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Statement by Max Lesko in Response to President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union Address


Statement by Max Lesko, National Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund, in response to President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union Address

Washington, D.C. – Advocates for America’s children are troubled by what we heard tonight from President Trump in his State of the Union address. The President displayed a view of immigrants that stokes xenophobic fear and demonizes children and families seeking refuge and a better life in America, while ignoring the thousands of children separated from their parents at the border. He outlined health care proposals that would tackle the scourge of childhood cancer and protect those with pre-existing conditions, but failed to provide a plan to cover the 4 million children living without health insurance. He touted a callous tax policy that gives massive tax breaks to billionaires and corporations instead of reducing the burden on working families. And the President promoted “school choice” policies that would deepen inequities in public school funding that undermine equal education opportunities for students, especially poor children and children of color.

Even more troubling is what we did not hear in tonight’s speech: solutions to the greatest problems facing our children. The 12.8 million poor children in America did not hear an economic plan that would lift them out of poverty. The millions of children that do not have enough food to eat or a place to live did not hear any proposals to keep them fed and housed. And survivors and victims’ families heard silence on the gun violence epidemic that takes the life of a child every 2 hours and 48 minutes.

Our nation’s future depends on whether the next generation of thinkers, scientists, artists and leaders are given the chance to reach their full potential—no matter their race, their zip code or their parents’ income. Children only have one childhood, and it is right now. If we are to live up to America’s promise to the next generation, our leaders must reflect not only an understanding of the challenges that face our children, but a commitment to solving them with urgency.


The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit child advocacy organization that has worked relentlessly for more than 40 years to ensure a level playing field for all children.

The Children’s Defense Fund Leave No Child Behind® mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

CDF provides a strong, effective and independent voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby or speak for themselves. We pay particular attention to the needs of poor children, children of color and those with disabilities. CDF educates the nation about the needs of children and encourages preventive investments before they get sick, drop out of school, get into trouble or suffer family breakdown.

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Emily Gardner, Communications Director