President Trumps’ Address to a Joint Session of Congress: Reactions and Unanswered Questions

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By: Jennifer Krowchun

Last night President Trump laid out before Congress and the American people a list of campaign promises and a 50,000 foot view of his vision for our country.  A number of broad ideas were presented, some very partisan and others that could find supporters on both sides of the aisle. With no specific details on the table, the President has left Congressional Republicans with the task of developing realistic legislation within the $4 trillion federal budget and that doesn’t increase the deficit.

Economy

President Trump reiterated his request that Congress draft and pass legislation that would produce a $1 trillion investment in U.S. infrastructure — financed through both public and private capital — focused on creating millions of new jobs and on buying and hiring American.  For Congress to even consider a major infrastructure investment, it will first need to address the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act.

Healthcare

Everyone can support a healthcare plan that calls for cheaper drugs and insurance costs for patients and doctors, coverage for pre-existing conditions and more resources for states to address Medicaid coverage – but the fundamental issue is finding ample funds for these programs if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. Democrats have long championed the need for paid family leave and affordable childcare and President Trump embraced this last night in an effort to portray a message of unity. Still, what is the plan to make this more than a talking point?

On the idea of Heath Savings Accounts, some see these as good policy as they require employees to plan for healthcare expenses in the future.  However these accounts are often tied to high deductible health insurance plans and affect middle class families whose budgets are already stretched thin.

Immigration

The theme of the President’s speech was “the renewal of the American Spirit.”  Immigration is a cornerstone of our country and its vast economic impacts across industry sectors needs to be recognized and addressed seriously.  Corporations, universities, hospitals, financial institutions are already dealing with the consequences of the first executive order that was halted the by federal courts.  Going forward, what will future enforcements look like and what will they cost the economy?  What will they do to our international relationships?

In the end this address was good for the President’s base as they continue to feel that they are being heard. The coming weeks should be interesting and informative as policy details emerge and budget implications become clearer.