What We’re Following
Trump’s Speech, Reviewed: Compared to the combative rhetoric of his campaign, the president’s address to Congress last night struck a surprisingly hopeful tone. He refrained from digressions such as insults to the press, and in many ways, he sounded like an ordinary politician. The normalcy of it all earned him some glowing reviews—but as David Frum writes, there were still some key elements missing. And lest past assessments of Trump’s speaking style color our judgment of him now, James Fallows breaks down the speech as if listening to Trump for the first time.
Budget Points: Trump didn’t offer many policy details in the speech, but he did mention making health insurance cheaper. The GOP has suggested doing this by scaling back what basic plans are required to cover—but for those who do need more extensive benefits (like maternity care or mental-health coverage), insurance would get a lot more expensive. And that’s just one potential sticking point: Trump’s economic plan, which also involves major tax cuts and an increase in military spending, has been divisive within his own party and could hurt his voter base.
Government Insiders: So, can Trump get Congress to carry out his agenda? He’s been running into legislative roadblocks recently, though he’s had some success charming some of the lawmakers. Meanwhile, his Cabinet is moving slowly toward completion, most recently with today’s confirmation of Ryan Zinke as interior secretary. But in the State Department, where numerous key posts are left unfilled, officials are anxious: The White House has announced that radical foreign-policy change is coming, but current employees seem to know very little about what’s going on.