US President Donald Trump spoke to Breitbart News at the Oval Office on Monday, a day before he is expected to address a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night. Traditionally this speech is expected to set the tone for any administration moving forward, kind of like how the State of the Union address takes into account, well, the state of the country during the past year.
Trump said health care, taxes, the economy, military spending and the "mess he inherited" will be some of the issues he will raise before Congress. Here is a look at some of the things he insists he will fix.
America First…without Obamacare:
"We’re going to be talking about Obamacare, and what we’re going to do about the disaster known as Obamacare, because it’s a complete and total disaster."
Trump and the Republicans have been seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act instituted by Barack Obama. But other than an obvious realisation that national health care is indeed a “complicated matter,” the only thing Trump has revealed about his alternate plan is that it is “really really very good.”
Not many people know much about Trumpcare – including Republican congress members – other than what can be gleaned from his short comments to the press. One website attempts to decode it based on media snippets but disavows itself from an official association.
For instance, Trump has said he wants everyone to have insurance but has not said how that would be possible. By mid-February, the administration started adjusting Obamacare without any replacement plan in place.
Donald and taxes:
"We’re going to be talking about taxes. We’re going to be talking about the economy generally."
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday Trump in his speech would preview some elements of his plans to cut taxes for the middle class, simplify the tax system and make American companies more globally competitive.
But all this talk does not translate to easy success. Those who make the most money will benefit the most from the cuts. Middle-class families with children and single parents are expected to see their “tax bill go up."
As for the punishing import tax which Trump is considering for businesses, otherwise known as the border adjustment tax, not everyone is rejoicing.
Retailers are worried about the 20 percent levy on imports which will drive up the prices of consumer goods they bring in. This will impact the price of clothes Americans buy, the guacamole they eat as they watch five hours of TV daily on TV sets that will also become more expensive to purchase.
Businesses – pharmaceuticals and aircraft – which export products are happy as they will not be taxed. But even advocates of the plan point out it will drive up the dollar which will, in turn, hurt exports by making US goods less competitive in the global market.
And his audience would do well to remember, his tax plan went through several facelifts during his campaign and is still liable to change before it is formally presented to Congress for consideration.
Increased military spending:
"We’re going to be talking about the military and spending money on the military, and the border."
On Monday, the White House said the Trump administration’s first budget proposal will include a bump in defence and security spending by $54 billion and a dollar-to-dollar reduction from non-military programmes, such as the environmental protection agency or the state department.
This would drive the defence budget to just over $600 billion. The US spends more on military than the next eight countries combined. Let that sink in for a moment.
While this might be music to the ears of Senator John McCain, a known hawk wanting a $700 billion defence budget, what justifies this level of spending?
Is the world’s most powerful military in need of more funds, or is the state department, which reaches out to war-torn, poor and terror-hit countries to educate, feed and treat people?
The latter, according to 120 generals and admirals with years of combat experience.
Retired General David Petraeus and retired Admiral James Stavridis, the former NATO supreme allied commander, were among other military leaders who signed a letter which said state department funding is "critical to keeping America safe."
"The State Department, USAID, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Peace Corps and other development agencies are critical to preventing conflict and reducing the need to put our men and women in uniform in harm's way," the generals wrote.
The letter quoted the current US Defense Secretary James Mattis’ defence of “soft power” from a few years ago where he said if the state department was underfunded, he would need to buy more ammunition.
If Trump expands military spending, he will be buying more weapons, military hardware and most possibly and importantly, be putting more US soldiers on the line in questionable wars.
Cleaning up or creating a mess?
"And we’ll be talking about many different subjects—and as much in a up-tone is the fact that I inherited a mess."
Trump might say he inherited a mess but, realistically, which US president gets a clean docket? And at the rate at which the current president is going – Russia’s intervention in US elections and policy; a nuclear arms race, building border walls, threatening to undo new and delicate ties, such as the one with Iran – Trump is priming the global canvas for a bloody chaos worthy of Jackson Pollack.
If nothing else, Tuesday night's address by Trump will be good television.
The Democrats have invited immigrants who have been affected by the Trump travel ban to the event. The Democrats said an immigration activist will deliver the Spanish-language response to Trump’s speech, the first outsider to do so.
Women from the Democratic Party have been encouraged to wear white – a salute to the suffragette movement, at a time when Trump is seen as anti-abortion and sexist. Emotions are expected to run high on several issues.