By John Nichols
Donald Trump used his first Joint Address to the Congress of the United States to engage in an unprecedented flight of fiscal fantasy. Specifically, the president imagined that the United States could cut taxes for wealthy Americans and corporations, rip tens of billions of dollars out of domestic programs (and diplomacy), hand that money over to the military-industrial complex, and somehow remain a functional and genuinely strong nation.
Trump did not articulate this agenda quite so bluntly. His hour-long speech was far more traditional and temperate in character than his ballistic inaugural address. The themes were, for the most part, predictable: “construction of a great wall along our southern border,” “vetting procedures,” “for every one new regulation, two old regulations must be eliminated,” “school choice,” “construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines.” The rhetoric was, by the standards of this presidency, disciplined. But the specifics were few. Only toward the end did the president get precise, saying, “I am sending the Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the Defense sequester, and calls for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.”