RealClearPolicy Newsletters: Original Articles

A Presidential Pivot?

A Presidential Pivot?
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Dear Reader —

It appears the pivot is real — at least for now. Trump’s meteoric rise last year exploded traditional political and ideological alignments, breaking the “blue wall.” Republican leadership hoped the infrastructure of the Grand Old Party would be strong enough to absorb the shock, resulting in a new coalition led by an idiosyncratic populist, ultimately beholden to mainline conservative ideas.

But Trump’s disruption did not end last November. Reaching across the aisle to work with congressional Democrats on several key issues — the debt ceiling, tax reform, and immigration — Trump may now be scrambling political and ideological alignments on Capitol Hill much as he did the electoral map in 2016. 

The president has put Republicans in a tight spot. Those who might otherwise praise bipartisan cooperation feel burned, while hardliners have good reason to fear the president may be less sympathetic to their policy goals. Amazingly, Trump, who ran to the Right of his party on immigration, has now managed to outflank the GOP on DACA — by pivoting Left. Among other things, this leaves congressional Republicans unable to leverage cooperation on immigration to gain concessions from Democrats on other top priorities, such as taxes. 

There is, of course, nothing in principle earth-shattering or unprecedented about a president’s bipartisan turn. Nor is it obviously bad politics. From Nixon to Clinton, such maneuvers have often proved effective. But Trump’s move has thrown dramatic light onto divisions many in the GOP hoped would narrow after the election. And, ultimately, the president will not be able to triangulate successfully without his own party. Much will depend on the outcome of current budget and tax negotiations. All’s fair — and continually unpredictable — in Trumplandia.

These are some of the many issues taken up at RealClearPolicy over the past week. Below you will find just a few highlights.

— M. Anthony Mills, editor | RealClearPolicy


Trump’s Republican Civil War. For National Review, Jonathan S. Tobin argues that Trump is transforming the GOP from the inside out. 

An Unexpected Opportunity to Protect Dreamers. In our own pages, Jeremy L. Neufeld contends Trump's controversial DACA decision could “provide the urgency needed to push Congress into passing protections for Dreamers.”

Elite Media Want You to Think Trump Is an Independent. The American Prospect’s Paul Waldman takes issue with the notion that President Trump is pivoting away from the Right.

On Medicaid, Follow Reagan’s Lead. Also in our pages, Hanns Kuttner urges the GOP to take a cue from the 40th president's across-the-board reduction in federal payments to states.

Congress Has a Capacity Problem. At The Brookings Institution, Casey Burgat spotlights new research that suggests Congress “lacks the resources to perform its duties successfully.”

$20 Trillion in National Debt Is a Big Deal. In RealClearPolicy, Maya MacGuineas urges Congress and the administration to act swiftly to address our nation's worsening fiscal health. 

The Democrats Have Become Socialists. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank observes how Bernie Sanders has pulled the Democratic Party to the Left. 

What Are Think Tanks for? Also in RealClearPolicy, James Jay Carafano and Mike Gonzalez consider the implications of a recent controversy over think tank funding. 

Is the Electoral College Doomed? Politico’s Tim Alberta documents the current “campaign to kill off the antique institution.”

To Help the Middle Class, Cut Payroll Taxes. James C. Capretta makes his case in RealClearPolicy.

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