Memo to Trump: Do Your Job

“Do your job” is the upshot of a recent data analysis from David Byler (Now at TWS; formerly from RCP):

[T]he overall thrust of this analysis is that Trump, despite all his oddities and his historically low poll numbers, is conventional. If he deals with a crisis competently (e.g., hurricanes), his approval rating ticks up. If he pushes an unpopular policy (e.g., various health care bills), he suffers in the polls.”

Regarding the latter — both pushing and then not succeeding to pass healthcare reform — Pres. Trump’s supporters may want to blame Congress.  But Congress isn’t entirely to blame.  And more important, the public is blaming Trump also.

Moreover, a vicious cycle may develop.  Per a prior analysis by Byler, Trump’s approval rating may be a ceiling for the House GOP in the midterm elections.  And right now, Trump’s approval is in the range where the GOP could potentially lose the House in 2018.

If the GOP loses the House, Trump’s ability to move legislation (at least legislation amenable to the GOP base) virtually disappears.  And regardless of whether a Democratic Congress would move to impeach Trump, it’s a very fair bet there would be investigations aplenty.  Whatever conservative policy is moving through the administrative agencies might slow to a crawl if the administration is busy responding to a blizzard of Congressional subpoenas.

So it’s probably very important for Trump and the GOP to get tax reform right and to get it passed.  And yet there are already problems in the Senate.  The proposed elimination of the adoption tax credit is not sitting well with social conservatives.  Pres. Trump wisely helped put the kibosh on a trial balloon for taxing 401(k) contributions.  The House is trying the sort of fast-tracking of the bill that met with, um, mixed success on healthcare reform.

If the GOP manages to blow tax reform, they can expect a revolt from both the base and the donor class.  If the party heeded Trump’s populist impulses to shift the emphasis a notch or two toward ensuring relief for the middle class, they’d likely be much better off a year from now.  Will Trump weigh in as he did on the 401(k) issue?  A normal president would consider it part of the job.  He should realize how much of the fate of his presidency may be tied to it.

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