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State of the Union: Buckle Up

Because it’s difficult to predict what President Donald Trump will say when he speaks in public, it’s difficult to know what to expect during his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

But it’s Trump, so we can predict two things.

First, Trump will complain about being impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives and will make false statements about the Ukraine phone call that led to the impeachment inquiry. He will be wildly inaccurate (i.e., he will lie).

Second, he’ll make outlandish claims about what he has done while in office. He wants to tout “accomplishments” because, of course, this is an election year.

Below, we provide facts to help you navigate this year’s State of the Union address and set the record straight. Below each section are names of experts, as well as contact information for them. Please reach out to us if you have questions.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter at @Public_Citizen for live fact checking during the speech.


Following an impeachment trial that featured U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell coordinating with the White House and Senate Republicans blocking witnesses and critical documents, Trump likely will declare himself “exonerated.” But a trial without witnesses or documents is a sham.

  • The dictionary says “exonerated” means to absolve someone from blame for a fault or wrongdoing, especially after due consideration of the case. The U.S. Senate will not find Trump without fault or wrongdoing – and a majority plainly believe he did commit wrongdoing. And the Senate assuredly did not give due consideration to the case.
  • The House of Representatives had no choice but to impeach Trump. The evidence is overwhelming that Trump pressured Ukraine to interfere in our 2020 elections, using U.S. military aid and a White House meeting to extort Ukrainian officials into manufacturing fake dirt on Trump’s political opponent. He then engaged in a criminal cover-up, obstructing Congress, defying lawful subpoenas, blocking witnesses from testifying and concealing evidence.
  • It’s clear that Trump aims to rig the next election through improper means. By stonewalling the congressional investigation, he effectively is declaring himself above the law.
  • In the United States, nobody is above the law, not even the president. Impeachment is the mandatory remedy to defend our constitutional democracy.
  • Republican senators who in the past called for rigorous fact-finding and impartiality should have been consistent and done the same with regard to Trump’s impeachment trial. Here’s what they said.


Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen
rweissman@citizen.org w. (202) 588-1000; c. (202) 360-1844

Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs, Public Citizen
lgilbert@citizen.org w. (202) 454-5188; c. (551) 404-5200 @Lisa_PubCitizen


  • Trump promised not to cut Medicare or Medicaid, yet his budget would cut $845 billion from Medicare and $1.5 trillion from Medicaid.
  • Trump’s recently announced “Healthy Adult Opportunity Program” is just a Medicaid block grant by another name. The plan would allow states to divert Medicaid expansion funding to other state programs, setting up cuts in coverage, including for life-sustaining prescription drugs and access to needed services. Working families will miss out on needed care or go broke trying to get it.
  • Trump promised cheaper and better health care for all Americans, but has sabotaged the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through allowing the sale of junk plans, refusing to defend the ACA in court, and passing a tax bill that tried to cut the legs out from under the ACA by ending the individual mandate.
  • The only policy that can reduce costs for both families and the country while guaranteeing health care for everyone in the U.S. is Medicare for All.


Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen
rweissman@citizen.org w. (202) 588-1000; c. (202) 360-1844

Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs, Public Citizen
lgilbert@citizen.org w. (202) 454-5188; c. (551) 404-5200 @Lisa_PubCitizen

Eagan Kemp, health care policy advocate

ekemp@citizen.org w. (202) 454-5109; c. (435) 770-9924

Emily Peterson-Cassin, digital rights advocate (for questions on health data transparency and sharing)

epetersoncassin@citizen.org w. (202) 454-5131; c. (202) 445-1401


  • Trump is expected to announce a new initiative to lower insulin costs. But he failed to adopt obvious and effective solutions to make insulin affordable, among them supporting direct government price negotiations. A study published yesterday in JAMA Internal Medicine estimated that negotiations would have cut Medicare insulin costs by more than half, saving $4.4 billion in 2017 alone.
  • Trump promised to overhaul the prescription drug market, including bringing prices “way, way down.” He may repeat his “alternative fact” that drug prices have actually been reduced. They haven’t.
  • Trump has pursued approaches that would have minimal (if any) impact, most of which have been rejected by the courts, withdrawn or delayed, and promised to veto the most impactful bill passed by the House, H.R. 3.
  • If Trump was serious about getting tough on pharma, he would “negotiate like crazy,” enthusiastically support other legislation to rein in industry and challenge monopolies, which would lower costs dramatically for patients and taxpayers.
  • Trump has promised to deliver on a solution to the opioid crisis, but his administration has given little help.

Peter Maybarduk, director, Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program
pmaybarduk@citizen.org w. (202) 588-7755; c. (202) 390-5375 @Maybarduk; @PCMedsAccess

Robert Weissman, president, Public Citizen
rweissman@citizen.org; w. (202) 588-1000; c. (202) 360-1844

Steven Knievel, advocate, Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program
sknievel@citizen.org w. (202) 588-7769


  • Trump is unlikely to say anything about the worst threat facing the country – climate change.
  • Three years into his presidency he’s still working to make the climate crisis worse by implementing policies that increase U.S. production of fossil fuels and installing dirty energy cronies to top positions in his administration.
  • And he’s rolled back or is working to roll back pollution standards including the Clean Power Plan and clean car rules.

David Arkush, managing director, Public Citizen’s Climate Program

darkush@citizen.org w. (202) 454-5132; c. (202) 550-0107


  • Trump has not delivered on the pledges that were central to his 2016 victory in key Midwest swing states, as documented here.
  • S. job outsourcing has continued, the manufacturing sector’s four-year employment boom that started two years before he took office ended in 2019..
  • S. trade deficit has grown 25% relative to the last year of the Obama administration.


Lori Wallach, director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

lwallach@citizen.org w. (202) 588-5107; c. (603) 560-0847 (deputy director Matthew Groch) @WallachLori; @PCGTW