For the last couple of days I’ve been mulling over Trump’s debt-ceiling deal with the Democrats trying to figure out what to make of it.
My initial reactions were not especially positive.
So let’s get those out of the way.
First, I do not trust the Democrats in Congress. Not one bit.
And years of experience have taught me that they do not negotiate in good faith.
So when I heard about this deal, my gut reaction was President Trump just got owned.
Sure, Mr. Trump may believe that bipartisan efforts are possible.
But for the Democrats, “bipartisan” means “We make demands by holding Republicans hostage, and Republicans capitulate by giving us everything we want.”
And isn’t this exactly what the Democrats did?
They held hurricane relief funding hostage in order to get their way on the debt ceiling.
Sure. President Trump got the hurricane relief he wanted. But at what price?
Does President Trump really believe that by giving the Democrats an inch this time, they will turn around and give him an inch on something he wants down the road?
You would have to be living under a rock for the last 30 years to think that will happen.
Instead, Democrats will strut around like Mick Jagger over this victory while they are busy planning the next hostage attempt that will cock-block another part of the President’s agenda.
I didn’t vote for Donald Trump so the Democrats could use extortion to get their way.
I voted for Donald Trump because I supported his agenda.
And believe me. The Democrats in Congress will never give an inch when it comes to President Trump’s agenda.
Now, here’s the but.
But was this about the Democrats at all?
Is it possible that this deal had nothing to do with them and everything to do with the recalcitrant Republicans?
Was this deal Trump’s way of letting Republicans know that slow-walking or flat-out inaction on his agenda will result in consequences they don’t like?
Republicans are no better when it comes to acting in good faith.
And, just like their colleagues across the aisle, they aren’t particularly keen on advancing the President’s agenda.
The truth is, Republicans were more willing to work with Barack Obama than they are this Republican President.
So is this the President’s attempt to get the Republicans in gear?
If they realize that Trump doesn’t view them as the only game in town, will they respond by advocating for a role in his agenda?
This is what a lot of people are thinking is going on.
And it certainly makes sense.
Donald Trump always lets his opponents underestimate him.
And it is possible these Democrats – who are so used to running rings around Republicans – are making that mistake now.
But this is also the mistake Congressional Republicans have made for the last nine months.
Believe me. They are underestimating Donald Trump. But even more so, they are overestimating themselves.
McConnell and Ryan believe they have to power to monkey-wrench Trump’s agenda while leaving Mr. Trump with no choice but to abandon his priorities in favor of theirs.
And by making this deal with the Democrats, President Trump sure as heck rid them of those misguided ideas.
He does have a choice and monkey-wrenching his agenda means being bypassed entirely.
And trust me. The Republicans will not want that.
So which is it?
Did the President get owned by the Democrats?
Or did he ingeniously get the Democrats to think that so he could own the Republicans?
My hope is that it’s the latter.
But the truth is, only time will tell.
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