President Trump declared Tuesday that a “new chapter of American greatness is now beginning” as he made economic revival the centerpiece of his first address to Congress – issuing a clarion call to “restart the engine of the American economy” through tax cuts, better trade deals, immigration enforcement and a $1 trillion infrastructure program.
He also called on Congress to replace what he called the “imploding ObamaCare disaster” with legislation that lowers costs and expands access, an ambitious goal for GOP lawmakers still trying to come together on a plan.
The president outlined his agenda in an address to a joint session of Congress that lasted roughly an hour and focused largely on priorities at home, more than abroad. He offered a decidedly upbeat vision for the future of the country that stood in contrast to his at-times foreboding inauguration address.
“Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved. And every hurting family can find healing, and hope,” Trump said, urging lawmakers to “join forces” to deliver.
Trump for the most part traded the contentious and punchy tone of the last few weeks for loftier – some might say more presidential – rhetoric. Declaring “the time for small thinking is over,” Trump appealed to the country to “believe, once more, in America.”
“A new chapter of American greatness is now beginning. A new national pride is sweeping across our nation,” he said. “And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.”
He described his address as a “message of unity and strength.”
The generally well-received speech could mark an opportunity for Trump to reset his young presidency after a rocky start in which clashes with the media and staffing controversies at times overshadowed action on the jobs front.
In perhaps the most memorable moment of the night, the audience broke out into extended applause as Trump introduced the widow of William “Ryan” Owens, the Navy SEAL killed in a raid in Yemen last month. Carryn Owens sobbed as lawmakers gave her a standing ovation and Trump said the raid he participated in yielded vital intelligence. His “legacy is etched into eternity,” Trump said.
In between the more dramatic moments were a host of policy prescriptions that could have a big impact on discussions in Congress.
Trump called for a “national rebuilding,” urging Congress to pass legislation that produces a $1 trillion public-private investment in infrastructure. …
Speaking to a key campaign promise that has yet to be realized, he said his team is developing “historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone.” He vowed a “big, big cut” including “massive tax relief for the middle class.”
And he urged Congress to replace ObamaCare “with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better health care.”
He outlined “principles” to guide negotiations, including …