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On the roster: What Trump should say on Tuesday - DNC chair candidate Ellison pushes impeachment - Mnuchin says tax reform ‘number one objective’- I’ll Tell You What: Bottom feeders and top-shelf cinema - Who’s Putin together a super fun spring break?!?
WHAT TRUMP SHOULD SAY ON TUESDAY
When Ronald Reagan gave his first address to a joint session of Congress on February 18, 1981 he was ready to go long.
Not in words or minutes, but in policy.
As he gave his first speech to Congress, the 40th president laid out a program for economic recovery focused on reducing the federal deficit, cutting taxes, rolling back regulations and lowering interest rates.
Every member of Congress received what Reagan called a “completely detailed” outline of the program that he and his team had been working on since before the November election.
What you hear on Tuesday from President Trump will likely be quite different.
That’s in part because Senate Democrats have succeeded in stalling Trump’s cabinet appointments to a degree heretofore unseen – a situation worsened by the fact that Team Trump has been slow to fill the hundreds of other jobs that remain vacant in the administration.
It’s also because Trump was among the majority of Americans who did not expect him to win the presidency. He was probably not as far along in policy development or transition planning as he might otherwise have been.
But we know that Trump wants to focus on some of the same things as Reagan, at least as far as tax and regulatory overhauls go. Trump goes farther than The Gipper, however, with the addition of an overhaul of health insurance regulations, an ambitious trillion dollar infrastructure stimulus package and the fortification of the U.S. southern border.
Reagan would return to Congress two months and one assassination attempt later to make his final pitch for the plan. Harkening to the recently launched Space Shuttle program, Reagan called on Congress to “chart a new course” and “meet the great challenge.”
They did after a fashion and enormous consternation. Reagan signed the key component, the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 into law at his California ranch that August.
History still records it as one of the most successful opening gambits of a modern presidency and it set the economy on a massive recovery and Reagan on a winning course for re-election, despite and brief double-dip recession and the shellacking his party took in the follow year’s midterm election.
Can Trump be a quadruple Reagan and push through reforms on so many fronts simultaneously? Probably not. And what you are observing currently in Washington is the hard work of setting new expectations and priorities for the young administration.
As Trump reiterated Wednesday, he accepts the necessity of addressing health insurance first, given not only the crisis facing that sector, but also its interconnectedness to budget and tax issues.
The tax overhaul comes later, perhaps in August, with the infrastructure plan now potentially sliding into 2018.
And that’s okay. It may seem like a long time measured in media cycles, but Trump is only just getting started. He has time to lay out new priorities… but not much.
Tuesday will represent Trump’s chance to play quarterback for his party and for Washington in general, but he has to call the play. The new president’s vision for the country is important and should obviously be included in any remarks he makes, but if Trump wants to be a big winner he needs to emulate the most successful presidency of the post-Watergate era and get specific.
Weeks if not months of debate will be required on each of the major initiatives Trump is proposing. If Trump does as his predecessor, Barack Obama, and seeks to evade responsibility for policy specifics, he is sure to get an outcome similar to that of Obama on major plans.
Obama ended up with Frankenstein legislation stitched together by warring Democrats that produced unsatisfactory results and he still got the blame anyway.
The rap on Trump is that he is a big talker who is short on specifics and fudges details. If he wants to defy the rock-bottom expectations of his critics, Trump will present a real plan for implementing his agenda, starting with health insurance and deliver it with a mandate from the electorate to Congress.
If, however, Trump focuses on the “carnage” that held his attention during his inaugural address or retreats into generalities again, it will not only be a crucial opportunity wasted to charter a new course for his administration, but also a guarantee that Washington will quickly fall back into its old, bad habits.
THE RULEBOOK: OUT OF CHARACTER
“The security essentially intended by the Constitution against corruption and treachery in the formation of treaties, is to be sought for in the numbers and characters of those who are to make them.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 66
TIME OUT: WHAT YOU ‘LIKE’ MATTERS
Atlantic: “You can tell a lot about a person from how they react to something. That’s why Facebook’s various ‘Like’ buttons are so powerful. Clicking a reaction icon isn’t just a way to register an emotional response, it’s also a way for Facebook to refine its sense of who you are. So when you ‘Love’ a photo of a friend’s baby, and click ‘Angry’ on an article about the New England Patriots winning the Super Bowl, you’re training Facebook to see you a certain way: You are a person who seems to love babies and hate Tom Brady…[University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Professor Ben Grosser] latest project is an attempt to push back. He made a browser extension he’s calling Go Rando, which intercepts each time you click a reaction button on Facebook, then uses a random-number generator to select a reaction for you…The project is meant to encourage people to question what they’re doing when they click a Facebook reaction button.”
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DNC CHAIR CANDIDATE ELLISON PUSHES IMPEACHMENT
Daniel Halper reports that DNC chair candidate Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., said that President Trump has already done enough things to warrant impeachment. NY Post: “‘I think that Donald Trump has already done a number of things which legitimately raise the question of impeachment,’ Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said Wednesday on CNN. ‘On day one, he was in violation of the emoluments clause. This is a part of the Constitution that says as president, you can’t get payments from a foreign power,’ Ellison continued after the CNN audience, assembled for a debate between prospective DNC chairs, broke into applause. ‘The day people checked into his hotel and started paying him, who were foreign dignitaries, he was in violation of that law. There’s already a lawsuit filed against him. And right now, it’s about only Donald Trump. It is about the integrity of the presidency,’ said Ellison.”
