Trump signals moderation in stance

Indicates that the defining components of ‘Obamacare’ will be protected; assigns Mike Pence the task of transition

Updated - November 17, 2021 06:13 am IST

Published - November 12, 2016 08:53 am IST - Washington

US President Barack Obama shakes hands as he meets with Republican President-elect Donald Trump on transition planning in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington DC.

US President Barack Obama shakes hands as he meets with Republican President-elect Donald Trump on transition planning in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington DC.

Pushing Vice-President-elect Mike Pence to the foreground of his transition efforts and signalling that some defining components of ‘Obamacare’ will be protected when it is overhauled, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Saturday sought to reach out to his Republican and Democratic detractors.

Mr. Pence is close to Republicans of all hues, particularly the conservatives. Having spent 13 years in Washington DC as a member of Congress, he is well-networked in the capital and, most important of all, is a friend of House Speaker Paul Ryan. Cooperation between the White House and the Speaker will be crucial for Mr. Trump.

Mr. Pence has replaced New Jersey Governor Chris Christie as the head of the transition team. Appearing alongside Mr. Trump this week, Mr. Ryan used the campaign slogan “Make America Great Again” to describe the task ahead.

‘Deal-making’ skills

Extreme positions on issues and personal attacks on President Barack Obama and his opponent Hillary Clinton had fired up the campaign that catapulted Mr. Trump to the most powerful office in the world.

But the self-proclaimed deal-maker now says he could consult the Clintons and Mr. Obama, and signals more moderate views on issues.

Mr. Trump said Ms. Clinton could not have been nicer during a congratulatory call she made to him on Wednesday morning. “It was a lovely call, and it was a tough call for her. She couldn’t have been nicer. She just said, ‘Congratulations, Donald. Well done.’ And I said, ‘I want to thank you very much. You’re a strong competitor’.”

Talking of a phone call made by former President Bill Clinton, Mr. Trump said: “He couldn’t have been more gracious,” “He said, ‘It was an amazing run.’ One of the most amazing he’d seen. He was very, very, really, very nice.”

Adding that he would “definitely think about that” consulting both of them, Mr. Trump said: “He’s a very talented guy, both of them… I mean, this is a very talented family.”

The President-elect has said after a meeting with Mr. Obama that he would meet him “many many more times”.

The President-elect is no longer talking of “repealing and replacing” Obamacare as he used to do in the campaign.

He said in an interview that it will be “amended”, but two defining features of the programme, namely coverage for pre-existing illness and allowing adult children to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26, could be continued. Tinkering with the healthcare system is going to be chaotic and cannot be achieved with a mere stroke of the pen.

Mr. Trump has to rework the existing political alignments in DC if he were to push his agenda of scrapping trade deals and investing in infrastructure and defence that will create domestic jobs in America. While congressional conservatives might resist deficit spending by the government, Mr. Trump could find support from progressive Democrats.

Trade deals

Same is the case with trade deals. While many senior Republicans have been supporters of trade deals, Mr. Trump could find support for his proposed protectionist measures from a large section of Democrats. Senator Bernie Sanders has already declared that he and like-minded members of the Congress will support the incoming President to that extent.

On other crucial questions, like climate change and nominating a Supreme Court judge, Mr. Trump could align more with his own party while resisting the combined Democratic pressure.

Altogether, the political divides as they exist in the national capital will undergo some radical changes as Mr. Trump pushes ahead with his platform and will put to test his deal-making skills.

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