Wall 'Will Get Built,' Trump Insists, as He Drops Funding Demand – New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump insisted on Tuesday that he remained committed to his hotly disputed plan to build a wall along the Mexican border, despite backing off a demand that the project be funded in a short-term spending measure that must be passed by Friday to avoid a government shutdown.

By easing off the proposal for a down payment on wall construction, Mr. Trump may have cleared one of the biggest obstacles to passage of the spending bill before financing for most government operations expires at the end of the week.

Still, the president did not want his acquiescence to be seen as a sign that he was any less committed to the project. “Don’t let the fake media tell you that I have changed my position on the WALL,” he wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning. “It will get built and help stop drugs, human trafficking etc.”

The Run-Up

The podcast that makes sense of the most delirious stretch of the 2016 campaign.

Mr. Trump told a group of conservative journalists at the White House on Monday evening that he might accept a spending bill that included money for border security without setting aside as much as he had sought for the wall.

The current spending legislation would keep the government operating through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. But the president could refocus his battle for wall construction in spending bills for the next fiscal year.

“Building that wall and having it funded remains an important priority to him,” Kellyanne Conway, the president’s counselor, said on “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday morning. “But we also know that that can happen later this year and into next year. And in the interim, you see other smart technology and other resources and tools being used toward border security.”

Democrats welcomed Mr. Trump’s decision not to hold out for the money this week. “It would remove the prospect of a needless fight over a poison-pill proposal that members of both parties don’t support,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, said on the Senate floor.

The promise to build a wall — or actually to extend a series of barriers that already exist on part of the border — was a central theme of Mr. Trump’s campaign last year. Not only would he protect the United States from a tide of immigrants coming across the border illegally, he said, Mexico itself would pay for it.

But the cost estimates for the wall have gone up, and Mexico has made clear it has no intention of spending money on it.

Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said on Monday that Mr. Trump was still determined to make Mexico pay, but that he would proceed first with American tax dollars.

“The president has been very clear” that “in order to get the ball rolling on border security and the wall, that he was going to have to use the current appropriations process,” Mr. Spicer said. “But he would make sure that that promise would be kept as far as the payment of it.”

So, he was asked, Mexico will eventually pay? “That’s right,” Mr. Spicer said.

Mr. Trump initially estimated during the campaign that the wall would cost $12 billion, but the figure has soared since then. A Department of Homeland Security internal report in February estimated that the wall could cost about $21.6 billion. A new report issued by Senate Democrats last week put the cost far higher, at nearly $70 billion.

Even without the wall, illegal crossings of the Southwest border have been falling drastically.

The number of people apprehended fell 40 percent from January to February and again 30 percent from February to March, according to the Customs and Border Protection agency. The White House has attributed that to Mr. Trump’s tough talk and bolstered enforcement. Since November, when Mr. Trump was elected, illegal crossings have fallen by nearly 75 percent.

As lawmakers on Capitol Hill continued feverish negotiations on Tuesday, White House and Senate staff members seemed to agree that the wall had been reduced to something like a metaphor for broad-based border security funding, which is all but certain to end up in a final spending package.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, suggested that Congress could well meet its Friday night deadline to get a funding package completed. “These talks have been part of a bipartisan bicameral process from the start,” he said. “I look forward to more productive conversations with senators, our House colleagues and the White House so that we can get this important work done soon.”

But other issues remain.

Most notable is the fate of payments to health insurers to lower deductibles and other costs for low-income consumers who buy plans through the marketplaces created under the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Trump has threatened to withhold the subsidy payments, which are the subject of a lawsuit, as leverage in negotiations with Democrats whose votes will be needed to pass any spending bill in the Senate.

Democrats have now turned that threat on its head, insisting that the payments — which the administration has quietly continued to make — be guaranteed as part of any deal. “Six million people could lose their health care, which could become unaffordable,” Mr. Schumer said.

There also is a dispute over health benefits for retired miners who face the loss of their coverage, an issue that led to a near-shutdown last year. Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia and other Democrats want those benefits extended, and miners have been a big constituency for Mr. Trump.

Democrats would also like to see Congress bail out Puerto Rico’s ailing Medicaid program as part of the deal.

But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have strikingly avoided the sort of inflamed talk that is often a part of fights over budgets, suggesting that Republicans and Democrats alike have gotten much of what they wanted in the spending bill.

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Trump shows flexibility on border wall; GOP launches talks on tax reform – Washington Post

By Kelsey Snell and ,

Republicans are set to spend Tuesday leading negotiations on government spending, taxes and health care, as they try to avoid a looming government shutdown while also demonstrating forward motion on President Trump’s top domestic priorities.

With congressional Republicans eager to avoid shutting down the government on Friday over a spending impasse, the administration is projecting confidence that a shutdown will be avoided.

Trump seemed to soften his demand for immediate funding for construction of a border wall on Monday afternoon, telling a small group of conservative reporters that he would be open to delaying a confrontation with Democrats over the border until September, according to White House officials.

[Trump is caving on border wall funding after showing his base that he tried]

Early Tuesday morning, however, Trump — seemingly upset with news reports about his comments — tweeted, “Don’t let the fake media tell you that I have changed my position on the WALL. It will get built and help stop drugs, human trafficking etc.”

Still, congressional leaders were encouraged by the appearance of flexibility from the White House.

Spending talks, however, remain stalled over a number of other outstanding conflicts — including Democrats’ demand that the spending bill include guaranteed payments for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, according to several aides who were granted anonymity to speak candidly.

Republican leaders had not yet submitted a new offer to reflect Trump’s shift on the border wall as of Tuesday morning, and an agreement did not appear imminent, the aides said.

