Trump Siding With Dems on Debt Ceiling Is Natural Response to GOP Botching Obamacare Repeal
Yesterday, President Trump shocked both Republicans and Democrats alike when he sided with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi with a short-term debt ceiling increase that was tied to Hurricane Harvey relief. This was strongly opposed by the GOP and Trump even went against his Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, as they see the short-term debt ceiling increase as simply kicking the can down the road.
Numerous Republicans on Capitol Hill criticized Trump’s decision, most notably Iowa Senator Ben Sasse who said that the “Pelosi-Schumer-Trump Deal is bad.” Now only did Republicans oppose the short-term debt ceiling increase, they’re upset that they got nothing in return. But something tells me that Trump doesn’t really care what they think.
In retrospect, what was decided on the debt ceiling between Trump, Schumer, and Pelosi wasn’t life-altering. It was pretty much business as usual in terms of D.C. politics. Was it arguably a bad decision? Sure, but so is eating junk food.
Still, this had people, particularly Republicans, asking why would Trump, the man who wrote The Art of the Deal, jump on Schumer and Pelosi’s deal without any pushback and abandoned Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell so easily?
Perhaps it was revenge.
Only six weeks ago, the “skinny repeal” of Obamacare failed in the Senate. And that was after two failed attempts in the House, one of them Trump even celebrated in the Rose Garden before it was scrapped for being “mean.” To Trump, those wounds are still fresh because he was humiliated by his own party. After seven years of promising “repeal and replace,” Republicans couldn’t deliver. Trump promised his voters Obamacare would be repealed because he actually believed Republicans (who promised the same thing) would get it done.
It’s no secret that there are tensions between Trump and GOP leadership, but we also know Trump isn’t shy to attack people within his own party. He went after the Freedom Caucus, he has singled out individuals like Sen. John McCain, Sen. Jeff Flake, and Sen. Lindsay Graham, and he has publicly pressured Ryan and McConnell to execute his agenda. And often times, they deserve the flack because their shortcomings to honor their campaign promises not only embarrass themselves; they embarrass the president and most importantly they enrage their voters, nearly all of whom voted for Trump.
There are two things we learned about Trump during the election that reflect in the current chaos in D.C. The first is that Trump isn’t an ideologue. Sure, he embraced the conservative platform when he won the nomination, but even most of his supporters know he isn’t actually a conservative and his history of policy shifts has been endless. The second is that Trump knows how to hold a grudge. Whether its over something petty or within reason, if you cause him trouble in any way, he will respond bigly.
On the debt ceiling, he was willing to dump the GOP, but what’s stopping him from dumping his party on other issues? Just yesterday, he hinted that he’d be willing to find common ground with Schumer and Pelosi on DACA. That should be seen as a warning for Paul and McConnell. If they don’t get their act together, especially before the 2018 midterms, then Trump will be more than willing to keep working with the Democrats, a group he had previously called “obstructionists.”
The biggest irony of all may be that eight months into his presidency, Trump is willing to work with these “obstructionists,” yet the reality is Republicans on Capitol Hill have obstructed his agenda just as much. Aside from VA reform, Trump pretty much has no major legislative victories under his belt despite the GOP having control of both the House and the Senate. As Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said earlier this week, if elected Republicans in Congress can’t get the job done, then they should get out of the way and make room for others who can. And with the deal he made with Schumer and Pelosi, Trump made it clear that such a threat also applies to Republicans who continue to stand in the way of his agenda. And that includes Ryan and McConnell.
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.