PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to President Trump’s Address to Congress
"President Trump’s speech should help him gain public support for his programs. Inviting Democrats to put petty politics aside and work with him for the good of the country was a reasonable request." - Robert Genetski
President Donald Trump last night delivered his first speech to a joint session of Congress – the equivalent of a president’s State of the Union Address.
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“No president has ever advocated school choice more strongly than President Trump did last night – and it’s not even close. President Trump framed the issue beautifully: School choice is a path out of poverty, failing schools, and violence for millions of children across America. School choice is a chance to break free of the government-controlled system that keeps poor families down in the service of union jobs. Bravo!
“I also noticed the dog that didn’t bark: global warming. The words ‘global warming,’ or ‘green energy,’ and not even ‘climate’ passed Trump’s lips. It’s long past time that America’s national policy abandoned the myth that humans have their hand on the global thermostat, and if we all just work together – with the poor suffering first and most – we can turn it down by, say, a half-degree by 2100. Good for Trump for putting an end to that fraud.”
“President Trump’s speech should help him gain public support for his programs. Inviting Democrats to put petty politics aside and work with him for the good of the country was a reasonable request. By showing a lack of support for victims of crime, for honoring soldiers, for aspirational goals everyone wants, and even for programs they favor, congressional Democrats appeared petty and obstructive. The speech elevated Trump while their behavior demeaned his opponents.”
“President Trump was strong and presidential. The Democrats, especially the women in white, looked weak and petty. Trump took the high road, reaching across the aisle, looking for the common ground on major issues. But the Democrats couldn’t even applaud jobs, defeating ISIS, clean water, or police officers. What do they even stand for?
“This was not a Republican vs. Democrat speech, and not even a conservative vs. progressive speech. It was an ‘I am for America; who’s with me?’ speech, and the Democrats failed big league in front of the country.
“Trump proved that he can be presidential. He was calm, direct, and informed. He laid out an agenda and hit on the topics that mean the most to Americans: jobs, the economy, health care, common-sense environmental regulation, and border security. It is not a solidly conservative agenda but it puts the safety of the people in our country first.
“Since being elected, President Trump has used actions to prove his words. And now his words of unity and reaching across the aisle to accomplish the needs of our nation should resonate for all.”
Ms. Grande represented the 41st District in the North Dakota Legislature from 1996 to 2014.
“After spending three months in denial and six weeks at the peak of anger, the Democrats and the progressive left will soon begin to move on from anger to bargaining – step three in the five stages of grief.
“In just one speech, President Trump successfully managed a transition from campaign firebrand to presidential statesman last night. That is a unique accomplishment. While remaining firmly committed to the policies he has advocated thus far, Trump changed his tone in a way that can irrevocably alter the dynamic of the debate, adopting a much more sympathetic persona that will make his opponents’ blatant hostility toward him seem much less justifiable. The Democrats and the press will recover their footing quickly, of course, and resume the ferocity of their attacks. Trump will likely respond in kind at times. Nonetheless, the style of debate is changing, and in Trump’s favor.
“That will benefit all of those who have tired of the sneering partisanship of the past eight years, which President Obama instigated and continually stoked. Few would have thought that Donald Trump would be the person to achieve that much-needed change.”
“In his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Donald Trump proved that he can be, well, presidential. In a wide-ranging speech that began on a conciliatory note and ended with hope for the future, Donald Trump outlined an agenda that went beyond purely partisan positions of either party, offering nearly every constituency in America something it could get behind. After a rough and tumble start – much criticized by the media and the opposition party – President Trump offered hope last night that if Americans of all stripes can put aside petty partisan differences and recognize instead what we have in common, we can yet make America great again.
“In contrast to his inaugural address, in which he laid out what he saw as Washington’s and the nation’s many failings, Mr. Trump’s speech last night was more a blueprint for a path forward and a hopeful sign for the future. Let us hope that both partisans and critics view it that way.”
“President Trump finally said what I’d hoped he would say throughout his campaign. He was not elected world leader, but rather president of the United States. His charge is, and focus should be, protecting and defending the interests, lives, and well-being of the people of the United States within the bounds of the Constitution.
“If in carrying out these duties, peoples and nations outside of the U.S. benefit, all the better, and I think in many instances they will. But seeing to the world’s well-being is not the responsibility of the office he was elected to hold, and all too often in the past, presidents have put the interests of the world – by which I mean the interests of other countries as expressed through international or multilateral agreements – ahead of what policies promote the health, wealth, and well-being of Americans. It’s good to see Trump recognizes this.”
“President Trump’s speech represented a mixed economic bag of proposals and claims. He proposed some good ideas, but other ideas require reevaluation.
“Trump’s commitment to relax and reduce unnecessarily burdensome regulations should be applauded, but his promise to spend up to $1 trillion in taxpayer money on infrastructure jobs programs is one he should reconsider. Government does not create jobs and should not be in the business of economic stimulus. Creating optimal conditions for businessmen and businesswomen to hire and employ Americans is a proven way to boost the economy, whereas throwing taxpayer money at the problem is a proven loser.”
