Trump Hopes to Improve Relations with Egypt by Meeting with “Pharaoh Ramses the Third”

Trump announces his plan “To re-boot relations with the great Pharaohs of Egypt.” 

 

[STAFF WRITER] – President Trump announces his plans to visit the land of the Nile today, saying “This guy Ramses, I mean, he built these beautiful, beautiful, HUUGE Pyramids, you know, I bet if we gave them some paper, so they could stop using papyrus, they could help us build the Wall”

He went on to say that, “We could also help them stop carving on stone, because, well that’s great but, they should be using the cyber, like we are.”

He said he also plans to take his newly-named assistant, Ivanka, because “she’s hot, I mean, if she weren’t my daughter, va-va-voom! What a great ass, isn’t it hot?” And, she can “get some of that Egyptian cotton stuff, because it’s really, really smooth!”

Mike Pence couldn’t be reached for comment because he was being held captive by a  bottle of Aunt Jemima pancake syrup  at a truckstop in Vincennes, Indiana.

Congressman: Classified reports have ‘damning evidence’ of Trump campaign’s coordination with Russia

[PULLED FROM RAWSTORY.COM]

U.S. Rep Mark Pocan, D-WI (Facebook.com)

 

mocratic U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI) told LGBTQ activist and Sirius XM radio host Michelangelo Signorile that he has seen “damning evidence” that shows collusion between Pres. Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and the Russian government in an effort to turn the election in Trump’s favor.

“There are things that I know,” Pocan said, according to Towleroad.com, “just that I’ve read in classified reports that I’m sure will still come out that will continue to be damning evidence when it comes to this relationship between the Russians trying to influence our elections and ultimately I think the Trump campaign’s potential coordination on it.”

“Some of it is in the classified version of the report,” he said, “and some of that hasn’t come out yet.”

He lauded “great journalism” that is bringing the details of this story to light and said “you’re going to keep seeing things come out.”

Pocan made headlines in February when he called for Pres. Trump’s impeachment over his anti-Muslim travel ban.

On Friday, House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) abruptly canceled a planned hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election. Fellow House Intelligence leader Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) blasted Nunes’ move as “an attempt to choke off public info.”

Trump’s Russia Problem Is Far from Marginal

The A.P. reported that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, worked for a number of years with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire who has close ties to Vladimir Putin.   PHOTOGRAPH BY SAM HODGSON / THE NEW YORK TIMES / REDUX

It’s getting difficult to keep up with the Russia/Trump story, but here’s some of what you need to know. On Wednesday night, CNN reported that the F.B.I. has information suggesting that “associates of President Donald Trump communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.”

The information includes “human intelligence, travel, business and phone records and accounts of in-person meetings,” according to CNN, which, citing an unnamed source, also reported that “this is partly what FBI Director James Comey was referring to when he made a bombshell announcement Monday before Congress that the FBI is investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.” Comey told Congress that, to launch a counterintelligence investigation, the F.B.I. needed “a credible allegation of wrongdoing or reasonable basis to believe that an American may be acting as an agent of a foreign power.”

The CNN report wasn’t the only Russia story to emerge on Wednesday. Earlier in the day, the Associated Press reported that Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, worked for a number of years with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire who has close ties to Vladimir Putin, to “influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States, Europe and the former Soviet republics to benefit the Putin government.”

The A.P. report quoted from a 2005 document in which Manafort made a pitch to Deripaska, who runs the world’s biggest aluminum company. In the document, Manafort said that his consulting company, given “the appropriate resources,” would “be offering a great service that can re-focus, both internally and externally, the policies of the Putin government.” The story also said that Manafort and Deripaska signed a “$10 million annual contract” beginning in 2006, and that they maintained a business relationship until at least 2009.