“If the threat of the wall is removed — as I hope is the case — our neogitations can continue and we can hopefully resolve all of the outstanding issues by Friday,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in remarks on Tuesday morning.

House and Senate negotiators worked throughout a two-week Easter break on details of the spending plan, but the talks broke down last week after White House officials began demanding greater concessions from Democrats, including explicit funding for the border wall. Democrats firmly oppose any new money for construction of a wall, but have said they are willing to agree to significant increases in defense spending, including money for the Department of Homeland Security to spend on surveillance and security on the border with Mexico.

[President Trump just had his bluff called — again]

The main areas of conflict remain over how much money will be sent to cover subsidy payments under the ACA, funding for a coal miner’s health-care fund and the fate of the border wall, aides said.

With spending talks still underway, Republican leaders also planned to launch talks on Tuesday over Trump’s tax reform proposals and new plans to salvage an Obamacare replacement bill.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economic adviser Gary Cohn are set to meet with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and leaders of the congressional tax-writing committees to review details of Trump’s plan.

The president has instructed advisers to propose cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, according to White House officials who said they were not authorized to speak publicly about the plan. The rate reduction — which independent budget experts say could cost the federal government $2.4 trillion over a decade — is larger than what House Republicans had proposed in their own plan.

Meanwhile, senior leaders of the House Freedom Caucus — the conservative bloc of lawmakers who opposed the initial Obamacare replacement plan — are scheduled to meet Tuesday evening as the House comes back into session. The entire caucus isn’t scheduled to meet to discuss a way forward on health-care legislation until Wednesday night, aides said.

[Public pans Republicans’ latest approach to replacing Affordable Care Act]

Republicans are also working to better define Trump’s signature campaign promise, arguing that any form of border security would fulfill it.

“There will never be a 2,200-mile wall built, period,” Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a supporter of immigration reform who challenged Trump in the 2016 primaries, said on Monday. “I think it’s become symbolic of better border security. It’s a code word for better border security. If you make it about actually building a 2,200-mile wall, that’s a bridge too far — but I’m mixing my metaphors.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a key appropriator and member of Senate leadership, said that “there could be a wall in some places and technology in other places,” implying that there would not be funding for the wall sketched out in campaign rhetoric. “I think you’re going to get a down payment on border security generally,” he said.

Trump has asked Congress for $1.5 billion in new money to start construction on the wall, and he wants an additional $2.6 billion for the fiscal year that begins in October. A complete border wall, experts say, would cost $21.6 billion and take 3½ years to construct.

At the White House, White House press secretary Spicer portrayed Trump’s position not as a demand but rather as one of two priorities — the other being additional military funding — in evolving negotiations with Congress. He left open the possibility that the president could agree to funding for border activities generally, such as additional fencing or drones.

“I’m not going to get ahead of the negotiations that are ongoing,” Spicer said.

Should lawmakers fail to find consensus by Friday, there are plans ready to quickly pass through the House and Senate a short-term stopgap bill that would keep the government open until discussions are finalized.

Philip Rucker, David Weigel, Robert Costa, Damian Paletta and Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.

Read more at PowerPost

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German crowd boos Ivanka Trump for calling her father a 'champion' for families – Washington Post

The crowd at a women’s summit in Berlin booed President Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, when she claimed her father was “a tremendous champion of supporting families,” on April 25. (Reuters)

A German crowd booed Ivanka Trump on Tuesday after she called her father a “a tremendous champion of supporting families.”

Trump was taking her first crack at diplomacy abroad in her new role as assistant to the president, vowing at an economic conference in Berlin to create “positive change” for women in the United States.

“He encouraged me and enabled me to thrive,” she said on a panel with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “I grew up in a house where there was no barrier to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and my own tenacity.”

Miriam Meckel, editor of the German magazine Wirtschaftswoche, noted the audience’s response of groaning and hissing and asked Ivanka Trump whether her father is actually an “empowerer” of women.

“I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media and that’s been perpetuated,” Ivanka Trump said on the panel, “but I know from personal experience, and I think the thousands of women who have worked with and for my father for decades when he was in the private sector are a testament to his belief and solid conviction in the potential of women.”

President Trump was caught on tape in 2005 talking about grabbing women’s genitals without their permission and, in a 2004 interview, called pregnancy an “inconvenience” to employers.

Ivanka Trump, who moved into her own West Wing office last month, advocated for gender equality during the campaign and is now working to reform the nation’s child-care system. Her Germany appearance comes a week before the release of her advice book, “Women Who Work.” 

Her father has called her the mastermind behind his paid maternity leave proposal, unveiled last September, but the White House has made no moves on the family leave front since Trump took office.

The U.S. position on paid maternity leave stands in sharp contrast with Germany, where mothers are entitled to take six weeks of paid time-off before the birth of a child and eight weeks after an infant arrives. The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not offer any paid leave to new parents.

Ivanka Trump had hoped to use her appearance in Berlin to talk about boosting women entrepreneurs. But some female entrepreneurs in the United States, however, say the White House is making their jobs even harder.


BERLIN, GERMANY – APRIL 25: Ivanka Trump sits on a panel with Angela Merkel.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Businesses owned by women tend to face a disadvantage when it comes to expanding into foreign markets — and experts say Trump’s talk on trade and immigration has made it harder for them to pursue international opportunities.

The president has threatened, for example, to slap steep tariffs on goods from China and Mexico. He has asked for a review of the high-skilled worker visa, which tech companies rely on for talent. His travel ban on people from predominantly Muslim nations risked straining relations with Middle Eastern countries and America’s democratic allies.

