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Trump trumps Capitol Hill Republicans, because getting things done is his priority
Not what you're used to.
You may have seen Dan’s piece on this last Thursday, looking at how it’s part of a bigger-picture strategy by the president to basically disrupt everything about how Washington does business. That’s a perspective you’ll want to consider as you observe events like this.
But let’s look for a second just at what happened on Wednesday, when President Trump pushed aside Republican congressional leaders and made a deal with – gasp! – Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi to raise the debt ceiling for only three months. Republican leaders wanted to raise it enough to last all the way past the 2018 elections, but President Trump wanted to get the issue off the table for the moment so it wouldn’t hamper efforts to pass hurricane relief for Houston and without a doubt, now Florida too.
The normal Washington way is to take an urgent need like hurricane relief, which everyone agrees needs to get done, and tie it up with more partisan priorities in the hope that you can force your agenda through on the back of the one item everyone supports.
This tends to complicate things that should be simple, while doing very little to move the ball on more difficult issues. But it’s what Washington does, so Beltway Republicans expected to do it this time around as well.
When President Trump decided not to play this game, the usual suspects were aghast and accused him of not playing the game correctly. In reality, he didn’t want to play the game because the game is stupid. It’s designed to provide cover for politicians more than to solve problems or address truly important issues.
A mere three-month extension of the debt ceiling is not ideal public policy by any means. And it’s very far from what should happen, which is the passage of a regular-order budget that reduces spending and debt, reforms the tax code and reduces the need to keep raising the limit. By agreeing to this, the president puts us in a position where we’ll be back in three months debating it again. He may have given the Democrats greater negotiating leverage on things like taxes and border wall funding in the process. I hope not but you know Schumer and Pelosi will try to make it come out that way.
But what were Republicans offering? They didn’t come to the table with a real budget ready to pass. They didn’t have any real solutions to the mounting debt. Their position was essentially just political too. By passing a larger debt ceiling increase, they just wanted to avoid having to deal with the issue again until after the midterm elections. That might help them, but it doesn’t help you and me, and it doesn’t solve any of the country’s fiscal problems.
President Trump wasn’t going to allow these games to get in the way of hurricane aid funding, nor should he. And in a larger sense, there’s no reason he should side with Republicans over Democrats when Republicans aren’t proposing any real solutions either. I understand the concern that he may have emboldened Schumer and Pelosi, and I don’t like that either. But what’s the point of empowering Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan? What are they going to do with the power? What have they done so far?
Nothing. So why reward them for that?
President Trump would rather get something done on the most urgent priority than side with his party just for the sake of siding with his party, when that doesn’t actually accomplish anything. That’s a change from the way recent presidents have done things. It’s a change we sorely need.
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