S. economy did make some significant progress throughout 2017.
"Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone. After years of wage stagnation, we are finally seeing rising wages. Unemployment claims have hit a 45 year low," said Trump in his address on Tuesday.
Trump of course pointed to tax reform and deregulation as major drivers for the economic growth, though exactly how much influence the administration actually had is up for debate.
"I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: To improve jobs and wages for Americans; to strengthen our nation’s security; and to restore respect for our laws," said Trump in his speech last year. "If we are guided by the wellbeing of American citizens, then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades."
Attempts to reform immigration failed miserably last year. As Trump and his allies sought funding for border security and the infamous wall with Mexico, Democrats demanded protection for Dreamers, children brought to the U.S. illegally as minors. Neither side could come to an agreement, leaving the immigration issue in limbo. Trump attempted to reignite the debate during his SOTU speech.
"In recent months, my administration has met extensively with both Democrats and Republicans to craft a bipartisan approach to immigration reform," said Trump. "Based on these discussions, we presented Congress with a detailed proposal that should be supported by both parties as a FAIR COMPROMISE -- one where nobody gets everything they want, but where our country gets the critical reforms it needs."
His four pillar plan involves a path to citizenship for Dreamers, stronger border security, and putting an end to the visa lottery and so-called chain migration.
The Trump administration hasn't exactly been known for its bipartisanship, but fixing the decrepit U.S. infrastructure is one area where there might be some common ground.
"To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital — creating millions of new jobs," said Trump last year. "This effort will be guided by two core principles: buy American and hire American."
That investment plan has yet to make any progress in the legislature, but Trump is still pushing for it. He asked for even more funding in Tuesday's SOTU address.
"I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve," said Trump. "Tonight, I am calling on Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion dollars for the new infrastructure investment we need."
With several other issues on the docket on Capitol Hill, it's unclear when any movement may be seen on the infrastructure issue.
Bolstering defense spending has been one of Trump's priorities from the start.
"To keep America safe, we must provide the men and women of the United States military with the tools they need to prevent war — if they must — they have to fight and they only have to win," said Trump in his joint session address.
There has been some improvement on defense spending, but without a Congressional budget in the works, those efforts could be limited. Defense spending sequestration, which limits how much Congress can allot to defense programs versus other domestic programs, still exists despite criticism from both sides of the aisle. Military leaders have consistently repeated how sequestration limits their ability to plan for the future, thus harming military readiness. Trump repeated his calls for an end to the sequester in his State of the Union address.
"Around the world, we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups, and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy and our values. In confronting these dangers, we know that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unmatched power is the surest means of our defense," said Trump. "For this reason, I am asking Congress to end the dangerous defense sequester and fully fund our great military."