Perez the frontrunner in DNC chair race - AP: “Just days before Democratic activists pick a new party chair, the contest to head the Democratic National Committee remains fluid, as national leaders grapple with how to turn an outpouring of liberal protest against President Donald Trump into political gains. A tight race between front-runners Tom Perez, a former labor secretary, and Rep. Keith Ellison, a Minnesota congressman, marks the first heavily contested battle to run the organization in recent history… Perez, who was encouraged by Obama administration officials to run for the post, has emerged as the apparent front-runner, with independent Democratic strategists tracking him at about 205 votes.”
MNUCHIN SAYS TAX REFORM ‘NUMBER ONE OBJECTIVE’
Fox Business: “During an interview with the FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the administration is ‘focused on an aggressive timeline’ to produce a tax reform plan by August. ‘Tax reform is our number one objective. We think it’s absolutely critical to getting to economic growth,’ Mnuchin said. ‘There’s trillions of dollars offshore that will come back and this will create jobs [and] this will create investment and we need to make sure our U.S. businesses are competitive.’ Trump’s economic team is also looking at border tax issues, while also working with businesses and House Speaker Paul Ryan to create a combined plan with Congress, he said.”
I’LL TELL YOU WHAT: BOTTOM FEEDERS AND TOP-SHELF CINEMA
Dana Perino, former White House Press Secretary, co-host of Fox News Channel’s “The Five”, and best-selling author of “And The Good News Is…” and Fox News Politics Editor Chris Stirewalt discuss the changing face of the Republican Party, the disconnect between the Democratic Party and their voters and the presidents upcoming address to Congress. Plus, Chris lists his five desert island movies? Hint: it’s not just because the hero is named Chris. LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE HERE.
THE JUDGE’S RULING: FREEDOM HELD HOSTAGE
Fox News Senior Judicial Analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano argues that we’ve forgotten to prioritize our country’s freedom for sake of safety: “We have placed so much data and so much power in the hands of unelected, unaccountable, opaque spies that they can use it as they see fit – even to the point of committing federal felonies.” More here.
AUDIBLE: YOU TELL ‘EM
“Jeff actually watched me make a hole-in-one. Should you tell that story?” – President Trump introducing GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt at a White House summit on manufacturing. Immelt did, in fact, tell the story.
McMaster may restore national security team to pre-Flynn standards - NYT
Former Trump staff said they drummed up positive press to placate the boss - Politico
Nate Cohn says Dems best chance in 2018 lies in the Sun Belt - NYT
FROM THE BLEACHERS
“As a native St. Louisan, I’m curious as to the reason for your shot at the ‘PA announcer at Busch Stadium.’ The poor guy has a tough job, which will probably be tougher this year if the Redbirds don’t play any better. He may be able to actually count the fans in attendance. Keep up the good work. Really enjoy your column.” – Tom Sarsfield, Lake Forest, Ill.
[Ed. note: A shot! Hardly. I am a die-hard Redbird fan from four years spent as a boy in St. Louis. Big-time Birdos. But I gather that you have lived in Cubs land too long to know that the Cardinals outdraw every team in the major leagues except for the Dodgers – outdrawing the Cubs by nearly a quarter million even in a championship year played in a renovated stadium. But living near a city of bandwagon riders, I can see how you would forget about fan loyalty, etc. (Now is the part when you remind me that Wrigley has 2,707 fewer seats than Busch.) See you on April 2.]
“Read your recipe for pepperoni rolls [in Wednesday’s Halftime Report] and we in Pittsburgh have added a slice of Provolone cheese. Melts into the pepperoni and is awesome! Enjoy reading your Halftime Reports.” – Marilyn Draeger, Cheswick, Pa.
[Ed. note: Ahem… This has been a matter of intense debate on Twitter in recent days, so I feel obliged to repeat in no uncertain terms that what you have described is not a pepperoni roll but rather some kind of miniature Stromboli. The pepperoni roll in its truest form is a roll containing pepperoni. It is a simple, savory bread. My favorite store-bought variety is from the Country Club Bakery in Fairmont, W.Va. (recipe here).]
Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.
WHO’S PUTIN TOGETHER A SUPER FUN SPRING BREAK?!?
AP: “The Russian military is building a replica of Berlin's Reichstag building as a playground for teenagers to attack at a patriotic theme park. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who made the announcement Wednesday, said the replica at the Patriot Park just outside Moscow will be smaller than life size. Speaking to Russian parliament, he added to lawmakers’ applause that the idea is for Yunarmia members ‘to storm a specific location, not something abstract.’ The images of Soviet Army soldiers hoisting the red flag over the Reichstag in May 1945 have been iconic in Russia. The Yunarmia, or Young Army, was created in 2015 on Shoigu’s initiative to encourage patriotism among schoolchildren, provide physical training and teach them basic military skills. The German government had no immediate comment on Shoigu's statement, which comes amid a bitter strain in Russia's ties with the West over the war in eastern Ukraine, crisis, the war in Syria and other disputes.”
AND NOW, A WORD FROM CHARLES…
“Congress has become so dependent on following the lead of a president, in general, allowing its powers to be usurped.” – Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.