What are we to make of these reports? On social media, many people are declaring that Trump is about to be impeached. That is wishful thinking. On Monday, Comey only confirmed the existence of an F.B.I. investigation—he gave no indication of how the investigation is going. In Congress, meanwhile, there isn’t enough Republican support to set up a special committee to investigate the President’s ties to Russia, let alone to appoint an independent prosecutor or launch impeachment proceedings.

And, despite Comey’s testimony, many Republicans, including Devin Nunes, the head of the House Intelligence Committee, are still determined to change the subject from Russia and the Trump campaign to unauthorized leaks or alleged government surveillance of Trump and his aides—or anything else that doesn’t involve the spectre of Americans conspiring with agents of Vlad the Bad to influence last year’s election. The latest development in this diversionary campaign was Nunes’s visit to the White House on Wednesday, where he claimed that “the intelligence community incidentally collected information about U.S. citizens involved in the Trump transition.”

The White House, meanwhile, is busy seeking to distance Trump from Manafort, as well as from other associates who the F.B.I. is reportedly looking at, such as Roger Stone, the rogue political consultant, and Carter Page, the businessman who served as a foreign-policy adviser to Trump’s campaign. My colleague Ryan Lizza reported on Tuesday that “one of Donald Trump’s closest White House advisers” told him, “This campaign, early on, had a lot of marginalia associated with it. Guys like Carter Page, Roger Stone. I have no earthly idea what those guys have been up to, right?”

On Monday, Sean Spicer, Trump’s spokesman, claimed that Manafort, who ran Trump’s campaign between March and August of last year, “played a very limited role for a very limited amount of time”—a statement that immediately drew the ridicule it richly deserved. On Wednesday, when asked about the A.P.’s Manafort scoop, Spicer said that Trump hadn’t known who Manafort’s clients were when he hired him to run his campaign. And Spicer added, speaking of Manafort, “There is no suggestion that he did anything improper . . . He was not a government employee, he didn’t fill out any paperwork attesting to something; there is nothing that he did suggesting at this point that anything was nefarious.”

—————————————————————————————–

To put it gently, that is a matter of interpretation. Here is a bit more of the A.P. story:

In strategy memos, Manafort proposed that Deripaska and Putin would benefit from lobbying Western governments, especially the U.S., to allow oligarchs to keep possession of formerly state-owned assets in Ukraine. He proposed building “long term relationships” with Western journalists and a variety of measures to improve recruitment, communications and financial planning by pro-Russian parties in the region.

Manafort proposed extending his existing work in eastern Europe to Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Georgia, where he pledged to bolster the legitimacy of governments friendly to Putin and undercut anti-Russian figures through political campaigns, nonprofit front groups and media operations.

——————————————————————————————–

Trump replaced Manafort last August, shortly after the Times reported that handwritten ledgers discovered in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, indicated that, between 2007 and 2012, Manafort had received $12.7 million in cash payments from former President Viktor Yanukovych’s pro-Russian party. Manafort’s lawyer denied that he had received “any such cash payments.”

On Thursday morning, the A.P. published yet another story on Manafort, saying that U.S. investigators looking into the possible theft of Ukrainian government assets have obtained information about “offshore financial transactions” involving Manafort and a bank in Cyprus, a Mediterranean island “known for its history of money laundering.”

Few details are known about this investigation, which is separate from the F.B.I.’s counterintelligence probe. But the story referred to a specific transaction in which “a Manafort-linked company received a $1 million payment in October 2009 from a mysterious firm through the Bank of Cyprus. The $1 million payment left the account the same day—split in two, roughly $500,000 disbursements to accounts with no obvious owner.”

Of course, none of this proves that Manafort worked for the Russian government in the past, or that he communicated with any Russians during the election campaign. On Wednesday, he issued a statement through a spokesman, which said, “I worked with Oleg Deripaska almost a decade ago representing him on business and personal matters in countries where he had investments. My work for Mr. Deripaska did not involve representing Russian political interests.” Manafort also claimed that the A.P. story was part of an attempted smear, and added, “I look forward to meeting with those conducting serious investigations of these issues.”

