AMY WALTER: The president-elect hits the road, selling jobs, his “America First” agenda, and reveling in his victory. I’m Amy Walter, tonight on Washington Week.
PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP: (From video.) Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences, not going to happen.
MS. WALTER: The president-elect delivers on his promise to keep jobs in America. Is this a one-time deal or a sign of more to come? Back in campaign mode, Trump reminds Americans what he stands for and why he won.
PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP: (From video.) We will finally end illegal immigration. We will construct a great wall.
And by the way, we are repealing and replacing Obamacare. (Cheers.)
MS. WALTER: As Trump continues to pick his Cabinet, the candidate who boasted of “draining the swamp” taps two Wall Street insiders for crucial nominations. Democrats aren’t impressed.
SENATOR PATTY MURRAY (D-WA): (From video.) He is putting together a gold-plated and mahogany Trump-style Cabinet of Wall Street bankers, billionaires, millionaires, friends, insiders, campaign contributors and cronies.
MS. WALTER: On Capitol Hill, Nancy Pelosi is reelected House minority leader.
HOUSE MINORITY LEADER NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): (From video.) But never again will we have an election where there’s any doubt in anyone’s mind where the Democrats are when it comes to America’s working families.
MS. WALTER: But the lopsided win reveals many Democrats are looking for new leadership. We’ll get analysis from Carol Lee of The Wall Street Journal, Philip Rucker of The Washington Post, Carrie Budoff Brown of POLITICO, and Manu Raju of CNN.
ANNOUNCER: This is Washington Week.
Once again, from Washington, Amy Walter.
MS. WALTER: Good evening. President-elect Donald Trump took a break from his transition duties to travel to battleground Ohio to thank his supporters for his election victory.
PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP: (From video.) I am going to need you to fight as hard for these proposals as you fought for this great campaign of ours. (Cheers.)
Now that you’ve put me in this position, even if you don’t help me one bit, I’m going to get it done, believe me, don’t worry about it. (Cheers.)
MS. WALTER: Thousands turned out in Cincinnati to celebrate with the incoming president and vice president-elect. Earlier in the day, the Trump-Pence team made a stop in Indiana to announce a deal they’ve brokered with the Carrier company. The 10-year, $7 million package will keep the Indianapolis operation from moving to Mexico and save hundreds of manufacturing jobs. Mr. Trump was able to make good on his campaign promise to keep jobs in America in part because Vice President-elect Mike Pence is still the governor of Indiana and he could offer tax incentives.
So, Phil, what does what happened this week with the Carrier situation tell us about the Donald Trump economic situation? Are we going to have a case-by-case economic policy?
PHILIP RUCKER: We might. I think he wanted to show immediately out of the gate here as president-elect that he’s going to be a champion for working people.
MS. WALTER: Right.
MR. RUCKER: He’s trying to help this company save these jobs. It both sends a threat to private industry in the company that if you outsource your jobs you’re going to risk the wrath of this powerful administration, but it’s also an opportunity. People can say, hey, I’m going to send my jobs to China unless you give me a tax incentive, and it creates a bit of a slippery slope for the administration and for the state governments as well as they put together incentive packages.
MS. WALTER: But to your point, it did save 1,100 jobs. There are people who might have lost their job that now are able to stay in Indiana.
MR. RUCKER: Certainly, and he can take credit for it, which he did yesterday, and it looks like a big win. I mean, he traveled around the country for the last two years saying I’m going to revitalize the economy, save jobs, I’m going to help the forgotten men and women of America who Washington is not looking out for them. He’s saying I’m not even president yet and I’m already looking out for them.
MANU RAJU: And you mentioned ‒ Phil mentioning the slippery slope, that is the thing that he’s going to have to be worried about in this case-by-case economic policy if he does continue to pursue this company by company. You saw the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial page lash this Carrier deal because of those exact concerns, that you should let the free market work its will.
And I was speaking today with some members of the conservative House Study Committee, the Republican Study Committee, and they said, look, this is not necessarily the way we want to go for an economic policy, including Congressman Dave Brat, member of the House Freedom Caucus. But Paul Ryan, the House speaker, I asked him specifically if he had any concerns about this, he defended Donald Trump. So right now he’s getting a lot of support from the leadership, but some of those more conservative members a little squeamish about this idea.
