The state of the union should be stronger

Media Contacts

Some of the “accomplishments” Pres. Trump boasted about will hurt Americans’ health and safety long-term


WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s third State of the Union address at the Capitol this evening highlighted what he considers his major achievements. However, his rose-colored view of the United States in 2020 misses some problems that Americans should no longer tolerate. 

In response, U.S. PIRG President Faye Park released the following statement:

America can do better on many fronts — and not just on those President Trump is neglecting.

How can we improve the state of our union? We have a list of concrete ideas that would make a positive and tangible difference in the lives of millions of Americans — with or without President Trump. Here are 10 ideas that the states, the courts, corporations or other entities can put into action without or despite the president:

  1. Give us the right to repair our stuff: In 2019, at least 20 states filed Right to Repair bills that would require manufacturers of everything from cell phones to tractors to make it easier for consumers to repair the stuff we buy.

  1. Get the lead out of our drinking water, especially for our kids: States and local officials can act to protect the public, especially schoolchildren, from lead in drinking water. We need better testing, filters at water stations, and removal of lead service lines.

  1. Stop overusing the antibiotics that we need to save lives: McDonald’s, Subway and KFC have acted to reduce the overuse of life-saving antibiotics in their supply chains. California and Maryland have passed state laws aiming at achieving similar goals.

  1. Make it harder for our kids to get hooked on nicotine: The vaping trend has infected high schools and middle schools across the country, hooking teenagers on nicotine and causing a host of health problems, some of which we’re just learning about. Massachusetts has banned flavored tobacco products, which have proven more attractive to teens.

  1. Stop making so much throwaway stuff: States are acting to ban single-use plastic grocery bags, single-use polystyrene foam cups and take-out containers, and other products that we use for a few minutes only to have them litter and pollute our environment for decades or longer.

  1. Electrify our buses: States, cities and regional authorities can commit to replacing their dirty diesel buses that contribute to respiratory problems with clean electric buses. Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts are among the states moving in this direction.

  1. Make college textbooks more affordable: With only a handful of publishers controlling the marketplace, college students today often pay more than a thousand dollars a year for their textbooks and other class materials. More schools can embrace “open source textbooks” that reduce costs and forbid practices that hide online homework behind a paywall.

  1. Make more stuff toxic-free: Exposure to toxic chemicals is never good, but it’s especially absurd when the chemicals serve no purpose. States can act to reduce the use of toxic chemicals in cosmetic products and flame retardants that provide no fire safety benefit but expose people — including firefighters — to dangerous chemicals.

  1. Don’t increase mercury pollution: The courts can block the Trump administration’s unlawful regulatory rewrite that would open the door for more mercury pollution from power plants.

  1. Don’t reduce consumer protections: The U.S. Supreme Court should reject an attempt by the financial services industry to take away the independence of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the only federal entity dedicated solely to protecting consumers in the financial marketplace.