Stone, Manafort’s former business partner and a longtime Trump associate, is also demanding a public hearing. He has admitted that, last summer, he was in contact via Twitter with an account reportedly connected to the Russian hackers suspected of stealing information from Democrats—but he vehemently denies any collusion. In a lengthy written rant to CNN’s Jake Tapper, Stone described Monday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing—the one at which Comey appeared—as “a kangaroo court.” He claimed that Adam Schiff, the committee’s top Democrat, who read out a timeline that included Stone appearing to predict the WikiLeaks release of John Podesta’s e-mails, had engaged in “demagoguery, red-baiting, fear-mongering half truths and innuendo.”

In all of this, there is much that remains murky. One thing shines through, though. The White House’s “marginalia” problem is far from marginal, and it isn’t going away.

John Cassidy has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1995. He also writes a column about politics, economics, and more for newyorker.com.

How a Republican Congressman Accidentally Disclosed a Secret Intelligence Debate

Representative Peter King, of New York, revealed that the classified version of an intelligence report concluded “that historically Russians have supported Republicans.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY MARK PETERSON / REDUX FOR THE NEW YORKER

On Monday, when the House Intelligence Committee held its first public hearing about Russian involvement in the U.S. Presidential election, Republican members were almost completely focussed on leaks.

In his opening statement, Devin Nunes, the chairman of the committee, made clear how important the issue was to the G.O.P. “Who has leaked classified information?” he asked. “We aim to determine who has leaked or facilitated leaks of classified information so that these individuals can be brought to justice.”

Republicans were especially agitated about whether any former Obama Administration officials leaked information from classified transcripts of conversations between Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national-security adviser, and Sergey Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador to the United States, during the Presidential transition. At one point, Trey Gowdy, the Republican from South Carolina best known for his investigation of Benghazi, pressed James Comey, the F.B.I. director, on whether reporters might be jailed for publishing classified information.

“Director Comey, you and I were discussing the felonious dissemination of classified material during the last round,” he said. “Is there an exception in the law for current or former U.S. officials who request anonymity?” Comey said that there was not, and Gowdy asked, “Is there an exception in the law for reporters who want to break a story?” (To his credit, Comey said, “That’s a harder question.”)

With all the focus by Republicans on leaking classified information, Democrats on the committee were stunned when, in one little-noticed moment during the five-hour hearing, a prominent Republican seemed to let slip what two members of the panel told me was a piece of classified information.

Last year, the intelligence community, which consists of sixteen U.S. entities that collect secret information, produced classified and unclassified versions of a report on the Russian influence campaign during the election. The unclassified report makes bold conclusions about Russian intentions. “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency,” the report said. “We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.”

The conclusions were unambiguous, but the evidence in the unclassified report was unsatisfying. Republicans have questioned whether Putin really had a clear preference for Trump rather than simply a general animosity toward Hillary Clinton. Members of the committee were pressing Comey and Rogers on this point when a behind-the-scenes fight that was previously classified spilled into public.

***

Nunes thanked him and turned to Representative Peter King, of New York. King was less circumspect than Nunes had been. “I would just say on that because, again, we’re not going into the classified sections, that indicating that historically Russians have supported Republicans, and I know that language is there, to me puts somewhat of a cloud over the entire report,” King said.

I didn’t notice it at the time, though I was in the room, and the C-SPAN video of the hearing doesn’t capture it, but Democrats told me that there was, at this point, a minor commotion on the dais. King had just revealed that the classified version of the report had concluded “that historically Russians have supported Republicans.”

Two Democrats, confirming what King said, told me that there was a significant fight over this judgment during a recent classified briefing. “I was really taken aback that it came up in the hearing,” one Democratic congressman on the committee told me. “I might just observe to you, if there was such a conclusion, you can bet that the Republicans would have pushed back very, very hard about such a conclusion. And I don’t want to say more than that.”

