Friday, September 15, 2017

Trump's Big CON: Republi-CONs Get Trump'ed

UPDATE V:  "Barely a few hours after Democrats announced that they had reached a tentative deal with President Trump on protecting the “dreamers,” Trump unleashed a steaming-hot morning tweetstorm that seemed to suggest that there was no deal at all.

But make no mistake: If you read between the lines, Trump’s tweets actually signal the clear outlines of a deal that would, in fact, protect hundreds of thousands of young people brought here illegally as children, on terms that might end up proving acceptable to all sides — with the crucial exception of a few very loud voices on the right, who may be able to derail any such deal, as will be argued below."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s latest tweetstorm signals major concessions may lie ahead.

UPDATE IV:  Meanwhile, The Donald is "basically defending a deal that he says hasn't been reached.

So this is basically an argument over the word 'deal.' (The Post, notably, is calling it an agreement 'to work on [a] deal,' which seems the best way to phrase it.) Democrats say they have reached an agreement with Trump; Trump and the White House were suggesting there is an agreement, but emphasizing that there is no 'deal' since it hasn't been finalized. Nobody really disagrees.

The White House's responses Thursday morning seem to be more an effort to cover their own hides with the base than anything else. Maybe the agreement will eventually fall apart when the particulars of the deal begin to be worked out, and Democrats balk at the amount of border security? Maybe the White House has gotten cold feet after the likes of Breitbart and Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) have utterly denounced the deal? (The former is calling him 'AMNESTY DON.' The latter says such a deal would mean the 'Trump base is blown up, destroyed, irreparable, and disillusioned beyond repair.')

But the indications we're getting from both sides are actually pretty similar."

Read the Washington Post, The White House’s non-denial denials on its DACA deal with Democrats.

UPDATE III:  "President Trump on Wednesday vowed not to cut taxes for the wealthy, extolled the virtues of bipartisanship as leading to “some of the greatest legislation ever passed” and then — in a surprise move announced deep into the night — agreed to cut a deal with Democrats saving hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants from deportation.

That Trump did all of that while declaring himself 'a conservative' only heightened the sense of surrealism that has wafted through the nation’s capital over the past eight days, as the president has expressed a newfound, if tentative, willingness to work across the aisle — a development that has left many Republicans chagrined and some Democrats cautiously optimistic.

Trump’s outreach suggested that an unexpected deal he reached last week with Democrats may not have been an aberration. . .

Trump now believes that Republicans — who control both the House and the Senate — cannot be trusted to carry bills to passage by themselves and views it as his burden to create a better environment for his legislative agenda to garner support. What matters to him, one Republican lawmaker said, is 'putting wins on the board — not the specifics.'

Instead of relentlessly courting members of the conservative, and often intractable, House Freedom Caucus, as he did on health care, Trump wants them to 'feel the burn a little bit,' the lawmaker added, framing the new outreach as Trump’s way of reminding conservatives in both chambers that he likes them but does not need them.

'They’re not the only player he’s willing to play with,' said Michael Steele, the former Republican National Committee chairman. 'He’s saying to them, 'I’ll be a free-range president.'' . .

Moderate Republicans, in particular, have cheered this development, after long feeling sidelined inside the House as Freedom Caucus members and other conservatives have rebelled against their party’s leadership.

Trump’s conservative critics, however, said his latest gestures reflect his liberal instincts on some issues and his intense desire for popularity.

'He’s always had that itch to liberate himself from the Republican Party,' said William Kristol, a Trump critic and editor at large of the Weekly Standard magazine. 'He ran against it in 2015 and 2016, and has attacked it in 2017. He wants to win and doesn’t care about the substance of winning.'

Kristol added, 'Democratic voters may loathe Trump, but he could conceivably give them lots of policy victories.'

Democrats say they are focused only on working with the president on areas where they believe they can get what they want in terms of their priorities, including protections for the dreamers and federal health-care subsidies for Obamacare. . .

On other issues and with this president, many Democrats remain wary."

Read the Washington Post, ‘A new strategy’ for Trump? Democrats cautious but encouraged by fresh outreach.

UPDATE II:  "Staunch conservative allies of President Trump have erupted in anger and incredulity after Democrats late Wednesday announced that the president had agreed to pursue a legislative deal that would protect thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation but not secure Trump’s signature campaign promise: building a massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. . .

[As the news spread, Republi-CONs were in such an uproar that] White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted at 10:21 p.m.: 'While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to.'

Eleven minutes later, Matt House, an adviser to Schumer, tweeted: 'The President made clear he would continue pushing the wall, just not as part of this agreement.'

Sanders’s Twitter assurance, however, did little to calm the roiled voices, especially in the populist-nationalist wing of the Republican Party — a wing deeply linked to Trump.

'Deep State Wins, Huge Loss for #MAGA,' Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs tweeted, alluding to Trump’s 'Make America Great Again' campaign slogan."

Read the Washington Post, Trump’s die-hard supporters are fuming after an apparent about-face on ‘dreamers’.

Who would have thouht, you can't trust a CON Man.

UPDATE:  "House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) promised Obamacare repeal, funding for the wall and tax reform, all by the end of August. For the GOP, it is now September, both literally and metaphorically.

