What does it mean to make a bill less “mean”? This week, President Trump told Senate Republicans to do just that to their health care overhaul bill, and to also make it “more generous,” as sources told the Associated Press. But it appears the White House didn’t give much more direction: “the president did not say what aspects of the bill he was characterizing,” the AP also reported.
This lack of specificity is a pattern with this White House. Last week, the Trump administration announced a new infrastructure plan, centered around partnerships between the government and private firms. But transportation experts said it left a big question unanswered: what would those partnerships look like?
Before that, the administration outlined a parental leave plan to be administered through the unemployment system. But it wasn’t clear: how would the plan be designed?
In April, the White House released a tax overhaul outline, but it was full of holes — even less specific than what it had released on the campaign trail, according to one think tank.
The Trump administration was also set Wednesday to will release a plan on apprenticeships, but that was postponed due to a shooting involving members of Congress, their staff and Capitol Hill Police in suburban Washington. But even when the apprenticeship plan is made public, Washington’s policy wonks may only end up with a rough sketch of where Trump is headed on workforce development, given this run of vague policies.
“Vagueness isn’t entirely unusual, but it’s rare for someone to be vague about almost every policy proposal, and I think that’s where we find ourselves today,” said Alan Cole, economist at the Tax Foundation, a right-leaning tax policy think tank. “Health care seems to be farthest along, and even there there seem to be question marks and lots of things going back and forth.”
“I do think there’s a lot more vagueness with this administration,” said Aparna Mathur, resident scholar in economic studies at the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute.
“My sense is there’s always some uncertainty about how exactly people plan to do things and what the details are,” she said. “But I think it is true that given the sort of lack of experience with policy in this administration that this is somewhat unusual.”
“I think that it’s very unusual,” said David Wessel, senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, a left-leaning think tank. To be fair, he added that “things are always a bit rough” early in a new presidency. However,…