4 things you need to understand from Donald Trump’s first state-of-the-union speech

What did he say, what did he not say? Here are four takeaways from the US president’s state-of-the-union speech

Susan Ramsay |

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Missed Trump’s first State of the Union address? Don’t worry, we’ve rounded it up for you.

Yesterday, US President Donald J Trump gave his first state-of-the-union speech. Here are some of the key points, and why they matter:

He will keep the Guantanamo Bay prison open

The prison is in Cuba and is not subject the US laws. It’s a military prison in the US’ Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. Established in 2002, by then-US President George W Bush during his “war on terror”, it has been used to hold captives without trial or charge – and in some instances has prevented access to lawyers.

While the US touts rule of law and the separation of state and judiciary, Gitmo – as it is called – is a blight on its record and sends the signal to any other regime that detention without trial is permissible.

The time has come to rebuild infrastructure

Since the economic collapse in 2008, the US government has balked at spending on infrastructure. Now, Trump wants US$1.5 trillion to be spent on, well, making America great again. This will mean more employment and could push his economic boom even further. But Trump was not giving away any details – like where the money will come from to pay this bill.

It’s the economy, stupid

Trump spent a good amount of time telling everyone how great he was, including how great he’s been on the economy. There is no doubt that the US is booming, and the boom is affecting other nations’ optimism too. Experts argue about how much of that good economy is due to Trump.


Others feel the stock markets are overheating. However, there is no denying that the stock market continues to smash records and the Dow appears to defy gravity. One thing credited for this amazing bull run is Trump’s tax cuts, which have only just been approved. It would seem that business and investors knew they would go ahead and that has fed the bull run.

Who’s running the world?

Trump said China and Russia are the US’ economic rivals who challenge US interests and values. He went on to say that North Korean missiles could very soon threaten the US homeland. He believes the US needs to have “unmatched power” and called on the US Congress to allow the US to imprison people captured abroad. Which is why he wanted Gitmo kept open. During Bush’s reign, innocent people were kidnapped from other countries, tortured and imprisoned without trial. Under former US President Barack Obama that appeared to stop, with some strong questions involving mystery prisoners being moved through Hong Kong. Now, Trump wants more of what Bush had. Maybe Obama just had the alternative values.

Edited by Ginny Wong