All of this can impede an entrepreneur’s step into internationalization, or the act of growing beyond the American border, said Nathalie Molina Niño, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Brava, a holding company that bankrolls start-ups that benefit women.

“Women are at a particular disadvantage,” Molina Niño said, “because unlike large, well-funded companies, women-owned businesses are less equipped to throw money at issues like this.”

Advancing into foreign markets is expensive, she said. Entrepreneurs need cash for shipping, research, travel and hiring more employees. Consulting experts to keep up with today’s unpredictable business climate adds to the cost. And female entrepreneurs, Molina Niño noted, generally have less spending power.

Venture capitalists poured $58.2 billion into companies with male founders last year, while women received a comparatively measly $1.46 billion, according to data from the venture capital database PitchBook. (Less than 10 percent of VC-funded start-ups are run by women, according to the Harvard Business Review, and firms owned by women make up 38 percent of the business population.)

Still, female entrepreneurs in the United States are better off than those in most other countries, studies find.

This year, Mastercard’s Index of Women Entrepreneurs put the United States in third place for female entrepreneurs, behind New Zealand and Canada.

The authors, however, highlighted a persistent challenge: “In the United States where the underlying entrepreneurial conditions and women’s advancement outcomes are among the best in the world,” they wrote, “women’s entrepreneurial advancement is held back by the lack of internationalization opportunities.”

Fiona Murray, the associate dean of innovation at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, said the uncertainty clouding international relations, driven by Trump’s “America first” rhetoric, could exacerbate the problem. She pointed to Trump’s executive order last week calling for a review of the H1-B visas for highly skilled workers.

“That makes it difficult for any entrepreneur to think about an appropriate internationalization strategy,” Murray said. “Can you hire the people you need to hire? They need highly specialized talent, and that talent comes from all over the world.”

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German crowd boos Ivanka Trump for calling her father a 'champion' for families – Washington Post

The crowd at a women’s summit in Berlin booed President Trump’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, when she claimed her father was “a tremendous champion of supporting families,” on April 25. (Reuters)

A German crowd booed Ivanka Trump on Tuesday after she called her father a “tremendous champion of supporting families.”

Trump was taking her first crack at diplomacy abroad in her new role as assistant to the president, vowing at an economic conference in Berlin to create “positive change” for women in the United States.

“He encouraged me and enabled me to thrive,” she said on a panel with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “I grew up in a house where there was no barrier to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and my own tenacity.”

Miriam Meckel, editor of the German magazine Wirtschaftswoche, noted the audience’s response of groaning and hissing and asked Ivanka Trump whether her father is actually an “empowerer” of women.

“I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media and that’s been perpetuated,” Ivanka Trump said on the panel, “but I know from personal experience, and I think the thousands of women who have worked with and for my father for decades when he was in the private sector are a testament to his belief and solid conviction in the potential of women.”

President Trump was caught on tape in 2005 talking about grabbing women’s genitals without their permission and, in a 2004 interview, called pregnancy an “inconvenience” to employers.

Ivanka Trump, who moved into her own West Wing office last month, advocated for gender equality during the campaign and is now working to overhaul the nation’s child-care system. Her Germany appearance comes a week before the release of her advice book, “Women Who Work.” 

Her father has called her the mastermind behind his paid maternity leave proposal, unveiled last September, but the White House has made no moves on the family leave front since Trump took office.

The U.S. position on paid maternity leave stands in sharp contrast with Germany, where mothers are entitled to take six weeks of paid time-off before the birth of a child and eight weeks after an infant arrives. The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not offer any paid leave to new parents.

Ivanka Trump had hoped to use her appearance in Berlin to talk about boosting women entrepreneurs. But some female entrepreneurs in the United States, however, say the White House is making their jobs even harder.


From left: Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, Ivanka Trump, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a women’s economic conference in Berlin. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Businesses owned by women tend to face a disadvantage when it comes to expanding into foreign markets — and experts say Trump’s talk on trade and immigration has made it harder for them to pursue international opportunities.

The president has threatened, for example, to slap steep tariffs on goods from China and Mexico. He has asked for a review of the high-skilled worker visa, which tech companies rely on for talent. His travel ban on people from predominantly Muslim nations risked straining relations with Middle Eastern countries and America’s democratic allies.

All of this can impede an entrepreneur’s step into internationalization, or the act of growing beyond the American border, said Nathalie Molina Niño, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Brava, a holding company that bankrolls start-ups that benefit women.

“Women are at a particular disadvantage,” Molina Niño said, “because unlike large, well-funded companies, women-owned businesses are less equipped to throw money at issues like this.”

Advancing into foreign markets is expensive, she said. Entrepreneurs need cash for shipping, research, travel and hiring more employees. Consulting experts to keep up with today’s unpredictable business climate adds to the cost. And female entrepreneurs, Molina Niño noted, generally have less spending power.

Venture capitalists poured $58.2 billion into companies with male founders last year, while women received a comparatively measly $1.46 billion, according to data from the venture capital database PitchBook. (Less than 10 percent of VC-funded start-ups are run by women, according to the Harvard Business Review, and firms owned by women make up 38 percent of the business population.)

Still, female entrepreneurs in the United States are better off than those in most other countries, studies find.

This year, Mastercard’s Index of Women Entrepreneurs put the United States in third place for female entrepreneurs, behind New Zealand and Canada.

The authors, however, highlighted a persistent challenge: “In the United States where the underlying entrepreneurial conditions and women’s advancement outcomes are among the best in the world,” they wrote, “women’s entrepreneurial advancement is held back by the lack of internationalization opportunities.”

Fiona Murray, the associate dean of innovation at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, said the uncertainty clouding international relations, driven by Trump’s “America first” rhetoric, could exacerbate the problem. She pointed to Trump’s executive order last week calling for a review of the H1-B visas for highly skilled workers.

