A Republican President With Working Digits and a Pen
In some ways you have to give the GOP credit for its lack of romanticism. This was how Grover Norquist described his wish list for a Republican President in 2012.
They say Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line and Democrats could learn something there. At the end focusing on personalities, ‘candidate centered politics’ is a mistaken way to do politics.
Norquist’s point was he just needed a Republican President to sign all those tax cuts for the rich and deregulation-and gutting entitlements-coming from Congress.
When the GOP thought about a President Trump, they imagined him signing Paul Ryan’s budget. This is not what’s happened. Trump thinks that he-not Ryan and the GOP Congress-is driving the train. And he’s been leaving his party in the dark. He totally sprung that Muslim ban on them like the rest of the country.
But Trump isn’t sending the GOP anything he wants to do. He started out with all those EOs. Since the disastrous Muslim ban, he’s slowed down the pace of those. But he’s still not signing any bills.
Sean Hannity is already complaining that the GOP isn’t getting anything done.
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) February 10, 2017
Of course, Hannity is blaming the GOP Congress, when Trump is largely at fault:
“The Republicans Are Off to a Pitiful Start.”
“They control the government, but their Faustian bargain with Trump has been a miserable failure thus far.”
“It is obviously very early in the 115th Congress, but it’s easy enough to look back and compare where the Republican government is today with where previous unified governments were in the past.”
“By this time in 2009, Obama had expanded the State Children’s Health Insurance Program to cover more children in families living near poverty, and had signed legislation making it easier for women suffering from pay discrimination to file lawsuits. By February 17, he had signed an $800 billion economic rescue bill, and his congressional caucuses were aligned in principle behind the health care reform architecture that ultimately became Obamacare. He had filled nearly every cabinet vacancy, with people who were qualified to run their respective departments, and none of his executive orders had triggered global crisis or destroyed the country’s credibility.”
“The Bush administration had a slower start, but this was at least partially attributable to the fact that Bush’s transition didn’t begin until after the Supreme Court had installed him into the presidency in mid-December. By June, he’d passed a large income tax cut, with modest bipartisan support.”
“Trump has thus far signed one bill: to exempt his secretary of defense from the law prohibiting commissioned officers from running the Pentagon unless they’ve been retired for seven or more years. As you’d expect of any Republican White House, his aides are drawing up plans to deregulate polluters and financial practices—doing the kinds of things that have Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying “there is a high level of satisfaction with the new administration.”
“This is another way of saying Republicans on the Hill are getting some things they want.”
“But they are also getting to cast votes on the worst, most unqualified, and corrupt cabinet in modern history. They are getting to answer for Trump’s broadsides against the judiciary, and to clean up his disastrous ad hoc haranguing of American allies. They are getting to pretend McConnell’s decision to discipline Senator Elizabeth Warren for quoting Coretta Scott King’s criticism of Jeff Sessions—in the middle of black history month—was a stroke of genius. (Corralling nearly every Republican senator to vote for that censure was apparently part of that master plan.) They are getting to make excuses for Trump’s undisguised efforts to enrich himself and his family. And they’re getting to do all this as members of the most important national institution to fully corrupt itself on Trump’s behalf. (Democrats, judges, consumer brands, civil society organizations, and government bureaucrats, have all conducted themselves with enough basic integrity to preserve a glimmer of hope that Trump can’t just shamble Kool-Aid man-style through the entire social fabric.)”
“It’s possible that a major payoff awaits the GOP. Perhaps they really will repeal and replace Obamacare before the end of the year, even though, according to Senator Bob Corker, “there’s not any real discussion taking place right now.” They seem no closer to a major supply-side tax reform or infrastructure bill or welfare rollback either.”
“Republicans will presumably fill the Supreme Court’s vacancy in the coming weeks, but that is less a dividend Trump is paying them than one they carried over themselves from the last Congress. And their nominee, Neil Gorsuch, is already condemning Trump in closed door meetings with Democratic senators.”
“Trump, meanwhile, is about as unpopular now as Bush was in late 2005—before the Democratic Party’s midterm landslide in 2006, but after he had locked in his biggest legislative accomplishments. Republicans made a Faustian bargain with the president, and they’re in the process of getting stiffed. It’s just unclear why they thought Trump would treat them any differently than anyone else he’s partnered with.”
Paul Krugman has made a similar point in ‘Dude, Where’s My Policy?’
“Remember, after the election Wall Street decided that we were going to see a big push on infrastructure, tax cuts, etc.. Some analysts were warning that progressives should be ready for the possibility that Trump would engage in “reactionary Keynesianism.” Worrying parallels were drawn between Trumpism and autobahn construction under you-know-who.”
“But if there’s a WH task force preparing an infrastructure plan, it’s very well hidden; maybe they’re waiting to figure out how to turn on the lights. Seriously, I’ve been saying for a while that there will be no significant public construction plan. Wall Street economists, at least, are starting to catch on.”
Jennifer Rubin makes the same point:
“But, but health care! Tax reform! First, without normal democratic government, those things are not happening. And second, those things aren’t happening anyway, given the utter discord on the GOP side and Democrats’ determination to let Republicans lie in the bed of their own making. Trading honest, constitutional government for an Obamacare replacement or tax reform will get us neither.”
The GOP wanted a President with working digits and a pen. Instead they got Donald Trump.
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