Hassan tells NH1 News Trump speech was at 'complete odds with reality'
CONCORD – Sen. Maggie Hassan says President Donald Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress “was at complete odds with reality.”
And speaking with NH1 News the morning after the President’s Tuesday prime time address, New Hampshire’s freshman U.S. senator added that “this was really a speech where the style may have been one thing but the reality of what he and his administration are doing were really at odds with the language.”
It was a different take from another member of the state’s all-Democratic, all-female Congressional delegation. U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster told NH1 News that “there was a lot in the substance that we can find common ground. I was particularly pleased that he mentioned treatment with regard to opioid addiction.”
After a rocky and combustible start to his presidency, Trump won plaudits for the style of speech, which was his first major address to Congress.
But Hassan disagreed, saying “I thought his speech was at complete odds with reality. When you listen to the words he said last night and compare them to the policies he and his administration have been pursing, and that he actually doubled down on in his speech, they are at complete odds.”
“So we have a president who has been pursing policies that help the wealthy at the expense of the middle class, who wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid Expansion, which is providing critical substance misuse treatment for example to thousands of Granite Staters. And at the same time he’s saying he wants address the heroin epidemic,” the former two-term governor said.
Hassan pointed out that “my guest last night was Ashley Hurteau who is from Dover and is 15 months into recovery herself, and got treatment after a decade of substance misuse disorder because of bipartisan Medicaid Expansion in New Hampshire provided by the Affordable Care Act. And she is now employed. She’s getting her insurance through her employer."
"And it’s a classic example of why it is important to have health care coverage that can help people address their health care issues and then get back to work. And I was very disappointed on the one hand he gave lip service to wanting to address the epidemic and on the other hand is pursing the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which would repeal Medicaid Expansion and that critical substance use treatment.”
Hassan also criticized Trump for being “silent on the issue of Russian interference in our elections, the possibility that his campaign had contacts with Russia.”
Asked if there was anything in the speech she could agree with, Hassan answered that “certainly I think there are things that we can work together on if he’s willing to actually take actions to make some of his stated goals possible.”
“I certainly have been a proponent of strengthening our infrastructure. We certainly need to do that in New Hampshire and around the country,” she said, but added that “on the one hand he’s staying that’s what he wants to do. On the other hand we’re seeing budget proposals that would make that very difficult.”
Kuster: ‘He stuck to the script and I think that’s what he’s been needing to do’
Kuster, the three-term Democrat in the state’s 2nd Congressional District, complimented the President for sticking “to the script and I think that’s what he’s been needing to do. He wasn’t adlibbing and I think he got his points across. Sure, there was a lot in the substance that we can find common ground.”
“I was particularly pleased that he mentioned treatment with regard to opioid addiction. That’s an important point that he obviously learned about here in New Hampshire,” added Kuster, who’s co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to combat the Heroin epidemic.
Kuster told NH1 News that “we can all agree on the big infrastructure spending. That will stimulate the economy and we all put it off too long, and we need new bridges and highways and airports.”
And Kuster said paid family leave was another issue were there could be agreement.
But she said she was disappointed “I didn’t hear a lot on veterans or seniors. I wish I had heard more. I didn’t hear almost anything on seniors, Medicare, Social Security.”
And Kuster complained that “it was a lot of spending. And I think what you’re going to find he’s going to run into issues within the Republican caucus about driving up the debt and the deficit. A trillion dollars on infrastructure, $800 billon on building a wall with Mexico, $54 billion in addition for the defense budget, where I come from that starts to add up to real money and I know that New Hampshire voters and constituents are very cautious about their federal tax dollars and so the devil’s in the details and we’re going to see in the weeks and months ahead.:
As for Trump’s style, Kuster appeared to applaud the president.
“I think what people on both sides of the aisle could appreciate last night, he had more of the demeanor of the office. This is a very serious office and for him to have said earlier in the week ‘who knew health care was complicated.’ Look, everybody knows health care is complicated. And that this reform is a heavy lift. So he’s gotta get serious about the job and last night was an inkling on that and we’ll see if that pans out.”
But Kuster added “we’re waiting breathlessly to see if he goes off on a Twitter rant. I hope he doesn’t. The country needs a serious person in the Oval Office.”
Sununu: 'Incredibly encouraged'
Gov. Chris Sununu says he was "incredibly encouraged" by the President's Tuesday night address, especially when it comes to health care, education, and business regulation.
New Hampshire's first Republican governor in a dozen years made his comments as he spoke at a breakfast at Saint Anselm College hosted by the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce.