Trump Uses Crisis to Push Agenda 04/05 08:56
WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump is taking an old political adage
to heart: Never let a crisis go to waste.
The coronavirus is projected to kill more than 100,000 Americans. It has
effectively shuttered the economy, torpedoed the stock market and rewritten the
rules of what used to be called normal life.
But in this moment of upheaval, Trump and his advisers haven't lost sight of
the opportunity to advance his agenda.
A look at some of the president's notable moves:
BRINGING BACK THE ENTERTAINMENT TAX DEDUCTION
Trump has called on Congress to revive the tax deduction for
business-related expenses on meals and entertainment, arguing it would help
bolster high-end restaurants hammered by the outbreak.
Trump's own tax law in 2017 sliced the tax rate for corporations from 35% to
21% and eliminated the deduction.
"This is a great time to bring it back," Trump said of the resurrecting the
tax break. "Otherwise a lot of these restaurants are going to have a hard time
reopening," he said at White House briefing Wednesday.
During a Rose Garden briefing last Sunday, Trump said he had spoken with
celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck about the idea. Trump also name-checked prominent
restaurateurs including Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, and Jean-Georges
Vongerichten as he tried to make the case for reviving the deduction.
Vongerichten is a tenant at the president's Trump Tower in New York.
"Congress must pass the old, and very strongly proven, deductibility by
businesses on restaurants and entertainment," Trump tweeted recently. "This
will bring restaurants, and everything related, back - and stronger than ever.
Move quickly, they will all be saved!"
USING VIRUS TO MAKE CASE FOR TIGHTER BORDERS
Trump has repeatedly credited himself with moving in late January to bar
entry from foreigners who had recently been in China.
The president later also ordered the temporary suspension of travel from
much of Europe to the United States, and has largely closed the U.S. borders
with Canada and Mexico.
But Trump has notably used the crisis to remind Americans about his 2016
campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He argues a wall
would help contain the coronavirus. In a tweet last month, he said the
structure is "Going up fast" and "We need the Wall more than ever!"
Leading public health experts disagree. Robert Redfield, director of the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told lawmakers last month that he
was unaware of any indication from his agency that physical barriers along
America's borders would help halt the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.
Still, Trump argues that the virus has only spotlighted that his instincts
on the border wall were right.
The virus --- and the subsequent opportunity to invoke emergency powers ---
has allowed Trump to lock down the borders and make sure virtually no
immigrants are getting in.
PANDEMIC UNDERSCORES NEED FOR PROTECTIONISM, TRUMP SAYS
Trump in recent days has grumbled that American companies such as 3M and GM
are not doing enough to provide American medical workers and first responders
with vital equipment they need.
But the president and his aides have also made a broader argument about the
need for the country to retool regulations to encourage the manufacturing of
medicine and other key safety equipment on American soil.
Peter Navarro, a senior trade adviser to Trump, said the pandemic, which has
left hospitals short of ventilators and protective masks, has underscored the
president's "buy American, secure borders, and a strong manufacturing base"
"Never again should we have to depend on the rest of the world for our
essential medicines and countermeasures," Navarro said.
ADMINISTRATION ROLLS BACK MILEAGE STANDARDS
On the same day that the White House announced projections that 100,000 to
240,000 Americans are likely to die from coronavirus, the Environmental
Protection Agency introduced a controversial new federal rule that will relax
mileage standards for years to come.
The rollback is a victory for Americans who like their SUVs and pickup
trucks, but it's hardly without a cost. The government's own projections
indicate that the new standards also mean more Americans will die from air
pollution, and there will be more climate-damaging tailpipe exhaust and more
expense for drivers at the gas pumps.
Trump hailed the new rule as reason for Americans to go out and buy big, new
"Great news! American families will now be able to buy safer, more
affordable, and environmentally friendly cars with our new SAFE VEHICLES RULE,"
Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups condemned the rollback, and
years of legal battles are expected, including from California and other states
opposed to the change.
KEEPING AN EYE ON OVERHAULING COURTS
Trump announced Friday he was nominating a young, federal judge to fill a
high-profile vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
Judge Justin Walker, 37, was confirmed less than six months ago for a seat
on the U.S. District Court in Western Kentucky after a contentious nominating
fight about his credentials.
The former clerk to retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is one of
the youngest federal judges in the country. He also has deep ties to Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who hailed the
nomination as an opportunity to "refresh the second-most-important federal
court in the country." Walker also clerked for Justice Brett Kavanaugh when
Kavanaugh was a judge on the D.C. appeals court.
Walker drew a rare "Not Qualified" rating from the American Bar Association
when Trump nominated him last year to be a federal judge. Despite reservations
from Democrats and the legal community about Walker's credentials, his
nomination was approved, 50---41. Opponents noted he was barely 10 years out of
law school and had never served as co-counsel at trial when he was tapped for
the federal bench.
The Trump administration has worked feverishly to overhaul the federal
courts, nominating and winning Senate confirmation for more than 190 judges
over the past three years, a pace unseen since Ronald Reagan was in the White
Even in the midst of battling a pandemic, Trump hasn't lost sight of the
long-term impact his nominations to the federal bench will have on his legacy.