It started when Nunes asked, “Do Russians historically prefer Republicans to win over Democrats?” Nunes ticked through some recent elections and inquired whether the Russians supported John McCain over Obama, in 2008, or Mitt Romney over Obama, in 2012. Comey said that he didn’t know the answer.

“I’m just asking a general question,” Nunes said. “Wouldn’t it be a little preposterous to say that, historically, going back to Ronald Reagan and all that we know about maybe who the Russians would prefer, that somehow the Russians prefer Republicans over Democrats?”

***

Watching the hearing, this seemed like a curious line of questioning. Because members of the House Intelligence Committee often know a great deal more than they can say publicly, they sometimes use their questioning to hint at what they have learned in classified settings. Nunes’s questions seemed to suggest some broader debate, as Comey confirmed when he shut down the exchange.

“I’m not going to discuss in an unclassified forum,” he said. “In the classified segment of the reporting version that we did, there is some analysis that discusses this because, remember, this did come up in our assessment on the Russian piece.”

Sometimes it’s difficult for someone privy to classified information to keep straight what is classified and what is not, especially when a classified judgment seems relatively innocuous. I asked King about the exchange, and his answer suggested that he was confused about the classification.

“I have to watch myself,” he told me. “I think it was in the public report that came out, the unclassified report, that there was a finding in there that historically—so don’t quote me on this, O.K.? Because I’m not sure if this was the classified or the unclassified, but there was a conclusion that historically the Russians have favored Republicans.” I could not find that conclusion in the public report, and, as others confirmed, it was a classified judgment.

Setting aside the issue of whether it was appropriate for King to allow this piece of classified information to become public, King and the Republicans do indeed have good reason to question the intelligence community’s judgment.

“We certainly disagreed. It’s been brought up in classified hearings,” King told me. He said that his intention at Monday’s hearing “was to show how much of a bias is there in the report. If they went out of their way to say that the Russians favored Republicans historically, was that indicating that they were either pressured or were trying to find a way to make a more convincing case for Trump over Clinton?”

It’s a fair question. I asked Oleg Kalugin, a former K.G.B. general who now lives in Virginia, about the intelligence community’s alleged claim that Russia has historically supported Republican Presidential candidates. “No, that’s not true,” he told me. He said that, when he was a press officer at the Soviet Embassy, during the Nixon era, it was part of his job to send daily reports to Moscow on American Presidential elections. “We always supported the Democrats. The Soviets, and the Russians after the collapse of the U.S.S.R., have been essentially in favor of the Democratic Party, because it represented the more moderate part of the United States’ political life, while the Republicans are more reactionary. The Republicans are viewed as more aggressive and anti-Communist, and that’s why the Soviets and, subsequently, the Russians would rather deal with the Democrats.” Almost everyone agrees that this calculus changed with respect to the race between Clinton, whom Putin personally despised, and Trump, who in public statements was loudly pro-Putin.

Does this debate matter? Perhaps. One of the mandates of the House Intelligence Committee is to evaluate the credibility of the intelligence community’s conclusions about Russia’s intentions last year. The intelligence community is highly confident that Putin specifically wanted a Trump victory. Republicans are skeptical and will continue to seize on this historical judgment to undermine the broader conclusions.

King said that it made him question the whole report. “That indicated to me that somewhere there was a push to really firm up their conclusion that not only did they not want Hillary but that they wanted Trump,” he said. “To me, the evidence doesn’t back that up.”

Losers! Trump and Ryan Do Not Have the Votes to Repeal ACA

[FROM NYTIMES.COM]

Trump and Ryan Can’t Muster the Votes Needed to Repeal the ACA

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, facing a revolt among conservative and moderate Republicans, rushed to the White House Friday afternoon to inform President Trump he did not have the votes to pass legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to decide whether to pull the bill from consideration.

The president and the speaker faced the humiliating prospect of a major defeat on legislation promised for seven years, since the landmark health legislation was signed into law. President Trump had demanded a vote regardless, which has been scheduled for Friday afternoon. But House leaders were leaning against such a public loss.