MS. WALTER: Well, and, Carol, I know you don’t write for the editorial page, but it was your newspaper that came out today that called it a shakedown what Donald Trump was doing with Carrier. What is the concern that some have about how this deal was done from a free market perspective as well as the power of the bully pulpit as the president to make these sort of deals?
CAROL LEE: A couple of things. One, you have ‒ this is essentially government intervention which is not necessarily something that Republicans typically are for, so there’s that piece of it.
There’s the piece of, you know, if you do this for one company, what are you going to do for the next company? Is there favoritism among this? You know, how do you play that?
And then third, you know, is there a strategy, is there a broader strategy that President-elect Trump is going to apply to the manufacturing sector that can help it as a whole? Is this a one-off? What do the other companies, deals look like, what does this deal look like? We don’t know exactly. And broadly, is there a policy that will help the sector writ large?
MS. WALTER: Well, have we seen anything like that, that there is something that’s going to be coming out, that the administration is talking about we’re going to come out with something specific to address the issue of manufacturing?
MS. LEE: No, not yet. And, you know, we haven’t ‒ you hear, though, the current White House saying that if Donald Trump were to do this 804 times, then maybe he would match President Obama’s record on reviving the manufacturing sector. But you haven’t seen a broad strategy or a policy or blueprint from the Trump administration-in-waiting.
MS. WALTER: Administration, at this point.
Well, I want to talk about the thank you tour, Carrie. And Donald Trump went to Ohio. It looked like a campaign rally like we saw throughout the course of this year. He had prepared remarks, but he also veered in and out to attacking the media, attacking Hillary Clinton, talking about how great his victory was in different states, saying people didn’t believe in him. So is this what we should expect to see from a President Trump for the next four years, these campaign-style rallies even while he’s president?
CARRIE BUDOFF BROWN: I mean, they seem to be indicating that it will be. A lot of advisers say that he really likes doing this. And honestly, Carol and I covered Obama, President Obama together ‒
MS. LEE: We broke the story together.
MS. BROWN: Yeah. But I have to say, this reminds me a lot of him because it’s the same thing. And what he said in the clip at the start of the show, I need you to help me pass my agenda in Washington, this is exactly what President Obama did, not very well. You know, President Obama was this great, you know, get out there, loved the campaign rally-style events, he used the bully pulpit traveling the country, you’re going to help me pass my agenda. It just ‒ it doesn’t ‒ it’s very, very hard to do that. And so we see him doing this, he’s going to feed off of it. But it’s probably, you know, it’s going to be challenging. But yeah, I think it’s what we’re going to see.
MS. LEE: And if you look at how President Obama did it, he did it sort of tailored and narrowly. He campaigned before the inauguration, but trying to rally support for a stimulus. And he did it in small events, they weren’t these kind of big rallies that came later where he would do those for health care and town halls and things like that. But prior to his inauguration, he was trying to sell one very specific thing, and that’s different than what Donald Trump was saying last night, which was, you know, he wants to sell everything.
MR. RAJU: And he really was promising the moon to his supporters. I mean, he did not walk back anything that he said on the campaign trail. He said everything they’re going to do, they’re going to build a wall, they’re going to make the country more secure, he’s going to get rid of ISIS, you know, things that will be very difficult to achieve in the short term and the long term, particularly the power of the president is limited. Even though he has control of both chambers of Congress, he still does not have 60 votes in order to break a filibuster in the Senate. He needs bipartisan support to get a lot of things done. So at the end, he may disappoint a lot of those supporters. But what he said yesterday, he said people are fools to think that we should limit our expectations, so his supporters are expecting a lot from him.
MR. RUCKER: And one of his problems is he’s trying to govern a very divided country. The emotions are still raw out there. And we saw him in Ohio; this is the first in a series of events he’s going to have over the next few weeks. And the question is, is he going to go to places that did not support him? Will he go to Denver, Colorado, will he come here to Northern Virginia? Will he go to, like, an African-American community, like Detroit or inner-city Cleveland, and really try to reach out to people who did not support him and who have, you know, pretty serious doubts about his leadership abilities.
