President TrumpDonald John TrumpCynthia Nixon calls for Americans to ‘take to the streets’ if Trump fires Mueller Trump declines to implement new Russia sanctions Comey praises McCabe: He ‘stood tall’ while ‘small people’ tried to tear down the FBI MORE touted a robust economy and laid out an ambitious agenda in his first State of the Union address Tuesday night, an 80-minute marathon jammed with policy proposals that will be difficult to achieve in a bitterly divided Congress.
Trump’s wish list included a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package, immigration reform and new powers to promote or fire federal workers.
But just as notable was what Trump didn’t say — and what that says about an inexperienced but emboldened politician still learning the trappings of his new office.
Here are eight big things that were missing from Trump’s address on Tuesday.
Trump outlined the four pillars of an immigration reform package he said should satisfy, or at least mollify, both parties — including a path to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants brought to the country illegally as children, a wall along the southern border, the repeal of a visa lottery program and an end to so-called chain migration.
But beyond immigration, a president who has made clear his disinterest in policy minutiae offered few details. State of the Union addresses are rarely the venue for detailed policy outlines, though Trump’s address stood out for a lack of specificity.
He declared the opioid epidemic “terrible,” without offering a plan to stem the tens of thousands of deaths caused by drug overdoses every year. He called for paid family leave, a favorite subject of his daughter and senior advisor Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpCelebrity chef José Andrés claims Ivanka Trump barred him from reception Six months in, Kelly emerges as policy force Hollywood’s squandered #MeToo moment MORE, without detailing how or what that program would look like.
Most notably, Trump asked Congress to pass a bill to generate $1.5 trillion in new infrastructure investments. He said federal money should be bolstered by public-private partnerships, though he offered scant details about how Congress should pay for the bill.
Debt and Deficits
The Republican Party spent the Obama years focused on fiscal prudence and discipline, harshly criticizing Democrats for spending far too much on everything from a stimulus package in the depths of a recession to the Affordable Care Act.
Today, Republicans in Congress seem far less interested in the nation’s red ink. Trump himself did not use the word “debt” during his address, nor did he lay out how he would pay for the massive infrastructure spending plan. The tax-reform package Congress passed last year will only add to the bills future generations must pay off.
For the fiscally conservative GOP, the era of big deficits appears to be back.
The Affordable Care Act
Trump came to office pledging to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, his predecessor’s signature domestic policy achievement. But after a year in which the GOP failed to advance a repeal measure, or even agree on a replacement, ObamaCare barely received a mention.
“We repealed the core of disastrous ObamaCare,” Trump declared. “The individual mandate is now gone.”
Beyond the defunct mandate to have insurance, which Republicans repealed in their tax bill, Trump did not mention the Affordable Care Act. Pointedly, he did not call on Congress to try again to repeal it.
That shouldn’t be a surprise: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHouse passes sexual abuse reporting bill after Nassar sentencing Overnight Health Care: Senate Dems block 20-week abortion ban | Azar sworn in as HHS chief | Dems demand answers on family planning funds | GOP takes sting out of ObamaCare McConnell knocks Pelosi over immigration rhetoric MORE (R-Ky.) said in December the upper chamber would “probably move on” from its efforts to roll back the health-care law.
Attacks on the election system, and the FBI
A year after the American intelligence community concluded that Russian actors tried to influence the 2016 presidential election — and tried to hack into voting systems in nearly two dozen states — Trump did not mention the cyberattacks.
He did mention Russia, once: “Around the world, we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups, and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economies and our values,” Trump said.
He also did not mention the FBI, which his administration has battled since its first days in office. That doesn’t mean the battle is over. The House Intelligence Committee voted Monday to release a controversial memo penned by chairman Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesHouse Intel votes to make Nunes memo public Dem lawmaker: Classified memo is ‘worse than a nothing burger’ Overnight Cybersecurity: Trump taps finance exec as federal CIO | White House downplays talk of 5G takeover | Massive cryptocurrency heist sparks scrutiny MORE (R-Calif.) that alleges FBI misconduct, and a forthcoming inspector general report is expected to be highly critical of the agency’s actions in the run-up to the 2016 election.
But the Sturm und Drang was absent from a speech that all but ignored the most divisive controversies of Trump’s first year in office.
