Justin Amash

Rep. Justin Amash Highlights 'Two Outstanding Lines' From Trump's SOTU

But Amash's reaction wasn't all positive.


Alex Edelman—CNP / MEGA / Newscom; JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS/Newscom

Rep. Justin Amash (R–Mich.) reacted today to Donald Trump's State of the Union address, praising the president in some areas but criticizing him in others.

In an early morning Twitter thread, Amash first noted that "there were two outstanding lines in" the president's address. One was: "America was founded on liberty and independence—not government coercion, domination, and control." The other: "Great nations do not fight endless wars."

Both were indeed highlights of Trump's address. The first line came as he discussed the dangers of socialism. "Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country," Trump said. "We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country." Trump's words seemed to have brought a frown to the face of democratic socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), as I pointed out last night.

The other line Amash mentioned, about "great nations" not fighting "endless wars," was also a whopper. As Reason's Christian Britschgi noted yesterday, that line came more than a month after Trump ordered the sudden withdrawal of 4,000 U.S. troops fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria. "As we work with our allies to destroy the remnants of ISIS, it is time to give our brave warriors in Syria a warm welcome home," Trump said last night.

The president has also said he will pull 7,000 U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, where the administration is holding peace talks with the Taliban. "As we make progress in these negotiations, we will be able to reduce our troop presence and focus on counterterrorism," Trump said in his address. "We do know that after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace."

Trump's sentiment in that area was also praised by Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.), who on Monday criticized bipartisan support for a Senate bill condemning Trump's plans to withdraw troops from both Middle Eastern countries. "I applaud @realdonaldtrump for delivering an America First vision which included getting out of Afghanistan after almost two decades of being at war," Paul tweeted last night. "We must stop our endless wars and focus on rebuilding at home."

Amash wasn't completely happy with Trump's speech, claiming he was "hit or miss" when it came to foreign policy. But on the whole, Amash was pleased Trump recognized the need "to bring our forces home from Syria and Afghanistan."

"One war was never authorized, and the other has gone on for far too long," Amash said.

Outside of foreign policy, Amash did credit Trump for denouncing "the destructive politics of partisanship," though he explained that Trump has "been anything but nonpartisan":

The Michigan representative didn't have a whole lot to say about Trump's remarks on trade (The president defended his decision to place tariffs on Chinese goods and asked Congress to pass a bill that would increase his authority to implement more tariffs.) Amash did, however, recommend that Trump read the works of economists Henry Hazlitt and Frédéric Bastiat:

Amash also criticized Trump for failing to "mention the massive national debt—overwhelmingly the result of reckless spending." It's a fair point. As Reason's Eric Boehm wrote last night, Trump said nothing about the need to rein in federal spending. This despite the fact that the Congressional Budget Office says the federal budget deficit will surpass $1 trillion in 2020. The national debt, meanwhile, hit $22 trillion at the end of 2018. The sort of spending that led to this massive debt "is unsustainable and threatens the prosperity of Americans," Amash wrote.

Finally, Amash praised Trump's words on criminal justice reform, particularly regarding the FIRST STEP Act. "My administration worked closely with members of both parties to sign the FIRST STEP Act into law," Trump said. "This legislation reformed sentencing laws that have wrongly and disproportionately harmed the African American community. The FIRST STEP Act gives non-violent offenders the chance to re-enter society as productive, law-abiding citizens."

While Amash was "pleased" Trump "highlighted" this issue, he noted there's a lot more to be done "to reform the system at both the federal and state levels of government."

For more Reason State of the Union coverage, you can click here.

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  1. Geez, Congressman. Take off the red cap already.

  2. Covering tweets isn’t really covering anything at all.

    1. No shit. It is getting tiresome.

      1. TO BE FAIR, while I don’t care for his occasionally slipping into flame war mode, Amash more than most does communicate substantive information with constituents through social media.

        Get on board, grandpas.

        1. Twitter is losing popularity.
          Number of monthly active Twitter users in the United States from 1st quarter 2010 to 3rd quarter 2018 (in millions)

          Personally, I think Trump using Twitter has kept Twitter from the dust heap.

          1. Personally, I think Trump using Twitter has kept Twitter from the dust heap.

            I dare say you can see it there in Q2 ’16.

            1. That was definitely the first drop. I forget how they justified that.

              Users jumped from 67M to 69M in Q1 2017, which would imply Trump’s Twitter storm boosted users.

              1. That was definitely the first drop. I forget how they justified that.

                I meant prior to Q2 ’16 (when Trump announced his Presidency), Q3 ’15 appears to be their peak and every quarter after Q2 ’16 exceeds that peak.