MS. WALTER: Well, I want to move over actually to the other job that he’s doing, which is he’s trying to staff-up his administration. And we’ve got – so far we have, among other names, Elaine Chao, the former labor secretary under President George W. Bush. She’s been tapped to lead the Transportation Department. We have Congressman Tom Price, he’s a doctor, he’ll be the secretary of Health and Human Services. And Price led the Republican charge to repeal the Affordable Care Act. We also know that candidate Trump campaigned as the ultimate outsider, but he’s turned to a number of Washington and Wall Street elites to lead the Cabinet.
So, Carrie, what should we read into the picks that he’s made thus far?
MS. BROWN: I mean, he ‒ this is ‒ we wrote this week in POLITICO, I mean, that the folks ‒ it was actually, like, two stories honestly of this Cabinet. One is that he’s picking extraordinarily conservative, you know, leaders in these respective fields. Education, someone who does not like public school and wants to drastically change it. You have Tom Price who, you know, more controversially than wanting to repeal Obamacare is that he wants to privatize Medicare. You could go down the line, there’s a number of extraordinarily conservative leaders taking over.
And then you have a group of, you know, Wall Street, you know, long-time Wall Street figures, and that, in Treasury and other places, that is proving to be, you know, that’s controversial. That directly contradicts some of the rhetoric, a lot of the rhetoric that he espoused on the campaign trail.
I think the question with all of this, I mean, there’s a lot of excitement about the very conservative picks, I think there’s some backlash, to a certain extent, on the Goldman Sachs, Wall Street elite folks. But I think we have to sort of check ourselves in terms of how much his supporters really care or really sort of are going to push back on this. I think that was the big failing of the media, I think, throughout this campaign, is really taking him at his word all the time and that his supporters would take him at his word. So I think that’s the wild card as we talk about this just what the impact will be. And we’ll only know, like, months or maybe years down the road.
MS. WALTER: Well, and, Manu, these folks also have to get confirmed.
MR. RAJU: Yeah.
MS. WALTER: So what can you tell us, you spend a lot of time on the Hill, for what Democrats are planning for these confirmation hearings? We listened to Patty Murray who called it the gold-plated Cabinet. But are they going to be very aggressively, you know, anti these picks?
MR. RAJU: I think so. I think, well, it depends on who it is. I think you’re going to see a big fight over Tom Price. Maybe there’s going to be a proxy war over health care. You may see Steve Mnuchin come under fire from the left wing of the Democratic Caucus, namely Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are already going after him. And Jeff Sessions, even though he’s a colleague, a fellow senator, he has a very conservative record, particularly on immigration, civil rights issues. They’re going to go after him.
But the problem for Democrats is that they’re almost powerless to prevent these guys and women from getting confirmed because of their own actions in 2013 where they changed filibuster rules, and now it’s only 51 senators are required to confirm nominees. The Republicans, after that Louisiana Senate race is called, are going to have 52 seats. So unless something goes drastically wrong where Republicans start voting against these candidates, Trump is going to get his nominees. It may be a messy fight in some cases, but he’ll probably get the people in place by the time he is sworn in in late January.
MS. WALTER: And, Phil, the one thing I wanted to bring up, it was the secretary of state, that’s one position that still has not yet been filled, lots of names floating around. You wrote this week about a dinner that Mitt Romney had with Donald Trump. What’s going on there?
MR. RUCKER: Well, they’re sort of feeling each other out. Donald Trump reached out to Mitt Romney soon after the election to try to have a meeting with him, broker a peace. Mitt Romney, of course, was the face of the Republican resistance to Trump during the campaign. But they had a meeting and by all accounts they hit it off. There seems to be some chemistry there now. He’s very seriously being considered for secretary of state. His people say he wants the job. It’s a question of whether Trump is willing to ask him. There’s a lot of resistance within Trump’s inner circle to tapping Mitt Romney. They feel like he should go with a loyalist, like Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York. And he’s also intrigued by retired General David Petraeus. Trump has been dazzled by these generals. He loves their stories, he likes the power that they convey. And he had a very productive meeting with Petraeus earlier in the week, so he’s very much in contention as well.
MS. WALTER: Well, and, Carol Lee, that brings up the other person who’s been not necessarily officially named, although yesterday at his rally Donald Trump told us that the General James Mattis would be picked as defense secretary. There are a lot of folks who are raising concerns about this general-heavy, military-heavy Cabinet.
