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What Donald Trump and Democrats in Congress have in common

Donald Trump may have won the presidency as a Republican, but there are nonetheless several policy issues where Democrats could find some common ground with him.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, the incoming Senate minority leader, opened the door in November to cooperating on certain legislative agendas.

“Surprisingly, on certain issues, candidate Trump voiced very progressive and populist opinions,” Schumer said in an NBC News interview. 

And even some of the most liberal wing of the party could see eye-to-eye with the president-elect on some issues, as Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren noted in a recent speech to the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council.

“He spoke of the need to reform our trade deals so they aren’t raw deals for the American people,” Warren said. “He said he will not cut Social Security benefits. He talked about the need to address the rising cost of college and about helping working parents struggling with the high cost of child care.”

Here are some of the major points where Democrats and Mr. Trump agree:


Mr. Trump has promised to halt AT&T’s $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

Sen. Franken on 2016 race, health care and AT&T-Time Warner deal

“As an example of the power structure I’m fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” he said in an October speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

The same day Mr. Trump gave that speech, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who ran in the Democrats’ presidential primary, tweeted a similar message, urging the administration to “kill” the merger.

The president-elect can also find a Democratic ally in Minnesota Sen. Al Franken, who led -- and won -- the Senate battle against Comcast’s attempt to buy Time Warner Cable two years ago.

In a November interview with “CBS This Morning,” Franken slammed the merger attempt by AT&T and Time Warner as a “vertical integration,” bringing together the largest satellite-TV provider and the second-largest wireless company, and noted the pitfalls for customers.

“This raises prices for consumers -- it always does,” Franken said. “This concentration - this consolidation of media is not good for consumers... and usually leads to worse service. Even worse service.”


In October, Mr. Trump pushed for a “21st century” version of the Glass-Steagall law, a 1933 piece of legislation that mandated a separation between commercial banks and investment banks. The regulation was effectively neutered in the late 1990’s by President Bill Clinton, and the consequence of that rollback was the consolidation of big banks -- and some have argued that the 2008 financial crisis came about in part because of the rollback.

The GOP platform this year also called for the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall. While most Democrats prefer to modify Dodd-Frank, the 2010 Wall Street overhaul measure that was intended to help prevent another financial crisis, many liberals, including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have, like Mr. Trump, called for the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall.

But Hamilton Place Strategies’ Tony Fratto, a former Treasury official in the George W. Bush administration, doesn’t believe this idea is going anywhere -- in a column for Yahoo Finance in July he wrote that it was “really dumb politics, a desperate lurch toward the populism of the far left,” and diversification actually helped save the banks. 

Mr. Trump’s latest economic picks may well agree with Fratto on this count. Mr. Trump has named three individuals who work or used to work for investment banking giant Goldman Sachs, a bank which has also diversified its business after the financial crisis. Steve Mnuchin, has been nominated as treasury secretary, Steve Bannon, will be chief strategist at the White House, and, of course, Chief Operating Officer and Goldman Sachs President Gary Cohn, was chosen by Mr. Trump to advise him on economic policy as National Economic Council director. 

Carried interest loophole:

Mr. Trump, like his general election rival Hillary Clinton, said multiple times on the campaign trail that he wanted to get rid of the “carried interest deduction” -- a loophole in the tax code which allows money managers to count their earnings as capital gains instead of ordinary income.

Donald Trump reveals more specifics on his tax plan

“The rich will pay their fair share, but no one will pay so much that it destroys jobs, or undermines our ability as a nation to compete,” Trump said at an economic policy speech in Detroit during his campaign. “As part of this reform, we will eliminate the carried interest deduction and other special interest loopholes that have been so good for Wall Street investors, and for people like me, but unfair to American workers.”

For those that make their money in private equity, real estate, or venture capital, this carried interest loophole is significant: Most long-term capital gains are taxed at a top federal rate of 23.8 percent (this includes the 3.8 percent tax on net investment income). In comparison, the highest income bracket is taxed at a 39.6 percent rate.

A 2013 estimate by the Congressional Budget Office, predicted that closing the loophole would produce approximately $17 billion in revenues over a ten-year period.

Progressive voices like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren have praised Mr. Trump on the issue, even during the campaign trail days.

“He talks about some important economic issues,” Warren told the Boston Globe in March. “He came out last month and said hedge fund managers should be taxed at the same rates as everyone else. He’s right on that.”

Social Security:

Donald Trump has promised Americans, “We’re gonna save your Social Security without making any cuts. Mark my words.”

“There’s tremendous waste, fraud and abuse, and we’re going to get it,” he said in South Carolina in February. “But we’re not going to hurt the people who have been paying into Social Security their whole life and then all of a sudden they’re supposed to get less.”

Liberal advocacy group Social Security Works, which opposes benefit cuts, is counting on the president-elect’s ability to fight Republicans in Congress on the issue.

“Paul Ryan has spent decades working to cut, privatize, and dismantle these vital programs,” Nancy Altman, a co-founder of the group, said in a press release. “We hope that the President-elect’s pledge is one he will honor. In standing up to Ryan and other powerful Republicans, he would be standing up for the American people.”

But some of the people Mr. Trump is choosing do not appear to share his view of entitlements. Former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, who was chosen to be a part of Mr. Trump’s “landing team” for the Social Security Administration, has previously called for the privatization of Social Security, CNN reported in November.

Trade agreements:

Mr. Trump ran his campaign in part on his opposition to trade deals, particularly the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership pushed heavily by President Obama.

During his campaign, he said things like, “TPP would be the death blow for American manufacturing,” and that it was “pushed by special interests who want to rape our country, just a continuing rape of our country.”

Here, the president-elect falls in line with the more liberal wing of the party on the issue. Progressives like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders even pulled Hillary Clinton to the left of her previous stance during her primary campaign (In her 2014 book “Hard Choices,” she wrote that she had once hoped TPP would be the “gold standard” for international trade agreements). These Democrats, like Mr. Trump, have cautioned that TPP would only contribute to further outsourcing of American jobs and might undermine U.S. labor and environmental standards.

Paid maternity leave:

Earlier this year, Mr. Trump unveiled a childcare and maternity leave policy that continues to be championed by his daughter, Ivanka, who has had a prominent role in her father’s business empire and in his presidential transition.

The plan includes instituting six weeks of paid maternity and making all child care expenses tax deductible.

Some Democrats, like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, have panned the proposals as insufficient.

“Just like his tax plan, Donald Trump’s maternity leave and childcare plan is designed to benefit the wealthy, while leaving hard-working women and families behind,” the California Democrat said in a statement shortly after the policy was proposed. “Unsurprisingly, LGBT families, fathers and adoptive parents have no place in Trump’s pinched notion of hard-working America.”

But the president-elect’s plan is more than most Republicans have called for, and he may find an ally on the issue in Warren, who gave a nod to Mr. Trump’s policies for women in a speech to the AFL-CIO speech.

“He talked about the need to address the rising cost of college and about helping working parents struggling with the high cost of child care.”

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