He thinks country may need an economic ‘stimulus’ package
The Republican president of the United States said he’d be “honoured” to meet with North Korea’s leader under the right conditions. That he thinks the country may need an economic “stimulus” package. Or possibly a gas-tax hike for better roads. Maybe even break up the big banks. And certainly a health care Bill even more generous than Obamacare for people with pre-existing conditions.
Donald Trump said all of that in one 30-minute interview Monday, and in doing so, managed to poke the eye of just about every major constituency of the Republican party — military hawks, blue-collar workers, fiscal conservatives, Wall Street bankers and Tea Partiers who’ve made repealing Obamacare an article of faith.
He might be governing as a Republican but sometimes he sounds a lot like a Democrat. And as he turns to the second 100 days of his presidency, this is the Trump that confounds his party — so much so that congressional leaders effectively ignored him when they put together the recent Budget compromise and jettisoned nearly all of his priorities.
This try-anything-that-works approach helped Trump win the White House, with voters who were tired of rigid partisan ideology, but it has made governing more challenging as fellow Republicans often don’t know what’s coming next.
Trump’s tendency to freelance is “not only discouraging” to Republican lawmakers, said GOP strategist Doug Heye, a veteran of Capitol Hill, “it’s also why members of Congress and committee chairs feel that they’re on their own. And when the president says something, sometimes they just shrug their shoulders and go back to doing what they were already doing.”
“Heavens,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, a 42-year veteran of Washington. “Everything’s kind of out of the box. Isn’t it? There’s nothing traditional going on.”
Not surprisingly, longtime anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist hated the gas tax idea. Noted foreign policy hawk Senator John McCain of Arizona said a Trump meeting with North Korea dictator Kim Jong Un, amid a looming nuclear showdown, “could legitimise a person who is hellbent on developing a weapon and an ability to deliver it to the United States of America.”
Trump seemed untroubled by all of this. In his interview with Bloomberg News, he presented himself as a man just trying to find solutions to problems, even if the solutions weren’t yet fully formed. A trucker friend told Trump the roads are chewing up his trucks, so why not consider an increased gas tax to fix them? Kim’s a dangerous leader, but if talking would help, he’s open to it. A lot of people think it might be time to break up the banks, so he’s looking at it “right now.”
Trump spoke slowly and patiently, wanting to be heard. There was little small talk —he had news to make. After one longish riff on how “Obamacare doesn’t cover pre-existing conditions because it won’t be here,” Trump stopped. “That’s a risqué quote. But it’s true.”