The coronavirus is expected to kill more than 100,000 Americans. It effectively blocked the economy, torpedoed the stock market and rewrote the rules of what used to be called normal life.
But in this moment of upheaval, Trump and his advisers have not lost sight of the opportunity to advance his agenda.
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An overview of some of the president’s notable initiatives:
Reduce the tax deduction for entertainment
Trump called on Congress to re-launch the tax deduction for business expenses on meals and entertainment, arguing that it would help strengthen high-end restaurants hit by the epidemic.
Trump’s own tax law in 2017 lowered the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% and removed the deduction.
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“This is the perfect time to bring it back,” said Trump about the resurrection of tax relief. “Otherwise, many of these restaurants will find it difficult to reopen,” he said during the White House briefing on Wednesday.
Trump said in a briefing on the rose garden last Sunday that he had discussed the idea with celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck. Trump also verified the names of leading restaurateurs, including Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, as he attempted to argue the possibility of reinstating the deduction. Vongerichten is a tenant in the President’s Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York.
“Congress must pass the old, highly proven deductibility by businesses on restaurants and entertainment,” Trump tweeted recently. “It will bring restaurants and everything related to it – and stronger than ever. Move fast, they will all be saved! “
Use a virus to justify tighter boundaries
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Trump has repeatedly credited himself with having moved in late January to ban the entry of foreigners who had recently stayed in China.
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The president also later ordered the temporary suspension of travel from much of Europe to the United States and largely closed the United States’ borders with Canada and Mexico.
But Trump notably used the crisis to remind Americans of his 2016 campaign promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. He claims that a wall would help contain the coronavirus. In a tweet last month, he said that the structure was “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 the US border would help stop the spread. coronavirus in the United States.
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However, Trump argues that the virus has only shown that his border wall instincts are right.
The virus – and the subsequent opportunity to invoke emergency powers – allowed Trump to lock the borders and make sure no immigrants entered.
Pandemic highlights need for protectionism, says Trump
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 the vital equipment they need.
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But the president and his staff have also advanced a broader argument about the need for the country to reorganize regulations to encourage the manufacture of drugs and other key safety equipment on American soil.
Peter Navarro, a senior trade advisor to Trump, said the pandemic, which left hospitals short of ventilators and protective masks, underlined the president’s philosophy “Buy from the United States, safe borders and a solid manufacturing base “.
“We should never again have to depend on the rest of the world for our essential medicines and countermeasures,” said Navarro.
Administration cancels mileage standards
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The same day the White House announced projections that 100,000 to 240,000 Americans are at risk of dying from the coronavirus, the Environmental Protection Agency introduced a controversial new federal rule that will soften mileage standards for years to come.
Going back is a victory for Americans who love their SUVs and pickup trucks, but it is not without cost. The government’s own projections indicate that the new standards also mean that more Americans will die from air pollution, and that there will be more climate-harmful exhaust fumes and more expenses for drivers at the pumps. essence.
Trump hailed the new rule as a reason for Americans to go out and buy big new cars.
” Good news! American families will now be able to buy safer, more affordable and more environmentally friendly cars with our new SAFE VEHICLE RULE, “Tweeted Trump.
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Democratic lawmakers and environmental groups have condemned the setback, and years of legal battles are expected, including from California and other states opposed to the change.
Keep an eye on the court overhaul
Trump announced Friday that he is appointing a young federal judge to fill a prominent position on the United States Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia circuit.
Justice Justin Walker, 37, was confirmed less than six months ago for a seat in the United States district court in western Kentucky after a controversial nomination fight over his powers.
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Former clerk of retired Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is one of the youngest federal judges in the country. He also has close ties to Senate majority chief Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who hailed the appointment as an opportunity to “freshen up the country’s second-largest federal court.” Walker also worked for Justice Brett Kavanaugh when Kavanaugh was a judge of the D.C. Court of Appeal.
Walker received a rare “unqualified” rating from the American Bar Association when Trump appointed him last year to be a federal judge. Despite reservations from Democrats and the legal community over Walker’s powers, his appointment was approved, 50_41. Opponents noted that he was barely 10 years of law school and that he had never been a co-counsel at trial when he was hired on the bench.
The Trump administration has worked feverishly to reshuffle federal courts, appointing and winning Senate confirmation for more than 190 judges in the past three years, a pace never seen since Ronald Reagan was in the White House.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, Trump has not lost sight of the long-term impact of his federal headquarters appointments on his legacy.
© 2020 The Canadian Press