“That makes it difficult for any entrepreneur to think about an appropriate internationalization strategy,” Murray said. “Can you hire the people you need to hire? They need highly specialized talent, and that talent comes from all over the world.”

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German crowd boos Ivanka Trump for calling her father a 'champion' for families – Washington Post

The crowd at a women’s summit in Berlin booed President Trump’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, when she claimed her father was “a tremendous champion of supporting families,” on April 25. (Reuters)

A German crowd booed Ivanka Trump on Tuesday after she called her father a “tremendous champion of supporting families.”

Trump was taking her first crack at diplomacy abroad in her new role as assistant to the president, vowing at an economic conference in Berlin to create “positive change” for women in the United States.

“He encouraged me and enabled me to thrive,” she said on a panel with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde and other female leaders. “I grew up in a house where there was no barrier to what I could accomplish beyond my own perseverance and my own tenacity.”

Miriam Meckel, editor of the German magazine Wirtschaftswoche, noted the audience’s response of groaning and hissing and asked Trump whether her father is actually an “empowerer” of women.

“I’ve certainly heard the criticism from the media, and that’s been perpetuated,” Trump said on the panel, “but I know from personal experience, and I think the thousands of women who have worked with and for my father for decades when he was in the private sector are a testament to his belief and solid conviction in the potential of women.”

President Trump was caught on tape in 2005 talking about grabbing women’s genitals without their permission and, in a 2004 interview, called pregnancy an “inconvenience” to employers.

Ivanka Trump, who moved into her own West Wing office last month, advocated for gender equality during the campaign and is now working to overhaul the nation’s child-care system. Her visit to Germany comes a week before the release of her advice book, “Women Who Work.” 

Her father has called her the mastermind behind his paid maternity leave proposal, unveiled last September, but the White House has made no moves on the family leave front since Trump took office.

The U.S. position on paid maternity leave stands in sharp contrast with Germany’s, where mothers are entitled to take six weeks of paid time off before the birth of a child and eight weeks after an infant arrives. The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not offer any paid leave to new parents.

Ivanka Trump had hoped to use her appearance in Berlin to talk about boosting female entrepreneurs. But some of those entrepreneurs in the United States say the White House is making their jobs even harder.


From left: Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, Ivanka Trump, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde and German Chancellor Angela Merkel speak at a women’s economic conference in Berlin. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Businesses owned by women tend to face a disadvantage when it comes to expanding into foreign markets, and experts say the president’s talk on trade and immigration has made it harder for them to pursue international opportunities.

The president has threatened, for example, to slap steep tariffs on goods from China and Mexico. He has asked for a review of the high-skilled worker visa, which tech companies rely on for talent. His travel ban on people from predominantly Muslim nations risked straining relations with Middle Eastern countries and America’s democratic allies.

All of this can impede an entrepreneur’s step into internationalization or growing beyond the American border, said Nathalie Molina Niño, a serial entrepreneur and founder of Brava, a holding company that bankrolls start-ups that benefit women. “Women are at a particular disadvantage,” Molina Niño said, “because unlike large, well-funded companies, women-owned businesses are less equipped to throw money at issues like this.”

Advancing into foreign markets is expensive, she said. Entrepreneurs need cash for shipping, research, travel and hiring. Consulting experts to keep up with today’s unpredictable business climate adds to the cost. And female entrepreneurs, Molina Niño noted, generally have less spending power.

Venture capitalists poured $58.2 billion into companies with male founders last year, while women received a comparatively measly $1.46 billion, according to data from the venture capital database PitchBook. (Less than 10 percent of VC-funded start-ups are run by women, according to the Harvard Business Review, and firms owned by women make up 38 percent of the business population.)

Still, female entrepreneurs in the United States are better off than those in most other countries, studies find. This year, Mastercard’s Index of Women Entrepreneurs put the United States in third place for female entrepreneurs, behind New Zealand and Canada.

The authors, however, highlighted a persistent challenge: “In the United States where the underlying entrepreneurial conditions and women’s advancement outcomes are among the best in the world,” they wrote, “women’s entrepreneurial advancement is held back by the lack of internationalization opportunities.”

Fiona Murray, the associate dean of innovation at MIT’s Sloan School of Management, said the uncertainty clouding international relations, driven by Trump’s “America first” rhetoric, could exacerbate the problem. She pointed to Trump’s executive order last week calling for a review of the H1-B visas for highly skilled workers.

“That makes it difficult for any entrepreneur to think about an appropriate internationalization strategy,” Murray said. “Can you hire the people you need to hire? They need highly specialized talent, and that talent comes from all over the world.”

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This is why the first 100 days is a 'ridiculous standard' for judging presidents – Washington Post


President Trump poses for a portrait in the Oval Office in Washington on April 21. (Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

President Trump, who has yet to pass any major legislative initiatives, recently tweeted his frustration with the “ridiculous standard of the first 100 days” as a benchmark for judging a new president’s accomplishments. The historical record suggests that he may have a point.

Landmark laws are a rarity in the first 100 days

Using a widely accepted measure, we can identify all the “landmark” legislation enacted during the first 100 days of a newly elected president’s term since Franklin D. Roosevelt, when the first 100 days became the period to watch. As shown in the table below, most presidents since 1949 finish their first 100 days having passed exactly zero landmark laws (the same trend is found if we count the small number of notable, but less-than-landmark laws that pass, like President Barack Obama’s Lilly Ledbetter Act).

In this regard, at least, Trump can be viewed as a fairly typical president.

True, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed landmark education reform 82 days after his inauguration, and after only 29 days in office, President Barack Obama signed the record-sized fiscal stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, in the wake of the Great Recession. But these cases may be exceptions that prove the rule.

[In Trump’s America, who’s protesting, and why?]

Do the first 100 days predict future performance?

The table also displays the total number of landmark laws enacted during a president’s first full four-year term. Not surprisingly, presidents who are legislatively successful during the first 100 days are also relatively successful during the remainder of the term. Johnson and Obama averaged five landmark laws over their full first term.

What about the fate of presidents who, like Trump, fail to notch a big victory during their first 100 days? More surprisingly, the average number of landmark laws ultimately enacted by Congress and these presidents doesn’t differ significantly from those of Johnson and Obama.

Still, these presidents deliver a wide range of outcomes.

[Trump’s threat of steel tariffs heralds big changes in trade policy]

One-third of these presidents never managed to sign any landmark measures into law in their first term. This cohort includes not only presidents who faced a Congress controlled by the opposition party, like Richard Nixon. It also includes Jimmy Carter, who, like Trump, was blessed with House and Senate majorities from his own party.

But an equal number of presidents who got off to a slow start ended by rivaling the accomplishments of the quick-to-start presidents. Admittedly, two of these could be considered unusual cases.

[Racial attitudes motivated Trump voters more than authoritarianism]

Of the four landmark legislative accomplishments listed under President John F. Kennedy’s first term, only one — the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty — occurred before his assassination. The other three might be more accurately attributed to his successor, Johnson — albeit possibly inspired by the grief after JFK’s assassination.

President George W. Bush’s first term produced an impressive six landmark acts, but four were prompted largely by a single dramatic event, the terrorist attacks of 9/11: the Authorization for Use of Military Force against the terrorists, the USA Patriot Act, the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 and the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which established the federal department.

The other example of a president who was slow to find his legislative footing but ended the first year with a strong record was President Bill Clinton. He produced no landmark legislation during his first 100 days, but his first term eventually resulted in four big laws. Two passed when his fellow Democrats controlled Congress: the Deficit Reduction Act of 1993 and the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act. Another two passed after Republicans swept into power in the 1994 elections: the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 to overhaul the welfare system, and the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to increase competition in the communications business.

Let’s judge new presidents after their first year instead

So will Trump’s legislative record end up more like that of Carter’s or Clinton’s presidency? At this point, either seems possible. Both early presidencies resemble Trump’s, at least in someways. The first 100 days simply do not offer enough evidence from which to accurately predict what’s still to come.

So what would be a better period of time to judge? A president’s record after a full year.

As you can see in the table below, five presidencies had nothing big to show after the first full year; after four years, these delivered an average of only 1.4 landmark acts. But six presidencies delivered at least one big act within the first year; after four years, those averaged an impressive four landmarks acts. That’s a statistically significant difference.

In particular, both Clinton’s and George W. Bush’s administrations’ latent legislative skill only become clear toward the end of each one’s first year in office

The “first 100 days” standard should probably be retired by politicians and pundits alike.

[Why presidential candidates (like Trump) campaign as isolationists — but (like Trump) govern as hawks]

As House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) noted last month, “Doing big things is hard.” It takes time to reach out to key players, to craft workable legislation and to build sufficient support. Only in unusual circumstances can all of this come together in only 100 days.

Want to assess Trump’s legislative prowess? Check back in December.

David R. Jones is professor of political science at Baruch College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. His research focuses on legislative productivity and public opinion of Congress.

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Despite his rhetoric, here's a clear sign that Trump is eager to show 100-day wins – Washington Post


Donald Trump gives the thumbs-up as he arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J., on Nov. 19, 2016. (Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press)

The surest sign that President Trump isn’t doing well in a particular area is when he goes out of his way to undercut its importance.

When he was struggling in polls during the campaign, the pollsters behind the numbers were regularly disparaged as biased or wrong or both. And when he’s asked how he measures up to past presidents on the (admittedly arbitrary) 100-days-in-office standard, Trump tells the Associated Press that it’s “an artificial barrier” that is “not very meaningful.”

This is not an indication that he is confident in how he stacks up.

Nonetheless, Trump insisted in that same interview that he has “done more than any other president in the first 100 days.” And to help make that case, the White House website now features a page detailing “President Trump’s first 100 days.” In three big buckets — “Building American Prosperity,” “Keeping Americans Safe and Strengthening Security Abroad” and “Making Government Accountable to the People” — the site details some of Trump’s wins.

Here are the six points under “Building American Prosperity.”

  • Over 500,000 new jobs — with a surge in female employment last month
  • Approved the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline
  • Promoting America’s energy independence
  • President Trump has rolled back job-killing coal regulations
  • Buy American, Hire American executive order
  • Putting the American worker first, President Trump has taken immediate action on trade

Caveats should be applied to several of those bullet points: The job-killing coal regulations, for example, may have created as many jobs in compliance as were lost, and the Keystone XL pipeline is projected to create only a small number of long-term jobs. But to the broader point here, let’s focus on that first one.

More than 500,000 new jobs — with a surge in female employment last month. There are two claims being made. The first is that there were 500,000 new jobs in Trump’s administration. The second is that female employment “surged.” These are claims central to Trump’s claims of 100-day success; they’re the first claims on the page. So, how do they stack up?

Here’s the number of new jobs — that is, the change in the number of people employed — month over month since the beginning of Barack Obama’s first presidential term.

Relative to the months prior, 216,000 jobs were added in January, 219,000 in February and 98,000 last month. Those latter two figures are likely to be revised in the next jobs report, out at the beginning of May. But taking them at their face value, that’s 533,000 jobs added, to Trump’s point.

