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“The Sunday Political Brunch”—April 2, 2017

Sunday, April 02, 2017

 

It’s been a turbulent couple of weeks for President Trump. But every Commander in Chief has patches of rough seas. It’s how you get out of it - and right the ship - that matters. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Country Roads, West Virginia” – An old bromide in politics counsels a President when things go bad to “Travel to where you are popular; and change the topic of conversation.” After the collapse of the Obamacare repeal, it was Vice President Pence who traveled to West Virginia on Saturday (photo above) and proclaimed, "President Trump and I are confident the United States Senate will confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch [to the Supreme Court] one way or the other." Nowhere is Trump more popular than in West Virginia; and a Gorsuch win will provide a huge boost after the health care meltdown.

“Nuking the Filibuster” – Senate Democrats have already promised to filibuster the Gorsuch nomination, but two have bolted. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) have pledged to vote "yes" on Gorsuch. That brings his support total to 54 in the Senate, short of the 60 needed to defeat the filibuster. Prediction: Republicans will not get 60 yes votes. Therefore, they will choose the “nuclear option" and blow up current Senate rules, changing them so that a simple majority wins confirmation. Democrats did the same thing a few years back, so it’s tit-for-tat politics. Neil Gorsuch will be the next Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, and President Trump will have a win he badly needs.

“Health is Unhealthy” – After the vote to repeal Obamacare was tabled, there was talk President Trump would move on to another issue and return to the Affordable Care Act somewhere down the road. Now, Republicans are talking about rallying another effort to repeal sooner, rather than later. My educated guess is that would be a mistake. The Republican strategy needs to be finding a different issue where they can win. After all, what would happen if they double-down and lose on Obamacare two straight times in short order? The fallout would be devastating. Have a cool-down period, and move on to something else first.

“Political Freedom Isn’t Free” – There is a weird dynamic here. The conservative Republican Freedom Caucus blocked the effort to repeal Obamacare. They are the same rebel group that had earlier prompted former Speaker John Boehner to leave Congress. The membership varies, but is at about three dozen. That’s hardly most of the Republican caucus, but it’s enough to gum up the works. Both President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan criticized the Freedom Caucus this week. Then President Trump said he would work with Democrats on health care reform, which in turn upset Speaker Ryan, who does not want to work with Democrats. Are they forming a “circular firing squad?” Stay tuned.

“The Carnival Side Show” – There was criticism this week after first daughter Ivanka Trump was appointed to an official White House job (though unpaid). Her husband, Jared Kushner, is already working in similar capacity (unpaid, too); yet Democrats have made cries of nepotism. This is odd. Hillary Clinton served as an unpaid senior advisor to President Bill Clinton (as she was put in charge of health care reform). Bobby Kennedy was President John Kennedy’s chief confidant and was also U.S. Attorney General. Unless Ivanka tries to sell handbags or her clothing line during Cabinet meetings, this criticism is without merit.

“What’s Next?” – Many have suggested that the President and his Republicans move on to a different issue for now and let health care simmer down. They are talking tax reform as another hot issue. Maybe that’s the path, but what about Mr. Trump’s signature issue, immigration reform? That’s what got him elected. As I suggested in previous columns, they need to break immigration reform down into about eight different bills focused on specific topics, as it will never pass as one huge, all-encompassing bill. Pick an easy topic to win, and look like you are building momentum.

“Why All of This Matters” – NFL Hall of Fame Football Coach John Madden coined a phrase about his profession, noting that “winning is the best deodorant.” Yes, your defense may be weak, or your running game poor, but if you win the game people tend not to care about the details. The San Francisco 49ers may have won five Super Bowls, but their record last season was a meager 2-wins, 14-losses. Politics – like sports – is a “what have you done for me lately” business After a court defeat on immigration and a legislative defeat on Obamacare, the Trump team needs a winning streak.

Question: If you were President Trump, what issue would you tackle next? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com and let us know what you’d do!

 

Related Slideshow: Trump’s Win - What Does it Mean for Rhode Island?

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Jennifer Duffy

Cook Report

"We don't really know what a Trump presidency means for the nation, never mind the smallest state.  One of the unintended consequences of last night's results is that Sen. Jack Reed won't be chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Chalk that up as a loss for RI."

