Educated guess: Trump, Congress Won’t Mix
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Editor’s note: For decades, University of Alabama professors have made predictions about what the New Year will hold. Among their topics this year are changes that will come with the new administration beginning in January, to fashion.
Even though President-elect Donald Trump will have a Republican-controlled Congress when he takes office later this month, he won’t have an easy path ahead.
That’s the prediction of Dr. Joseph Smith, associate professor and chair of the political science department at The University of Alabama.
Unified party control of the national government never works as smoothly as many people expect, Dr. Smith said.
“I suspect it is because political leaders often attempt policy change that is too extreme when they have unified control of legislature and executive branch,” Smith said. “They don’t expect to have to compromise. But it often turns out that there are infra-party disagreements.”
Both Carter and Clinton entered office with unified control, but didn’t get much done in their first two years, Smith said.
“Obama was able to pass Obamacare in his first two years, but still had to compromise greatly,” he said.
Asked if Alabama – where Republicans hold the governor’s office, the Senate and House – is an example of where single-part politics works, he pointed out problems there, too.
“Our state budget is not in good shape, and the leaders of all three branches have had real problems,” he said.
Members of the House have called for Gov. Robert Bentley’s impeachment, a process that is currently playing out; and this past summer, then-House Speaker Mike Hubbard was convicted of corruption.
Trump, who billed himself as an outsider throughout his campaign, made broad promises of things he would change when he takes office. Smith noted that the president-elect has already backed away from some of those.
“It is possible that President-elect Trump feels that he has transcendent leadership qualities and so can deliver on some of his promises,” Smith said. “But I do note he has backed off on some of his campaign themes (for example, putting Hillary Clinton in jail).”