Presidents often use State of the Union addresses to single out members of the other party, especially on areas where they might agree. Former President Obama name-checked Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFreedom Caucus may oppose next stopgap funding bill With the individual mandate gone, we better develop a better solution House Intel votes to make Nunes memo public MORE (R-Wis.) in his final State of the Union, in 2016; he mentioned Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Cybersecurity: Trump taps finance exec as federal CIO | White House downplays talk of 5G takeover | Massive cryptocurrency heist sparks scrutiny Week ahead: Bill to combat election meddling gets a boost Rubio fires chief of staff after allegations of improper conduct MORE (R-Fla.) in 2014, and he invoked his two vanquished White House opponents, Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainRussia accuses US of election interference Portman gives Wynn donation to charities Juan Williams: The Russian war goes on MORE (R-Ariz.) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyShutdown shows Democrats are dreaming Obama is still president Romney applauds ‘courage’ of those testifying against ex-USA Gymnastics doctor Prediction: Speaker Ryan will retire and not run in 2018 MORE (R), in 2013.
Trump appealed to Democrats three times, urging Congress to come together to represent all Americans. And he gestured to some Democrats who applauded his call for paid family leave. But the president did not mention a single Democrat by name.
That’s not entirely unprecedented; Obama did not mention any Republicans during his 2015 address.
For that matter, Republicans
Trump made a special point to mention Rep. Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScalisePence to headline pro-Trump PAC event: report Dems sour on shutdown tactics Scalise returns to Capitol after post-shooting surgery MORE (R-La.), the House majority whip who survived a gunman’s assault on a congressional baseball practice last summer.
But, in a speech that highlighted a cast of characters seemingly large enough to fill half the gallery, Trump did not mention any other members of Congress.
After a year in which he publicly or privately expressed his frustrations with Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsEPA chief braces for grilling from Senate Dems Kelly has disclaimer in Justice conversations: White House doesn’t expect them to do anything illegal Trump furious over DOJ guidance against releasing Nunes memo: report MORE, Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonTop Dems demand answers from State Department after employees cite career concerns Trump condemns Kabul bombing Tillerson: US, European allies working on Iran nuclear deal MORE, Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossThe time is now for Trump to deliver on promise to US steelworkers Trump doesn’t start a trade war, just fires a warning shot across the bow America needs a Census Bureau director who will count all fairly MORE and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceOvernight Health Care: Senate Dems block 20-week abortion ban | Azar sworn in as HHS chief | Dems demand answers on family planning funds | GOP takes sting out of ObamaCare Overnight Regulation: White House downplays talk of nationalizing 5G after blowback | Azar sworn in as HHS chief | EPA chief set for grilling | Crypto exchange under scrutiny after massive theft Azar sworn in as HHS chief MORE, Trump didn’t share credit with many of his own appointees, either. He spotlighted only a single member of his own Cabinet, Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisTrump: We won’t talk with the Taliban Mattis stresses diplomacy in handling North Korea’s ‘reckless rhetoric’ Troops suing Trump over transgender ban ask judge to permanently block the directive MORE.
And Trump did not even mention the man who purportedly helped write the speech, Vice President Pence. That’s a marked departure from Obama, who made special points to mention then-Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenPortman gives Wynn donation to charities Week ahead: Bill to combat election meddling gets a boost Ryan to donate contribution linked to ex-RNC finance chairman MORE and his portfolio several times in each State of the Union address.
Insults and nicknames
Trump kicked off his campaign for president by denigrating Mexican immigrants as murderers and rapists. He attacked a reporter with a disability and the father of a solider killed in battle.
Along the way, he peppered his opponents and adversaries with pejorative nicknames — “Little Marco Rubio,” “Liddle’ Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerJuan Williams: The Russian war goes on Steve Wynn resigns as RNC finance chair after sexual misconduct allegations At Davos, Trump can ensure ‘American First’ isn’t ‘America Alone’ MORE,” “Crooked Hillary,” “Lyin’ Ted,” “Cryin’ Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis Schumer White House spokesman: Schumer ‘never made a real offer’ for Trump’s border wall Chaos in Trump world leaves Democrats walking fine line Abolish the filibuster to abolish government shutdowns MORE” and “Little Rocket Man,” his nickname for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
But those insults and jibes were absent from Trump’s remarks, at least for one night.
And everything else
After trying to implement a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries, Trump did not say the word “Muslim.” He mentioned African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans just once, in the context of record-low unemployment rates.
Trump called for “fair and, very importantly, reciprocal” trade deals — though he did not mention the North American Free Trade Agreement by name.
He mentioned Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, both of which suffered the brunt of mammoth hurricanes that barreled through the Caribbean, but he did not mention the hundreds of thousands of residents who remain without power in the islands months later.
And, perhaps most surprisingly, Trump did not touch on his favorite subject: His against-the-odds victory in the 2016 presidential election.
Perhaps those subjects will come up in a Wednesday tweet storm.
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