In the spring of their hopes, Republican leaders placed a bet — which seemed reasonable at the time — that they could contain President Trump and pass legislation despite him. This required looking away from the uglier aspects of Trump’s appeal — his Twitter transgressions, his appallingly frenzied rallies, his rule by ridicule. All this was worth swallowing because Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) would pass their conservative agenda.

The wager was large and lost. The attempt to revive a health-care alternative in the Senate seems halfhearted and doomed by the same ideological dynamics that killed the legislation the first time. Republican enthusiasm for the Mexican border wall is limited by the fact that it is among the most wasteful, impractical and useless ideas ever spouted by an American president. And ambitious tax reform has been tabled in favor of a few tax cuts that are likely to reaffirm public impressions that the “P” in GOP stands for “plutocracy.”

In the process, Republican leaders have been made to look hapless and pathetic, not least because Trump has taken to taunting them. A president incapable of legislative leadership mocks the ineffectiveness of Republican legislators, publicly humiliates them on the debt-limit deal, then revels in the (very temporary) friendship of 'Chuck and Nancy' — Democratic leaders Schumer and Pelosi.

Those Republicans who believe that Trump is being cynical, disloyal or politically calculating continue to misunderstand the man. The president has no discernible political philosophy or strong policy views to betray. His leadership consists mainly of instincts, reflexes and prejudices, which often have nothing to do with self-interest. He has a genius for fame, which usually involves attention-attracting unpredictability and transgressiveness. . .

The wager has been a disaster in the realm of policy. During legislative debates on issues such as health care, Trump has been erratic, unfocused, impatient and frighteningly ignorant. . .

The wager has been a disaster in the realm of politics. The president takes it as an accomplishment to secure the support of about 35 percent of the public. This leaves Republicans in the worst of political worlds, where the intensity of Trump’s base is increased by words and policies that alienate the majority — making Trump a powerful force within the party and a scary, galvanizing figure beyond it. The damage is broad, profound and generational. A recent Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll recorded 26 percent approval for the president among those aged 18 to 34.

The wager has been a moral disaster. News accounts following Trump’s betrayal of Republican leaders on the debt limit reported them to be 'livid.' What does it tell us about Republican politicians that they were livid about a three-month debt-limit extension but not so much about misogyny, nativism and flirtation with racism?"

Read the Washington Post, GOP leaders made a huge wager — and they’re losing.

"Trump’s not becoming an independent. His deals with Democrats and Bannon’s threats are signs that the hostile takeover of the GOP is just getting started.

There is no precedent for President Trump’s political maneuverings at the expense of his own party. Only a president with no longstanding ties to the GOP or political experience would have even considered something like his astonishing ambush of the Republican congressional leadership last week, in which Trump cut a deal with the Democrats at the expense of his supposed allies.

Trump is unbound by any loyalty to the party that nominated him or to men such as House speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Mitch McConnell. To the contrary, he regards them as foes in a cold war against a political establishment he neither likes nor trusts. As former aide turned independent cheerleader Steve Bannon noted on 60 Minutes Sunday night, Ryan and McConnell oppose Trump’s populist agenda that they rightly perceive as contradicting the conservative views that unite most Republicans.

But those who think that what is happening is a genuine revolution that will, as the New York Times put it in an analysis published on the front page of their Sunday edition, “Upend 150 Years of Two-Party Rule,” are mistaken. Trump is not a true Republican, nor is he anyone’s idea of a conservative. Nothing like Trump has ever happened before in American political history, and the long-term consequences of his presidency are still unknowable. . .

The uneasy coalition of fiscal conservatives, foreign-policy hawks, libertarians, and social conservatives that elected Ronald Reagan and sustained Republicans in the decades since then may have been fatally fractured. . .

[T]he two-party system is safe. We can’t know exactly what a post-Trump Republican party will look like, but we can be sure that it will be very different from the conservative party that nominated the Bushes, John McCain, and Mitt Romney and that not many in the grassroots will mourn it."

Read National Review, Trump’s Republican Civil War.

Trump's Big CON: He Was For the Debt Ceiling, Before He Would Be Responsible

"President Trump on Thursday signaled openness to a proposal to effectively eliminate the federal limit on government borrowing, a dramatic reversal from his view as a candidate and the long-standing position of the Republican Party that the debt limit should be raised only if other steps are taken to restrain the size of government.

On Wednesday, Trump and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D–N.Y.) reached what one senior White House official called a 'gentlemen’s agreement' to develop a plan that would no longer require Congress to routinely raise the limit on government borrowing.

Details have not been worked out, and any plan would require approval from congressional Republicans, but the shift signifies a remarkable political evolution for Trump, who has long cheered weaponizing the debt ceiling, no matter the cost. . .

All told, the debt ceiling has been raised 78 times since 1960, under Democrats and Republicans. It is unclear what would happen if Congress failed to raise the debt ceiling. Wall Street analysts and economists have speculated that it would lead to a large economic crisis, as the U.S. government would effectively no longer be standing behind its debt.

Trump is the first president who had openly cheered using the debt ceiling as a political straitjacket against the White House. He has endorsed many of the Republican Party’s proposals to enforce sweeping spending cuts to programs like Medicaid, leading many lawmakers to think that he would help them use the debt ceiling to cram these changes through Congress.

But since January, Trump has showed little interest in using the debt ceiling the way he wanted to before taking office."

Read the Washington Post, Debt-ceiling shift signifies a remarkable political evolution for Trump.