Apr 12, 2017

How and when presidents pivot (and what Trump could do)

Dennis Cook, Kathy Willens, Darren Hauck, Evan Vucci / AP

Presidents frequently have to change their tactics or message at some point during their presidency, as D.C. lobbying firm Mehlman Castagnetti points out in their "Understanding Trump's Washington" overview:

  • George H. W. Bush relented to the Democratic Congress and agreed to tax increases to pass a budget in 1990.
  • Bill Clinton reformed welfare and agreed to a more balanced budget after a disastrous 1994 midterm election for Dems.
  • George W. Bush sent more troops to Iraq and backed an immigration bill allowing easier paths to citizenship after a bad 2006 midterm election for the GOP.
  • Barack Obama, in 2014, used an Executive Order to pass DACA and promoted Clean Power Plan and the Paris Accord after failing to pass bipartisan legislation.

Four possible Trump pivots that they point out:

  1. Pushing policies that Dems will agree to. Trump already plans to work on infrastructure and tax reform simultaneously, hoping to win some Democratic support, as Jonathan Swan reported here.
  2. Full Bannon populism. This doesn't seem to be happening (as Mike Allen and Swan point out here), but he could jettison the NYC influence and go for his base.
  3. Take on the Freedom Caucus and let the more moderate GOP work with Dems. Tump failed at winning over the more conservative Freedom Caucus when it came to the Obamacare repeal bill, which still had zero Democratic support.
  4. Focus on military and foreign policy success. Just this past week, he has sent harsh warning to North Korea via Twitter, met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, managing to get his promise of help with North Korea and signed off on an airstrike on Syria after Assad's chemical weapon attack on civilians. Now's the time for Trump to pivot in this direction.

And 7 positions he's changed in recent days:

  • Russia
  • NATO
  • Chinese currency manipulation
  • His tax plan
  • The national debt
  • The Export-Import Bank
  • Janet Yellen's future at the Federal Reserve

Go deeper

Some Trump aides eye May 1 start to coronavirus reopening

President Trump was flanked at yesterday's briefing by HHS Secretary Alex Azar (far left), Vice President Pence and Dr. Deborah Birx. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump's aides, encouraged by virus data showing fewer deaths than once projected, are working behind the scenes to deliver on his vow to reopen America "sooner rather than later."

What to watch for: The official said there’s a lot of internal energy pushing for May 1, because that's the end of the White House's "30 days to slow the spread."

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll surpasses 14,800

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The novel coronavirus has now killed more than 2,000 people for the second day in a row, and it's infected over 432,000 others, per Johns Hopkins data.

Where it stands: More than 14,800 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. — including over 4,500 in New York. The state's death toll surged to its highest one-day total on Wednesday — beating the previous day's record. 779 people died in New York in 24 hours. N.Y. has reported more cases than the most-affected countries in Europe.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates: U.K. PM "stable, improving" in intensive care

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is "stable, improving, sat up and engaged with medical staff" in the intensive care unit of London's St. Thomas' Hospital, where he is being treated for the coronavirus, Culture Minister Oliver Dowden told the BBC Thursday.

Zoom in: The update comes as ministers meet to discuss whether to extend the United Kingdom's lockdown and after the country's health officials reported Wednesday the highest daily rise in COVID-19 deaths — 938, taking the total to over 7,300. London Mayor Sadiq Khan said Wednesday the U.K. is "nowhere near lifting the lockdown," with the virus not expected to peak there until next week.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 2 hours ago - Health