Early Returns

Why Trump's Orders Are Ringing Hollow

Jonathan Bernstein's morning links.

Photo op.

Photographer: Pool via Getty Images

If there was a catch of the day Thursday, it would have to go to the ACLU for their reaction to Donald Trump's executive action on "religious freedom" issues:

While I and others have made this observation before, a lot of media outlets still haven't caught on that the bulk of Trump's executive actions so far have been little more than elaborate photo ops. Not all of them! But many have been things that other presidents would have done informally, with a public statement or with a private conversation to an executive branch department or agency. The other interesting thing is that Christian conservative groups, which did not get what they wanted out of Trump in this case, appear ready to play along with him. Perhaps they're just happy with his Supreme Court pick? It's not clear, but one important thing to watch going forward is how much leeway they and other Republican-aligned groups are willing to give this president. 

1. Dave Hopkins explains the anti-Downsian logic of the House Republican conference. I have a lot of questions about the extent to which this is simply something the party must accept, or if it has been built by mistakes by the leadership, especially the current leadership. Passage of the health care bill doesn't prove anything yet one way or another; we'll have to see how this and other legislation plays out over the rest of this Congress.

2. See also Seth Masket at Mischiefs of Faction on the weird calculus facing House Republicans about this bill. 

3. Molly Reynolds at Brookings on how the health care bill passed the House and what it faces in the Senate.

4. Seth Hill at the Monkey Cage on how primaries could create a less polarized world. I'm skeptical -- but he's absolutely correct that primaries are where the real action is. 

5. Ariel Edwards-Levy on what pollsters think went wrong with 2016 presidential polling.

6. David Leonhardt on academic research which (further) undermines the case for the Republican health care bill. Truth is, it's hard to find many experts -- Obamacare supporters or opponents, liberals or conservatives -- who think what House Republicans are trying to do will actually work. 

7. Perry Bacon Jr. on the next steps for Republican health care reform -- and the steps after that.

8. And my View colleague Noah Smith argues for lower corporate tax rates.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

    To contact the author of this story:
    Jonathan Bernstein at jbernstein62@bloomberg.net

    To contact the editor responsible for this story:
    Mike Nizza at mnizza3@bloomberg.net

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