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What's At Stake For Policy After The Election


We are spending the hour looking ahead to Tuesday's election. And with all the focus on personality, there are plenty of important issues. And we'll get back to those in a minute. But first, we need some fun. So yesterday, we asked you to send us some music for our election night playlist. Let's take a quick listen to some of your submissions.


LED ZEPPELIN: (Singing) Been dazed and confused for so long it's not true.


TEARS FOR FEARS: (Singing) You acting on your best behavior, turn your back on mother nature. Everybody wants to rule the world.


QUEEN: (Singing) Pressure pushing down on me, pressing down on you, no man ask for. Under pressure that burns a building down.

MARTIN: That was "Dazed And Confused" by Led Zeppelin, Tears For Fears, "Everybody Wants To Rule The World," and "Under Pressure" by Queen. You can find the whole playlist on our Facebook page, and you can still tweet your selections to @npratc. We will be hearing your picks for our election mixtape throughout the hour.

But when the music stops after those election parties on Tuesday night, there will be some big issues confronting the next president and Congress. Now we want to dig into what's at stake for policy. We're joined now by NPR's Mara Liasson, NPR's national political correspondent. Mara, welcome.

MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Good to be here.

MARTIN: And Ron Elving is still with us in studio. Ron, thanks so much for staying with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you.

MARTIN: So of course, before we can look at what the next president will do, we have to keep in mind that whoever the president is will need to work with Congress. So, Mara Liasson, let's start with you on this. Are there any assumptions we can make here about the shape of Congress?

LIASSON: Well, there's a couple assumptions we can make. I think we can assume that if Trump wins, he might very probably bring the Senate along with him. So that would mean he would have a Republican Congress and we would have unified one-party government. Again, presumably that would mean that Trump would have an easier time getting his programs through Congress.

If Hillary Clinton wins and the Democrats take the Senate, Republicans, everyone predicts, would still have the House. That means we'd have divided government and - with all of the tensions that comes with that. And you already have Republicans saying that if she's the president, there are going to be years of hearings. You already are hearing people talking about impeachment.

Other Republicans in the Senate are saying that they wouldn't vote yes on any Supreme Court justice nomination she puts up. They want to keep the court at eight justices for four years. So that's one possible preview of what divided government could look like.

MARTIN: Well, obviously, Mara, we don't have time to deal with all of the issues that are important to voters (unintelligible). But let's just focus on a couple. Donald Trump has made immigration and trade two of his major policy planks. So what is he saying that he would do when it comes to those issues? And then I'll go to Ron for his take on what Hillary Clinton's perspective would be.

LIASSON: Well, Donald Trump has been pretty clear on immigration and trade. He's said he wants to rip up NAFTA. He wants to renegotiate a whole bunch of trade deals. He wants to immediately declare China a currency manipulator. In terms of immigration, he wants to undo President Obama's executive orders on immigration. He wants to build a wall with Mexico, where he says that at some point Mexico will reimburse the United States for the cost of that.

And he has said many different things about deporting the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country right now. But presumably, he would move forward on something like that. And he's also talked about a ban on Muslims, or at least people coming from certain terrorist-oriented regions of the world, from coming to the United States. So all of those would be pretty big things on immigration and trade.

MARTIN: And Ron, how does that differ from Hillary Clinton's plans?

ELVING: Night and day, more or less, night and day. I think you would have to say that Hillary Clinton has aligned herself with Barack Obama's efforts on immigration to try to incorporate many of the people who were brought here, say, as children by parents who did not have documents and have grown up here and known no country other than the United States, extending that in some cases to their family members, and, in any event, trying to incorporate the new energy of the new immigrants into the United States along the model of the way that other ethnic groups - European groups have been incorporated into the United States over the past century and more.

Then on trade, we have seen Hillary Clinton move away from Barack Obama, particularly with respect to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is the big trade deal around the Pacific Ocean involving mostly Asian countries and was meant to be a kind of bulwark against the influence of China in that part of the world. This has been negotiated by the Obama administration, but it has been essentially stiff-armed by the Congress, which has not voted for it.

And Hillary Clinton, who had been a supporter of the TPP in earlier phases, has said now that she couldn't support it and wouldn't vote for it either as president elect or as the president of the United States. She would not support it and wants to see it renegotiated. That's a change that really came earlier, though, when she was running for the Democratic nomination against Bernie Sanders, who made that a centerpiece of his campaign.

MARTIN: Mara, before we let you go, very briefly, if you would, are there any issues in which we're still just not clear where Donald Trump stands?

LIASSON: Well, foreign policy is one area where we're not completely clear. He's had a lot of things to say. He has said on the one hand, he doesn't want to get involved in expensive wars. He's said that he might not want to continue to defend our NATO allies unless they pay up. He's talked about getting rid of ISIS very quickly. He's talked about doing - reinstituting waterboarding, and he's said and even worse. We're not quite sure what that means.

So sometimes he's - talks about stepping back from military interventions abroad. Sometimes he talks about being more militaristic. He's had nice things to say about Russia. We don't know what he would do in the face of Russian expansionism in Eastern Europe. So it's not clear. But we know that Hillary Clinton wants to work with existing alliances, and we can expect that their foreign policies would also be diametrically opposite.

MARTIN: That's NPR's Mara Liasson. Mara, thanks so much.

LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mara Liasson is a national political correspondent for NPR. Her reports can be heard regularly on NPR's award-winning newsmagazine programs Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Liasson provides extensive coverage of politics and policy from Washington, DC — focusing on the White House and Congress — and also reports on political trends beyond the Beltway.
Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for
Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.