Trump lays out tough agenda in address before Congress

Free Press wire reports | 3/3/2017, 7:28 p.m.
Heralding a “new chapter of American greatness,” President Trump issued a broad call for America first, investing in the nation’s ...

Free Press wire report

Heralding a “new chapter of American greatness,” President Trump issued a broad call for America first, investing in the nation’s infrastructure, slashing taxes and revamping health insurance in his first address to Congress.

The president offered few details to support the nationalist agenda he laid out, and, according to fact checkers, padded his speech with numerous whoppers. Nonetheless, he received numerous ovations and high marks for swapping his trademark pugnaciousness and personal insults for a more restrained, presidential tone.

Still, he left many perplexed by his promises to usher in “historic” tax cuts for major corporations and the middle class, while touting plans for $1 trillion in “Buy American, Hire American” infrastructure spending to create “millions of jobs,” while also proposing plans to pump up spending on the Armed Forces and veterans and to build his signature “great wall” along the 1,800-mile U.S. border with Mexico.

The question of how he would pay for it all with reduced revenues went unanswered.

Deficit hawks in Congress already are signaling disdain for what they see as more of the borrow-and-spend approach that they believe has undermined the country’s financial health.

Some Democrats heard ideas they could support in the speech.

For example, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia said even though President Trump “repeated many of his hard-line campaign promises, he also called for some policies that I support, including paid family leave and smart investments in our military and infrastructure.”

“But,” Sen. Kaine added, “it’s one thing to give a speech filled with lofty promises. It’s another to deliver real, thought-out solutions.”

Virginia’s senior statesman, Sen. Mark R. Warner, found the speech long on talk and short on substance.

“For those Americans looking for a clear and forward-looking agenda, tonight’s speech raised more questions than it answered,” he said, noting that “Americans did not hear specifics on his plans to replace the Affordable Care Act, protect Social Security and Medicare and reform our tax code.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Warner said that President Trump’s “plans for more cuts in discretionary spending would not even begin to pay for his proposed increases in defense spending, and neither will cuts to foreign aid or wildly unrealistic promises of economic growth.”

On the health insurance front, President Trump renewed his call for “repealing and replacing” Obamacare, his predecessor’s signature health insurance program that has provided coverage for more than 20 million Americans who cannot afford or cannot get health insurance through an employer.

President Trump continued to push ideas that experts indicate would do little to keep his promises to make health insurance more affordable and available, including lowering the cost of prescription drugs, enabling people to buy insurance across state lines and offering tax credits and expanding health savings accounts to help Americans purchase coverage.

Delivering the Democrats’ formal response, former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear accused President Trump of planning to “rip affordable health insurance” from Americans and being “Wall Street’s champion.”

On national security, President Trump employed dark language to describe the threat posed by “radical Islamic terrorism” — a term his own national security adviser rejects as inflammatory — and warned against “reckless” and “uncontrolled entry” of refugees and immigrants from countries with ties to extremist groups.