The House opened debate Friday on what could be one of the most consequential pieces of legislation in years, a bill that could roll back a major, established social welfare program, a feat that is almost unheard of.

The Republican legislation, called the American Health Care Act, would end the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that almost everyone have health care, replacing it with a system of age-based tax credits to purchase health insurance — a shift that would save the government hundreds of billions of dollars and would cut taxes, but could leave 24 million more Americans without coverage in a decade, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said.

Republicans said President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement, the 2010 health care law, had been a failure, disrupting coverage for millions of people and fueling big increases in health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket medical costs. Insurers in many states, they said, were losing hundreds of millions of dollars under the health law and have dropped out of the public marketplaces.

“For seven years, Americans have been hurt by Obamacare,” said Representative Kevin Brady, Republican of Texas and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. “They have pleaded with Congress to get the government out of the examining room and give them health care they can afford. This failed Obamacare experiment is over. It’s time to act.”

President Trump chimed in from Twitter, declaring, “After seven horrible years of ObamaCare (skyrocketing premiums & deductibles, bad healthcare), this is finally your chance for a great plan!”

On Twitter, Donald Trump took a shot at the hard-line House Freedom Caucus, which has pressed for more conservative policies, calling it ironic “that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood,” would oppose a bill that strips federal funds from the women’s health provider — albeit for a single year.

 

But Republican divisions were still on public display. Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, announced Friday that he would oppose the Republican bill, joining other moderates from Northeastern states.

Democrats kept their focus on the law that Republicans hoped to repeal, saying it had provided coverage to at least 20 million people. In the last 48 hours, they said, the repeal bill became worse as Republicans cut deals to woo support from the most conservative members of their party.

The Democrats were particularly critical of a last-minute decision by House Republican leaders to scrap federal standards for the benefits that must be provided in health insurance policies.

 

“I don’t have the ability to adequately express my outrage,” said Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts. “The Republican bill would return us to the day when insurers sold woefully inadequate policies with few protections. This back-room deal will kill the requirement for insurance companies to offer essential health benefits such as emergency services, maternity care, mental health care, substance addiction treatment, pediatric services, prescription drugs and many other basic essential services.”

Republicans tried to address these concerns with an amendment filed late Thursday night.

The amendment requires states to establish their own standards for “essential health benefits,” for the purpose of deciding which health plans can be used by people receiving federal tax credits to help pay premiums. The amendment also provides $15 billion in additional funds to states for “maternity coverage and newborn care” and for the “treatment of addiction and mental illness.”

Mr. Trump issued an ultimatum on Thursday to recalcitrant Republicans to fall in line behind a broad health insurance overhaul or see their opportunity to repeal the Affordable Care Act vanish. He demanded a vote on Friday on a bill that continued to appear to lack the majority needed to pass.

The demand, issued by Mr. Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, in a Thursday evening meeting with House Republicans, came after a marathon day of negotiating at the White House and in the Capitol in which Mr. Trump — who has boasted of his deal-making prowess — fell short of selling members of his own party on the health plan.

Mr. Ryan emerged from the session and announced curtly that Mr. Trump would get his wish for a vote on Friday. Mr. Ryan refused to answer reporters’ questions about whether he expected the measure to pass.

Some conservatives were still concerned that the bill was too costly and did not do enough to roll back federal health insurance mandates. Moderates and others were grappling at the same time with worries of their states’ governors and fretted that the loss of benefits would be too much for their constituents to bear.

Privately, White House officials conceded that competing Republican factions were each demanding changes that could doom the effort, placing the measure in peril and Mr. Trump’s chances of succeeding at a high-stakes legislative deal in jeopardy. With some of its demands in place, the Freedom Caucus ratcheted up its requests, insisting on a repeal of all regulatory mandates in the Affordable Care Act, including the prohibition on excluding coverage for pre-existing medical conditions and lifetime coverage caps.

