ChrisWeigant.com

Chuck And Nancy's Deal With Trump Was Worth It

[ Posted Tuesday, September 12th, 2017 – 17:12 PDT ]

Last week, the Democratic leaders in Congress cut a surprising deal with President Donald Trump. There were, of course, critics of this deal on the right -- which is perfectly natural, since they're the ones who were left out in the cold. But what was more surprising was the criticism directed at Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer from the left. But upon examination, such criticism has to be considered unreasonable.

The complaints from the right were predictable, because Trump essentially gave away the GOP store without even asking for a single concession in return. That's abysmal dealmaking, so it's understandable why Republicans were so annoyed. The complaints from the left, however, were twofold, neither one of which really holds much water. The first is that Pelosi and Schumer shouldn't "hand the president a political win," or indeed ever work with him to achieve anything. The second is that Democrats could have gotten even more in the deal (specifically, protection for those covered under DACA), since Trump obviously didn't care what was in it.

The deal, reportedly, went something like this:

DEMOCRATS: "OK, we want A, B, and C in a bill. If we're allowed to have floor votes, we think that -- with presidential support -- enough Republicans will easily vote for it, and we can have it on your desk in a few days as a done deal."

REPUBLICANS: "We have a proposal with X, Y, and Z in it. We haven't yet done a whip count, so we're not confident we can get every Republican to vote for it. But we're going to work hard, and in the end we'll probably be able to apply enough pressure to corral the votes. We can have the bill on your desk, if all goes well, by the end of the month."

PRESIDENT TRUMP: "Let's go with the A-B-C plan. I want votes on it starting tomorrow, and I want to sign hurricane aid before the end of the week."

Trump, from all reports, has been frustrated at the ineffectiveness of the Republican Congress, and he really wanted to show that he could get emergency aid passed quickly. Democrats offered him the opportunity to do just that, and in return he allowed them to get exactly what they wanted on the budget and debt ceiling. But please remember that this deal is not really a deal on the budget or the debt ceiling, instead it is merely a process deal. It's pretty wonky, in other words, and does not actually achieve much of anything other than a calendar favorable to the Democrats for the next deal -- the real deal on the budget and debt ceiling.

Some Democrats were reportedly annoyed that their leadership would strike any deal with Trump, on anything. Democrats complained for eight years about Republican knee-jerk obstructionism in Congress while Barack Obama was president, and now some of them want to do exactly the same thing in return. "Resist!" they cry, promising resistance against everything -- good or bad.

This is, obviously, pretty short-sighted. If Trump is in the mood to further the Democratic agenda without any alterations, then why in the world wouldn't Democrats accept his help? If, for instance, Trump decided to get behind a $15-an-hour minimum wage, would Democrats shoot themselves (and all low-wage workers) in the foot just because it was Donald Trump offering the help? It's even worse than that example, because if Pelosi and Schumer had refused to deal with Trump this time around, the Republicans would have had a field day denouncing "Democrats playing politics with aid for hurricane victims." They were already warming this attack up, as Paul Ryan showed, hours before the White House meeting.

Instead, Democrats offered an object lesson to Trump -- if he wants a bill to get done quickly, let Democrats lead in Congress. Trump's support of the deal pretty much guaranteed enough Republican votes for the bill to pass, which left Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell totally out in the cold. Work with Democrats -- get things done fast. Work with Republicans -- endless grief and failure at the end of the process. That is a good lesson for Democrats to present to Trump, period. It'll make him think, next time around, about which party's leaders are more effective in Congress.

Trump's entire agenda should be resisted by Democrats, of course. But when Trump completely agrees with the Democratic agenda (or, at the very least, agrees to support some of it publicly), there is no reason why Democrats shouldn't work with him to achieve their political goals. Getting the agenda done is a lot more important that playing some multidimensional political chess game. The public likes seeing things get done, and they absolutely hate watching politicians play political games, to be blunt.

