During the campaign, Donald Trump sold himself as a great deal maker and great negotiator, and enough of the low information
rubes voters who don’t know any better bought that con job and made him president.
The self-proclaimed “greatest negotiator” met with GOP and Democratic leadership on Wednesday to negotiate a budget deal, raising the federal debt ceiling to avoid a default at the end of September, nd hurricane relief aid for Texas.
The GOP’s alleged boy genius and Ayn Rand fanboy, Paul Ryan, “the zombie-eyed granny starver from the state of Wisconsin,” made the GOP position clear at a press conference earlier in the morning. Ryan and the septuagenarian Ninja Turtle, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, just assumed that Trump would tow the GOP line since he, you know, is the leader of the GOP.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer made the Democrats’ opening low-ball offer, and the world’s “greatest negotiator” said “fine, we’ve got a deal,” throwing his own GOP leadership under the bus without even making a counter-offer or attempting to negotiate. I’m sure Chuck and Nancy must have given each other a confused look that said “Wait, did we just win? This is way too easy.”
I love this photo from Roll Call — the look on the faces of the Senate GOP leadership says it all. So this is what a constipated turtle looks like.
One of the better quick summaries of Wednesday’s stunning developments comes from Joan McCarter at Daily Kos. World’s greatest negotiator gives Democrats everything they want:
The House voted Wednesday to provide $7.85 billion in Harvey relief, 419-3, starting the process for the month’s major work: a debt ceiling increase, a continuing resolution funding government, and disaster relief. It’s looking like all of those things will be combined in one bill in the Senate.
Democratic leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer staked out their position on this ahead of a planned meeting between Donald Trump and congressional leaders Wednesday—the Democrats would support a three-month extension of the debt ceiling and a three-month continuing resolution along with disaster aid. House Speaker Paul Ryan blasted that offer as “ridiculous” and “unworkable.”
Trump apparently didn’t agree with Ryan.
President Donald Trump agreed to a request from congressional Democrats to raise the debt ceiling and extend government funding through Dec. 15, according to sources familiar with a meeting he held Wednesday with congressional leaders. The package would also include relief funding for victims of Hurricane Harvey.
This, reportedly, isn’t going over well with Republicans.
Here are some of the headlines today:
To Allies’ Chagrin, Trump Swerves Left: Republican congressional leaders perched on the couches in the Oval Office froze in mid-smile on Wednesday afternoon when they realized President Trump was bypassing them to cut a short-term spending and debt ceiling deal with Democrats, and not them.
It is the scenario that President Trump’s most conservative followers considered their worst nightmare, and on Wednesday it seemed to come true: The dealmaking political novice, whose ideology and loyalty were always fungible, cut a deal with Democrats.
If Mr. Trump’s agreement with the two Democratic leaders, Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi, to increase the debt limit and finance the government for three months did not yet represent the breaking point between the president and his core, hard-right base of support, it certainly put him closer than he has ever been to tipping his fragile political coalition into open revolt.
Stunned and irate, conservative leaders denounced news that Mr. Trump had agreed to rely on Democratic votes to win congressional approval for a temporary extension of the debt ceiling and funding of the government until mid-December.
“These are the moments that can derail President Trump’s presidency,” said David Bozell, the president of For America and a Trump supporter, who added that the president’s base would be watching the next few months very carefully. “He is not Teflon,” Mr. Bozell added. “Trump spent some of his own political capital today.”
And this from Breitbart: Meet the Swamp: Donald Trump Punts September Agenda to December After Meeting with Congress.
Pelosi and Schumer released a statement saying “Both sides have every intention of avoiding default in December and look forward to working together on the many issues before us.” Then they get to the point of why they made this three month offer in the first place: “As Democratic leaders, we also made clear that we strongly believe the DREAM Act must come to the floor and pass as soon as possible and we will not rest until we get this done.”
For their part, the House maniacs are pouting. Freedom Caucus spokesperson Alyssa Farah tweets a threat: “Don’t make December plans.” Their love affair with Trump appears to be over.
The Washington Post adds, Trump sides with Democrats on fiscal issues, throwing Republican plans into chaos:
The episode is the latest turn in Trump’s separation from his party as he distances himself to deflect blame for what has been a year of gridlock and missed opportunities for Republicans on Capitol Hill. It follows a summer of presidential stewing over McConnell and Ryan, both of whom Trump views as insufficiently loyal and weak in executing his agenda, according to his advisers.
Trump made his position clear at a White House meeting with both parties’ congressional leaders, agreeing with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on plans for a bill to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling for three months.
That effectively postpones until December a divisive fight over fiscal matters, including whether to fund construction of Trump’s long-promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
In siding with Democrats, Trump overruled his own treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, who was in the middle of an explanation backing a longer-term increase when the president interrupted him and disagreed, according to a person briefed on the meeting who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity. Trump was “in deal-cutting mode,” the person said.
After the gathering, McConnell said he would add provisions extending government funding and the debt limit through mid-December to legislation passed by the House on Wednesday providing $7.85 billion in Hurricane Harvey relief. McConnell introduced the legislation late Wednesday night, setting up a Senate vote as early as Friday.
“The president agreed with Senator Schumer and Congresswoman Pelosi to do a three-month [funding extension] and a debt ceiling into December, and that’s what I will be offering, based on the president’s decision, to the bill,” McConnell told reporters.
Later in the evening, McConnell introduced legislation to extend current spending levels and the federal borrowing limit until Dec. 8 and increase disaster funding to $15.25 billion. The funding boost includes several provisions to address potential damage from Hurricane Irma, which is expected to make landfall in the continental United States over the weekend.
During the meeting Wednesday, Trump also threw tacit support behind the Democrats’ push for a “dreamers” bill that would effectively formalize an Obama-era program shielding undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children from deportation.
“Chuck and Nancy want to see something happen — and so do I,” Trump said.
* * *
By setting up another debt-ceiling vote in December — a vote in which Republicans will almost certainly need Democratic help to avoid default — Democrats keep their seat at the table in this fall’s key policy debates.
Had Trump sided with GOP leaders, Democrats would have been stuck trying to extract concessions ahead of debt-ceiling votes this week using an empty threat — voting against a legislative package that includes the politically sensitive Harvey aid. Democrats believe pushing the debt-limit debate into December will increase their leverage on several issues, including the protection of dreamers and securing funds to help stabilize health-care markets.
Schumer and Pelosi also gained an edge by giving Democrats an aura of strategic command they have lacked since Trump’s election. Instead of McConnell claiming victory, it was Schumer who told reporters, “The nation can breathe a sigh of relief.”
* * *
McConnell and Ryan came out of the White House meeting in the weakest position — losing an opportunity to neutralize the debt-ceiling issue before the 2018 midterm elections and to exclude Democrats from major policy debates this fall.
The president’s decision came barely an hour after Ryan panned the idea of a short-term debt hike, accusing Democrats of “playing politics” with much-needed aid for Hurricane Harvey victims.
“I think that’s ridiculous and disgraceful that they want to play politics with the debt ceiling at this moment when we have fellow citizens in need,” Ryan told reporters.
Trump apparently disagreed.
* * *
The short-term extensions for the debt ceiling and government funding are also expected to further cloud the prospects for enacting major tax cuts, Trump’s top domestic priority. They effectively mean spending and budget fights will continue for months, just as the GOP was hoping to coalesce around a plan to cut taxes.
So Congress is planning on ruining yet another Christmas with a possible government shutdown, this time over the budget, the debt ceiling, “Obamacare” stabilization, Trump’s border wall, possibly a tax bill, and maybe a long-shot at a DREAM Act.