Saturday, December 17, 2016

the two Trump presidencies

The outlines are becoming clearer on the two somewhat different administrations we are likely to see under President Donald Trump. Domestic affairs will be radical Republican conservative, guided by Vice President Pence and Chief of Staff Priebus. They will try to follow the standard GOP gameplan of big tax cuts, sharply reduced domestic spending, deregulation, and severe restrictions on abortion. No real surprises here.

On national security and foreign affairs, however, the outlook is quite uncertain, not least because so many of the senior officials announced so far have nontraditional backgrounds and because the new president has suggested impulsive and contradictory policies. They share no common orthodoxy, in contrast to previous Democratic and Republican administrations. While the most obvious disagreement is over Russia, it is also unclear whether the administration will prioritize antagonism toward Iran or its enemy ISIL. Larger defense budgets may face pushback from deficit hawks and maybe even the new president as he discovers the high cost of more Pentagon programs.  I fear that the new chief executive may lurch from problem to problem, depending not on opinion polls but on what dominates each morning's TV news. That's not strategy.

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