Trump needs to set agenda in first address to Congress: Experts

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New York, March 1 (IANS) As the US President Donald Trump is set to make his first speech to Congress on Wednesday, experts believe he needs to clearly set an agenda.

The New York real estate tycoon has had one of the toughest months of any president in recent memory. Over the last month, Trump has seen more media coverage, much of which are negative, than perhaps any president in recent memory, Xinhua news agency reported.

For his part, Trump said the media were biased against him, and reported on the new White House in a dishonest way.

At the same time, Trump’s critics note that while he has signed a number of executive orders — some of them controversial — he has not made an effort to work with Congress to push any significant legislation.

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“Trump needs to explain what his top priorities are,” said Darrell West, Vice President and Director of governance studies of the Brookings Institution.

Trump has talked about many different issues, but it is not clear what he wants Congress to address first, West noted.

“Right now, the agenda fluctuates between Obamacare replacement, tax cuts, tax reform, and deregulation. The speech provides an opportunity to bring order to the current chaos and convey to the general public as well as members of Congress what his top priorities are,” West said.

While Trump only took the helm of government a month ago, critics contend there has been little action on pushing his agenda.

“It is early in his administration, but there has been surprising inaction except for the executive orders he has issued. The longer Trump is in office, the greater the risk that his popularity will decline and that will limit his ability to move legislation,” West said.

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Trump needs to act quickly before a crisis hits or his popularity continues to decline. If Republicans wait too long, it will be difficult to implement their policy agenda, West said.

“The most important thing Trump needs to tell Congress is what his bright lines are, what he is willing to sign, and what he would not like to see Congress pass. That would help legislators figure out their policy priorities,” he said.

Dan Mahaffee, an analyst with the Centre for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, said Trump’s speech before Congress is an important opportunity to reemphasise the push for economic growth and reforms to a tax system that puts the US at a disadvantage to other countries.

“With this nationally televised speech before Congress, there is an opportunity to use one of the traditional bully pulpit tools of the presidency to urge Congress to take action-particularly as the president can push for specific policies at a time when there are various proposals being debate in Congress,” Mahaffee said.

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If done right, the speech could be a major opportunity for Trump, Mahaffee said.

“He will want to continue to espouse his vision for his presidency-the themes that we’ve seen of sovereignty, security, economic populism, and job growth-but without some policy specifics, there will continue to be competing proposals in Congress that fill the vacuum,” he added.



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