Trump in Congress: more subdued but still embracing a world of alternative facts

‘A nation of miracles,’ he promised, but with little indication of how he would get it all done, much less pay for any of it

 

It would be wrong to see in Donald Trump’s somewhat muted rhetoric and policy vagueness before Congress on Tuesday night a sign that the leopard is changing its spots or that his office is beginning to moderate him.

He pledged gain to keep the promises he made to the American people in the election, including the construction of a wall on the Mexican border. More jobs and economic growth. Less crime and poverty. New roads and bridges.

Major changes in the tax code that would cut corporate taxation and provide “massive tax relief for the middle class.” “A nation of miracles,” he promised, though with little indication of how he would get it all done, much less pay for any of it. La La Land.

For all his talk, however, of a “new chapter of American greatness”, his subdued tone and his ”the time for trivial fights is behind us” were admissions that, although his ambitions remain undimmed, the real world, and his supposed Republican allies in Congress may prove formidable obstacles.

Deficit hawks in recent days have made clear they do not see any prospect of approving his colossal $54 billion increase for the Pentagon combined with lavish tax cuts.

Others are lining up against swingeing cuts to programmes. On Monday, he complained to the nation’s governors that “nobody knew” [sic] replacing Obamacare “could be so complicated.”

On Tuesday he was briefing ahead of a speech which reaffirmed hardline opposition to immigration and suddenly opened the door to an immigration bill that would potentially let millions of undocumented immigrants stay in the country legally.

Observers suggested the announcement from the “build the wall” president was as much a surprise to his staff as to those who have long campaigned for precisely such a change. What he will deliver is anyone’s guess.

Trump boasts of his chaotic first month as “promises kept” – only in a world of alternative facts.

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