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Pam Gencarella

Head of Ocean State Taxpayers' Association

"Trump’s win means that his signature issue, illegal immigration, could have a big impact on RI, hopefully reversing our course as a sanctuary state and saving the state taxpayer millions of dollars.  While we agree with his 'repeal and replace' Obamacare stance, we have no idea what that means to the RI debacle known as UHIP.  It is not a stretch to believe that federal funding for this kind of system will be off the table so, will RI be stuck with this massively expensive system that still doesn’t work and that is expected to cost another $124 million to fix?  

Trump's belief that there is significant fraud in the Food Stamp program and the policies that may come from that belief could have a negative impact on RI's local economy since there are businesses in certain cities that rely heavily on this program, fraud and all. On the upside, we may be able to ditch the UHIP program if there is significantly less need for processing welfare program requests (ie. Medicaid and food stamps) resulting from fewer illegal immigrants and less fraud.  While we are ambivalent about his touted child care policies, if enacted, it may force our legislators to revisit the ever growing state cost of subsidies in this area and possibly reduce the fraud and abuse in this system." 

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Kay Israel

Professor at Rhode Island College

"With a Republican President and Congress, Rhode Island will probably be excluded from the 'fruits of victory."  

The congressional delegation will be able to vocally make their presence felt, but in the long term it's more symbolic than substantive.  

For Rhode Island it's a matter of holding on and waiting until '18 or '20 and a surge in Democratic influence."

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Jennifer Lawless

Professor at American University

"The RI congressional delegation just became even less powerful than it was. With unified government, Trump doesn’t need to quell Democrats’ concerns or acquiesce because he’s worried about a Democratically-controlled Senate.

His appointments will reflect that. His executive orders will affect that. And the conservative policy agenda he puts forward will affect that."

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Len Lardaro

Professor at University of Rhode Island

"Well there's a few things -- because there's not going to be gridlock, that's a big difference if it had been Hillary and a GOP Congress, in which nothing would got done. We'll at least get a half a billion in infrastructure that's going to pass which will have an impact.

I think you'll see there will be reduced reliance on government nationally -- and that's where we'll stick out like sore thumb. We've relied way too much on government -- and our government is highly inefficient and ineffective.  Maybe, just maybe, in this who cycle of things we might be forced to be small and more efficient for once.

A couple of other things -- interest rates jumped. The one to follow is the ten year government bond rate -- which is tied to mortgages. It went from 1.7% to 2.05% in one day. The point is -- if the ten year stays high, mortgage rates will start going higher -- and in the short time people will run to re-finance. 

That's the short term impact -- but then if rates stay hight, that will make mortgages more out of reach. And we just passed a bond issue to limit open space -- housing has limited upside here.
The next thing -- the Fed Reserve will go ahead with tightening next month. A strong dollar will hurt manufacturing. When the dollar is strong our exports become more expensive overseas. 

Our goods production sector -- manufacturing and construction -- in the near term will do a little better, but as time goes on will be more limited. But something you won't hear, is there are lags in fiscal policy, of six months to year. So we won't really see the effects until the third our fourth quarter of 2017, going into 2018."
 

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Mike Stenhouse

RI Center for Freedon and Prosperity

"As the unbelievable turned into reality this morning, it struck me that the presidential election was not really all about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It was about a fed-up people, revolting against a corrupt system - the "beast" - that relentlessly favors insiders. Hillary personified the beast, while Donald personified the slayer.

Sadly, based on election results in our state, Rhode Island's version of the beast lives on. I fear our political class has not learned the lessons from the Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump movements - and will continue with their government-centric, anti-family, anti-business status quo."

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Kristina Contreras Fox

VP of Young Democrats of America

"A Trump Presidency means the validation of the ugliest part of America. In RI, as with the rest of the country, the hammer of his hatred will fall hardest on minority communities. Being a blue state doesn't make us immune from this danger.

Trump won over 35% (39.5) of the vote here! We need to look in the mirror, and not lie about what the reflection shows us. No more hiding underneath a blue blanket. I expect those who claim Democratic values to be true to those values. The gulf between words and actions have turned into fertile ground for Trump's message to grow here in RI. If you call yourself a Democrat, if you claim to stand in opposition to Trump, now is the time to prove it. Show up and fight back."
 

 
 

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