6 takeaways from Trump's address to Congress

Eric Bradner, CNN | 3/1/2017, 11:33 a.m.
President Donald Trump showed his aspirational side Tuesday night.
Donald Trump Shutterstock/CNN Money

The departure left Republicans absolutely thrilled.

"Donald Trump did indeed become presidential tonight, and I think we'll see that reflected in a higher approval rating," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said on CNN afterward.

Unanswered health care questions

Trump broadly endorsed the major elements of a Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act -- including protections for pre-existing conditions and tax credits and health savings accounts.

But if GOP lawmakers wanted clarity on their path forward to achieve Trump's promise to "expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better health care," they didn't get it.

On one hand, Trump called for expanded "access" to health insurance -- signaling that he doesn't view it as government's role to make sure Americans can actually afford that insurance.

On the other hand, Trump called for Medicaid funding that ensures "no one (is) left out" by state governments -- a proposition Democrats support but Republicans consider too costly.

Though the GOP largely agrees on broad strokes, the details of health care policy have proven much trickier.

And on those details, Republicans will wake up Wednesday without much more clarity than they had Tuesday.

Trump ended with a call for bipartisan cooperation on repealing and replacing the "collapsing" Obamacare. Then, television cameras cut to House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi -- who was shaking her head no.

The 'how?' problem

Trump made a lot of big promises Tuesday night -- but for each one he didn't dive into the details.

On taxes, he promised a "big, big cut" to the corporate rate. "At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class," he said. Yet he offered no details on how he'd pay for it.

Trump promised a $1 trillion infrastructure program -- a priority along the lines of what former President Barack Obama sought from Republicans for years -- without any explanation of the funding.

Trump said he'd wipe ISIS off the face of the Earth, but didn't talk about the specific problems confronting the US military in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere.

He touted Abraham Lincoln's "protective policy" that would defend manufacturing, but said nothing about how his administration would harness the technologies and growth industries of the future.

Forty days into Trump's presidency, the greatest-hits list of Trump's campaign promises still look more like concepts than concrete policy ideas -- and that didn't change Tuesday night.

"His speeches and the realities are very, very far apart," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said on CNN afterward. "Until his reality catches up with his speeches, he's got big trouble."

What happened to immigration reform?

Hours before his speech, Trump pulled the pin out of a grenade -- telling journalists that he wants comprehensive immigration reform and expects Democrats and Republicans to compromise to make it happen.

A senior White House official said Trump was considering whether to address the topic in his joint address.