While many Democrats in the Philadelphia region did not embrace President Donald Trump’s call to drastically increase military spending while cutting domestic social programs, Republicans offered a warmer reception.
Even one Republican who has clashed with Trump had praise.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, who represents the 15th District in the Lehigh Valley, has been one of Trump’s harshest GOP critics.
Democrats, Dent said, will always denounce the president because of the ideological divide. But the party should not fault Trump for his tone, seeing the speech as more presidential and controlled than previous ones.
“It was more focused and disciplined and somewhat subdued. It was remarkably uneventful — in a good way,” Dent said. “We still didn’t get as many specifics as we need, but I suspect we’ll be seeing some more in the next few weeks.”
In particular, Dent said he is waiting for specifics on the president’s proposal to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure, which Trump has said will rely heavily on financing from the private sector and as well as tax credits.
While Dent supports that road and bridge repair and construction program, many conservative Republicans see it as dead on arrival because the pricetag is too high.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, criticized the president for providing no details to his infrastructure plan.
“The other thing I was hoping he would say is that he would fulfill his campaign pledge not to block-grant Medicaid, which would be devastating for rural hospitals, rural children and, of course, individuals with disabilities,” Casey said. “But, apparently, he’s embraced this extreme and destructive right-wing block-granting of Medicaid,” Casey said.
Dr. Ali Houshmand, an Iranian-American immigrant who rose from poverty in Tehran to lead New Jersey’s Rowan University, was among those in the audience. He was the guest of U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross, a South Jersey Democrat.
Houshmand said the address seemed more like a campaign rally speech, rather than a policy blueprint.
“I was hoping for a more detailed kind of analysis, or explanation, of the specifics of his plan,” he said. “They were very generalized, and I didn’t see anything different from campaign mode.”
Other areas that were skimpy on details, Houshmand said, were how the country is to pay for high-quality education and specifics on a long-term immigration plan. Trump did not announce how he plans to change his now-frozen temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iran.
Norcross said there is at least one item where Democrats can work with the president.
“The defense of our great nation by our military and the job they do,” Norcross said.