Smart Ideas: How to "Trump-Proof" the Presidency

President Donald Trump walks towards the West Wing of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 18, 2018. The president and the first lady returned from Andrews Air Force Base, Md. after paying their respects to the family of fallen U.S. Secret Service special agent Nole Edward Remagen who suffered a stroke while on duty in Scotland.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
Add to Briefcase
Oct. 3, 2018, 8 p.m.

Executive-branch reform for the Trump era

From a report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington

President Trump’s disregard for federal ethics norms creates “an open door” for future misconduct in the Oval Office, but lawmakers have plenty of tools at their disposal to prevent it. First, they should focus on conflicts of interest in the executive branch: candidates must divest from problematic assets, and an independent inspector should oversee compliance. Second, they should improve "the specificity of financial disclosure forms,” which should be made to include “the identities of any major creditors, investors and customers.” Third, lawmakers should restrict gifts to inaugural committees, libraries, or other legacy-building endeavors. Other miscellaneous reforms should include imposing stricter visitor logs to the White House, creating “bright lines” for the president’s interactions with the Justice Department, and “closing loopholes in the Hatch Act to prevent government employees from improperly engaging in political activities.” While Trump has pushed ethical boundaries more than his predecessors, these boundaries will “not recede voluntarily, regardless of which party is in power.”

USMCA is just a PR victory

Tony Mecia, writing for The Weekly Standard

The new U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement is a clear public relations win for President Trump as of now, allowing him to “claim a big and unifying accomplishment just weeks ahead of the midterm elections,” but it’s too “early to draw conclusions” as to its effects. While USMCA acknowledges modern economic realities by focusing on intellectual-property protections as well as digital commerce, its “new measures on auto manufacturing, which require more stringent labor standards and higher worker pay for autos to qualify for tariff-free treatment” could hinder the free flow of goods.

FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2014 file photo, employees at work in the new multibillion-dollar Honda car plant in Celaya, in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato. AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo

China’s scrap ban is a mixed bag

The Editors, writing for The Economist

At the beginning of the year, China stopped importing “virtually any recycled plastic and unsorted scrap paper from abroad” and will soon ban the import of other scrap. The move is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it hits waste-management companies hard, as well as China’s construction industries, which rely on recycled materials. Shipping companies are also hurt. Yet in the long-term, the ban could force a much-needed change in the West’s recycling industries. Recovered materials will “flow to the highest bidder—and so the highest-value use.”

Plastic bottles ready for processing sit at a recycling center in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009. China, India and other developing nations boycotted U.N. climate talks Monday, bringing negotiations to a halt with their demand that rich countries discuss much deeper cuts in their greenhouse gas emissions. AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel

Low-yield nukes prevent full-blown nuclear war

Michaela Dodge, writing for The Daily Signal

The Trump administration plans to “modify select warheads on submarine-launched ballistic missiles to give them a low-yield option,” which would substantially lower the risk of full-blown nuclear war. That’s because of the way nuclear deterrence works: “If an adversary thinks the U.S.’s only option … is to use U.S. high-yield nuclear weapons, an adversary might be tempted to use his low-yield nuclear weapons, thinking that U.S. response options are not credible.” Currently, our low-yield deterrent relies solely on aircraft. The capability should be expanded to the other two legs of the nuclear triad: ground-based launchers and submarines. Legislation introduced by Rep. Ted Lieu to block submarine modernization efforts is unwise. The variety of platforms provides “security for both the United States and its allies that rely on U.S. nuclear guarantees for their own security.”


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.