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Washington Wrap: Sophomore Slump or Breakout Year?

Omri Nahmias

Agenda 2018: New year, new goals for President Trump

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

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2 017 was a rocky year for Donald Trump. A surprise 2016 election followed by a rough beginning in the Oval Office was followed by a steadying of the helm and a legislative victory in the form of a tax bill at year-end.

What will 2018 bring? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel and House Speaker Paul Ryan are planning to meet the president at Camp David later this week to map out strategies. Here’s a shortlist of what’s on the menu.

Bridges, Highways, and Ports

Trump’s flagship legislation is a historic plan to update America’s infrastructure. According to a rough estimate, the project will cost a cool trillion dollars — $200 billion of federal funds and another $800 billion from individual states and private corporations. Anticipated to take a decade, the goal is to revamp America’s roads, trains, bridges, airports, and schools — or in the president’s words, “everything.” This kind of large-scale construction is also anticipated to create a huge number of jobs.

The question, of course, is whether Trump will succeed in getting the Democrats on board, especially in the Senate, where the Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority. The president is optimistic. “I really believe infrastructure can be bipartisan,” Trump said last month. “People want it, Republicans and Democrats.”

We can assume that the Democrats won’t be too hasty in handing Trump a major legislative victory. Democratic candidates have recently won a number of electoral contests, giving the party hope of a strong showing in the midterm elections. Nevertheless, Trump might still succeed in making a deal with “Chuck and Nancy,” by, say, handing the Democratic leaders an achievement on the pending child immigration law, or health care. 

Welfare Reform Redu

A new bill would include cutbacks the Republicans have long wanted to make on various benefits that they claim are draining the economy and disincentivizing people to work. “We’re looking very strongly at welfare reform, and that’ll take place right after taxes, very soon, very shortly after taxes,” Trump said a few weeks ago.

Already in the coming weeks, we could see a presidential order to reduce budgeting for food stamps and housing assistance. It’s unclear, however, whether cutbacks will include Medicaid and Social Security, which Trump has promised not to touch. 

On the Stump

President Trump is expected in the coming months to invest a great deal of energy campaigning for the midterm elections, generally considered a litmus test of the president’s popularity. While his poll numbers are still low, expect to see Trump stumping for Republicans and trying to generate excitement for his legislative plans starting this month.  


DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)

According to a deadline imposed by the president himself, Congress will have to reach a decision by March 5 regarding the children of illegal immigrants. Both Democrats and Republicans are keen on reaching a bipartisan agreement, which will likely also include funding for a wall along the Mexican border. In return, Democrats will expect that “dreamers” — the children of illegal immigrants who have grown up in the US — will be given legal status in the country. Anticipate weeks of negotiations before a deal is reached, if at all. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 692)

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