But notice that, over the track of time, that number is not all that big. In fact, 53 times over the course of Obama’s two terms, there were three-month stretches that yielded more jobs than the first three months of Trump’s presidency. That’s including the November 2016 to January 2017 stretch since, after all, Obama was president for 20.5 of the 31 days that month. If you prorate the number of jobs in January relative to how long Trump was in office — about a third of the month — 390,000 jobs have been added during his tenure.

That point about the surge in women going to work is represented in the charts below.

In February and March, there were indeed big jumps in how many women were employed. Only twice over the course of Obama’s two terms did more women find employment in a single month.

That said, the coin has a flip side. Although about 475,000 more women were employed in March than in February, dropping the unemployment rate from 4.6 percent to 4.3 percent, the number of men who were employed fell by 5,000. That fact didn’t make it into Trump’s 100-day bragging.

Put another way: Trump’s team is cherry-picking a bit here. Continued employment growth is good; a surge in women gaining employment is good as well. But the former is not particularly exceptional and the latter also draws attention to the (minor) negative turn for men.

When you’re scrambling to produce a list of victories, though, you take what you can get.

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Even in Trump's base, his path forward on health care is awfully unpopular – Washington Post

President Trump sold himself as a dealmaker in the 2016 campaign, calling himself an expert negotiator. But he also made a lot of promises about health care that conflict with the current GOP bill. Can the author of “The Art of the Deal” close this deal with Congress? (The Washington Post)

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump’s proposal on health care was nebulously perfect. Obamacare — that is, the Affordable Care Act — would be gone, he told his cheering supporters, replaced by something cheaper, better and more expansive that wouldn’t be burdened by the hated word “Obama.”

When it came time to deliver on that promise, very early in his administration, the bill that was offered up was somewhat distant from that target. The American Health Care Act would actually see fewer people covered by a decade from now, independent analysis indicated, and costs would drop largely because those with the most expensive plans would stop getting coverage. Trump halfheartedly championed the bill even though it wasn’t his creation. When it collapsed, the exhalation from the White House was nearly audible.

The problem, though, is that the failure appears to have made any future significant changes trickier. New polling from The Washington Post and our partners at ABC News as well as a survey from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal makes clear that Trump’s base still wants Obamacare to be tossed out — but that it mostly opposes the most viable path toward doing so.

It’s still the case that three-quarters of the people who voted for him and three-quarters of Republicans overall want to see Obamacare repealed and replaced. The majority of Americans disagree, mind you, thanks to large majorities of Democrats and independents who think that it’s preferable to improve the existing law. Sixty-one percent of Americans overall hold that view.

The NBC-Journal poll saw a similar partisan split, with independents narrowly preferring to stop trying to repeal the bill when offered a repeal-or-not choice. Still, three-quarters of Republicans backed continuing the fight.

So. Fine. Trump’s base wants the repeal effort to move forward. How to accomplish it?

Somewhat remarkably, nearly half of Trump voters — more than Republicans overall — think that Trump should work with Democrats instead of or alongside conservative Republicans to come up with solutions. The number of Trump voters who think he should work with conservative Republicans only is still higher, but there’s a lot of support for a bipartisan approach.

The problem with that, of course, is that Trump was already trying to hammer out an agreement between conservatives in the House and more moderate representatives — it was just that those middle-ground members of the House were in his own party. The reason that he and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) could never get a majority of support on the AHCA was that there was enough opposition from both the far-right and center of his party to keep him from getting over the finish line. Trying to find middle ground between those conservatives — who generally want to gut the bill — and Democrats who broadly want to bolster it would be some magic trick.

What’s more, one of the proposals that’s moved to the center of the conservative focus on reforming Obamacare — removing the mandate that preexisting conditions be covered — is opposed by majorities across the political spectrum. Even a majority of Trump voters think that there should be a national standard to protect preexisting conditions.

The challenge with preserving those protections is that it is one of the main drivers of the cost of the program, which is why conservatives have focused on it. But it’s strongly supported. Seventy percent of Americans think the idea should be preserved.

Health-care experts say the Affordable Care Act is stable, but President Trump and congressional Republicans could push it over the cliff into a “death spiral.” (Daron Taylor/The Washington Post)

Trump’s strategy, then, has been to Sherman-march his way through the issue, letting Obamacare fail (perhaps with a few unsubtle nudges) and then rebuild from the rubble. As it stands, though, that strategy bears its own risks. A majority of every group thinks that the better strategy is to make Obamacare work better while repeal efforts are underway — including well over half of those who voted for Trump last year.

That’s a Catch-22 for Republicans: Making Obamacare stronger, of course, will also reinforce its popularity, since it will be a better program. The program has seen a surge in popularity since the election as the threat of it being repealed loomed.

But repealing and replacing Obamacare necessitates having something viable to repeal and replace it with. So far, that’s been elusive for Republicans. And according to that NBC-Journal poll, that’s become apparent to American voters. In February, 31 percent of respondents said they had a “great deal” or “some” confidence in the Republican replacement bill. By this month, fully half of respondents said they had “little or no” confidence in it.

Trump’s vague promise of a universally better and cheaper program was always worth a good deal of skepticism. But the faltering effort to reform the health-care system earlier this year appears to have made his already-impossible goal somehow even more distant.

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North Korea watchers on why army's big day has taken a backseat – USA TODAY

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North Koreans placed floral tributes at the foot of giant statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il on Mansu Hill in Pyongyang on Tuesday as the country marked the founding anniversary of its armed forces. (April 25)
AP

SEOUL, South Korea – The North Korean capital’s broad, clean avenues were, by the authoritarian nation’s usually over-the-top celebratory standards, fairly subdued ahead of Tuesday’s 85th anniversary of the founding of the Korean People’s Army.

