President Donald Trump says it’s time for the U.S. to start investing more to improve the country’s aging infrastructure. (June 7)
CINCINNATI — President Trump delivered a campaign-style speech Wednesday, attacking Democrats while promising to fix roads, bridges, dams, the steel and coal industries, health care and the tax code.
Standing along the Ohio River with coal barges behind him and workers in hard hats in front of him, Trump said his administration will launch an infrastructure program that will rebuild the nation and produce millions of jobs.
“It’s time to recapture our legacy as a nation of builders,” he said. “The future is going to be beautiful and the future is going to be bright.”
Facing a firestorm back in Washington over Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Trump returned to familiar themes from his successful presidential campaign. He complained throughout his speech at Cincinnati’s Rivertowne Marina about Obamacare, blamed Democrats for stalling his agenda and repeated his campaign promise to “make America great again.”
Though Republicans control the House, Senate and White House, Trump said Democrats are responsible for the challenges some of his initiatives have faced, including the GOP health care bill now in the Senate.
“Total obstruction from Democrats,” he said earlier in the day after landing at Cincinnati’s riverfront municipal airport. “We have had no help.”
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is dying and only Republicans can save it, Trump said.
GOP senators have said they will rework the House bill, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated would lead to 23 million fewer people having health insurance by 2026 and increase insurance premiums by 20% in 2018 and 5% in 2019 before a decrease in 2020 that would vary by state. But they have struggled to reach an agreement.
Critics of the GOP plan said some insurers’ recent decisions to pull out of Obamacare insurance marketplaces has more to do with uncertainty created by Republicans than with the markets themselves.
But the president made clear where he placed the blame.
“Obamacare is in a total death spiral. The problems will only get worse if Congress doesn’t act,” he said. “Republicans are working very hard to get a great health care plan.”
The theme of the president’s trip was supposed to be his plan to shore up America’s infrastructure, but he his list of talking points expanded as the morning went on.
Trump did not directly discuss the furor over Russian meddling in the election or the related FBI investigation. He also didn’t mention former FBI Director James Comey, who is set to testify Thursday to Congress and filed his opening statement that was released during the president’s visit.
However, at one point Trump did offer an aside apparently alluding to the controversy, saying, “I take so much heat for nonsense.”
Trump devoted most of his speech to renewing campaign promises to bring back industrial jobs, repeal and replace Obamacare and remove environmental and other government regulations that he believes stand in the way of businesses.
“We’re going to have clean beautiful air, clean beautiful crystal water,” Trump said. “But you’re going to have your jobs, too.”
He said his infrastructure plan also would help businesses and workers though he didn’t offer specifics. Trump has spoken in broad strokes about infrastructure, but the White House has yet to propose legislation or to provide details about his plan and how he would pay for it.
“Taxpayers deserve the best results,” Trump said. “I will ensure that’s what they get.”
This is Trump’s first visit to Cincinnati as president, and his first stop in the Queen City since he kicked off his nationwide victory tour Dec. 1.
Wednesday’s event is not open to the public, nor is it located anywhere near a lock and dam. The closest is 30 miles upriver at Willow Grove, Ky.
Trump lost Hamilton County in the November election, but the Republican dominated in every bordering county in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. His victory in Ohio played a key part in propelling Trump to the White House.
The president then wrested control of the state party from Gov. John Kasich in January when Trump-backed Cincinnati native Jane Timken was voted Ohio Republican Party chairwoman.
About 60 protesters gathered near the marina before Trump’s arrival to complain about his approach to infrastructure, the science of climate change and the economy, and to criticize the Republican health care plan now in the Senate.
One carried a sign that read “Restructure the White House.” Another’s said, “Science is not an Alternative Fact.”
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