The big news was that China actually started to apply real pressure to North Korea, namely ceasing to buy their coal for the rest of the year. That may prove a phantom or reversed piece of news, but still it is real progress of some kind, if only in expected value terms. Did Trump’s antics and also his courting of Abe have anything to do with this? We don’t know. Was Obama’s THAAD missile deployment to South Korea a factor? Probably. I say score one for them both. Keep in mind that is probably the world’s #1 foreign policy problem, and otherwise progress has been hard to come by. Their KL airport assassination also may end up as a relevant PR disaster, costing them further foreign support.
Closer to home, outright Obamacare repeal seems increasingly unlikely. Since I never favored Obamacare, you might think I am unhappy, but as I see it they were likely to replace with something unworkable and worse. So this is, if not good news outright, at least the opposite of bad news. Whether through brilliance or incompetence, Trump simply isn’t leading on this issue and so major changes won’t get done, maybe not even minor changes.
Republicans in state governments are running away from fiscal conservatism rather rapidly. The Michigan legislature turned down a tax cut and there was a significant revolt in Kansas. That was an under-reported story, namely a reversal of Tea Party influence on Republican-controlled state governments.
The Border Tax plan appears to be dead or on life support. Flynn is gone and replaced by the apparently excellent McMaster. There is talk (fact?) again of Kevin Hassett as CEA chair — a great idea — and Russia seems increasingly disillusioned with our president, also a nicer place to be.
The new Executive Order on regulation has some upside deregulatory potential. Whether or not you favor a federal role in the matter, I thought it was a good sign to see Betsy DeVos sticking up for transgender rights.
Proposed policies on trade and immigration, as well as rhetoric toward the press, remain awful, plus various “background problems” continue, but overall I thought this was a very good week for Trump, with Flynn out to pasture and the North Korea news far outweighing the rest.