The second complaint from the left is even more unrealistic: Pelosi and Schumer should have held out and forced Trump to agree to make the DACA program permanent by signing a new DREAM Act. But to do so would have guaranteed that the biggest selling point Democrats had in the deal would have evaporated. Adding in the DACA/DREAM issue would have meant a big delay, no matter how the effort ended. Trump was most impressed by the Democrats being able to put a bill on his desk almost immediately. That would not have been possible with the immigration issue in the mix.

Solving the problem of the DACA population is important, of course. But Republicans are going to push back against such a fix in a major way, no matter which side Trump decides to support in the fight. Loud cries of "Amnesty!" will be heard from the right, and it will be tough to get many Republicans to vote with Democrats in such an atmosphere. The immigration issue would have overwhelmed and consumed the other three objectives (hurricane relief, extending the budget, and raising the debt ceiling).

Could Democrats have ultimately prevailed? Possibly. But what would the odds really be? It'd be an unacceptably risky gamble to make when compared to how blindingly fast the deal struck last Wednesday became law. Win or lose, Congress would still be debating the issue right now -- that much, at least, seems certain. And that would have undermined the biggest selling point the Democrats had in the deal that was struck.

Of course, the deal was merely on the legislative process. The big fight is coming this December. That's when the 2018 budget will have to be addressed, and when the big fight over permanently abolishing the legal fiction of the debt ceiling will happen. There may be other large battles fought simultaneously, if the Republicans ever get their act together on their tax cut proposal. Adding DACA to this mix might be successful for Democrats, and it might not. It might also lead to compromises many Democrats would find completely unacceptable (such as trading a new DREAM Act for money to build Trump's beloved border wall). It's a fight worth having, though, no matter where the lines eventually get drawn.

But Democrats will have an edge in all of this bargaining, because they can now remind Trump of how successful his first deal turned out to be. If Democrats present a bill that every Democrat will vote for in Congress, Trump knows that, with his support, enough Republicans will likely vote for it and he'll get to sign a big bill quickly. If Democrats are smart, they'll present Trump with legislation that addresses all their concerns as a nice, neat package. If they get Trump in a dealmaking mood again, this might work wonders for all sorts of Democratic agenda items. But they wouldn't be in this position if the original deal had fallen apart or caused endless bickering in Congress.

So I for one am not disappointed in the least with the deal that Pelosi and Schumer cut last week. Sure, DACA is important, as is raising the minimum wage and making our healthcare system better. There are a lot of priorities to address, but last week's deal wasn't the right time to push them. It was much more important to teach the object lesson to Trump that when he wants things done in Congress, his best bet is to pick up the phone and talk to Chuck and Nancy. That might just pay big dividends in all sorts of future deals.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

15 Comments on “Chuck And Nancy's Deal With Trump Was Worth It”

  1. [1] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    "So I for one am not disappointed in the least with the deal that Pelosi and Schumer cut last week."

    That is disappointing.

    I might be impressed a little if Trump cut a deal on a real issue with Bernie and Elizabeth Warren, but Trump cutting a minor deal with Pelosi and Schumer is nothing to celebrate.

    All this deal and any future deals will do is give the Big Money Democratic Party establishment something to keep their base in line, which is what Trump wants because he wants to run against the Big Money Democratic establishment in 2020.

    And it gives people like CW something to write about as an excuse to avoid addressing the issues he should be writing about- fixing the electoral process and getting the Big Money out of our political system.

    And "This is, obviously, pretty short-sighted."

  2. [2] 
    neilm wrote:

    Good point CW. This is definitely the best plan for Democrats - put a package wrapped up in a ribbon in front of 45 and tell him enough Republicans are too scared to oppose him that they can get this passed pronto.

    The DACA one should be fairly easy once the six month deadline is looming and all the press are going to be calling 45 "The Grinch". The Democrats don't need to involve the Wall because they can claim that the Republicans have the numbers to do that separately if they really want it.

