Dec 13, 2018 - Politics & Policy

Trump’s rude awakening: Governing in tough times

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It is a fact President Trump had a consequential first two years: a huge tax cut, two Supreme Court justices and lots of regulations eliminated.

But it is also a fact that he did this in the kind of political environment all presidents dream of but few ever got: full control of government in peaceful and prosperous times. His job now is not just harder — it’s exponentially harder.

  • He shifts from a compliant Republican Congress to a stubbornly divided one.
  • Thanks to his tax cuts, deficits are shooting past $1 trillion annually, providing little wiggle room for new spending programs.
  • The era of cheap money is over. He can kvetch about the Fed all he wants — rates are going up.
  • The market went from roaring to rude, and most think a recession is coming our way.
  • The Mueller investigation is a threat and nuisance.
  • Congressional subpoenas and public hearings are hell.

Trump is already seeing the perils of his new reality:

  • He threatened a government shutdown and promised to take full ownership of it.
  • Democrats are planning a flurry of investigations come January.
  • Even routine tasks (for him) like finding a new chief of staff are harder.

Be smart: Trump faces all these headwinds as he ramps up a re-election campaign for a race in which the path to victory and margin for error are as slim and elusive as any in a lifetime.

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