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Democrats And Trump Prepare For Reset in 2019

Given the political reset between Congress and the White House and the uncertainty of what the Russia investigation will find, what happens in 2019 could go a long way

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The U.S. Capitol building at night. VOA

The year 2018 proved to be one of change in U.S. politics. Opposition Democrats won back control of the House of Representatives in the November midterm elections, and that could have a profound impact on the next two years of Donald Trump’s presidency.

A preview of what the year ahead could look like came in the December 11 Oval Office meeting between President Trump and Democratic congressional leaders Representative Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer.

The verbal jousting over the president’s demand for a border wall with Mexico is likely the first of many partisan showdowns ahead given that Democrats will hold the majority in the House beginning in early January.

“Democrats will certainly use their majority to highlight some differences with Donald Trump and to investigate the Trump administration,” said John Fortier of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a recent guest on VOA’s “Encounter” program. “And then we will be spending this year leading into the presidential election of 2020, so it is a transition year.”

Investigations ahead

Democrats fueled their midterm victory with opposition to President Donald Trump spurred by a strong turnout from women and progressive voters on behalf of candidates like Massachusetts Democrat Ayanna Pressley.

“We have affirmed that while this could go down as the darkest time in our history, we will not let it be. And instead, we will be defined by our hopes, not our fears,” Pressley told supporters on election night.

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President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence meet with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in the Oval Office of the White House, Dec. 11, 2018, in Washington. VOA

 

Democrats picked up 40 House seats but Republicans bolstered their majority in the Senate and will hold a 53-to-47-seat edge in January.

Even though Trump now faces the prospect of a stalled legislative agenda and numerous oversight investigations launched by House Democrats, he remains defiant.

“Almost from the time I announced I was going to run, they have been giving us this investigation fatigue. It has been a long time,” the president told a White House news conference shortly after the election. “They have got nothing. Zero. You know why? Because there is nothing. But they can play that game but we can play it better.”

 

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Rep.-elect Ayanna Pressley, Democrat-Massachusetts, listens during a news conference with members of the Progressive Caucus in Washington, Nov. 12, 2018. VOA

 

Deal or no deal?

But Democratic control of the House will force the president to adjust to a new political reality, according to University of Virginia expert Larry Sabato.

“Trump has faced relatively few problems in dealing with Congress [in his first two years] at least compared to other presidents who were dealing with one or both branches being controlled by the opposition party,” Sabato told Associated Press Television.

Trump can boast of his tax cut passed by a Republican Congress and his two Supreme Court appointments approved by the Republican-controlled Senate.

But next year, without full Republican control of Congress, and with an eye on an approaching re-election campaign, Trump could be more interested in cutting some deals with Democrats.

Jim Kessler is with the center-left policy group Third Way.

“At this point we have not seen Donald Trump really have the ability to work with Democrats to cut any sort of deal in the first two years,” Kessler told VOA. “So, Mr. ‘Art of the Deal’ has really fallen short and we will see if that is possible this time.”

 

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President Donald Trump speaks during a signing ceremony in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, on the White House complex, Dec. 20, 2018, in Washington. VOA

 

Russia probe looms

Also looming on the horizon for the Trump White House in 2019, though, is the Russia investigation, which could move toward a conclusion in the coming months.

“This is a watershed year coming up for President Trump,” said Tom DeFrank of the National Journal, who has covered Washington politics for 40 years. “I mean, he [Trump] is going to have to confront whatever it is that Robert Mueller says about him or alleges, and I think it is going to be a difficult year for him.”

Trump will be increasingly focused on the next presidential election, but so will scores of Democrats who hope to defeat him in 2020, said University of Virginia analyst Guian McKee.

 

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Special counsel Robert Mueller, in charge of investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign, departs Capitol Hill, in Washington, June 21, 2017. VOA

 

“You know, I think the reality is that the 2020 campaign has begun. That is probably unfortunate, but that shapes everything going forward,” said McKee.

Also Read: Democrats Believe That Donald Trump is Plunging US into Chaos

Given the political reset between Congress and the White House and the uncertainty of what the Russia investigation will find, what happens in 2019 could go a long way to determining whether Donald Trump is a one-term or two-term president. (VOA)

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World Leaders Prepare for G7 Summit Even As Fears Over Global Economy Increases

The economic fears are rooted in the trade war between the United States and China

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Security concerns will also be high on the agenda. North Korea has resumed its ballistic missile tests. Pixabay

The G-7 host, Emmanuel Macron,  has made fighting inequality the theme for the annual meeting of the seven industrialized nations, which opens Saturday in the French seaside resort of Biarritz with the leaders of the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada in attendance.

The French president has invited leaders from several other countries, including six African nations, to take part in the annual discussion of major global challenges. But analysts say any grand ambitions for the summit will likely be stymied by pressing economic concerns.

Most worrisome are recent indicators from both sides of the Atlantic of slowing economic growth and a possible global recession.

Earlier this month, government bond yields in both the United States and Germany were briefly higher for two-year than 10-year bonds, a sign that investors see significant risks ahead, says economist Jasper Lawler of the London Capital Group.

“Particularly in the U.S., it’s actually been a very reliable signal to point towards a recession.”

Adding the investors’ fears, the usual fiscal tools to tackle a recession might not be available.

“We don’t have that usual fallback from central banks of cutting interest rates because they already have, and they are already at rock bottom levels,” says Lawler.

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Summit host France is determined to not let economics overshadow its own agenda. Pixabay

The economic fears are rooted in the trade war between the United States and China, which has resulted in both countries imposing tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of imports. Europe is suffering additional headwinds, says economist Lawler.

“The trade war, but also just the auto sector, the transition from using diesel cars to electronic vehicles. It’s a period of uncertainty that’s unduly affecting Europe.”

Summit host France is determined to not let economics overshadow its own agenda — and top of the list is climate change, says John Kirton of the G-7 Research Group at the University of Toronto.

“It’s driven by the scary science which is unfolding every day, but more importantly by the historic heat waves that have afflicted Europe, including France.”

U.S. President Donald Trump left last year’s G-7 summit in Canada early, before the leaders had discussed climate change, and later disavowed the final communiqué. This year France is determined to keep the United States on board, says Kirton.

“President Macron I think has structured his agenda to allow Donald Trump to be at his best. Gender equality — the president has been very good at that, it’s at the top of the French list. Education — yes, and also health. It’s the president of the United States that’s been pushing the G-7 to try to get it to deal with the opioid crisis.”

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U.S. President Donald Trump left last year’s G-7 summit in Canada early, before the leaders had discussed climate change, and later disavowed the final communiqué. Pixabay

Security concerns will also be high on the agenda. North Korea has resumed its ballistic missile tests.

Meanwhile the standoff between Iran and the West has escalated over the seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker in the Persian Gulf, which followed the detention of an Iranian vessel in Gibraltar.

Burgeoning anti-government protests in Russia and Hong Kong also pose questions for the G-7, says Kirton.

Also Read: Purchase Rights for Huawei Extended By US

“Have we seen the tide [change], where authoritarian leaders in various degrees are no longer in control? It may not be the way of the future. In fact, if that’s the case, then how can the G-7 activate its distinctive foundational issue: to promote democracy?” Kirton asked.

Meanwhile British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will meet Trump at the G-7 for the first time in his new role. Both leaders are hoping for a rapid trade deal amid signs of a steep economic downturn in Britain as it edges closer to crashing out of the European Union with no deal at the end of October. (VOA)