    Tying $15/hour to any tax bill (more revenue from higher wages and lower spending on food stamps) and calling it "more for the little guy as well as their bosses" should put the Republicans in a bind and also might appeal to 45's populist tendencies.

    Should be a fun Fall.

  3. [3] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    All this deal and any future deals will do is give the Big Money Democratic Party establishment something to keep their base in line, which is what Trump wants because he wants to run against the Big Money Democratic establishment in 2020.

    So you would rather horrible things occur under the leadership of Big Money Democrats because the first thing people who are caused to suffer will think about is how they really wish the people in power only accepted campaign donations that are under $25, is that it???

    Way to stay singularly focused on a cure-all that is little more than a band-aid for a sucking chest wound!

  4. [4] 
    TheStig wrote:

    LWYH-3

    I would have advaced a Ghost Shirt analogy, but relying on a Ghost Shirt is a good way to get a sucking chest wound that can't be treated with a band aid.

    Smart leaders know when to give ground to gain strategic advantage. He who defends everything defends nothing. I think Frederick The Great said thay...or something close.

  5. [5] 
    TheStig wrote:

    CW-

    As of this AM it looks to me like Trump's abrubt deal was driven by short term Hurricane optics. Today he's busy subverting the Senate Investigation and FBI probe. At this point, Trump's thinking is driven almost entirely by serving out his term, or failing that, arranging an exit that doesn't involve jail. Making nice to Democrats on the budget should be evaluated against his primal fear. I think the special prosecutor fully understands this. So does the Democratic leadership.

  6. [6] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Neilm-2. I think Trump will ultimately make nice on DACA. More optics to sway poentially swingable Dems.

  7. [7] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Listen-
    "So you would rather....is that it?"
    No, that's not it.
    That paragraph makes no sense at all. What were you trying to say?

    "Way to stay singularly focused on a cure-all that is little more than a band-aid for a sucking chest wound."

    Of course, it is not a cure-all. But it is the first step to solving other issues.

    And that is why I remain singularly focused on that issue. And why I keep pointing it out to CW when he keeps writing about the Big Money Democratic Party establishment talking points.

    Maybe CW will remember this from the Netroots conference, even though he seems to have forgotten many other important moments:

    "Sometimes when you don't have the center stage you have to take it."

    and

    "This is what democracy looks like.
    THIS is what democracy looks like.
    This is what DEMOCRACY looks like.
    This IS what democracy looks like.
    This is what democracy LOOKS LIKE.
    This is WHAT democracy looks like.
    THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE."

    -Angel Kyodo Williams
    Netroots conference

    CW-
    By the way, as Netroots has now established that it is okay to take the floor at the conference, next year's conference could be interesting. Maybe I will attend.

  8. [8] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Off topic but in the news. After freezing my credit reports, it occurs to me the business revenue model of the Credit Nannies is going to change from creditors to users, as people who seek credit unlock and relock their accounts. A new normal that won't be popular.

  9. [9] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Don,

    You put down an accomplishment by the Democratic leadership as being a bad thing as it gives "the Big Money Democratic Party establishment something to keep their base in line."

    You can repeat your mantra until the cows come home, but no one is jumping on board for a reason: while your idea looks great on the surface, you can't show how it will produce better candidates or how it will get anyone elected.

  10. [10] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Listen-
    You can keep repeating your mantra also. And more people will keep jumping off board for the very reason that you erroneously claim about One Demand- which is that voting for Big money candidates has been proven to NOT produce better candidates.

    Whether the people that continue to leave will find One Demand which I have shown COULD produce better candidates or some other alternative they will continue to leave as they should.

  11. [11] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    And now for something light...

    From Orin Hatch today.
    “It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,” Hatch said. “Our country has experimented with a variety of state solutions without properly delving into the weeds on the effectiveness, safety, dosing, administration, and quality of medical marijuana. All the while, the federal government strains to enforce regulations that sometimes do more harm than good. To be blunt, we need to remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana, which is why I’ve decided to roll out the MEDS Act.”

    Someone in the Hatch office has some humor.

