Friday, September 8, 2017

The Dealmaker Makes a Deal

Washington is abuzz with Trump's latest gambit, reaching out to Democratic leaders to pass a three-month delay in the inevitable showdown over the budget and the debt ceiling, to which was tacked $15 billion in emergency aid for victims of the hurricanes. Trump made a point of praising "Chuck and Nancy" to the press, not mentioning poor Paul and Mitch.

I don't know that this means much. On the one hand the press loves bipartisanship, and Trump was crowing that "The press has been incredible" over this deal. So perhaps his vanity will push him toward more such deals, and he certainly seemed to suggest that this might be a model for the future.

On the other hand this was an easy deal, since it does not touch anything really contentious. One of the issues pundits immediately pointed to as susceptible to this sort of deal would be a revised Dream Act, which could be offered to Democrats in exchange for their support on the budget. I don't know; partisans on both sides of that have already been weighing in, Liberals saying that any deal funding a wall is betrayal, anti-immigration conservatives vowing to wage war over any Dream Act.

It's also really hard to tell what is going on within the Republican caucus on the Hill. Ryan and McConnell both let it be known that they were displeased, because they wanted to use the disaster funding and the debt ceiling threat to extract a much-longer stopgap bill; now they just have to face the same problems in December without those two bargaining chips. Personally I doubt they could have made a deal any better than the one Trump seized on, given their complete inability to control their most conservative members. But I confess that I have only vague ideas what is going on up there, and I get the impression many Senators and Congressmen feel the same way. Some in the know people are saying that no budget can be passed without some Democratic help, which will force a compromise of some sort eventually.

Two comments.

First, there has been a dynamic in Washington since the 80s at least that is in play here. The grouchy rump of the hardest conservatives has regularly been a big problem for whoever is trying to govern the country. They gave Reagan fits over arms control treaties and some other issues, drove John Boehner out of the Speakership, and made trouble for everyone in between. It may be that Trump, after the health care debacle, is fed up with them, too, and happy to provide moderate Republicans the cover they need to bypass the No Caucus via deals with the Democrats.

Second, it really is hard to predict what Trump is going to do. He seems to change his mind  so frequently that it ascribing any fixed policy to him is a fool's game – except self-promotion, of course. The only way to bypass him altogether would be for Republican and Democratic leaders to make common cause against him, which I don't see happening. So his presence in the mix may make for a lot more craziness in years to come.


Shadow said...

I'm glad Trump did what he did. That needed to be done, and it feeds his "drain the swamp" narrative. I watched republicans attempt an act of brazen legislative legerdemain with the health bill. It got so bad I had the opportunity to witness the senate try to pass a bill with nothing in it -- kind of like mailing an empty envelope -- just so they could throw it back at the House. They need to practice Hot Potato" more. And undeterred by having made fools of themselves with the health bill, they now wanted to threaten another default if they don't get what they want. This is circus clown territory.

Trump knows when to abandon a sinking ship.

And Ryan. Everyone speaks so highly of him, of how bright he is. But I wonder when was the last time his feet touched the ground? He's so wrapped up in theory and ideology he's lost all touch with practical reason. Paraphrasing him: "We need to pass this bill first to gut Obamacare, then pass this next bill that leaves lots of people without insurance, but trust me, it will all work out in the end when the regulations get rewritten. Of course we can't discuss those regulations with you right now because they're top secret."

Clown show.

pootrsox said...

Compounding the problem: the GOP House member from a PA swing district who currently leads the Tuesday group (the House Republicans who actually have a modicum of rationality and even moderation) has announced he is retiring after this term. Several other similar GOP Reps have announced the same thing.

This suggests that essentially the GOP will become the Tea Party. One can only hope (or pray if one is not a secularist) that from the ashes will arise a new Republican party, one that resembles the GOP pre-Nixon. I have actually voted for Republicans in the past, including Lowell Wieker every time he ran for office.

G. Verloren said...

It's disgusting that our politicians use disaster relief funds as chess pieces in their political games.

It's even more abhorent that they get away with it. I have utterly no idea how people can continue to vote for a politician who uses the lives and wellbeing of citizens as a bargaining chip in their own schemes.

If bands of roving gunmen went around seizing FEMA supply trucks, holding them hostage, and ransoming them in exchange for personal gains, the backlash would be swift and overwhelming.

But when members of congress seize those same supplies and threaten to only relinquish them if their demands are met, we treat it as ordinary and unremarkable?