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Trump US Presidents reversals hint at populists' diminished sway on economy

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the president said he no longer wanted to eliminate the Export-Import Bank.

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Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) waves to the press as he walks with US President Donald Trump at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017 play

Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) waves to the press as he walks with US President Donald Trump at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, April 7, 2017

(AFP/File)

President Donald Trump made three startling economic policy reversals Wednesday, stepping away from pledges he made as a candidate and even policies he supported only days ago.

The shifts confounded many of Trump’s supporters and suggested that the moderate financiers he brought from Wall Street are eclipsing the White House populist wing led by Stephen K. Bannon, the political strategist who is increasingly being sidelined by the president.

In a series of interviews, Trump said he no longer wanted to label China a currency manipulator — a week after telling the Financial Times that the Chinese were the “world champions” of currency manipulation.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, the president said he no longer wanted to eliminate the Export-Import Bank.

And he said that he might consider reappointing Janet Yellen as chairwoman of the Federal Reserve when her term ends next year.

Yet before the election, he regularly denounced China and said that Yellen should be “ashamed” of herself because of what he said was her political bias.

Trump’s latest pronouncements suggest he is moving toward a more mainstream economic approach, although on other issues that he discussed Wednesday, like a tax overhaul and health care, his policy and strategy appeared muddled.

Trump asserted in a Twitter post Wednesday night that his agenda remained on track.

One by one, we are keeping our promises — on the border, on energy, on jobs, on regulations. Big changes are happening.

Trump began the day with an interview with Fox Business Network in which he backed away from the so-called border-adjustment tax favored by Speaker Paul Ryan and House Republicans.

He also backtracked on his claim last month that he was moving on from his plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act to focus on taxes. Now he is again putting health care first.

In an interview published by The Journal midday, Trump revealed his softer approach to China — the about-face coming less than a week after meeting with China’s president, Xi Jinping — and made another reversal on health care.

He said that the government would not continue to pay subsidies to health insurers under Obamacare only days after the administration said it would. Trump said the threat to withhold subsidies was a way to force Democrats to negotiate with him over the future of the Affordable Care Act.

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