Political Fires Humble Trump’s Agenda-Setting Capacity

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Build a border wall, combat opioid abuse and refurbish crumbling roads and bridges.

Those are the funding priorities around which U.S. President Donald Trump might like to reshape the conversation in Washington with the budget recommendation and long-awaited infrastructure plan he releases today.

But that’d be wishful thinking. Congress has already agreed to its own two-year spending blueprint, the latest West Wing personnel shakeups are raising questions about whether top aides were too lenient in the face of domestic abuse allegations, and uncertainty abounds over Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s next steps in his Russia election-meddling probe.

All that against the backdrop of the upcoming midterms, in which Democrats hope to capitalize on a spate of Republican retirements in their quest to take control of the House.

Bloomberg’s Arit John takes a closer look at the suburban Los Angeles district that’s home to Ed Royce — one of the 33 House Republicans who’ve announced they won’t seek re-election — and at the Democrats’ efforts to net the 24 seats needed for a majority.

With Republican lawmakers increasingly focused on preserving their own power in November, Trump’s agenda-setting ability is likely to remain constricted.

Political Fires Humble Trump’s Agenda-Setting Capacity

Global Headlines

Ready to talk? | U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in agreed to pursue dialogue with North Korea during conversations at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, the Washington Post reports. Direct talks with North Korea about its nuclear program would mark a shift in U.S. policy. Pence dubbed the new strategy “maximum pressure and engagement at the same time.”

Rumors of war | Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants Iran and its proxies out of Syria once the war there ends, but he isn’t getting the backing he wants from either the U.S. or Russia. After a weekend in which Israel bombed Iranian targets and lost a combat jet to Syrian fire, continued confrontation seems likely. Israel says it doesn’t want a war — but it also won't live with an Iranian stronghold on its doorstep.

D-Day for Zuma | The curtain is set to fall on Jacob Zuma’s scandal-ridden presidency in South Africa today as the ruling African National Congress’s top leaders meet to decide on transferring power to his deputy, Cyril Ramaphosa. The change will offer the country a “new beginning,” Ramaphosa said yesterday. Investors agree — the rand has gained the most of major currencies against the dollar since he became party leader in December.

Populist meets the business crowd | Luigi Di Maio, the anti-establishment candidate in Italy’s election next month, is campaigning in the industrial north as he pushes for a working majority. Di Maio’s Five Star Movement is set to emerge as the biggest single party but probably won’t win enough seats to govern.

Political Fires Humble Trump’s Agenda-Setting Capacity

Anyone want a job? | One in 10 French workers may be unemployed, but companies say hiring staff is one of their biggest problems. As Angeline Benoit writes, that’s why France needs to revamp expensive training programs and improve incentives to work — and why President Emmanuel Macron wants to go even further, by overhauling the cherished welfare system.

Throughout the 2018 winter Olympics, Bloomberg is tracking the medals won by each country. Wealthier nations tend to win more overall. But when you look at the ratio of medals to gross domestic product, or even medals per capita, bigger is not always better. Just ask Norway. For full coverage of the games, visit our special page.

And finally... Chinese investors bombarded the U.S. Embassy’s Weibo social media account with thousands of complaints about stock losses after the country’s equities suffered their steepest weekly plunge in two years. Many of them contained expletives aimed at Liu Shiyu, chairman of the securities regulator. His agency started blocking comments on its Weibo account, prompting punters to vent their fury at the U.S. instead.

Political Fires Humble Trump’s Agenda-Setting Capacity

 

To contact the author of this story: Kathleen Hunter in London at khunter9@bloomberg.net.

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