Mr. Trump, who has promoted his negotiating skills and invited the label “the closer” as the vote approached, was receiving a painful reality check about the difficulty of governing, even with his own party in power on Capitol Hill.

“The choice is yes or no,” Representative Joe L. Barton, Republican of Texas and a member of the Freedom Caucus, said on Thursday night. “I’m not going to vote no to keep Obamacare. That’d be a stupid damn vote.”

Others were unconvinced.

Having secured Mr. Trump’s acquiescence to eliminate the requirement that insurers offer “essential health benefits,” members of the Freedom Caucus pressed their advantage. While they did not specify precisely which regulations they wanted to eliminate, the section they wanted to gut requires coverage for pre-existing health conditions, allows people to remain on their parents’ health care plans up to age 26, bars insurers from setting different rates for men and women, prohibits annual or lifetime limits on benefits, and requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premium revenue on medical care.

As of late Thursday night, their bluff called, many members of the caucus — a loose group of conservatives who refuse to divulge a full member list — were scrambling to bring at least some members on board. While many had clearly hoped that a shortage of votes would cause Mr. Ryan to decline to bring the bill to the floor, saving them from having to vote against the new president from their party, that strategy backfired.

“We’re committed to stay here until we get it done,” Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, said on Thursday. “So whether the vote is tonight, tomorrow or five days from here, the president will get a victory.”

He said 30 to 40 Republicans planned to vote “no”; House leaders can afford to lose only 22 votes and still pass the bill.

Trump’s Populist Mirage

DEREK THOMPSON

[MARCH 23, 2017 – FROM THEATLANTIC.COM]

Trump promised to revitalize the blighted heartland. His policies will punish them.

President Donald Trump might be consumed by half-truths and conspiracy theories, but during the campaign he brought attention to a very real phenomenon: regional inequality. He promised not only a proper swamp-draining in Washington, D.C., but also a renaissance for the Rust Belt, Appalachia, and America’s blighted heartland.

Even when his prognoses were fantasies—neither trade wars nor border walls will ever bring back 1950s-level manufacturing employment—the underlying diagnosis was pretty much right. For much of the 20th century, productivity in America’s poorest regions actually grew faster than in rich metros. But decades of convergence have come to a screeching halt in the 2000s. Rich coastal cities have left the rest of the country behind. In 1980, the typical New York City worker earned 80 percent more than the national average. By 2013, he earned 172 percent more.

Trump racked up huge margins in Appalachia, the Rust Belt, and rural areas across the country. But his promises to improve these places have evaporated on contact with the presidency. In the current budget blueprint and health-care bill—not to mention a forthcoming tax overhaul—the losers under Trump are the same people who were promised a long-awaited win (political theater surrounding the Carrier deal notwithstanding).

Trump ran on a promise to transfer political power back to the forgotten and the downtrodden, but he is presiding over an effort to transfer economic power from the lower- and middle-classes to the rich.

Regional inequality is a thorny problem. Inequality at the household level has some obvious fixes, such as taxing the rich and redistributing the wealth to the poor with tax credits and benefits like health care. But, while there is no unified economic consensus as to how to solve deindustrialization and regional blight, there are three broad ideas: government investments in local industry; investments in local colleges and research centers, which can also boost local innovation; and income transfers to the residents, whether in the form of tax credits or something more targeted, like moving vouchers.

So far, Trump’s answer to this multiple choice question has been “none of the above.” His policies don’t merely ignore these ideas. They move swiftly in the opposite direction.

First, Trump’s budget blueprint abolishes several programs that have directly helped the same regions he’s promised to support. The federal government has relatively few economic programs that specifically help the Rust Belt and Appalachia, but they include the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which helps small- and medium-sized manufacturing companies; the Economic Development Administration, which provides bridge loans and other support for infrastructure in poor regions; and the Appalachian Regional Commission, which supports jobs in 13 states (of which Trump won 10). Under Trump’s skinny budget, all three programs would be canceled. This has already elicited deep concerns, or even direct criticism from the governors of Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, and Maryland.