For years, the army celebration rivaled the April 15th anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s late founder, Kim Il Sung, in its pageantry. Army Day festivities saw immense displays of weaponry and military might, and thousands of people on the streets of Pyongyang in orchestrated shows of unity.

But since the rise of Kim Jong Un, the third generation of the Kim family to rule the country, the April 25 army commemoration has taken a backseat to Kim Il Sung’s birthday, which is celebrated with an unparalleled display of North Korean patriotism and power. The practice sessions alone for April 15 choke the avenues and public squares of Pyongyang with tens of thousands of people and hundreds of vehicles.

The Associated Press queried North Korea specialists from around the world for their views on why the newest Kim appears to have shifted focus from the era of his father, Kim Jong Il.

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Duyeon Kim, a visiting senior fellow at the Korean Peninsula Future Forum in Seoul:

Focusing on Kim Il Sung glorifies the nation’s founder and also “legitimizes the Kim bloodline succession,” she said. “This, however, does not necessarily mean Kim Jong Un is deemphasizing the importance of the North Korean military — the two days are not comparable. That said, we have witnessed both Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un try to empower or emphasize the Workers’ Party more so that the power base is not centered only around the military.

“Kim Jong Un has also tried to mimic his grandfather in looks and policies. He resurrected his grandfather’s ‘byungjin’ strategic line of parallel economic and military development, but has apparently repackaged the ‘military’ pillar to include nuclear development.”

“So it appears Kim Jong Un realized that the military-first policy of his father is not sustainable and that regime security also entails economic prosperity.”

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Robert Kelly, a political science professor at Pusan National University, in Busan, South Korea:

“Kim Jong Un’s father nearly destroyed the North Korean economy by allowing the military a major policy and budgetary role,” Kelly said. This drained the budget, worsened a horrific famine during the late 1990s, and increasingly made North Korea economically dependent on China.

“Kim Jong Un’s rollback of military-first — purging KPA brass, eliminating the national defense commission, publicly emphasizing the founder Kim Il Sung instead of Kim Jong Il or the KPA — is likely intended to bolster economic growth in order to give the regime greater sustainability and keep it from becoming a Chinese economic satrapy with the obvious political vulnerability that implies.”

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Hazel Smith, a North Korea scholar and professor at SOAS, University of London:

Smith doubts there is much political significance in a decreased focus on the April 25 celebrations.

North Koreans “are terribly pragmatic” and also have a serious labor shortage, she said. Since major celebrations require weeks of practice, draining the worktime of tens of thousands of Pyongyang residents, she believes the government may have simply decided to concentrate its attention on a single day in April.

“They have to decide where to marshal their pageantry resources, so to speak, and perhaps they’re concentrating on April 15 because it’s such an important holiday,” she said. “It could be as simple as that.”

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Sue Mi Terry, a former Korean analyst for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency:

The intense focus in earlier years on April 25 celebrations came because Kim Jong Il “wanted to buttress his rule after he took over.”

“Now Kim Jong Un has returned to the party-centered governance of his grandfather’s era and has been focused on resurrecting the party’s power over the military,” Terry said.

To Kim Jong Un, “wrapping himself in the mantle of his still-popular grandfather, the ‘eternal president’ Kim Il Sung, makes sense. Kim Jong Un came to power, after all, at a young age in a communist but still a Confucian society that reveres age. Moreover, he is only the third son of Kim Jong Il, not the first. Thus he is likely insecure about any perceived illegitimacy of his rule.”

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Go Myong-Hyun, a research fellow at the Asan Institute in Seoul:

Kim Jong Un’s move to de-emphasize the KPA anniversary is a “definite break from his father’s era,” Go said.

“Under Kim Jong Il, the most important organ was the military; under Kim Jong Un the most powerful organ of the state is the Organization and Guidance Department of the Korea Workers’ Party.”

“The reason why Kim Jong Un emphasizes the ‘civilian’ aspect of the North Korean state is probably because Kim Jong Un feels he lacks sufficient political legitimacy. He is not the eldest son and he was hidden from the North Korean establishment up until 2008-9. He doesn’t want to be seen as imposed by Kim Jong Il but instead entrusted with leadership by the establishment thanks to his achievements (i.e. nuclear program).

“In sum, the de-emphasis of the military is not because Kim Jong Un is offering an olive branch to the world or wants to reduce the defense burden on the economy, but because Kim Jong Un wants to emphasize his political leadership of the North Korean state and the party.”

———

Sullivan reported from New Delhi.

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White House 'confident' of averting shutdown as Trump shows flexibility on wall – Washington Post

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The White House sought Monday to calm a jittery Washington ahead of a showdown with Congress over spending, and President Trump softened his demand that a deal to keep the federal government open include money to begin construction on his long-promised border wall.

Despite one-party control at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, the brinkmanship that came to define spending battles in the Obama years has tumbled into the Trump era, as have the factional divisions over strategy and priorities that have gripped the GOP for a decade.

But with a Friday deadline looming to pass a new spending bill, the Trump administration projected confidence that a shutdown would be avoided. In the face of fierce Democratic opposition to funding the wall’s construction, White House officials signaled Monday that the president may be open to an agreement that includes money for border security if not specifically for a wall, with an emphasis on technology and border agents rather than a structure.

Trump showed even more flexibility Monday afternoon, telling conservative journalists in a private meeting that he was open to delaying funding for wall construction until September, a White House official confirmed.

“The president is working hard to keep the government open,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters Monday. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said he was “very confident” that an agreement would be reached by Friday, but he pointedly said he could not “guarantee” that a government closure would be averted.

