2018 Archives

On policy, Trump favors one side of red-blue divide

Excerpt

The following is from the Jan. 16, 2018, edition of The Christian Science Monitor. SMU Political Science Prof. Cal Jillson provided expertise for this story.

January 26, 2018

By Linda Feldmann
Staff Writer

President Trump’s major policy moves over the course of his first year in office have had a common denominator: They either overtly favor his base of support – the roughly one-third of voters who solidly back him – or they appear to penalize those states that vote Democratic.

The most striking example is tax reform, which struck a blow against blue-state Americans who tend to pay high state and local taxes, or SALT. These are residents of states that did not vote for Mr. Trump in 2016, and beginning this year, SALT deductibility on federal taxes is curtailed.

Other recent policy moves also appear to have an anti-blue tilt. Soon after the Trump administration announced a plan to expand offshore drilling in federal waters, it granted a waiver to Florida – a crucial Trump state in 2016. Blue states are also eager for waivers, but they’re still waiting. ... 

On tax reform, the most significant legislative achievement of Trump’s first year, it’s probably not fair to point just at Trump for a policy that tends to pose more harm to Democratic constituencies than Republican.

“It’s more the Republican congressional majorities that have been developing these programs in their detail,” says Cal Jillson, a political scientist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

“What has changed is that while there used to be a modicum of congressional bargaining across major policy developments, the party in power now tries to pass legislation on straight party-line votes,” says Mr. Jillson. “In that case, you can both enact your traditional policy preferences without compromise, and enjoy punishing your enemies.”

It’s true that Mr. Obama also passed major legislation with just Democratic votes, but not before making major concessions to Republicans, Jillson notes.

In the first two years, “Obama and the Democratic majorities bent over backwards to develop the Mitt Romney version of national health care and also to give a third of the stimulus package to tax cuts,” Jillson says. “That, I think, was the end of the traditional attempt to offer elements of a major package to your opponents, to try to get them on board.”

Read the full story.