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VIEWPOINT: No matter what Trump says, we can’t go backwards

At four town hall meetings last week in St. Paul, I heard a clear message from my constituents: the State of our Union is anxious.

President Donald Trump’s first month in office has left Minnesotans afraid. They are worried about their health care and their economic and retirement security and concerned about the safety of our communities and the security of our nation.

Tomorrow night, President Trump will deliver his first address to Congress. The time for President Trump’s warmed-over campaign rhetoric is over. Congress and the American people deserve to hear about how we move forward, not more about  the same unsettling agenda President Trump has already unleashed.

Let’s start with the Affordable Care Act. President Trump and Congressional Republicans are rapidly advancing a proposal to repeal this important law entirely, stripping vital consumer protections and leaving millions of Americans — including 380,000 Minnesotans — uninsured.

I hear often from constituents whose lives have been saved by this important law. President Trump should be working with both parties to improve the Affordable Care Act, rather than trying to give more control over your health care to big drug and insurance companies.

The uninsured rate in both Minnesota and the United States is at a historic low. More Americans have access to comprehensive health care than ever before. When it comes to our health care, we cannot go backwards.

Of course, health care is not President Trump’s only target. Economic and retirement security for Minnesota families are under fire from President Trump and his team.

Just today, President Trump unveiled a disturbing vision for the federal budget that dramatically slashes vital domestic programs. His new Secretary of Health and Human Services has proposed turning Medicare into a voucher system and many of his advisers favor privatizing Social Security.

President Trump is not just targeting benefits that Americans have earned and trying to slash important programs that create jobs and help families make ends meet. His signature regulatory policy is to make it easier for Wall Street to prey on working families.

Under President Obama’s steady leadership, our economy recovered from the Great Recession while the excesses of Wall Street were reined in. With more work to do to help working families secure their economic futures, we cannot go backwards.

As part of his attack on working families, President Trump has singled out immigrants in a way that puts the safety of all our communities at risk.

Instead of prioritizing public safety, his ill-conceived executive orders have divided our country and made it harder for local law enforcement to keep us all safe. In particular, singling out Muslims with an unconstitutional ban is bigoted and shamefully un-American.

When it comes to the safety of all our communities and families, we cannot go backwards.

The damage that President Trump has done has not stopped at our borders.

The resignation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn exposed a dysfunctional foreign policy. The resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, insulting phone calls with foreign leaders, and the decision to treat the response to a North Korean missile test as a dinner theater performance have all exposed a dysfunctional foreign policy.

Now President Trump is governing erratically and threatening to break international commitments. His actions are unsettling allies and partners while adding to global instability. In fact, senior officials have already been forced to travel overseas to clean up the messes President Trump has made.

After the disastrous Iraq War, President Obama painstakingly rebuilt America’s image and established a firm mantle of global leadership. When it comes to the United States’ place in the world, we cannot go backwards.

No matter what President Trump says, his actions have spoken much louder than his words. His chaotic administration has put the lives and livelihoods of families in Minnesota and across America at risk.

Alongside House and Senate Democrats, I am standing firm. I strongly oppose the dangerous, divisive Trump-Republican agenda.

In the weeks and months ahead, Minnesotans and Americans from every walk of life — business executives, labor organizers, faith leaders, educators, activists, and people who have never advocated before — must come together, stand up, and say with one voice: we will not go backwards.

Congresswoman Betty McCollum (DFL-Minn.) represents Minnesota’s Fourth District in the United States House of Representatives.

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