When President Donald J. Trump speaks to a joint session of Congress tonight to lay out his budget priorities, he hopes to reset his agenda with the American people.
It’s been a rough month or so for the new president as he’s stubbed his toe more times than he would have liked stumbling around the dimly-lit hallways of government policymaking.
This Joint Address to Congress — not technically called a State of the Union because he’s in his first year — though comes at a pivotal moment and with a crucial bottom-line question: What’s the plan, Mr. President?
To this point, there has been plenty of rhetoric (some of it caustic and divisive) and arguably ill-conceived executive orders that have certainly pleased the base of supporters who voted for him. But poll after poll has shown that these moves — and Twitter rants — haven’t galvanized a broad swath of the American people behind him. A mere 44 percent of Americans approve of the job President Trump is doing as a newly inaugurated commander-in-hief. In contrast, 48 percent of Americans say they disapprove of Trump’s performance, according to the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted Feb. 18–22.
Again, this won’t begin change until he begins answering the big question: What’s the plan?
It’s no longer good enough to call Obamacare “a disaster” despite the facts showing otherwise. Trump now needs to show us a viable plan for repealing and replacing the beleaguered and belittled health care law. There are at least 20 million increasingly vocal and impatient Americans waiting on an answer.
And Trump’s statement before the National Governors Association on Monday that no one knew how “unbelievably complex” and complicated the nation’s heath care system is didn’t give anyone confidence that a plan is coming anytime soon.
It’s no longer good enough to say “we’re going to destroy ISIS,” also known as Islamic State. How are we going to do that without putting more military on the ground, and thus put more U.S. soldiers in harm’s way? Do Americans really have the stomach for another foray into Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or even Yemen? And for how long?
Where is the plan to deliver the promised help to the nation’s inner-cities beyond sending in U.S. troops? How will that bring the jobs and better schools that Trump promised on the campaign trail and since?
Then there’s the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Where is the plan to rebuild roads and bridges that seem to be collapsing on a weekly basis from California to Missouri to Texas to Georgia?
The time for tough talk, and incremental executive orders attempting to erase the previous president’s legacy is over. We know that President Trump can talk a good game, and can sign paperwork accompanied by specious claims of creating 70,000 jobs.
What we need to know is now is whether he can govern and push through legislation to fulfill promises to fix whatever problems ail us.
In other words, “What’s the plan, Mr. President?”