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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Policy Lobotomy

In Defying the Odds, we discuss Trump's approach to governing The update  -- just published --includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: "Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade. This could potentially slash the time it takes to travel between Asia and the West by as much as 20 days."

Tina Nguyen at Vanity Fair notes the administration flip-flop: from denying climate change to endorsing it as a good thing.
Ironically, this piecemeal approach has the potential to hurt Trump in 2020. According to a recent poll from the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, quite a large portion of younger voters, who are increasingly in the majority, care deeply about climate change. Among voters under 30, 25 percent viewed climate change as a “problem,” 50 percent called it a “crisis” that “demands urgent action,” and a whopping 74 percent disapproved of Trump’s actions regarding climate change. “The energy surrounding the Green New Deal means there are a lot of Americans that want to see Congress take bold action to lower emissions,” Former Representative Carlos Curbelo told Politico. “[Republicans] will alienate younger voters if they criticize without offering an alternative.” Presumably, this includes treating the Arctic like a slushy, walrus-corpse-riddled Risk board.
Ryan McCrimmon at Politico:
Economists in the Agriculture Department's research branch say the Trump administration is retaliating against them for publishing reports that shed negative light on White House policies, spurring an exodus that included six of them quitting the department on a single day in late April.
The Economic Research Service — a source of closely read reports on farm income and other topics that can shape federal policy, planting decisions and commodity markets — has run afoul of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue with its findings on how farmers have been financially harmed by President Donald Trump's trade feuds, the Republican tax code rewrite and other sensitive issues, according to current and former agency employees.

The reports highlight the continued decline under Trump’s watch in farm income, which has dropped about 50 percent since 2013. Rural voters were a crucial source of support for Trump in 2016, and analysts say even a small retreat in 2020 could jeopardize the president’s standing in several battleground states.
“The administration didn’t appreciate some of our findings, so this is retaliation to harm the agency and send a message,” said one current ERS employee, who asked not to be named to avoid retribution.
For example, two ERS researchers presented a paper at an economic conference in early 2018 that indicated the GOP tax overhaul would largely benefit the wealthiest farmers — generating negative press coverage that staff members said irked senior officials at USDA.
Then, in August, Perdue stunned members of the roughly 300-member research service by announcing plans to bring ERS under the control of USDA’s chief economist, who reports more directly to the secretary. Equally significant, he said the USDA would move the agency out of Washington to a location closer to the U.S. heartland.