                I’m no climatologist, but I don’t think it’s too presumptuous to assert that Trump is at least partially responsible for some of the protracted warming of Twitter. Whether it will last, of course, remains to be seen.

          2. Dorsey is doing the rounds.

            He seems really in over his head and confused particularly where free speech is concerned. He engages in too much verbose sophistry. He’d save himself a headache by simply embracing free speech.

            I also discovered he was a programmer/hacker.

            Which explains a lot.

            1. His rogan interview was pretty bad.

      2. TwitterIsTiresome.com

  3. Amash also criticized Trump for failing to “mention the massive national debt?overwhelmingly the result of reckless spending.”

    Trump probably should have rallied around cutting the National Debt, which would mean cutting social security, medicare, and medicaid, and national defense.

    OTOH, Congress controls the Purse and Amash is in Congress. Congress has the problem with spending and has for along time.

    We blame Presidents for spending but its actually Congress. Technically even Obama didn’t raise the national Debt by $8.5 trillion. It was Democrats then Republican controlled Congress. Obama signed the budgets though.

    1. It wouldn’t hurt for Trump to submit a better budget. He then could at least point the finger at Congress for raising his spending requests.

      Even if he’s not brave enough to veto a spending bill.

      1. When was the last time a presidential budget request was actually considered seriously by Congress? It is a check box.

  4. If only Amash backed-up his talk about foreign policy with backing legislation. He got awfully quite during Russia Fever Dreams while Massie, Tulsi, and Rand were still pushing ending our support for the War in Yemen and opposing arming the Ukrainians. Amash had to get clearance from his new financial backers before he did anything.

    1. “bossed and bought”

  5. legislation reformed sentencing laws that have wrongly and disproportionately harmed the African American community

    Very true but first of all, let’s remember that they were the ones pushing for it. (And now they are pushing for gun restrictions.) Secondly if we implement reforms without reducing funding and capacity, and the system stops going after black people, guess whom they will come for next? It’s time for Congress to step up and budget responsibly.

    1. The jews?

  6. “The president rightly denounced the destructive politics of partisanship.”

    No, sir.
    If they’re busy arguing with each other, they don’t have time to screw with me.

  7. I wish we would stop expecting the President to do something about the national debt. Congress holds the power of the purse and they are the only ones who can do something about the national debt. If the day ever comes where Congress starts cutting spending and the President vetos the spending bills, then we can start blaming the President for the national debt. Until that time, addressing spending and the debt is Congress’ responsibility. Nothing will be done until Congress decides to do it. Yelling at the President about it makes no difference.

    1. The President proposes budgets; Trump could try proposing less spending, even if he hasn’t got the cajones to veto a budget bill.

      Your tune sure has changed since the days of blaming Obama for his budgets.

      1. The Congress is under no obligation to abide by the President’s budget and in fact never does. Trump has proposed numerous spending cuts that were ignored by Congress.

        Ultimately, Congress has the power. Can you blame the president for not asking them? Sure. But whatever Responsibility Trump has for that pales in comparison to Congress’ responsibility for not addressing the debt. Trump asking accomplishes something only in so far as Congress is willing to act.

        1. You sure blamed Obama back in the day. Damn straight the President has a role in all this. Always has. Why do people credit Andrew Jackson with paying off the national debt?

          Presidents who want the credit damn well get the blame too.

          1. Obama had an accompanying democratic Congress that pushed what Obama asked for for the most part. In fact it was only the adversarial house that reigned in spending. Trump has had adversarial conservatives pushing veto proof budgets despite trumps calls for lowered spending during each signing. Do you even attempt to pay attention?

    2. Hey, now, Amash is super serious-y about cutting spending. That’s why he votes “present” on cutting funding for certain social programs that the culture warriors love. And also votes “present” on ending aid to certain foreign governments. Super duper principled and such.

      1. I really enjoyed his “principled” speech about how important NATO is for something or other. Dude, he totally doesn’t want foreign wars. He’s as much a principled anti-interventionist as Brink Lindsey.

  8. oooh a biting tweet pic of books everyone’s read … shocker

  9. The President did good.

    Especially when he trolled the immature commies in white and bashed socialism.

    1. He may have ended Occasional Cortex’s carreer last night. She looked like a snotty high school girl being scolded by her mother to act appropriately at a wedding.

      1. I hope you’re right. Sanders too.

        I hope Harris didn’t do herself any favours too with her smug behavior. Pretty rich given how awful she was as DA/AG. One wicked woman. Just like Hillary.

        Warren is self-destructing too.

