by D.J. McGuire
Democrats in Washington have a spring in their step this weekend. Why? Because, Gosh darn it, Trump likes them.
If that made you shutter, then perhaps you’re able to see through the Trump-Schumer “deal” after all. It was good for the president, and it was good for Washington Democrats. Here’s why it was bad for the rest of us.
First: it allowed Trump to partially normalize his presidency.
Suddenly, the fellow who insisted there were “very fine people” among the Citronazi candle crowd in Charlottesville has become…a guy Democrats can do business with? Don’t get me wrong, even I have said, on occasion, “Hey, Trump actually did something right.” That is, however, a far cry from the Beltway’s baited-breath whispers about a Trump “pivot”, and Democrats gleefully talking up their next “deals” with Trump. Once again, the focus is on Trump the inexperienced politician, while Trump the dangerous official is shunted into the background. The last time the Democrats didn’t take Trump seriously was ten months and one day ago. We know what happened then.
To be fair, not all Democrats are thinking this way, but there are enough of them doing it that the key issue of Trump’s overall (lack of) fitness for the office is lost in the fog.
Secondly: it allows Republicans to avoid full ownership of any future shutdown.
The first rule of any government shutdown is this: the President’s party wins. The only exceptions to this rule have been in the late 1970s, when Jimmy Carter and congressional Democrats bickered amongst themselves Republicans were nowhere near power, and unable to be blamed. Democrats had themselves a similar political insulation, until yesterday. Now, their role in this “deal” gives Trump the opportunity to blame them for anything going wrong in December. He can ask for something the Democrats can’t accept (The Wall), and use it to walk away from DACA or anything else the Democrats want while insisting the Democrats acted in bad faith in September. So any Democrats salivating over future “deals” with Trump should just stop now.
Of course, even these setbacks (and that’s what they are) should be weighed against what was “gained” – which brings us to the last reason this deal was unwise.
Finally, what do the Democrats have to show for it? A mere three months of government funding and debt-ceiling avoidance.
From a policy perspective, this is practically nothing. No action was made for a serious reform, like removing the debt ceiling in its entirety, or plotting a serious post-sequester future on the budget, let alone adding a carbon tax to tax reform, or serious immigration reform, etc.
Now, one could argue that such things were difficult to accomplish with the issue of urgent hurricane relief funding in the way, but that is all the more reason to separate relief issue from anything and everything else. It certainly doesn’t justify kicking the can down the road on funding the federal government and maintaining the full faith and credit of the United States (at the cost of setting the party up for a fall and newly acquired responsibility for future gridlock, no less).
Did Trump make a deal that upset Republican Congressional leadership? Yes, he did, but the price of that schadenfraude was much too high. Democrats in Washington should not have paid it.
D.J. McGuire is the conservative Democrat on the More Perfect Union podcast – and sometimes feels like he is the lone conservative Democrat in the country.