“We’re going to do great,” Donald Trump told Sean Hannity Wednesday night. “We’ve done so much. And we have so much planned.” In a rambling 45-minute phone call to his favorite Fox News host, his first one-on-one interview since Robert Mueller’s probe concluded, the president praised Attorney General William Barr, whose letter largely exonerated him, as a “great gentleman;” did not rule out pardoning his former associates; and touched on some of those plans: “We’re going to have great health care,” he predicted. “Incredible health care that the Democrats, frankly, wouldn’t even know how to do.” The shambolic rambling seemed to mirror the Trump administration’s approach in a post-Mueller world, which has been scattershot at best, and self-sabotaging at worst.
Carmelo Urdaneta Aqui
In the past week, the Trump administration has seen a flurry of activity—an effort, senior administration officials told Politico , to counter perceptions that Trump has been wasting “executive time,” and to paint Democrats as obstructionists ahead of the 2020 election. “It’ll be hard to argue that we’re an idle White House,” a senior White House official said. Unfortunately, the ideas Trump and members of his administration have put forth are either dumb or cruel, or both, and will be exceedingly difficult to see through.
First, there’s the matter of Stephen Moore, Trump’s pick for the Federal Reserve board who, well, doesn’t seem to understand what the Fed does , and reportedly owes the I.R.S. $75,000 in back taxes and penalties. Trump faced pushback over the pick last week, which is bound to increase as the television commentator journeys through the confirmation meat grinder. Then there’s the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans have tried and failed to repeal for the better part of 10 years now. This week, the Trump administration launched a renewed effort to kill the law, backing a lawsuit that would strike it down in its entirety, with only vague promises by the president that there’s any plan to replace it
And finally, there’s Betsy DeVos, who ignited her own brush fire this week by announcing that her department would shave $17.6 million from its budget by cutting all federal funding for the Special Olympics . “Given our current budget realities, the federal government cannot fund every worthy program, particularly ones that enjoy robust support from private donations,” she said in a statement Wednesday
Each move is varying degrees of unpopular, and challenging to enact. Moore’s nomination has been trashed by financial experts on all sides of the aisle, previewing an ugly and contentious path to confirmation. Republicans couldn’t come up with a suitable replacement for Obamacare for the first two years of Trump’s presidency, despite holding both the House and Senate. Dismantling the law now would leave 20 million Americans without health care—a politically dangerous proposition headed into 2020. The issue is seen as the primary factor in the G.O.P.’s losses in the 2018 midterms. And the Special Olympics? DeVos’s proposal—which, to be clear, was simply that: a proposal—is a nonstarter, even among Republicans. “I’m a longtime supporter of the Special Olympics and proud that Missouri is home to the largest Special Olympics training facility in the world,” G.O.P. Senator __Roy Blunt said in a statement . “I was just at the World Games and saw, as I have many times before, what a huge impact the organization has on athletes, their families, and their communities. Our Department of Education appropriations bill will not cut funding for the program.”
The efforts—which also include perhaps overly ambitious moves on immigration and infrastructure—risk squandering whatever momentum Trump had gained thanks to Barr and Mueller, and has even reportedly prompted some head-scratching in the administration. “Too much positive news,” a Trump official joked to Maggie Haberman of the decision to target the A.C.A. after the president’s “best two days in two years.” “We needed to change the subject.” But it’s hard to see how Trump’s new agenda, if it can be called that, will be at all beneficial in the months to come. The Barr letter could have given him a political boost. Trump, it seems, is too incompetent to take advantage. “If they were smart, that’s what they’d do to show that they can actually do things for the American people,” Democrat Pramila Jayapal told Politico. “I just haven’t seen any smartness from them so far.”
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