After a tumultuous first month, President Donald Trump’s opportunity to flip the script is set for Tuesday with a major address to both chambers of Congress, during which he is expected to outline his agenda for the upcoming year.
The big question ahead of the address, which takes the place of a State of the Union during a president’s first year, is whether Trump will choose to take a more mild approach, in contrast with his inaugural address in January, or whether Tuesday will feature the president in his raw form.
During an interview with “Fox & Friends” Tuesday morning, Trump previewed his address, hinting he would take the latter of the two possible approaches.
“All I can do is speak from the heart and say what I want to do,” the president said.
Trump’s address, which his team dubbed in an email to supporters as his “biggest speech to date,” will focus on repealing the Affordable Care Act, strengthening the military, negotiating better trade deals, and immigration. (Three of his guests have had family members killed by immigrants in the country illegally, suggesting he will strongly emphasise border security.)
Moreover, Trump will seek to underscore the campaign promises he believes he’s fulfilled.
Trump will spend the early portion of his speech touting action he has taken in his first month, such as the US’s withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and his sweeping immigration orders, an administration official told reporters.
In previewing the event, New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin predicted Tuesday night is “likely to be a shock-and-awe blowout of pure Trumpism.”
“In advance of President Trump’s first State of the Union speech, random busybodies are urging him to tone it down,” he wrote. “One adviser from the bleachers suggests he be ‘humble and inclusive.’ Sweet, but I’m betting humble pie is not on the president’s menu.”
Foreshadowing the speech, Trump and his administration revealed on Monday some of the details about the president’s proposal for the upcoming budget.
The White House said Trump will call for a $US54 billion increase in defence spending — aimed at the military, US Border Patrol, and local law enforcement — with reductions in foreign aid and non-security agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency.
Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s director of the Office of Management and Budget, said the budget proposal is a reflection of Trump’s rhetoric.
“We are taking his words and turning them into policies and dollars,” he explained.
Speaking before the National Governor’s Association on Monday, Trump similarly said his budget proposals aimed to turn his campaign promises into policy.
“This budget follows through on my promise of keeping America safe, keeping out terrorists, keeping out criminals and putting violent offenders behind bars or removing them from our country altogether,” he said.
During the address, Trump touched on streamlining regulations, cutting taxes, boosting infrastructure spending, replacing the Affordable Care Act, and adjusting the tax system as it related to imports and exports. — a tall task for a Republican majority in Congress that has only begun to start working toward implementing Trump’s agenda, which has met a number of initial roadblocks.
“Very complicated issue,” he said about replacing the ACA. “We have come up with a solution that’s really, really, I think very good. … Now, I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.”
In a prebuttal to the Tuesday address, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said Trump’s first month was “less of a bang and more of a whimper,” suggesting what Trump’s opposition will make a focus of the day.
“The portions are small and the food is terrible,” Schumer said. “With respect to the speech tomorrow night, I fully expect the President to resort to the same populist message he used in his campaign and inauguration — full of grandiose promises to the working people of America — to gloss over the reality of his administration.”
The New York senator added: “His speech tomorrow will mean nothing if this President continues to do as he’s done these first few weeks: breaking promises to working people and putting an even greater burden on their backs, while making it even easier to be wealthy and well-connected in America.”
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