MS. LEE: That’s right. And the one thing that I would add to what Manu was saying about the Hill and Democrats’ ability to cause heartburn for Donald Trump and his nominees is that when it comes to General Mattis as defense secretary, there is legislation that needs to be passed to clear him for being able to serve in that position. And, you know, you have senators like Senator Gillibrand from New York who’s sort of threatening that she may use a procedural move to require 60 votes. And that could potentially tie that up or at least allow Democrats to vent some of their frustrations on this.
But there are concerns that people are raising about if you have a general as your national security adviser and your secretary of defense and your secretary of state, that’s a lot of generals. And the counterargument to that is that just because you have a general doesn’t mean they’re necessarily hawkish. If you look at Colin Powell, he was not the hawk in the Bush administration, even as he was serving as secretary of state. And so it can kind of cut both ways. And what you hear from people close to Trump is that he really doesn’t care, which will surprise everyone. (Laughter.) And that he’s just going to pick who he wants to pick and that he’s not influenced by this chatter about too many generals.
It’s also ironic because Donald Trump said he knew more than the generals during the campaign, which is, you know, fun for us. (Laughter.)
MS. WALTER: Well, and Petraeus has the other issue on even some ‒
MS. LEE: Then there’s that.
MS. WALTER: And then there’s Petraeus, which, of course, when we talk about concerns with Hillary Clinton and her server, we obviously have General Petraeus.
MS. LEE: Right. And he, you know, was charged with leaking classified information to a woman he was having an affair with, who was his biographer. And that, you know, there’s another irony, right? Because Donald Trump spent a lot of time in the campaign and even brought it, you know ‒ his crowd ‒ his supporters brought it up last night at his rally, hitting Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information.
MR. RAJU: And I can tell you, Amy, talking to Senate Republicans yesterday, they do not want Petraeus to be the nominee for secretary of state because it could lead to those questions that they’re going to have to respond to and they’re going to have to cast a difficult vote and they’d rather see their own colleague, Bob Corker, the Senate Foreign Relations chairman, get that nod instead.
MS. LEE: He’s definitely the safe pick.
MS. WALTER: Corker is the safe pick, Senator Corker from Tennessee.
Well, Nancy Pelosi won reelection to her House minority position this week in an election that revealed the deep post-election divide within the Democratic Party. Nearly a third of House Democrats supported Ohio Representative Tim Ryan who challenged the 76-year-old lawmaker. Pelosi wants to put a check on the Trump administration’s agenda, but what can she really do, number one? And the second question, Democrats, they had a bad election night, and yet the rank and file stuck with the leadership. What does that tell us?
MR. RAJU: Well, she has a lot of loyalty within that Democratic Caucus. She has ruled it with an iron fist since 2003. She’s raised a ton of money for these members. And she’s very progressive and this is a very progressive caucus, so a lot of them want to stick with her and they like her a lot and they trust her.
On the other hand, she did lose 63 votes. That is significant, because the last time she hit a significant challenge or a challenge, 2010, she lost 43 votes. There are 20 more members who are defecting. There’s a more outspoken, more unrest within the Democratic Caucus in the House than there has been in a long time. That’s going to be ‒ it’s a real warning sign for her going forward and it’s giving a platform to the more moderates, Rust Belt-type Democrats, but also some others, too. Marcia Fudge, a congresswoman, member of the Congressional Black Caucus, supporting Tim Ryan. And the incoming chairman of the CBC, Cedric Richmond, would not say if he voted for Nancy Pelosi. So there is a lot of concern about her leadership going forward. So she has made some changes to showcase she’s going to be more inclusive, bring more members in. But does she do differently? It’s hard to know for right now.
MS. WALTER: And what is the concern when you talk about in the rank and file they’re upset? It is that they lost or is it about the direction? Is it about her personally? What is it?
MR. RAJU: It is all of the above. The way she is running things, some believe it’s more ‒ she’s too insular. It is about the direction, about the messaging. Were we focusing on the right issues? And frankly, it’s about generation and age. She’s 76 years old. There are a lot of younger members who are eager to climb the ladder and they believe their voices need to be heard within the leadership and it’s time for the party to put a fresh face forward. So that is a vocal, a small section of the Democratic Caucus, but vocal and one worth paying attention to.
