Potomac Chronicle

Mission Compromised: Trump’s Nasty Dilemma

It’s less than a two-hour drive from Washington, D.C., to Red Lion, Pa., one of the politically reddest parts of the country. Enthusiastic voters there gave Trump nearly two-thirds of the presidential vote, and Trump hasn’t forgotten. Not only did he recently hold a political rally in the area, but in his first speech to a joint session of Congress, the president pointed to one of the region’s major industries, Harley-Davidson, as a company that had “been mistreated for so long.” Harley, Trump said, was a perfect example of why “it is very hard to do business with other countries,” explaining that they “tax our goods at such a high rate.”

Rhetoric like that lit up voters in this town of 6,333 people. But Red Lion is one of the places where Trump’s rhetoric is colliding with reality. In assessments of lead exposure, 21 percent of the children tested in Red Lion had high levels in their blood. That’s four times higher than in Flint, Mich., where lead in the drinking water exploded into a national crisis. And it’s more than eight times the national average. In the county seat of York, high lead exposure hits 30 percent of the kids, and, in one Census tract, high lead levels are affecting fully half the children. READ MORE

Trump-Watching From City Hall

It was a somewhat surprising and mysterious meeting. Out of the blue, after serving in office less than seven weeks, President Trump summoned Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser to tell him about the city’s preparation for an oncoming snowstorm. On short notice, she walked the two blocks from city hall to the White House with Paul J. Wiedefeld, the general manager of the area’s Metro transit system.

No one could recall a president requesting such a meeting even for far more significant threats, such as massive blizzards, earthquakes or terrorist attacks. This time around, the storm being predicted was an insignificant snowfall that ended up spreading only 2.5 inches over the city.   READ MORE

The New Nullifiers: Democrats

In this moment of wildly disruptive politics, it’s actually possible to see President Trump, California Gov. Jerry Brown, the 19th-century Sen. John C. Calhoun and folk singer Woody Guthrie all swimming in the same policy stew. 

Just four days after Trump’s inauguration, Brown’s State of the State address took direct aim at the new president’s immigration policies. Brown pledged to “defend everybody -- every man, woman and child -- who has come here for a better life and has contributed to the well-being of our state.” Then he closed his speech by going back to his 1960s roots and quoting Guthrie’s classic. “This land,” he told legislators, “was made for you and me.” READ MORE

Outposts of Rationality in Our Great Partisan Divide

It’s official: The people who publish the Merriam-Webster dictionary announced in late December that the most searched-for word on its website in 2016 was “surreal.” Though the word attracted heavy traffic all year, the big spike in interest came the day after the election. It reflected a country trying to make sense of an outcome “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream.”

Here in Washington, I’ve been reflecting on what it means for Governing’s mission. When we launched this magazine in the latter days of the Reagan administration, our purpose was to document and explain an ongoing significant shift in our federal system -- the ascendancy of states and localities -- that the national press had largely missed. We debated a bit about the relative importance of states versus cities and counties, but basically we felt we were on the mark.   READ MORE

Trump Era May Become the 'Once-Great Society'

The next time you drive by a nursing home, you might want to take a look inside. You’ll be staring at the front line in an emerging battle over the future of Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society.

If it’s a typical nursing home, Medicaid covers the expenses of half the residents. Those average $91,000 per year, because these residents need long-term care and don’t have enough assets of their own anymore to pay for it. Long-term care accounts for one out of every four Medicaid dollars. As the Trump administration pursues the Republicans’ long-sought goal of turning the program into a block grant to the states, it’s where the toughest decisions lie. READ MORE