Before last week’s historic and unprecedented election, DC was preparing for a more autonomous and possible independent future. With Donald Trump as president, it may be in for just the opposite.
With several significant moves in the past few years backed by— or at least supported by— President Obama and other prominent democrats, the District was able to recommend its own federal district court judges, legalize cannabis, defy the NRA, maintain greater control over budget issues, and even pass a statehood measure by ballot.
This growing independence will likely be curbed by the incoming administration and Republicans, who are more powerful than ever given that they retained control of the Senate and the House. The GOP, which has been outspoken on the District’s growing autonomy, is likely to retake control of the District.
Greater Greater Washington contributor Stephen Hudson recently raised a few points on key issues ranging from infrastructure to immigration to criminal justice reforms that could be impacted under the new administration:
Trump has emphasized law and order. This sounds eerily like Nixon’s 1968 platform, and he has evoked images of inner cities having out-of-control crime. Even more unsettling, Rudy Giuliani’s possible involvement in the future administration is very concerning, since he really embodied the “zero tolerance on crime” attitude of the 90s and embraced the criminalization of homelessness. I see some negative consequences for DC, where we have defied the feds on marijuana and needle sharing and 10% of the population is ex-cons, and we have a higher violent crime rate.
The GOP loves meddling in District affairs, and it never seems to work out for our benefit.
Trump’s demand for a $1 trillion infrastructure package could be positive for us. God knows we need the money, but again, the devil is in the details (of which there are few):
Trump talks a lot about public-private partnerships, which is fine, but it’s unlikely that he can levy that much money in private funds.
Failing private funds, where will the money come from? Trump wants a budget-neutral infrastructure package (in theory), so that would involve raising more government revenue, or cutting some other program. The House GOP has regularly opposed increasing the gas tax, Passenger Facility Charge, etc., so I think he’s going to have an uphill battle convincing them.
If the GOP ends up going Trump’s way, we could actually get something favorable out of this deal. He has talked about trains and horrible airport infrastructure. On the other hand, if he surrounds himself with traditional party advisors, I’m less optimistic about federal spending in our region and infrastructure.
Trump is not exactly a budget-hawk. This could theoretically be good for government hiring over the medium term, but the hiring freeze and likely gutting of some agencies also gives us mixed information on his intentions.
The Trump/Ryan tax plan would not be good at all for our region’s poorest residents.
If we do see decreased immigration, this could be catastrophic for our and other regions, and Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric threatens our multiculturalism. Even though I would like to think our region is relatively tolerant, we are not immune to hate. I even expect some unforeseen consequences to the local economy, such as fewer tourists visiting the US, which was a problem during the Bush years.
In short, if DC had warm feelings towards Mr. Trump, he would have received more than 4% of the vote.
What do you think the future might hold for DC?