“The gravitas President Trump displayed discussing subjects important to liberty-minded Americans defied expectations on each side of the aisle.
“Trump precisely phrased his intention to ‘repeal and replace,’ and not merely repair, the Affordable Care Act, putting at ease conservatives and libertarians doubting Trump’s commitment to health care reform. Millions more patients will benefit from free-market, patient-centered principles guiding Trump’s Obamacare replacement than have benefitted from Obamacare.
“Trump is poised to lead all Americans toward greater and cheaper access to health care, as opposed to mere insurance, by implementing market-based reforms maximizing patient choice.”
“I was very glad to hear President Trump say ‘repeal’ about Obamacare and call it an ‘imploding disaster.’ He wasn’t very clear about the ‘replace’ part, however. Yes, the price of insurance needs to come down, and I hope he means by relief from mandates and regulations, not price controls. But just how do you ensure that uninsurables have access to insurance of their choice? By forcing others to pay for it.”
“Trump went a long way toward normalizing himself with the American people. With luck, he may become as popular as his better policies.”
“I applaud President Trump’s recognition of the need for education choice. I eagerly await the details and hope his plans provide not only freedom for students, but freedom for states to implement education choice unencumbered by mandates from the federal government.
“My initial policy suggestions would be implement education savings accounts for students in Washington, DC and Native Americans in Bureau of Indian Education schools; expand Coverdell 529 plans to allow expenditures from pre-kindergarten through high school while increasing pre-tax limits to $5,000 per year per child; implement a personal education income tax credit for all PK-12 education expenses; end all federal mandates on testing and requirements that keep Common Core State Standards in place; and announce all current federal education grants will not be renewed upon completion.”
“President Trump’s speech was refreshing in that it talked about creating jobs for American workers. Rather than kill jobs and hurt businesses with symbolic gestures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions – which provide zero tangible environmental benefits – President Trump sought to roll back burdensome regulations and provide family-supporting jobs for middle- income Americans.”
“President Trump’s address to Congress was a breath of fresh air. Not once did he mention the previous administration’s absurd objective of ‘stopping climate change.’ The president said nothing about ‘global warming,’ ‘green energy’ or ‘carbon pollution.’ Instead he called for sensible programs to ‘promote clean air and clear water,’ important objectives we can actually accomplish without bankrupting the country.
“Perhaps most critical was Trump’s promise to stop ‘a regulation that threatens the future and livelihoods of our great coal miners.’ It is clear he was mostly referencing the so-called Clean Power Plan – EPA’s destructive and futile rules that are the cornerstone of President Obama’s misguided Climate Action Plan.
“Finally, Trump’s said he ‘will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States.’ One of the many benefits of such a program will be to make America more resilient to the extreme weather and climate change that are, and always will be, parts of natural cycles on planet Earth. Let’s hope that other world leaders follow President Trump’s example.”
International Climate Science Coalition
Ottawa, Canada Policy
Advisor, Energy and Environment
The Heartland Institute
“Politically, this was a big win for Donald Trump. This was the ‘good Donald Trump’ – on the teleprompter, on message, with a well-crafted speech. He gave conservatives quite a lot of what they wanted, while throwing in some stuff that liberals like, such as paid maternity leave and a massive infrastructure program. He also offered some great political theater by recognizing the wife of slain Navy Seal William ‘Ryan’ Owens. Even the Democrats had to stand and applaud when he lauded the cops, regardless of what their gut impulses may have been.
“Nothing Trump said, however, will make real policy dilemmas go away. Repealing and replacing Obamacare is more easily said than done, and conservatives are going to bridle at the pork-barrel infrastructure plan and a massive maternity leave entitlement. But Trump showed that the ‘good’ Donald Trump – disciplined and on message – may, indeed, be an effective president. But only so long as he keeps he ‘bad’ Donald Trump in check.”
“Most pundits have focused on President Trump’s declaration that education is the ‘civil rights issue of our time.’ But even more critical was his contention that schools must enrich both the mind and souls of every American child. Traditional public schools abandoned concern for our nation’s civic soul decades ago. Home, charter, and private schools have not. Thus, it is no wonder why President Trump wants to empower these institutions through the expansion of school choice – to once again cultivate the intellect and moral imagination of every American child.”
“The president’s opening was very smooth, with his appeal to civil rights progress and equality. His pivot to ‘putting our own people first’ was not harsh nationalism, but the kind of self-regard even Ron Paul would advocate.
“His list of job promises is problematic, but it is encouraging he wants to emphasize the labor market and the issues of workers who have become much less in demand, in small towns and older industries. The coal mines and steel mills won’t return, except perhaps as theme parks.
