Trump strikes new tone but leaves questions unanswered in major speech

World Today

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to joint session of U.S. Congress

President Donald Trump’s first speech to Congress left Republicans encouraged and enthusiastic Wednesday, yet still confronting thorny divisions on health care, taxes and more.

Trump’s disciplined and optimistic tone was what GOP lawmakers wanted to hear after a rocky first month that provoked daily anxiety on Capitol Hill with every new presidential tweet. Republicans welcomed Trump’s presentation and his call for “a new chapter of American greatness.”

“It’s just one speech, but I think what we see is a guy who comes from outside the political process now weaving his way through into becoming an effective leader,” said Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga.

Trump strikes new tone but leaves questions unanswered in major speech

President Donald Trump’s first speech to Congress left Republicans encouraged and enthusiastic Wednesday, yet still confronting thorny divisions on health care, taxes and more. CGTN’s Nathan King reports.

Yet even though Trump offered some specifics on health care and appeared to embrace a key element of a leadership-backed plan emerging in the House, his comments did little to settle an extremely difficult debate over Republicans’ top legislative priority.

Indeed, a day after the president called for “unity and strength,” Republicans looked as divided as ever as they try to make good on seven years of promises to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s health care law. Most said Trump’s speech hadn’t changed that or brought them much closer together.

“I don’t know that that was his intent,” said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. “But I mean he gave the kind of guidelines that I think most presidents give on issues like this and it’s up to us.”

As Republicans cheered and Democrats sat silently Tuesday night, Trump declared: “We should help Americans purchase their own coverage, through the use of tax credits and expanded health savings accounts – but it must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by the government.” Those were comments House GOP leaders interpreted as an embrace of their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act with a new system built around refundable tax credits.

But conservatives who’ve been rebelling against that plan, denouncing the credits as a costly new entitlement, disagreed. And they showed no sign of backing down.

GOP Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who has joined Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky in declaring their opposition to the legislation emerging in the House, accused the media of “bending over backwards” to interpret Trump’s remark as a specific legislative proposal. Cruz insisted that Congress should begin by passing legislation that simply repeals Obamacare like a bill Obama vetoed in early 2016.

“That should be on the (Senate) floor. And from there we should build up, and we should focus on areas of consensus,” Cruz said. “We should not focus on ideas that divide us and pull us apart.”

Story by the Associated Press


Edward Ashbee talks about the global influence of Trump’s speech

For more on the tone, message and substance of Trump’s speech and its global influence, CGTN’s Asieh Namdar spoke to Edward Ashbee, associate professor in the Dept of Business and Politics at Copenhagen Business School.