MS. WALTER: And, Carrie, Republicans, though, on the other side very excited. They have the House, they have the Senate, a lot of talk about rolling back Obamacare. But it’s not as easy as it looks, is it? And how is that going to work?
MS. BROWN: It’s not. There’s a lot of debate right now on how to do it. You have some members of the Senate Republican Conference that want to put forward something, replace Obamacare before they repeal it. There’s others who say we’re going to repeal it and within three years we will do a replacement. And we’re creating potentially an Obamacare cliff, which means within three years Congress has to act ‒
MS. WALTER: Or else it goes away?
MS. BROWN: Yeah, I mean, and so it creates this sort of pressure. But we all know what happens when Washington does that. They don’t meet it or they create a patchwork or they will hit the cliff. And so it creates a crisis really. And so there’s a lot of division. You know, there’s agreement that they don’t like Obamacare, but this has been the challenge, ever since Obamacare passed, and even throughout the debate, they don’t know how to, you know, they do not yet have a strategy that enough people can agree to. And even on Medicare there’s a lot of ‒ we have folks in the Senate Republican Conference who are not totally bought-in to repealing Medicare. And there is ‒ they know what the numbers will look like and what the backlash would be and the political pressure they would face from very, very important constituencies, senior citizens, if they go forward with this.
And I think for the Trump White House they’ll have to think about when they do that and how they do that. You come out of the gate first with a Medicare repeal or privatization, and we could see a repeat of sort of what happened to George W. Bush in 2004. He said he would privatize Social Security and you sort of lose then an entire term because of the political backlash.
So there’s a lot of promises that were made. It’s going to be challenging for Trump to navigate those, and in particular with his own Republican Conference. You know, they’re unified. You know, they won. It’s the first time they’re able to work with a Republican president. But it’s just like Democrats learned the last eight years, it is not that easy.
MS. WALTER: It is not.
And, Carol, I want to go to you because the Obama administration has less than 50 days. They want to push through any legislative priorities, executive priorities and trying to protect his legacy. Tell us how he’s going about doing that and what can he actually do to sort of solidify the gains that he’s made, that the administration wants to gain before Trump takes office. What are they doing?
MS. LEE: Well, there’s a number of things. What they’re doing is they’re looking at there’s policies that are already in place, such as the Iran nuclear deal, the president’s Cuba opening and other foreign policy sorts of pieces. And they’re looking at how do you ‒ how to make sure that the Iran deal is as dug in as possible, doing that largely by trying to get the international banking system functioning in a way that is bringing Iran in in a way that it hasn’t been. With Cuba, it’s, you know, pressing the Cuban government to finally get off and, you know, stop sitting on deals with U.S. companies to get them there because that makes it ‒ you know, you can undo a diplomatic engagement, but if you were to suddenly say, like, you, airline, cannot travel to Cuba anymore, that could solicit lawsuits against the government. And so they’re trying to do that there.
And then there’s this whole look at regulations. And the idea is, you know, obviously, if you do things by executive order, the next president can come in and undo them immediately. And President Bush watched President Obama do that for the first, like, hundred days of his presidency. And so ‒ but they’re trying to pass as many of these as they can in order to push ‒ force the Trump administration to say, OK, which ones do we care about, which ones do we really want to roll back. And these are everything, from protecting public lands to trying to deal with Wall Street in some way or to, you know, dealing with emissions. And so we’ll see, there will be a number of them in coming weeks and then they’ll just leave it to the Trump administration to decide which ones they want to undo and prioritize.
MS. WALTER: All right. Well, we’re going to have a lot more to talk about. I wish I could talk to you guys all night, but it’s all we have, the time that we have. The conversation, though, is going to continue on Washington Week Extra where we’ll discuss how President-elect Trump plans to deal with the White House press corps, a lot of these folks here around the table, and how a clash between the Trump and Clinton campaign managers shows just how difficult it may be to move on past the November election. You can find that online at www.pbs.org/WashingtonWeek. And while you’re there, take the Washington Week-ly News Quiz and test your knowledge of current events.
I’m Amy Walter. Good night.