“Trump’s listing of trade statistics ‘since China was admitted to the World Trade Organization’ is almost meaningless. Those numbers make no macro-economic difference to any businessman. In summary, President Trump’s economic program is a nothing. I believe he will be leaving trade policy entirely up to United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. The latter’s International Trade Administration (ITA) is a powerful tariff agency, available on demand to Lighthizer’s former clients. This is the new choke point in economic growth, as ITA anti-dumping duties raise costs of component parts used by American industries.”
“President Trump gave not just a presidential speech, but a great presidential speech. The Democrats acted like spoiled brats, and they will regret their ‘performance.’ I agree with most everything Trump said and the elegant way he said it. It was a uniter speech, not a divider speech. Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered an important speech on crime earlier in the day, and it fit hand-in-glove with Trump’s speech.
“Gaining control of the Supreme Court is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Trump will never fully achieve his agenda without a Supreme Court that draws a line in the sand regarding federal legal authority. Congress has to be boxed in, given its very poor record controlling bureaucratic overreach.”
“President Trump gave a great address to Congress. The economic malaise the nation has been struggling with was caused by the Obama administration’s obsession with thwarting use of our abundant, inexpensive, and geographically distributed coal, oil, and natural gas over unfounded fears carbon dioxide from using these fuels was causing catastrophic global warming. Hundreds of thousands of years of experimental temperature and carbon dioxide level data show changes in carbon dioxide have an insignificant influence on climate change compared to natural effects.
“President Trump issued an executive order overturning an EPA regulation that prevented coal mines being near bodies of water. In addition, President Trump ordered completion of the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, which allow increased production of oil. President Trump plans to overturn EPA’s Clean Power Plan regulation, which forces the electric power industry to reduce fossil fuel use and replace their energy sources with solar and wind energy that are unreliable, expensive, and require use of vast land areas.
“Increasing fossil fuel use generates thousands of new jobs, increases wealth through new taxes and royalties, and has zero cost to taxpayers. Economic improvements should be seen by the end of the year.”
“Holy cow! The guy who has been characterized as a shoot-from-the-hip Tweeter delivered a comprehensive and eloquent speech on the problems of the nation and his proposals for solving those problems. He delivered a short speech with a big hammer. “Trump actually has done many of the things that need doing, and in less than two months. We can only hope that politics and social pressures in DC will not dissuade him from the rest of his promised agenda. “Trump could have pointed to his excellent appointments, but he instead focused on the problems and his plans to address them. I would argue his appointments alone display a serious and professional commitment to do good – and he has already has performed at a very high level.”
“President Trump, in his commanding address to Congress, lamented the $6 trillion spent in wars in the Middle East over the past two decades that have left that region and the world worse off. This was an indictment not only of his immediate predecessor, but also of the one prior to that. He also lamented the slowness of the recovery during the prior seven years. This implicitly acknowledged the recession that the prior administration inherited from the one before it. Thus, while Trump rallied the Republicans, he also asked the Democrats to join him in fixing the problems that beset the country.
“Trump outlined how he is already well underway with his agenda via executive actions, and he looked to Congress for budgetary and legislative support in key areas. In his budget, he wants to preserve Social Security and Medicare while dramatically increasing spending on the military, by cutting domestic discretionary spending. He wants to repeal and replace Obamacare and send Medicaid to the states. He wants to fight crime and drugs and increase choice in education so that every child in America can grow up in a safe neighborhood and have the opportunity to be successful in life. He wants fairness in trade with a border tax the equivalent of the taxes faced by our companies when the export goods. He wants a tax code that is competitive and works both for those who sign the front of the paycheck and those who sign the back. He wants to reform immigration laws so as to prioritize self-sufficiency.
“In terms of his executive actions, he is jawboning defense contractors, revisiting the regulatory burden facing industry, promoting the rebuilding of the country’s infrastructure, and restoring the nation – as opposed to one-world government – as the building block of human development. It is a big and bold agenda, requiring leadership, coordinated action, and confidence on the part of the many decision-makers that constitute a free society.”
“I applaud President Trump’s desire to give ‘disadvantaged’ youth a choice of educational options. I regret that his good intentions are limited to ‘disadvantaged’ youth. Our entire public school system needs dramatic repairs in curriculum and instruction. All parents regardless of income, race, and ethnicity need to be able to make choices.”
“President Trump has the difficult task of restoring prosperity and robust economic growth in a regulatory atmosphere that has been polluted by government organizations with false claims and exaggerations about the environment. For example, in January, the United States Global Change Research Program published a report claiming the U.S. is facing possible dire sea level rise of over eight feet by 2100, and even greater on the Northeast Atlantic and Gulf coasts. That amount would be faster than what occurred during the melting of the great ice sheets covering much of the Northern Hemisphere during the last ice age, increasing sea levels by about 400 feet over thousands of years. For the last 3,000 years, sea level rise has been averaging about seven inches per century.
“Such irresponsible government reports make responsible planning for economic growth and infrastructure development impossible.”