The next step for Trump after Syria

Randall Forsyth of Barron’s ponders prospects for the president’s agenda after the Syrian missile strike.

The U.S. missile strikes against Syria after Bashar al-Assad attacked rebels and civilians with chemical weapons marked a defining moment and huge win for Trump, writes veteran Washington watcher Greg Valliere, chief strategist at Horizon Investments.

The strikes garnered overwhelming bipartisan support, with objections coming from isolationists on the right. And it sent a message to the rest of the world, especially North Korea, marking a reversal of “eight years of relative passivity” on the part of the U.S., he adds.

Typically, the impact of geopolitical events dissipates in a few days, observes Peter Boockvar, chief market analyst at the Lindsey Group. …

… That may be, but Strategas Research Partners economists Don Rossmiller and Erica Halie Comp wonder if, after the missile strike, Trump “could be empowered to attempt to solely pacify North Korea’s threats.” That, in turn, could result in “a possible reshuffle of political priorities,” with defense taking precedence over tax legislation and other issues.

Indeed, prior to the attack against Syria, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said on Wednesday that tax reform could take longer than health-care reform. And Congress and the White House initially were closer to agreement on health care. Now, while the House has a plan and the Senate is working on one, “the White House hasn’t nailed it down,” so none of the three entities are on the same page.

And that’s without the small matter of dealing with a potential shutdown of the federal government on April 28, which is when the continuing resolution under which Washington currently operates is slated to expire. Congress is also scheduled to adjourn for the next two weeks for the Easter-Passover recess, leaving barely a week to stave off another shutdown fiasco.

That said, “the Syrian airstrikes have transformed the Trump presidency; previous missteps will be forgiven as rookie mistakes,” writes Valliere. “The U.S. will re-emerge as a force to be reckoned with.” And he concludes, “So here’s the key issue: Can Trump take advantage of this turnaround? He finally has some bipartisan support, and if he can capitalize on it, there could be a reset for his entire presidency.”

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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