At issue is whether the spending measure will explicitly allocate funds toward building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border — a campaign promise that was a rallying cry for Trump’s base and one on which he is eager to demonstrate progress by Saturday, his 100th day in office.

Democrats, meanwhile, gave the White House an opening, saying they would agree to some new money for border security — so long as it did not go toward the creation of a wall, something House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has called “immoral.”

In a speech on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) blasted the idea of a wall while suggesting that a combination of smart technology and law enforcement, including the use of drones, would be “a much more effective way to secure the border” without hitting an impasse in Congress.

Republicans were working to define Trump’s campaign promise down, arguing that any form of border security would fulfill it.

“There will never be a 2,200-mile wall built, period,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), a supporter of immigration reform who challenged Trump in the 2016 primaries. “I think it’s become symbolic of better border security. It’s a code word for better border security. If you make it about actually building a 2,200-mile wall, that’s a bridge too far — but I’m mixing my metaphors.”

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a key appropriator and member of Senate leadership, said that “there could be a wall in some places and technology in other places,” implying that there would not be funding for the wall sketched out in campaign rhetoric. “I think you’re going to get a down payment on border security generally,” he said.

Trump has asked Congress for $1.5 billion in new money to start construction on the wall, and he wants an additional $2.6 billion for the fiscal year that begins in October. The wall, experts say, would cost $21.6 billion and take 3½ years to construct.

At the White House, Spicer portrayed Trump’s position not as a demand but rather as one of two priorities — the other being additional military funding — in evolving negotiations with Congress. He left open the possibility that the president could agree to funding for border activities generally, such as additional fencing or drones.

“I’m not going to get ahead of the negotiations that are ongoing,” Spicer said.

Should lawmakers fail to find consensus by Friday, there are plans ready to quickly pass through the House and Senate what is referred to as a “short-term C.R.,” a continuing resolution to keep the government open until discussions are finalized.

The Senate returned Monday night and the House returns Tuesday from a two-week recess, leaving only three days this week when both chambers will be in session.

The more conciliatory language emanating from the White House did not stop Trump from continuing to hammer away on Twitter at what he claims is an urgent need for the wall. In a pair of posts, Trump sought to build public pressure on lawmakers to pass funding for wall construction.

“The Wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)!” he wrote in a morning post.

In another message several hours later, Trump wrote that if “the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be! #BuildTheWall.”

Still, Trump has left himself wiggle room to agree to sign a government funding bill that does not include money for the wall.

“My base understands the wall is going to get built, whether I have it funded here or if I get it funded shortly thereafter,” Trump said in a recent interview with the Associated Press. “That wall’s getting built, okay? One hundred percent.”

Asked if he would sign a bill without wall funding, Trump told the news service, “I just don’t know yet.”

The debate over wall funding is just one of several moving pieces congressional leaders are trying to address this week to avoid a partial government shutdown. In 2015, President Barack Obama made a deal with congressional lawmakers to fund government operations through April 28, 2017. If a new agreement isn’t reached by then, many federal employees will stop being paid, national parks will close, and a number of other changes will kick in — as in 2013, the last time the government shut down.

Since new rules about spending bills went into place after Jimmy Carter’s administration, a government shutdown has never occurred when a single political party has controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress.

Paramount for many Republican lawmakers is funding the government, as opposed to the wall specifically. If the government shuts down, they fear, voters could blame the GOP for failing to govern, and the party could suffer the consequences in the 2018 midterm elections.

“I’d like to make it as clean as we can and fund the government,” said Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.). “I wouldn’t mind funding the wall, but it’s a question of what we can do. The question is, what’s doable and will we make the deadline?”

Sen. James E. Risch (R-Idaho) said that an effective “wall” along the border had been “authorized years and years and years ago,” in the Secure Fence Act of 2006.

“It’s been partially built and partially funded. He wants to fund the rest of it and build it — perfectly legitimate debate that should take place on that,” Risch said.

Asked if that debate could happen in three days, Risch chuckled. “Things get done quickly around here when they want it to get done,” he said.

Even when Republicans controlled the House during the Obama administration, they could rarely pass spending bills without Democratic support. That is because a number of the House’s most conservative members often refused to support such bills, making a bipartisan majority coalition a necessity. In addition, 60 votes are needed to pass a requisite procedural vote in the Senate. With just 52 seats, Senate Republicans will need bipartisan support in that chamber as well.

Among other guarantees, Democrats want assurances that insurance subsidies through the Affordable Care Act will continue to be funded. There have been discussions among Republicans that Democrats could agree to provide money for the construction of the wall in exchange for those health funds, but Democrats have refused.

Sunday morning, congressional Democrats submitted to Republicans a compromise spending plan, which included some new money for border security but only if it did not go toward a wall. Democrats also asked for assurances that the health insurance subsidies would continue to be funded, language that would shore up benefits for coal miners and a change that would expand Medicaid benefits to people in Puerto Rico, according to a senior Democratic congressional aide.

Pelosi told reporters on a conference call Monday that Congress was “on the path to get it done until [Trump] did intervene” and that the administration’s actions so far belied his campaign promise to “make Mexico pay” for the border wall.

James Norton, a former deputy assistant undersecretary for homeland security under President George W. Bush, said funding for technologies, such as cameras and radars, on the border has dropped off since the early 2000s. He said to get money for the wall or other border security measures, the administration will have to “sell specifics” to lawmakers.

“Each part is going to need to be sold in a specific way to Congress, and they’re going to have to hit the Hill hard,” Norton said. “It won’t be easy.”

Damian Paletta and Sean Sullivan contributed to this report.

Read more at PowerPost

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