President Trump is not looking for bipartisanship; he’s looking for insurance. If your agenda hinged on support from the likes of John McCain, you’d want insurance too.
Trump’s reported DACA deal with Democrat leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi has unhinged conservatives, who were already alarmed by the president’s agreement with the same duo to raise the debt limit and provide relief to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Gleeful media types have characterized these overtures as Trump “pivoting” to Democrats; they are playing it for all that it is worth. The New York Times ran a recent front-page story titled “Agenda Increasingly Set by Democrats.” The Washington Post weighed in with: “A new strategy’"for Trump? Democrats cautious but encouraged by fresh outreach.” What could be more incendiary to Trump voters? What could be more delicious to the president’s enemies?
Those enemies who, it turns out, desperately need a new tack. Despite faux scandals, chaos in the White House and even with disappointingly few achievements in recent months, Mr. Trump’s popularity with his base has proved unshakeable. The incessant battering by the liberal media and the nation’s intelligentsia has not dimmed the enthusiasm of Trumpsters, or even the begrudging optimism of the country, much to the frustration of his critics.
That was the upshot of recent polling done for Democrat operatives trying to devise a strategy for the 2018 Congressional elections. As reported by Politico, strategists on the left are shocked that people are “still impressed with Trump’s business background and tend to give him credit for the improving economy.” Voters also like the fact that he’s shaking things up, and are “inclined to give him a chance to succeed.” In other words, Trump’s low overall approval ratings do not tell the whole story. And, Democrats’ full-on “resistance” is helping their cause not at all.
Voters also like the fact that he’s shaking things up, and are “inclined to give him a chance to succeed.” In other words, Trump’s low overall approval ratings do not tell the whole story. And, Democrats’ full-on “resistance” is helping their cause not at all.
Trump’s opponents finally see an opening, pouncing on the president’s recent bargain-hunting with Democrats to paint Trump as caving on campaign promises. They figure his base will not tolerate his maneuvering with “Chuck and Nancy,” two figures detested on the right. And, there certainly has been some outrage among conservatives as he negotiates on controversial matters like resolving DACA’s future. But, as confirmed by Politico, people see Mr. Trump as a deal-maker, someone who wants to get things done. They also see members of his own party obstructing his agenda. The GOP’s failure to repeal and replace ObamaCare, and the perfidy of John McCain, provided a teaching moment for the president and for the country.
By killing the so-called “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, Senator John McCain, along with Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, sideswiped any chance of reforming Medicaid, our fastest-growing and most off-the-rails entitlements program. In so doing they also made tax reform much more difficult, since the trillion dollars in taxes eliminated under that bill would have set the bar much lower for making a tax bill revenue neutral. These senators knew what they were doing; they were purposefully undermining significant campaign promises of President Trump, and many of their colleagues.
That Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was blindsided by his long-time colleague McCain reveals not only the depths of the Arizona senator’s disloyalty but also his personal animus towards Donald Trump. He’s not alone. Rand Paul, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Flake and Ben Sasse are only some of the Republicans in the Senate who have opposed Trump on one issue or another. Can Trump rely solely on McCain and his colleagues going forward? Would you?
Trump is a pragmatist. He knew that the Republican Freedom Caucus folks in the House might obstruct the Harvey funding, because it had been tied to raising the debt ceiling, which they routinely oppose. He also knew that Treasury Secretary Mnuchin considered hiking the debt limit (and avoiding a government shutdown) an urgent priority. He got it done, with the help of the Democrat leaders. The deal, which will only provide funding through the middle of December, wasn’t ideal, but it allowed the administration to move on to other priorities, like tax reform.
On DACA, the president is similarly taking a realistic approach. Fully 73 percent of the nation, and 68 percent of Trump voters, favor allowing the so-called “Dreamers” to stay in the country. Republicans in Congress would likely work towards codifying the DACA program, in exchange for beefed-up border security. But, there is a worse scenario in which the dysfunctional fissures in the House blocks any attempt at resolving the issue, and the GOP again is embarrassed. If the president can exact from Democrats significant measures to strengthen our borders, is that not a reasonable outcome?
Trump’s enemies, and that includes Nancy and Chuck, have it all wrong. It won’t be working with Democrats that undermines the president’s popularity – it will be getting nothing done. The country is sick and tired of excuses -- from the left and the right – for not fixing our infrastructure, not protecting our borders, not putting people to work, not helping our companies compete with overseas rivals and not creating a health care system that works. Donald Trump was elected to move the country forward, and that is what he is trying to do. Even if it takes reaching across the aisle. Bully for him.