Abject Failure – Part Two

Going into the last week of the Trump administration’s first 100 days the Legislative Branch was pre-occupied with preventing a government shutdown. Trump viewed the situation as an opportunity to play bully and extort a few things from the Democrats and his fellow Republicans.

Word was leaking to the press that the leadership of both chambers had predictably worked out the framework of a continuing resolution (CR) that would keep the lights on. Details of a duration were not available (and probably not set in stone) but it could be expected that the resolution would not contain any surprises and basically be the garden variety, kick the can down the road, proposition we have all become familiar with. I think Mitch McConnell is basically evil and corrupt and that his House Republican counterpart Paul Ryan is not very intelligent. That being said at least they have a pretty good idea of what their jobs are and unnecessarily shutting down the federal government isn’t in their job descriptions. McConnell is a master politician who knows that a shutdown will end up being blamed on Trump and by extension on the Republicans.

Trump appears to be trying to extract a concession in order to agree to sign the CR. It is funding to start his border wall with Mexico. If he doesn’t get his way his additional threat is to cut funding off for Obamacare. The Obamacare funding is not really part of the CR and Trump is hinting he would punish Congress if they don’t give him wall money by cutting it off.

I see wall funding as a poison pill that Democrats and enough Republicans will fail to accept. They’ll take their chances that Trump won’t cut off Obamacare funding. It’s a simply basic policy decision for the Democrats and local politics for many Republicans.

Democrats stand united against the wall and in support of Obamacare. Republicans can’t agree on how to replace Obamacare and (with the exception of the Tea Party a/k/a Freedom Caucus) have learned that simply repealing it causing millions to lose their health care is unacceptable. To compound Trump’s problems many Republicans are either not supportive of or outright against the wall, including most who represent districts in the border region. Republicans, (especially Westerners), are against eminent domain. The reality that in order to build a wall the government is going to have to take land has set in.

The CR can’t be passed under reconciliation so it is subject to filibuster in the Senate. That means assuming all Republicans vote for it McConnell will still need eight Democrats to cross over. If somehow a CR containing that poison pill got out of the House I don’t see eight crossovers. In fact it will be difficult to keep all 52 Republicans in line. In reality I don’t see it getting that far.

Trump has yet to get a major piece of legislation passed. His failure on Trumpcare 1.0 is the classic example of an administration and President who don’t know what they are doing and have no idea of how to operate in an atmosphere where bullying is often unsuccessful. They are so inept that they are now basically trying to get Trumpcare 2.0 (whatever that would be) enacted. Good luck with that. All presidents make mistakes particularly early in their administrations; in the case of the Trump administration you have to question whether they are capable of learning from them.

Having spent so much time on the CR, I guess I owe my readers a prediction.   My best guess is that Congress will end up disregarding Trump and calling his bluff. They will pass an eleventh hour, short term CR that will basically just continue things as is kicking the can down the road in the “finest” tradition of recent Congresses. My guess is that the new CR will run through May 25th. The House stays in session through May 4th, then comes back on May 16th only to leave town again on the 25th.

While they may not yet be ready to take a total and public break from him, I feel many Republican members of Congress (especially the leaders) have about had it with amateur hour at the White House. Trump is only useful to them as long as he signs their legislation. What Trump doesn’t realize is that he is not a big deal in many of their districts and all they care about electorally is getting reelected. In many red districts the member of Congress is much more popular than Trump.

Late last week Trump spoke of a pending tax plan the details of which would be released today. That news caught his staff by surprise including the people who would be charged with drawing it up. Revamping the tax code is no small undertaking. Assuming the announcement does come today it will certainly be devoid of details and not ready for Congressional action. It could be a good diversion from other bad news. One thing Trump is talented at is controlling a news cycle and he seems to be incapable or unwilling to think any further ahead than one news cycle at a time.

The last government shutdown ended up costing $24 billion. Is Trump willing to shut down the federal government over his stupid wall? Mr. President they have you on tape countless times promising that Mexico will pay for the wall. I know there is a Mexico, New York; I’ve actually passed through it. However, you led everyone to believe that the country of Mexico was going to pay for the wall (“Very easily” if I remember your words correctly). Now you are asking Americans to pay for the wall and possibly even die for it. Your first 100 days are an abject failure!

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