Republicans Praise Trump, Democrats Want Details

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump drew bipartisan praise for his emphasis on infrastructure in his address to Congress last night (READ FULL TEXT), although Democrats and Republicans remain divided on how successful he was at unifying the country.

The speech set an optimistic tone that apparently resonated with the public, according to a CNN/ORD poll of viewers. Seventy-eight percent of people who watched the speech had a positive reactive, the poll found, and 57% had a very positive reaction.

“Tonight we heard a proclamation of strength, confidence, and ambition in pursuit of a greater country and better future for every single American. It was one of the most positive and unifying addresses I have ever heard delivered at that podium,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-3 Pa., in a statement emailed to reporters.

“As the president said, ‘The time for small thinking is over.’ We as a government have major mountains to climb and great victories to achieve on behalf of the American people, and tonight, our president made clear that failure is not an option,” he continued.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, concurred that the time for small thinking and “trivial fights” is over. He called Trump’s address to the joint session of Congress “the most uplifting and uniting speech” heard in the chamber in at least a decade.

Johnson said he was “particularly interested” and “pleased” to hear about Trump’s infrastructure plans.

“There is no question that our roads and bridges — as well as our energy infrastructure and broadband infrastructure — need improvement,” he said. “Nowhere is this clearer than in parts of Eastern and Southeastern Ohio, where so many infrastructure needs exist, and some residents don’t even have access to broadband service.”

And Johnson agreed with Trump that the Affordable Care Act is “imploding,” and called on Congress to repeal and replace it with a system that expands choices, increases access and lowers health-care costs.

“At the same time, we must enable a smooth transition for those Americans currently on Medicaid and the exchanges, while keeping such popular provisions as protecting coverage for those for pre-existing conditions,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-13 Ohio, said Trump “has a lot of work to do to turn his soaring rhetoric into real policy.” The budget he outlined last night “is riddled with cuts to programs and agencies that protect American consumers from Wall Street abuse, and keep America’s influence around the world strong and a force for good.

“While I was encouraged to hear him emphasize policies such as a massive infrastructure bill and buy American provisions, he must now prove he is willing to work in a bipartisan manner to make them happen,” Ryan said.

“We still did not hear any concrete policies about Republican plans for health-care reform, a comprehensive jobs package, or tax reform that will lift up all Americans, not just millionaires and billionaires.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said while Trump talked about “healing divisions and bringing Americans together,” the best way to accomplish that is by working on “priorities where we all agree like putting Americans to work rebuilding our roads, bridges and infrastructure.

“We can all agree that creating jobs and rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure should be top priorities, and it was promising to hear President Trump renew his commitments to overhauling our trade policy and using American steel to rebuild our public works. But now we need to see action.” Brown said he has shared his ideas for helping the president fulfill his promises on trade and infrastructure jobs and is “ready to get to work with President Trump whenever he’s willing to do what’s right for Ohio.” At the same time, he pledged to fight against policies that are wrong for the state.

Jane Timken, chairwoman of the Ohio Republican Party, said Trump laid out a “bold, optimistic vision for the country” during the address. She called on Democrats, including Brown by name, to join the president to help fix America’s problems.

Scott Paul, president of the American Alliance for Manufacturing, said he was pleased to hear Trump’s commitment to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure, reform tax codes and rebalance trade deals, but questioned the lack of details.

“While always nice to hear, shout-outs to manufacturing are nothing new in a presidential address. The policy details matter. American workers deserve more than rhetoric. It’s time to get to work,” he said.

Amanda Ballantyne, national director of the Main Street Alliance, offered more pointed criticism of the speech. During the address, she said, Trump again made “unsubstantiated promises to support working Americans, their communities and the economy.”

In his first month in office, he has done the opposite, “by rolling back regulatory reforms that protect small businesses and consumers, filling his cabinet with secretaries who have made a career of decimating Main Street,” she continued.

“The type of widespread deregulation that President Trump advocates would be detrimental to small businesses and their communities on a number of levels,” Ballantyne said.  “Small business owners benefit from regulations that level the playing field and protect communities and investments that foster growth on Main Street.”

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.