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Paul Krugman explains why Trump’s popularity won’t improve — and warns he may ‘lash out’ in response

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President Donald Trump is and has been historically unpopular in the White House — and he’s likely to stay that way.

Economist Paul Krugman noted in a New York Times op-ed on Monday that Trump’s low approval rating of 37 percent according to the Pew Research Center is matched only by President Ronald Reagan at the same point in his presidency:At start of Trump’s third year in office, his job approval lags most of his recent predecessors

Eventually, as we know, Reagan’s popularity recovered; he was re-elected, and he’s gone down as a hero in Republican politics, even if many of his policy positions would now be wildly out of line with the extremist GOP.

Trump can’t expect to be so lucky. As Krugman explained, Reagan in 1983 was unpopular because the economy was so bad — unemployment was at 10 percent. Trump is popular despite the fact that unemployment is comparably low — around 4 percent.

Krugman continued:

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Although many voters blamed Reagan for this economic distress, the truth was that it had little to do with his policies; it was, instead, the consequence of the Federal Reserve’s attempts to bring down inflation, which had driven interest rates as high as 19 percent.

 

By mid-1982, however, the Fed had reversed course, sharply reducing rates. And these rate cuts eventually produced a huge housing boom, which in turn drove a rapid economic recovery.

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Like the earlier slump, this boom had little to do with Reagan’s policies, but voters gave him credit anyway. Unemployment was still fairly high — more than 7 percent — in November 1984, but what matters for elections is whether things are getting better or worse, not how good they are in absolute terms. And in 1983-84, unemployment fell fast, so Reagan won big.

But Trump can’t hope for a quick unemployment turnaround, because it’s already quite low. There are other problems in the economy, of course — low wages, labor’s weakened power, health insecurity, and regional decline. Maybe if Trump actually did something to address these problems, he really could significantly boost his popularity.

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And yet, he’s not even trying. His major economic policy, the GOP tax bill, provided a momentary sugar high at best while ballooning budget deficit projections. Congressional Republicans barely mentioned it during the 2018 campaign, knowing it was unpopular. Trump promised to revitalize coal country — but he’s failing, and he’ll continue to fail. Meanwhile, his government shutdown and trade wars are hurting the economy and could even push us into recession.

“Most of Reagan’s political success reflected not fundamental economic achievement but good luck with the timing of the business cycle,” wrote Krugman. “And Trump almost certainly won’t experience comparable luck.”

But this raises the question: What will Trump and the Republicans do in 2020 when, as seems likely, they realize that he’s barreling toward defeat?

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“I don’t know the answer to that question, and if you aren’t scared about how a cornered Trump might lash out, you haven’t been paying attention,” wrote Krugman.

Trump has proven that he’ll try almost anything if he’s desperate enough. And we haven’t yet seen him at his most desperate. No one knows what it will look like if Republicans turn against him or Special Counsel Robert Mueller delivers devastating evidence of wrongdoing. President Richard Nixon resigned when his party allies told him it was over — can anyone imagine Trump going quietly into the night?


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Florida woman hurls Trump’s racist slur at man after she gropes his wife: police

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According to a police report first published by The Smoking Gun, a woman in Florida has been arrested after groping a woman on a pleasure cruise in front of her husband and six-year-old daughter, and then telling her husband, "You should go back to the country you came from."

The defendant, Lisa Ann Matteson, reportedly appeared to be intoxicated when she grabbed her fellow passenger's buttocks and said, "Oh, it's curved and nice ... I would do you."

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When radioactive wastes aren’t radioactive wastes

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The U.S. Department of Energy wants to redefine what constitutes high-level radioactive waste, cutting corners on the disposal of some of the most dangerous and long-lasting waste byproduct on earth—reprocessed spent fuel from the nuclear defense program.

The agency announced in October 2018 plans for its reinterpretation of high-level radioactive waste (HLW), as defined in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA) of 1982, with plans to classify waste by its hazard level and not its origin. By using the idea of a reinterpretation of a definition, the DOE may be able to circumvent Congressional oversight. And in its regulatory filing, the DOE, citing the NWPA and Atomic Energy Act of 1954, said it has the authority to “interpret” what materials are classified as high-level waste based on their radiological characteristics. That is not quite true, as Congress specifically defined high-level radioactive waste in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, and any reinterpretation of that definition should trigger a Congressional response.

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Jeffrey Epstein photographed partying with future Trump cabinet secretaries after release from jail

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Jeffrey Epstein was photographed nearly a decade ago, just after his release from jail, partying with two future Trump cabinet secretaries and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

The well-connected financier attended a 2010 dinner party hosted by David and Julia Koch after a screening of "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" that was attended by Giuliani, Steve Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross, among others, reported The Daily Mail.

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