      2. Her glare looked like Che Guevera’s little sister.

        1. Like all socialists, she is nasty and envious no matter how much of a kind veneer she puts on it.

          1. Once again, she was sporting a surfeit of lipstick.

      3. >>>He may have ended Occasional Cortex’s carreer last night

        empty vases are easy to break.

      4. hell they’ve got Cuomo out shutting her down already talking about how soaking the rich is tried and failed

      5. Not with her supporters. She spoke truth to power and will be their pinup poster girl as long as conservatives go crazy mocking and deriding her.

        1. 14k peeps from Brooklyn and some bots? meh

      6. Did you see the gif yet of AOC high fiving air? Its priceless.

  10. The deficit will continue to be a problem as long as we continue to spend on waste, foolishness and evil that both sides push to fund: 10 things that should be cut out, but won’t . (because both sides want their ‘bargaining chips’)

    10. Studies that few need, like the snail darter habitat study.
    9. Useless defense items: overpriced toilets and ‘visible camo gear’ (who are they trying to kid!)
    8. Maintaining old buildings that could be given to the states.
    7. Publishing the Federal Register
    6. IHOP grants
    5. Improper Medicare payments, 142 Billion!
    4. The TSA (obviously, but maybe this should have been #2 or 3)
    3. Both the IRS Targeting of Conservatives and Libertarians under Lois Learner, and the payouts to the victims: (Add insult to injury, anyone?!) Also, payoffs to Congressperson’s staffers after accusations of assault.
    2. The wall. If border states want it, let them fund it, or start a go fund me.
    1. (I recognize that this should have moved #2, to #3, but please humor me) Aid to Dependent Dictators / Domestic aid to Planned Parenthood. I acknowledge the first one should be obvious (aid to dependent dictators), but PP has covered up sex trafficking of minors, covered up their negligence in dealing with womens’ heath crisis caused by abortions there, and has left babies still alive after the procedure to die.

    Can we start by defunding the last 2?

    1. As far as #1 is concerned that’s where Amash shows that he votes with his financial backers. He likes to vote “present” any time a bill is put forward to de-fund Planned Parenthood or any other social program that the culture warriors love. He also likes to vote “present” when it comes to cut aid for certain foreign governments.

      1. Could be that’s why he’s a Republican in office and not a Libertarian non-entity.

        1. So weird, because other Republicans didn’t have any problem voting for spending cuts with both.

          1. Different funders means different votes I guess

            1. I would think his constituents might also have a say.

              1. I like Amash, but the effort to push him as the most pure or the most principled misses the mark. Amash has changed his positions pretty precipitously on certain issues since he was first elected and a lot of that has to do with the Chamber of Commerce coming out hard against him shortly after he was elected. The Ron Paul list of donors that was once enough to first get him the primary win wasn’t going to cut it against the Chamber of Commerce, so he had to find other donors who would tolerate his idiosyncratic libertarian-leaning positions while de-emphasizing other small government positions.

                Massie supports some tariffs, so it’s not like Amash is the only one without clean hands.

                1. He’s a politician and does things all politicians do. Libertarians do appear to have a hard-on for him, and Rand Paul, but I can’t think of a good reason to be surprised when they do things to ensure their political survival.

                  1. Hey man, don’t knock “hard-ons”. To our credit some of us went from getting a stiffy over an old man in TX to getting a stiffy over a young guy in MI and the old man’s son in KY. That’s progress

          2. So weird

            I’m not sure how it’s weird.

            1. You could ask a weirdo to explain.

    2. leave IHOP alone.

  11. “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

    “That is why I am calling for the formation of ‘Left Vespucciland’, peacefully split off from non-socialist America.”

  12. I hung out with Amash less than a week ago.

  13. It would be awesome if congress were filled with people like Amash and Rand Paul… The problem is I don’t think Amash has any idea how useless a person like him is during a time like this. We’re basically in make-or-break mode here in the USA in the next few years… This is not a time for normal spineless politics. The fate of this country will likely be determined in the next 5-10 years, and after that it will only be correctable with a civil war.

    He’s trying to play politics as usual in 1858 or 1772 or something, and it’s just beyond that point… But he and many others just don’t get it.

    We’re beyond even a Ron Paul type pulling things out… We need a George Washington or a Sulla to straighten this shit out. Anything less and we’re doomed.

  14. That does sum up Trump. As a libertarian there are a few things to like. Tax and regulatory reform, sentencing reform, Judicial nominees and the points mentioned by Amash. Then there is the rest that makes any freedom loving American cringe.

    Still we can debate libertarian purity but until we get more in the house and senate Trump may at least move a few issues our way. It will take decades of winning to and unfortunately Libertarians are not close to that point so take some victories as we can get them.

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