FROM Nancy Cook
Do the first hundred days really matter? President Trump promised big things in his first 100 days , but his most important achievement may be keeping the government open. To get that--even with Republicans running Congress -- he's had to delay his demand for big money for his Great Wall on the Mexican border. His biggest applause line has been replaced by talk about tax reform. So the government probably won't shut down on Saturday — his hundredth day in office. But 100 days is just the beginning of a four-year term, and there's time left for a lot more surprises.
The bumpy road to inauguration Despite the flap over recounts and Donald Trump's unproven allegations of voter fraud, his transition team continues the interview process for some 4000 presidential appointees. But the team is leaking contradictory stories. The President-Elect is tweeting unpredictably just like he did in his campaign. Some early appointments may not have been vetted deeply enough to survive the brutal confirmation demands of Democrats in the Senate. Others are well-known members of the moneyed elite savaged for months by Trump and his top advisor, Steve Bannon. We hear about those and other challenges facing Trump's promise to change the ways of Washington in his first 100 days.
Trump's free-wheeling transition Donald Trump's nominee for Ambassador to the United Nations and his choice to be Secretary of Education have added a touch of diversity to his early selections. As UN Ambassador he's named South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a descendent of immigrants from India. He's named Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Nancy Cook, senior reporter on the transition for Politico , has more on Trump's selections.
Reality Check: health insurance and Obamacare Even President Obama says the Affordable Care Act has real problems, which Bill Clinton says make it the "craziest thing [he's] ever seen." That's put it front and center in the presidential campaign, to the delight of Donald Trump and the discomfort of Hillary Clinton . She wants reform. He wants repeal. And millions of newly insured people may be in for a "November Surprise:" a big jump in premiums -- before the election. We hear two very different approaches to an issue that has the potential to influence the voting.
Scandal Time in Washington Steven Miller has been fired as Acting Director of the Internal Revenue Service, but he was back on Capitol Hill today, testifying before the Senate Finance Committee , in one of three unrelated "scandals" that could threaten Barack Obama's second-term agenda. In addition to the IRS, there's the Tea Party, the Justice Department and reporters' phone records, and talking points about the killing of diplomats in Benghazi. With the President's approval ratings over 50 percent and holding, many questions remain to be answered. Does the public care? Is there evidence of wrong-doing? Will Republicans overplay their hand? What's the role of the news media? Will there be an impact on action on Obamacare, the minimum wage, sequester or immigration reform?
Welcome to 'Sequestration' The leaders of both parties in both Houses of Congress met for less than an hour at the White House this morning, but there was no deal to prevent $85 billion in arbitrary, federal budget cuts go into effect today. As both parties and scores of Washington veterans have been saying for months, "Sequestration" was supposedly designed so it would never happen. President Obama says there was no way he could force Congress to negotiate. Republicans, of course, blame the President . We hear about the gradual impact of sequestration across the country. Is the US in a new period of austerity?
Friday's Sequester: Economic Disaster or Political Theater? Ohio will lose $25 million for primary and secondary education; Georgia may not get the money to vaccinate against childhood disease; Pennsylvania will loose help for victims of domestic violence; Texas will see 52,000 defense workers furloughed, and Virginia will get less federal support for its transportation program. With the White House spinning out state-by-state damage because of Friday's scheduled budget cuts, Republican Governors are increasingly uneasy. Meantime, Tea Partiers call "sequester" the best thing since they were elected, so Republican House leaders are getting hit from both directions. With no talks visible or behind closed doors, Washington is braced for the blame game. What's at stake for education, transportation, law enforcement, Pentagon contractors and economic recovery?
Negotiations and the 'Fiscal Cliff' After the election three weeks ago, leaders of both parties posed for pictures at the Obama White House and vowed to avoid another dramatic confrontation over the so-called "fiscal cliff" looming at the end of the year. Making a real deal is another matter. This week, the President is conducting a very public campaign to raise taxes on three million families who make more than $250,000 a year. At the same time, Republicans have been drawing their own lines in the sand. What are the prospects of Democrats and Republicans reaching a deal? Would it be so bad if they didn’t?
What if the US Goes over the 'Fiscal Cliff?' Just after the election three weeks ago, leaders of both parties posed for pictures at the Obama White House and vowed to avoid another dramatic confrontation over the so-called "fiscal cliff" looming at the end of the year. Making a real deal is another matter, with both sides back to familiar public posturing with no reports of progress in private. This week, the President is conducting a very public campaign to raise taxes on three million families who make more than $250,000 year. At the same time, Republicans have been drawing their own lines in the sand. Would actually going over the "cliff" be so bad after all? Would it really send the economy spinning back into recession? Would it set off a scramble to resolve long-term issues once and for all? We hear predictions of financial disaster, and from the "Thelma and Louise Caucus," which says the best action is no action at all.
The Trump agenda: where's the beef? President Trump says big things are happening. After celebrating a House bill on health care, he doesn’t yet have Senate agreement. With James Comey’s public testimony scheduled tomorrow, the President today tweeted his selection of a new FBI Director. Is the Chief Executive all style and no substance? Later, terror attacks in Iran and conflicting claims about who’s behind them.
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?
Replacing Obamacare: Now you see it… now you don’t As the Senate deliberates replacing Obmacare, health coverage for millions of people is at stake. There've been no public hearings, and a draft measure won't be made public. Is the House version so unpopular that that Senate is hiding a version that looks much the same?
What happens when America retreats from the world? Is President Trump taking his "America First" agenda to extremes, withdrawing the country from the international stage on trade and climate change, distancing America from its traditional allies across the Atlantic and even threatening to physically isolate the country through the building of a wall along its southern border? León Krauze guest hosts.