OurWeek In Politics (1/28-2/3/18)

Here are the main events in Politics that occurred this week

1. President Donald Trump Give First “State of the Union” Address

President Donald Trump delivered his first official State of the Union Address on January 30.

On January 30, President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union Address before a packed audience consisting of nearly all members of Congress, the Presidential cabinet, the First Family, members of the press, and several notable guests. In his speech, President Trump attempted to strike an optimistic and conciliatory tone through the use of lines such as “This is our new American moment, There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.”

In his speech, President Trump took credit for the nation’s economy, saying his administration had rolled back regulations, “ended the war on American energy” and “turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals.” He said the $1.5 trillion tax bill he signed brought “tremendous relief for the middle class and small businesses.” Trump called on Congress to adopt his immigration plan, which would offer a citizenship path for nearly two million Dreamers, increase border security, and expedite the construction of a wall along the US-Mexican border. Additionally, the President urged the Democratic Party to join him in approving a $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan, including changes in environmental and other regulations to streamline the approval process for infrastructure projects. “America is a nation of builders, We built the Empire State Building in just one year. Isn’t it a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?” said Trump in one of the more notable parts of the speech.

The reaction to President Trump’s State of the Union Address has been mixed, with nearly all Republicans approving it and a majority of Democrats disapproving it. In the Democratic Party response to the speech, Congressman Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts condemned the policies and rhetoric coming from the Trump Administration, stating that “hatred and supremacy” are “proudly marching in our streets,” Russia is “knee-deep in our democracy,” and the Justice Department is “rolling back civil rights by the day.” Additionally, Congressman Kennedy said that the administration “isn’t just targeting the laws that protect us — they are targeting the very idea that we are all worthy of protection.” In addition, many observers pointed out numerous false statements uttered by President Trump throughout the speech, particularly pertaining to economics, foreign policy, immigration, and federal drug policy.

2. US Government Unveils New Nuclear Weapons Strategy

Defense Secretary James Mattis announced major changes to the US nuclear policy in a report issued on February 1.

On February 1, the US Department of Defense announced a new nuclear arms policy that calls for the introduction of two new types of weapons, effectively ending Obama-era efforts to reduce the size and scope of the US nuclear arsenal and minimize the role of nuclear weapons in defense planning. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in an introductory note to the new policy  that the changes reflect a need to “look reality in the eye” and “see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.” “Over the past decade, while the United States has led the world in these reductions, every one of our potential nuclear adversaries (Russia, China, North Korea, Iran) has been pursuing the exact opposite strategy,” Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said at a Pentagon news conference, explaining why the United States is changing course. “These powers are increasing the numbers and types of nuclear weapons in their arsenal.”

The new policy calls for the introduction of “low-yield nukes” on submarine-launched ballistic missiles. Despite being called “low yield,” such weapons could cause roughly as much damage as the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, depending on their size. The introduction of these types of weapons is meant to counter Russia, who possesses several of these types of weapons. Additionally, the new policy outlines plans to develop nuclear submarine-launched cruise missile, which are meant to pressure nuclear-armed countries such as China and North Korea. The report also reconfirmed its commitment to the modernization of the U.S. nuclear force and called for the introduction of new long-range bombers, submarines, and intercontinental ballistic missiles. Estimates by the Congressional Budget Office determined that the plans outlined in the report will cost about $1.2 trillion over a 30-year period.

The reaction to the new US nuclear policy has been overwhelmingly negative thus far. the countries mentioned in the report condemned the plan accusing the US of having a “Cold War” mentality. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif view the plan as a direct threat to Russia and have pledged to intervene on Russia’s behalf if the US launches a strike on Russian territory. Russian President Vladimir Putin similarly condemned the new policy and has pledged to expand Russia’s defensive capabilities as a proportionate response. Additionally, disarmament advocates feel that such a plan will create a renewed nuclear arms race and increase the risk of nuclear war to a level even higher than it was during the peak of the Cold War.

3. House Republican Memo Highlighting Alleged Bias by the FBI in the Trump-Russia Investigation Released

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nines (R-CA) released a highly controversial memo alleging bias in the Trump-Russia investigation on February 1 at the urging of the President.

On February 1, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) released a formerly classified memo that many Republicans claim say shows surveillance abuses in the early stages of the FBI’s investigation the Trump election campaign and Russia. President Donald Trump, who advocated the release of the document over the strong objections of his own Justice Department, declared that the memo shows that a “lot of people should be ashamed of themselves.”

The memo asserts that the FBI relied excessively on anti-Trump research funded by Democrats in seeking a warrant to monitor the communications of a Trump campaign associate and that federal authorities concealed the full details of who was paying for the information. President Trump believes that the document would bring a sense of validity to his claims that the FBI and Justice Department conspired against him. On the other hand, FBI director Chris Wray feels that the four-page document is inaccurate and stripped of critical context. Congressman Adam Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee’s ranking Democrat, said that the document “mischaracterizes highly sensitive classified information” and that “the selective release and politicization of classified information sets a terrible precedent and will do long-term damage to the intelligence community and our law enforcement agencies.” Despite the intense fury surrounding its release, the document seems far less explosive than Republicans had claimed, and far less dangerous to national security than Democrats had asserted.

The disclosure of the document has been all but condemned by the Democratic Party leadership and a growing number of Republicans. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) condemned his own political party to task for releasing the document despite the “grave concerns” of the intelligence community.” “The latest attacks on the FBI and Department of Justice serve no American interests — no party’s, no President’s, only Putin’s,” said McCain. Additionally, many claims that the document will further escalate the intra-governmental conflict between President Trump and his cabinet members and will create a negative precedent that future Presidents may follow when they are threatened politically by the opposing party.

the author

Matt is a graduate of Monmouth University. Matt has been studying and analyzing politics at all levels since the 2004 Presidential Election. He writes about political trends and demographics, the role of the media in politics, comparative politics, political theory, and the domestic and international political economy. Matt is also interested in history, philosophy, comparative religion, and record collecting.

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