“A core piece of Trump’s message was that he would have the backs of workers in struggling regions, in struggling industries, specifically in the Rust Belt and the Midwest,” said Mark Muro, senior fellow and policy director at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. “But here, three programs directly relevant to that are zeroed out.” As a candidate, Trump promised convergence; as president, he’s entrenching divergence.

Second, America’s research universities are critical for productivity and job growth in many small and medium-sized cities away from the coastal behemoths. According to Muro, the metro areas with the fastest-growing productivity outside of tech hubs like San Jose and Seattle are anchored by major research universities, like Ames, Iowa, Blacksburg, Virginia, and State College, Pennsylvania. But Trump’s policies would starve these areas for both resources and talent, a needless and counter-productive double-whammy. The White House proposal guts federal science funding, including a nearly 20 percent cut at the National Institutes of Health, which funds billions of dollars of research at universities and hospitals across the country. What’s more, Trump’s antagonism to immigration might dissuade the world’s smartest people from conducting their research at American universities.

Third, these cuts to community investment and scientific research are making way for tax cuts that will go the rich. According to analysis by the Tax Policy Center, the tax changes in the Republican replacement bill would be “very regressive.” Low-income people in their early 60s could see their premiums rise by more than $10,000 and all households making less than $50,000 would be net losers under the plan. Meanwhile, families making more than $200,000 would save an average of $5,000, on average. (Note: This article was written before any budget analysis of the latest House bill.) If you don’t believe the TPC, just ask Trump. Told that this bill would hurt older Americans, particularly those living in rural areas, Trump responded, “Oh, I know.”

What’s remarkable, however, is that this might just be the start. The tax cuts in the health-care bill are nothing compared to the cuts featured in both House Speaker Paul Ryan’s budget and Trump’s campaign proposals. In the president’s most recent tax plan, the richest 7 percent of the country would get 70 percent of the tax benefits.

Some economists argue that expensive efforts to reverse economic decline in areas like the Rust Belt are a waste, and the money would be better spent to just pay people to move to better areas. That is, to invest in people, not places.

But taken together, Trump’s first 60 days do the opposite—disinvesting in Appalachia, starving research universities of the funds that often power local innovation, and redirecting money from health benefits for the poor and middle class toward tax cuts for the rich. To be fair, Trump is not abandoning all of his campaign’s proposals targeted at the white working class. As pledged, he is cracking down on immigration, especially from Muslim-majority countries, and striking down financial and environmental regulations that he says have constrained job creation. But as several economists have pointed out, deregulation alone won’t be a windfall for manufacturing jobs. What’s more, discouraging immigration could backfire for the U.S. economy, by constraining the growth of the labor force and keeping out the world’s most entrepreneurial people. That these policies probably won’t do much to promote regional convergence doesn’t seem to matter to Trump supporters—yet. Trump’s approval rating within his own party is still higher than 80 percent.

Fully addressing regional inequality is beyond the power of any one man, even the president. It may require a national effort to increase housing supply in productive cities, moving vouchers for low-income families trapped in generational poverty in the heartland, and an appetite for funding risky projects in struggling regions that may turn out to be losing investments. One could argue that Trump’s proposed military expansion may create jobs. But we don’t know enough about the details to know whether it will go to, say, struggling Kentucky areas or simply enrich contractors in Arlington and Norfolk, Virginia.

It is tedious, perhaps, to say so again and again, but in a news cycle that feels like a permanent state of attention whiplash, it can take a bit of brute repetition to entrench a simple truth: Trump ran on a promise to transfer political power back to the forgotten and the downtrodden, but he is presiding over an effort to transfer economic power from the lower- and middle-classes to the rich. Populism might be an elastic term. But Trump has tugged, turned, and twisted the word until it has come to mean its opposite, or perhaps nothing at all.