Balance of Power: Trump’s Next Move

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It really shouldn’t have been this hard.

House Republicans passed an Obamacare repeal bill Thursday -- by exactly one vote more than needed, on a hurried second try. No one knows how much it costs, or really much about what’s in it. The Republican Senate hates the bill so much that key leaders want to throw it out and start over.

Not exactly the Day One slam dunk that President Donald Trump promised. It could be the end of the year before Republicans can kill Obamacare, if at all.

So Trump can bask in the moment but there’s little reason to think the momentum will carry over to the rest of his agenda, including a tax overhaul. Here, there was little individual pain for lawmakers, who were fulfilling a popular promise for constituents who'd been clamoring for it for years. The tax debate will be harder. Republican lawmakers will inevitably have to disappoint people, by picking winners and losers, which cherished deductions stay in and which fall away. The choices will be especially tough in the area of corporate tax cuts.

Trump’s team is already strategizing about how to do things differently for the fights ahead. But if Republicans can barely win the easy ones, what are the odds they can win the hard ones?

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 04: President Donald Trump (C) congratulates House Republicans after they passed legislation aimed at repealing and replacing ObamaCare, during an event in the Rose Garden at the White House, on May 4, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump congratulates House Republicans on May 4, 2017, at the White House.
Photographer: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Global Headlines

Oil slide spreads budget pain around the world | Crude's slide below $45 a barrel is compounding the domestic problems faced by many of the major oil producers, with few of them able to balance their budgets at these prices. Venezuela is on the brink of anarchy, Iran is under new pressure from Washington and Russia is struggling to escape recession. Oil prices have now given up all the gains made since OPEC and non-OPEC producers agreed to curb supply in November.

Corey Lewandowski exits lobby firm | Trump’s combative former campaign chief is abandoning the consulting firm he launched after last year’s election amid a spate of negative publicity. Lewandowski rejected accusations that he was trying to sell White House access without being a registered lobbyist, telling Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs that his co-workers used his name without his authorization and sought business with foreign clients he didn't want.

Tillerson sends a message on South China Sea | His secretary of state talked tough with Southeast Asian foreign ministers on the disputed waterway, saying the military buildup there must stop, a thinly veiled dig at China. Still, the U.S. Navy hasn’t conducted a “freedom of navigation” operation -- where it sails near features claimed by China and others -- since Trump took office, as he focuses on warmer ties with Xi Jinping.

Trump loves reciprocal taxes | That was clear in his interview with Bloomberg this week. And there’s something attractively simple about his philosophy: charge high tariffs on our products, and we’ll ding you right back. But as Andrew Mayeda and Lynnley Browning explain, putting that concept into practice without violating WTO rules or pushing up prices for consumers will be difficult. 

Two teams are vying to run France | The people behind Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen are starkly different when it comes to background, experience and education. Macron's advisers tend to be people he knows from the elite schools where he studied, or from his time in government. Le Pen has few seasoned politicians or officials on her team. Bloomberg profiles the advisers who may make it into the Elysee Palace.  

May wins big | Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party is on course for a big victory in local elections, picking up swathes of seats in regions that were once dominated by the opposition Labour Party. There were few signs of a breakthrough for the Liberal Democrats, the most anti-Brexit of the major parties, and the U.K. Independence Party of Nigel Farage was nearly wiped out. The vote is seen as an important gauge of the national mood before the June 8 general election.

And finally... The euro breakup trade is falling out of favor. As this chart shows, the currency has been plagued with question marks about its future since Greece nearly crashed out in 2012. Sporadic crises have flared up since then. But with the pro-European Macron on the brink of winning the French presidency, traders seem to be setting their worries aside. At least for now.

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