Trump’s sneak peek of first address before Congress: billions more for defense

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By Stefan Grobe
Trump’s sneak peek of first address before Congress: billions more for defense

Donald Trump’s proposal of a massive ten percent increase of the US defense budget has raised the stakes for his first address before a joint session of Congress.

The increase would boost military spending by $54 billion (51 billion euros) in his first budget plan and should be offset by an equal amount cut from other federal agencies.

A day before his Tuesday night address, Trump called his plan a “public safety budget” focused on increasing law enforcement and keeping out terrorists.

He also indicated that other big-ticket items were coming. “We’re going to start spending on infrastructure, big”, he said in remarks to governors at the White House on Monday without being specific.

Trump’s address before Congress is technically not a State of the Union Address, but it is highly anticipated. It is his maiden speech before the entire federal legislative body.

Many Washington insiders speculated on how Democrats would react in the chamber after a month-long presidential term that was unusually contentious and during which Trump repeatedly attacked and derided the opposition party.

The White House circulated a preview of the president’s remarks in which he is expected to outline his priorities for the country.

Trump will “lay out an optimistic vision for the country that crosses the traditional lines of party, race and socioeconomic status. It will invite Americans of all backgrounds to come together in the service of a stronger, brighter future”, the preview says.

“The President will lay out the concrete steps he has already taken to make the American Dream possible for all of our people”, the document continues.

“All Americans share a desire for safe communities for themselves and their families. All Americans want their children to have access to good schools. And all Americans deserve good jobs that allow them to prosper and dream.”

For far too many people – “the forgotten men and women” – these fundamental desires have been out of reach for too long, the preview says.

The paper mentions in particular presidential actions on regulatory reform, replacing the Obamacare health care law and generally better conditions for working families.

The speech offers Trump an opportunity to stand before millions of viewers around the United States and the world, and try to reframe his presidency after a chaotic opening.

During his first four weeks in office, he rattled world leaders, railed against leaked information, engaged in open warfare with the press and seen his signature effort to halt some immigration thwarted by the courts.

Trump won’t get the last word Tuesday night. Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear will give the Democratic response to Trump’s address.

The Democratic governor of a largely conservative state, Beshear, was a strong supporter of Obamacare and an expansion of Medicaid in 2014. Within two years, his state’s uninsured rate fell nearly 13 percentage points, according to Gallup.