The style and tone of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech Tuesday will be analyzed and dissected ad nauseam. There will no doubt be heavy doses of border security spelled w-a-l-l. But those won’t be the most important things for Florida.
The speech may be political theater at its highest level, but what people want to know is, “What’s in it for us?”
The speech is often an opportunity for the President to score popularity points through proposals that benefit targeted states. As the third-largest state in the Union, Florida is key to Trump’s re-election road map.
He has promised the speech will be “aspirational” and “visionary.”
Politico reported that Trump plans to announce an effort to end HIV transmissions by 2030.
That could be a really big deal for Florida, which is struggling with one of the highest rates of HIV/AIDS in the country. Sciencemag.org reported that in 2016, Miami had the highest per capita rate of new infections of any city in the country.
Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Jacksonville each made the top 10.
So yes, that pledge could be a major headline around the state on Wednesday morning. It would be both “aspirational” and “visionary.”
Florida also has other basic needs that can’t wait, starting with lots of federal cash to deal with storm damage.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, whom Trump endorsed in the Republican primary, announced recently that the President has authorized additional federal money to pay for relief from Hurricane Michael.
Thank you, but don’t stop there.
The Panhandle is going to need billions in long-term help to get back on its feet, and that’s crossing our collective fingers that it doesn’t get floored by another monster storm.
This State of the Union is the perfect setting to announce Florida will get the help it needs. Trump would get applause from both sides of the aisle on that one.
While he is at it, the President could pledge billions for transportation so the state can deal with its enormous population surge.
There should be some appealing visuals, too.
U.S. Sen. Rick Scott has invited Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was a victim of the Parkland massacre.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg has invited a U.S. Coast Guard family that was hurt by the partial government shutdown over the w-a-l-l.
Floridians furloughed during that shutdown will want reassurance that it won’t happen again.
Without one, he has threatened to shutter the government again.
I doubt we will hear much, if anything, about climate change — but we should. Scientists have warned that rising sea levels threaten Florida coastal areas, including the President’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
But if he gives any credence to climate science, people like Ann Coulter will send out nasty tweets about him, so he won’t go near that issue.
I’m sure we will hear about the w-a-l-l though, and there also will be talk about coming together to work for the common good. It would be nice if that actually happened, but of course, we know it won’t.
Tell you what, though,
Give us the HIV program and take care of the hurricane victims in the Panhandle.
Do that, and we’ll call it even. The State of the Union in Florida would be pretty good.