Georgia Republicans dazzled by Trump’s speech, despite few new specifics

By Tamar Hallerman

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Washington, AJC, March 1, 2017 | comments
WASHINGTON — In the lead up to Donald Trump’s speech Tuesday, several of Georgia’s Republican congressmen said they were looking for concrete policy specifics from the new president on issues like health care and infrastructure.

They got relatively little of that, especially by way of new details — such presidential speeches to Congress are designed, after all, to be broad and sweeping — but the state’s Republicans were still dazzled by Trump’s address.

“It was certainly beyond my expectations,” said Rep. Rick Allen, R-Evans, in an interview  Tuesday night. “I thought he would do well but I couldn’t argue with anything he said.”

Ahead of the speech, GOP Congressman Buddy Carter of Pooler said he was particularly interested in hearing more details about Trump’s Obamacare replacement proposal.

Trump in his speech mainly underscored previous health proposals, such as barring insurers from denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions and lowering drug prices. But he did announce his support for giving people tax credits to buy health care coverage, an idea that’s divided the GOP.

Carter said the speech, along with private conversations between Republican leaders and the administration, has given the GOP enough information to begin coalescing around a single Obamacare replacement plan.

“I think we’re all getting to the point where we’ll be on the same page and certainly move toward that health care system that we know that we need that’s based on free market principles,” said Carter, who called Trump’s speech “awesome,” “refreshing” and “exciting.”

Replacement efforts have recently sputtered as GOP lawmakers have bickered about whether to repeal the Affordable Care Act before replacing it and what such a Republican plan would look like.

Former House Speaker and Georgia Rep. Newt Gingrich, who watched the speech from the front row of a balcony in the House chamber, was also glowing about Trump’s performance: President Trump gave the most compelling speech of his life tonight.Powerful, clear, building on his promises, real leadership.

Allen was particularly jazzed about Trump’s more optimistic and unifying tone.

“The man showed his heart tonight and his passion,” he said. “How can you disagree with anything that he said?”

Georgia’s Democrats, meanwhile, held their tongues.

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