Donald Trump made his first congressional address Tuesday night, using the speech to highlight his self-proclaimed “successes” since taking office while repeating his commitment to several key campaign promises.
Speaking from the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Trump addressed a full gathering of congress as well as his daughter Ivanka and wife Melania, who were also in attendance.
After briefly acknowledging that by working with key U.S. companies like General Motors, Ford, Lockheed, and Intel, the companies have pledged to create thousands of new U.S. jobs, Trump went on to provide an overview of his accomplishments during his first months in office.
The president briefly touched on his contentious immigration ban, which he continues to hail as a success, citing the nation’s long-suffering middle class as the key reason behind the measure. Using this to segue into talk of the budget for the upcoming October fiscal year, Trump repeated his campaign promise of “historic tax reform” which he says would reduce the tax rate for companies in an attempt to make them more competitive on the international stage.
Also included in the tax reform is a “big, big cut” providing “massive tax relief” for the nation’s struggling middle class.
While Trump addressed Congress, an estimated 200 individuals comprising the Working Families Party, Invisible Grassroots, and ACLU protested outside.
Trump used an honorary mention of U.S. Navy Special Operator Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens to reaffirm his commitment to add an additional $100 billion in funding to the armed forces over the next 18 months. Owens was killed in a Trump-ordered raid in Yemen on January 29. It has been reported that Owens’ father has refused offers to meet President Trump, and has demanded an investigation into the death of his son.
As expected, Trump went into detail about the role the Medicare and Medicaid systems would play in his vision for a new national healthcare system following the repeal of Obamacare.
In an effort to deliver on one of his major campaign promises, Trump is expected to dramatically cut domestic spending in an effort to preserve social security and Medicare – the two biggest drains on the federal government currently accounting for over 60 percent of all spending.
This position is starkly different from that of House Speaker Paul Ryan who has long been vocal about the need to cut costly government programs such as social security, Medicade, and Medicare to reduce the government deficit.
It has been predicted that areas of the economy to face cuts to funding include education, poverty alleviation, science, and healthcare programs.
While Ryan’s plans for cuts to social services may provide a much-needed financial windfall for the government, they have proven time and time again to be unattractive to the public and similar measures have been cited as the reason the Republicans lost the White House in 2012.
Even so, it is unlikely that a budget containing the significant increases in spending as directed by Trump with no major cuts would pass Congress. Failure to pass a budget for the upcoming October fiscal year could have dire consequences for the Trump administration’s promised tax shakeup.
It is clear that both President Trump and the greater Republican Party will need to make compromises to push through a successful budget. While Ryan seems ready for the challenge, speaking to the New York Times, Douglas Elmendorf, the former director of the congressional budget office and current dean of Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, says bringing the president to a compromise may be easier said than done.
“The Republican establishment has consistently overestimated its ability to move Donald Trump to the positions it supports.”
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