  12. [12] 
    John M wrote:

    Don Harris wrote:

    "I might be impressed a little if Trump cut a deal on a real issue with Bernie and Elizabeth Warren, but Trump cutting a minor deal with Pelosi and Schumer is nothing to celebrate."

    That's all well and good, but the reality of the matter is that Pelosi and Schumer are the official leaders of the Democratic party in their respective chambers, chosen by their membership, while Warren is not and Sanders is not even a Democrat. In fact, he doesn't even caucus with them.

    Also, both Pelosi and Schumer have a proven track record of being very savvy political leaders, with an uncanny shared ability to keep their members in line with a strong sense of party discipline, translating into bloc votes that delivers on their party agenda, something that is sorely lacking among their Republican counterparts. If this were a parliamentary system, they and the Democrats would be held up as an example of how to do things correctly in that regard.

    "And it gives people like CW something to write about as an excuse to avoid addressing the issues he should be writing about- fixing the electoral process and getting the Big Money out of our political system."

    Obviously this is very important and needs to be addressed. But I think it is an entirely separate issue that is really above purely partisan political issues, since it really applies to both Democrats and Republicans equally, and can't be effectively addressed in a partisan political way anyway.

    I am also not sure how you are going to fix the electoral process unless you address the underlying causes that has resulted in the hyper partisanship that has developed among both Democrats and Republicans alike. When Republicans fear being attacked from the right in a primary and being called a RINO, and Democrats fear the same from the left, and when Republicans equate compromise with being a traitor, and Democrats now wanting to obstruct everything Republicans do, then obviously it goes a lot deeper than Trump simply cutting a deal with Pelosi and Schumer.

    I also don't think you are going to make any really meaningful headway about reversing Big Money's influence in politics unless you can change the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision's impact, which very well might require a constitutional amendment.

    That again, is something that is a much different issue from whether the Democratic party's leadership, who may or may not be currently accepting political donations from either large or small contributors, is making any progress on getting their agenda adopted in the long term, based on how effective and wise their short term strategic tactics may be.

  13. [13] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Getting the agenda done is a lot more important that playing some multidimensional political chess game.

    I agree completely, but as you noted, that sort of pragmatism can get you into hot water in some quarters.

    And it should be noted that new presidents almost always encounter harsh criticism from their flanks for making their first deal with the other side (though this one comes later than usual). It's almost ritual at this point, as both sides of the aisle include plenty of those who would rather sacrifice their entire agenda than cut a deal with 'the enemy', and aren't shy about expressing their disappointment to the press.

    Still, I was struck, after hearing descriptions of this meeting, by the advantage that Chuck, native New Yorker, and Nancy, daughter of an Italian American pol from Baltimore, have relative to their midwestern and southern counterparts when negotiating with Trump. Schumer's spent his whole political career dealing with contractors from Queens, and has a personal and social history with Trump that goes back decades. Likewise, Pelosi knows how to speak with an East Coast directness that's simply foreign to Paul & Mitch, both of whom come from political cultures that are in many ways vastly different. This cultural difference was best expressed by Tony "the Mooch" Scaramucci, a fellow New Yorker, during his abbreviated stint at the White House: "One of the things I can't stand about this town is the back-stabbing," complained the Mooch. "Where I grew up, we’re front-stabbers."

  14. [14] 
    Kick wrote:

    LWYH
    3

    Way to stay singularly focused on a cure-all that is little more than a band-aid for a sucking chest wound!

    Now that's a vivid picture and spoken like a man who's seen many a sucking chest wound.

  15. [15] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Don Harris [7] -

    See you in New Orleans!

    :-)

    goode trickle [11] -

    Yeah, I saw that too. Had to save it for FTP ... too funny!

    "To be blunt... Dave's not here, man."

    Heh.

    Balthasar [13] -

    Yeah, those of us who grew up in Maryland remember the name D'Alesandro (Pelosi's maiden name)...

    :-)

    -CW

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