Trump to Unveil Policy Agenda in Address to Congress

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By Cheryl Bolen

Streamlining regulations and speeding up the approval process for new projects, cutting taxes, rebuilding the nation’s military, slashing government spending and increasing infrastructure spending are among the goals that President Donald Trump will outline to a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28.

“So the budget, which is going to be a very big part of tomorrow night’s speech, it’s going to be I think a budget of great rationality,” Trump said Feb. 27 during a meeting with governors. “But it’s going to have to do with military, safety, economic development and things such as that. Great detail tomorrow night,” he said.

The widely anticipated address to a joint session of Congress will be Trump’s first formal opportunity to outline his policy agenda and priorities to lawmakers and the nation, which remain deeply divided.

“So we’re going to make it easier for states to invest in infrastructure, and I’m going to have a big statement tomorrow night on infrastructure,” Trump added.

Setting Expectations

This address will be grounded firmly in solving real problems for real people and addressing the daily challenges faced by people across the country, a White House official said.

Americans have been waiting for help from their leaders for too long, and during his speech, the president will let them know that help is on the way, the official said.

Another official said the first part of the speech will be a recount of “promises made and promises kept.” The president is expected to list the executive orders and memorandums he has signed, he said.

Optimistic Vision

White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Feb. 27 that the president will lay out an optimistic vision for the country, crossing traditional lines of party, race and socioeconomic status.

“In addition to laying out the concrete steps the president has already taken to make the American dream possible for all of our people, he will talk about the bold agenda he wants to work with Congress,” Spicer said.

This includes tax and regulatory overhaul to provide relief to hard-working Americans and businesses, Spicer said. Also, making the workplace better for working parents, replacing Obamacare with a “patient-centered alternative,” ensuring access to a good education, rebuilding the military and fulfilling the nation’s commitments to its veterans, he said.

Searching for Policy Direction

William Galston, chair of the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies Program, told Bloomberg BNA that congressional Republicans are divided on high-profile legislative initiatives such as replacing the Affordable Care Act, overhauling taxes and investing in infrastructure.

“If President Trump wants to accelerate the process, he should take the occasion to indicate his preferences on the key controversies slowing these initiatives, such as the fate of the Medicaid expansion, the border adjustment tax, and the vehicle for infrastructure investment (tax credits only, or direct spending as well),” Galston said.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Manufacturers, in anticipation of the address, kicked off its 2017 State of Manufacturing Tour on Feb. 22 in Austin, Texas. The tour was scheduled to be in Columbus, Ohio, on Feb. 27, and in Pittsburgh, Pa., on Feb. 28.

“Manufacturing has the national spotlight, and over the next week, the tour will visit manufacturing facilities around the country . . . to highlight the impact of manufacturing and discuss what we need to see from Congress and President Trump on issues like tax reform, infrastructure investment, regulatory reform and workforce training,” a spokeswoman said.

Deregulation Costing Consumers

According to a new analysis by the Center for American Progress, Trump’s major economic policy actions in his first 39 days “form a concerning agenda that puts corporate profits ahead of everyday Americans.”

After just one month in office, Trump has already endangered retirement savings and access to expanded overtime pay and affordable mortgages, the report said.

While Trump has undermined the economic security of the middle class, he has also ensured that the wealthy have benefited by beginning to rollback regulations on the financial and energy industries, according to the analysis.

CAP’s new analysis found that Trump’s early policy actions, such as stopping the Department of Labor’s fiduciary and overtime rules, set the middle class on a path to lose nearly $189.5 billion over the next decade or, on average, $1,331 per middle-class household.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cheryl Bolen in Washington at cbolen@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at phendrie@bna.com

Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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