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Industry Execs React to Trump Address

President Donald Trump delivered his first address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, discarding his trademark polarizing candor in favor of a more temperate tone. The 45th President of the United States touched on a variety of topics like supporting NATO, tax reform, investment in infrastructure and the recent vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, among other issues. In a particularly poignant moment, Trump thanked the widow of fallen Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens, the first service member killed under Trump’s command.

“It was nice to see a more controlled and reserved Donald Trump,” said Jason Robbins, CEO of Top 40 distributor ePromos Promotional Products Inc. (asi/188515). “There were a lot more ‘we’ statements rather than ‘I’ statements relative to what I am used to hearing.”

Said Greg Muzzillo, founder of Proforma (asi/300094): “I am more encouraged than ever that Trump can be presidential, diplomatic, compassionate and willing to do what he feels is right for our country in a way that seeks compromise.”

Trump called on Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with reforms that “expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better healthcare.” He petitioned for a “stable transition” for people currently enrolled in the exchanges, for those with pre-existing conditions to continue to have access to coverage, for continued tax credits to allow people to purchase insurance, for flexibility for states with Medicaid spending, for the freedom to purchase health insurance across state lines and for a reduction in the price of prescription drugs.

“It does seem that Obamacare needs to be changed, especially when people are down to one insurer as a choice in various states or counties,” Robbins said. “It seems that President Trump respected pre-existing conditions, and hopefully he has smart people around him, business-minded people who can help bridge the gap to a new, better system.”

Before the speech, Trump spoke with media members about immigration reform, suggesting that legal status be granted to millions of undocumented immigrants who have not committed serious crimes. It appeared as a softened stance compared to Trump’s executive order in January that blocked citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days. However, in front of Congress, Trump did not reference his earlier statement. He instead vowed to “soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border,” echoing one of the staples of his campaign. “If we are guided by the wellbeing of American citizens, then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades,” Trump said.

On taxes, Trump again said he’ll enact a “big, big cut” to the corporate rate while also providing “massive relief for the middle class.” Trump also promised to negotiate fairer global trade for the U.S., trim wasteful spending and reduce unnecessary restrictions on businesses – all stepping-stones to long-term fiscal stability. “I like that he is trying to find ways to cut government regulations. I like that he is very concerned about our national debt,” said Muzzillo. “We simply cannot sustain the levels of increase in our debt and pass that burden and risk onto our children and grandchildren.”

Although post-speech CBS and CNN polls showed Americans found Trump’s speech “presidential, unifying” and striking more “optimistic” chords, the Congressional address still drew plenty of critics. “The speech and reality have never been more detached,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Like Schumer, Harry Ein, owner of Perfection Promo, an iPROMOTEu (asi/232119) affiliate, has been deeply critical of Trump’s stance on everything from potential import tariffs to a variety of social issues. Said Ein about Trump’s speech: “He was calmer. He didn’t seem so angry and combative, which I took as a positive sign. His demeanor may have been better, but I don’t have full trust in him, to tell the truth.”