Policy+Politics in Trump’s World

Governing is an elusive balance of policy and politics.

The possibility that the next Congress would enact a policy that would eliminate Medicare, likely increasing health costs for senior citizens, seems to run counter to President-elect Trump’s political base. Yet it is one of Speaker Paul Ryan’s priorities along with ending the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Cutting taxes across the board, as Trump has promised  to do, seems to run with the Trump base, although that might be truer in broad strokes than in the fine print if more benefits go to high-earners than middle-income workers.

The Philadelphia Citizen’s Jeremy Nowak is starting a series of looks at key issues for cities, beginning with education, in Trump’s agenda. It is well worth a read for its take on policy and politics, regardless whether you think you are interested in education policy.

Nowak goes straight at the fact that President-elect Trump and his supporters need to find ways to build support among the urban voters he campaigned against this year:

If the Republicans want to convert a narrow electoral win of 107,000 votes in three swing states—Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin—and a popular vote loss of 2 million votes into a governing majority, they will focus on the very metros that voted so heavily against them. This means that policies have to be viewed from two perspectives: Are they effective in accomplishing intended outcomes? And: Do they make political sense, in that they maintain and broaden popularity? Needless to say, being effective and popular are not always the same, especially in the short-term.

It is hard to tell what the Trump agenda will look like on January 21st, and the issues he champions first are likely to fit both his policy and political goals. It will get harder from there.That does not mean that a first-tier focus on tax reform (very likely), immigration (likely), and infrastructure (also likely) means the Trump team is not interested in changing community development policies, the CDFI Fund, or other programs. Uncertainty over tax policy is already slowing the tax credit market to a crawl. And Nowak cautions that a Trump investment in vouchers and school choice could come at the expense of Title 1 funding for high poverty schools.

Nowak will be looking next at law enforcement, housing, and infrastructure policy.

Money+Purpose will be piecing together the puzzle of what this all means for CDFIs and their partners.

New Presidents have a few months or more of relatively easy sailing, and it usually gets harder and harder from there. Trump’s tendency to shift course often will either prove to be great politics for keeping the Administration’s opponents off balance or a case study in Washington’s ability to muddle policy to a standstill.


One comment

  1. Salam Nalia · · Reply

    Great comments Mark but looking at his cabinet choices, I see nothing but trouble ahead for the country and the world. Salam


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