Former Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky delivered the Democratic Party’s response to President Donald Trump’s joint address to Congress on Tuesday night.
Beshear criticized Trump’s Cabinet picks including former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as secretary of state and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as secretary of commerce.
Additionally, Beshear echoed the sentiments of other concerned Democrats who anxiously wait for what could be the demise of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the independent government watchdog agency created after the 2008 financial crisis that crippled the US economy.
“You started rolling back rules that provide oversight of the financial industry and safeguard us against another national economic meltdown, and you picked a Cabinet of billionaires and Wall Street insiders who want to eviscerate the protections that most Americans count on and that help level the playing field,” Beshear said. “That’s not being our champion – that’s being Wall Street’s champion.”
The former governor is an avid supporter of the Affordable Care Act who rallied around its cause after condemning the Trump administration’s efforts to repeal and replace the contested healthcare law, better known as Obamacare.
Trump said during his address Tuesday night: “Obamacare is collapsing – and we must act decisively to protect all Americans. Action is not a choice – it is a necessity.”
So far, the White House’s plans to replace Obamacare has been met with staunch opposition from both sides of the political aisle, and the debate over how to effectively replace the legislation has deepened from within the Republican Party. Beshear said:
“And even more troubling, you and your Republican allies in Congress seem determined to rip affordable health insurance away from millions of Americans who most need it.
“Does the Affordable Care Act needs some repairs? Sure it does. But so far, every Republican idea to replace the Affordable Care Act would reduce the number of Americans covered, despite your promises to the contrary.
“Mr. President … this isn’t a game – it’s life and death for people. These ideas promise access to care but deny the importance of making care affordable and effective. They would charge families more for fewer benefits and put the insurance companies back in control.”
Beshear also went on the offensive on issues relating to national security. He ripped Trump’s alleged relations with Russia – which took center stage in mid-February after news reports said Trump’s team had frequent contacts with Russia before the election. And Beshear slammed Trump’s effort to target immigrants and refugees through a January executive order that was suspended by an appeals court on February 9. He said:
“Look, make no mistake: I’m a military veteran myself, and I know that protecting America is a president’s highest duty. Yet President Trump is ignoring serious threats to our national security from Russia, who is not our friend, while alienating our allies who fought with us side by side and are our friends in a dangerous world.
“His approach makes us less safe and should worry every freedom-loving American. Instead, President Trump has all but declared war on refugees and immigrants. Look, the president can and should enforce our immigration laws, but we can protect America without abandoning our principles and our moral obligation to help those fleeing war and terror, without tearing families apart and without needlessly jeopardizing our military men and women fighting overseas.
“You know, another Republican president, Ronald Reagan, once said, ‘In America, our origins matter less than our destination, and that is what democracy is all about.'”
Beshear hasn’t held public office since 2015, but as a staunch supporter of Obamacare he was viewed as an ideal choice to respond on behalf of Democrats. During his governorship he managed to bring the healthcare plan into the deep red state of Kentucky, which then accounted for the biggest drop of uninsured rates in the US, to 7.5% from 20%.