Populism's False Start

Populism's False Start
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The early Trump administration has been many things, but “populist” hasn't truly been one of them.

When you discount the tweets, the all-consuming media controversies, the drama over personnel, and the Russia investigation — granted, that's a lot of discounting — it has been a fairly conventional Republican administration on policy.

The major legislation on the agenda so far — the health-care and tax bills — is shaping up about how you'd expect in any Republican administration. Action on trade has been underwhelming. Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but Ted Cruz, too, said he opposed the deal. (So did Hillary Clinton, for that matter.) Measures being taken against imports of Canadian timber and Chinese steel, both longtime sore spots, are well within the bounds of the policy of past administrations. Trump puts more emphasis on immigration enforcement than his primary-campaign rivals would, but the three positions that made him so distinctive on immigration — the Wall, a Muslim ban, and mass deportation — are proving more difficult to implement than he thought or were left along the wayside during the general election.

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