Con­tro­versy of the week

Trump’s debt deal: The be­gin­ning of a cen­trist pivot?

The Week (US) - - 6 News -

“The pivot is real,” said Ben Domenech in TheFed­er­al­ist.com, “and it’s spec­tac­u­lar.” When Pres­i­dent Trump sum­moned con­gres­sional lead­ers to the Oval Of­fice last week for talks on rais­ing the debt ceil­ing, few ex­pected much more than a photo op. In­stead, Trump stunned Wash­ing­ton by strik­ing a deal with Demo­cratic lead­ers Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi that raised the debt ceil­ing for three months and pro­vided an $8 bil­lion aid pack­age for vic­tims of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey. House Speaker Paul Ryan and Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch Mc­Connell were re­port­edly “livid”; they had wanted a “clean” bill rais­ing the debt limit for 18 months, so that Democrats couldn’t use a pos­si­ble gov­ern­ment shut­down as lever­age un­til af­ter the midterm elec­tions. But Trump wanted to make sure a shut­down fight wouldn’t get in the way of his hand­ing out hur­ri­cane aid, and like Bill Clin­ton, he will ben­e­fit from “tri­an­gu­lat­ing” be­tween the two par­ties. Re­mem­ber—Trump was a New York City Demo­crat for most of his life, said Peggy Noo­nan in WSJ.com. He blames Ryan and Mc­Connell for fail­ing to de­liver him any big leg­isla­tive “wins,” and may look for more op­por­tu­ni­ties to work with “Chuck and Nancy,” as he now calls his new Demo­cratic pals.

Don’t ex­pect Trump to turn into a cen­trist in­de­pen­dent, said Ben­jamin Hart in NYMag.com. Trump is not about to aban­don the “tens of mil­lions of ag­grieved white peo­ple” who elected him, or the far-right agenda they elected him to en­act. His deal with Democrats arose out of an im­pul­sive quest for a few days of good press and re­venge on Repub­li­can lead­ers, not from some bril­liant long-term strat­egy. Be­sides, Democrats “are in no mood to throw Trump any life­lines,” said E.J. Dionne in The Wash­ing­ton Post. His anti-im­mi­grant vir­u­lence and race-bait­ing have made the pres­i­dent morally ra­dioac­tive, and his plum­met­ing poll num­bers and the gath­er­ing storm of the Rus­sia probe have Democrats sali­vat­ing at the prospect of re­gain­ing con­trol of the House in next year’s midterms. Schumer and Pelosi will be will­ing to deal with Trump if he makes con­ces­sions on a few is­sues—such as lift­ing the threat of de­por­ta­tion from the “Dream­ers.” But they won’t help him save his floun­der­ing pres­i­dency by rein­vent­ing him­self as a cen­trist. If Trump does make con­ces­sions to the Democrats to get some­thing done, said Ch­eryl Chum­ley in The Wash­ing­ton Times, Repub­li­cans will “have no­body to blame but them­selves.” Their in­fight­ing kept them from re­peal­ing Oba­macare, and they’ve made it clear they won’t fight to fund the pres­i­dent’s promised border wall. And yet they call Trump “trea­sonous” for cut­ting a deal to keep the gov­ern­ment op­er­at­ing? Please. The pres­i­dent’s sup­port­ers “don’t care” how he puts some wins on the board, and “it seems only sen­si­ble that Trump might as well wheel and deal with the Democrats—be­cause the GOP sure isn’t work­ing with him.”

Con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans tried to work with Trump, said Michael Ger­son in The Wash­ing­ton Post, but he’s pro­vided ab­so­lutely no lead­er­ship on health care or any other leg­isla­tive is­sue. That’s be­cause this pres­i­dent “has no dis­cernible po­lit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy,” and nav­i­gates from one mo­ment to the next by means of “in­stincts, re­flexes, and prej­u­dices” that are gov­erned only by his own im­me­di­ate self-in­ter­est. Mc­Connell and Ryan re­luc­tantly de­cided to sup­port Trump on the gam­ble that his po­lit­i­cal in­ex­pe­ri­ence would let them set the agenda. That was a huge mis­cal­cu­la­tion. He could care less what the GOP wants. If Repub­li­cans don’t now es­tab­lish an “iden­tity apart from Trump,” they will be­come “com­plicit in their own hu­mil­i­a­tion and ir­rel­e­vance.”

Schumer, Pelosi: Now they’re ‘Chuck’ and ‘Nancy’

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