Month: July 2018

When Will Trump Realize He’s Being Played By Ryan And McConnell On The Shutdown And His Wall?

download.jpg

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) supposedly have convinced President Donald Trump that he shouldn’t consider shutting down the federal government over funding for the wall he wants to build between the United States and Mexico until the coming lame duck session of Congress, that is, until after the mid-term elections.

This makes a great deal of sense from Ryan’s and McConnell’s perspective given that the continued GOP control of the House and Senate seems to be in increasing jeopardy. One of the last things they want a month before November is a Trump-caused government shutdown that the congressional Republicans running for reelection have to explain and defend.

But there are several reasons it doesn’t make much sense for Trump.

First, Ryan and McConnell have repeatedly promised Trump that they would get him the funding for his wall at some later date…and have never delivered on that promise.

Second, Ryan is a lame duck speaker who will have far less incentive after the election to do anything Trump wants on the wall.

When will Trump realize that the timing Ryan and McConnell are suggesting for a possible government shutdown is much better for them than it is for him?

Third, defeated and retiring members of Congress generally are not as cooperative or politically reliable after the election as they were before and, if the polls are correct, there will lots of defeated Republicans this November joining the already large number of those who are retiring.

Finally, and most important, the legislative battle over keeping the government open before the election rather than after is very likely to be Trump’s last chance to get funding for his wall given the leverage he’ll have over Republicans at that time.

In addition, if the Democrats do gain the majority in one or both houses of Congress (or even just pick up substantial number of seats), they will immediately claim a mandate to be a check on Trump and will be far less willing to compromise.

At the same time, congressional Republicans will look at the election results and not feel as obligated to follow Trump blindly as thy do now.

The question is if…or when…Trump will realize that the timing Ryan and McConnell are suggesting for a possible government shutdown is much better for them than it is for him.

And that they’re playing him like a fiddle.

Advertisements

Trump’s Latest Shutdown Threat Keeps Chances Of It Happening At 60%

shutterstock_546595351.jpg

I’m keeping my prediction of a government shutdown happening this fall at 60 percent.

There were lots of questions about my 60 percent number after Donald Trump seemed to come to an agreement with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) last week over funding for the wall he wants to build between the U.S. and Mexico.

But Trump has again proved that he can’t be taken at his word about a shutdown. He tweeted this out a little after 9 am EDT this morning.

Today’s tweet provides some important clues as to the possibility of a shutdown.

First, Trump is using the threat of a shutdown to raise the immigration issue with his base. As I’ve said before, that may be very critical for Trump this fall.

Second, he’s signalling that he’ll blame House and Senate Democrats and, therefore, telling the congressional GOP leadership that the shutdown they’re desperate to avoid is less important to him than the wall.

Third, Trump is also telling Ryan and McConnell that he hasn’t yet agreed to anything.

As a result…I’m maintaining my previous estimate that there’s a 60 percent chance of a federal government shutdown this fall. I’m expecting that to go higher in the days ahead.

Follow Stan Collender @thebudgetguy

House Republicans Are In Almost Total Disarray As Summer Recess Begins

shutterstock_180341060.jpg

Consider all of the following now that the House of Representatives has left Washington until after Labor Day.

Paul Ryan (R-WI) is a lame duck speaker who no longer seems to care about supporting Donald Trump or Trump’s legislative agenda.

Ryan has no heir-apparent who, as Ryan increasingly checks out, has the authority to take over what was an already very unruly House Republican caucus.

There are three candidates to replace Ryan who are openly campaigning for the job and dividing the GOP caucus. This competition will likely get worse when the House reconvenes.

One of the three speaker candidates is Jim Jordan (R-OH), the former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. But the HFC, which had been so influential in determining the House legislative agenda this decade, now seems to be on its last legs. And Jordan has been accused by dozens of people of knowing about but not reporting sexual abuse when he was assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University.

This is almost a textbook definition of political and legislative chaos.

That means Jordan may not be in the best position to become speaker (or minority leader  if there’s a Democratic majority) in the next Congress but, if he can hold the HFC together, he may be able to determine who does.

More House Republicans are not running for reelection for one reason or another than in any other recent election. Retiring members or those defeated in their primaries tend not to be as responsive to their constituents, their party or the White House toward the end of their terms. They also can’t be counted on to vote as reliably as might have been the case before.

The most recent generic polls show Democrats with a big lead over Republicans on who should control the House in the next Congress. The biggest reason for the Democratic lead is a strong desire for there to be a check on Donald Trump, and he isn’t going away anytime soon.

The House only has 11 legislative days left before the start of fiscal 2019 but doesn’t seems to have any agreed-upon plan on how to avoid a government shutdown on October 1 except to hope that Trump doesn’t veto the continuing resolution that will be needed to prevent it.

While the shutdown clock continues to run, House Republicans seem to be content to do things that are totally symbolic and remarkably unimpressive.

The most purely symbolic gesture last week was the weak version of a resolution to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that Ryan completely shot down less than 24 hours after it was introduced by Jordan and current House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC). The resolution never had a chance in the House and the GOP controlled Senate had no interest in it. It was never going to happen.

When the House reconvenes, the GOP plans to devote a significant amount of the limited time it has left before fiscal 2019 begins to three tax cut bills that have no chance of being enacted any time soon because…wait for it…the Republican-controlled Senate has already said it’s not interested.

And none of this even begins to anticipate what the House Republicans who are running for reelection and think they will need to energize the Trump base will do in September as the Manafort trial and Cohen investigations continue and as the Mueller probe moves forward.

In other words, this year’s legislative crunch time is about to get very real but House Republicans have little leadership, no plan, a very divided caucus, are very likely to be distracted and are relying on a notoriously unreliable Donald Trump to do the right thing.

This is almost a textbook definition of political and legislative chaos.

Follow Stan Collender on Twitter @thebudgetguy

Don’t Leave Just Yet…There’s so much more here:
Today Marks The Demise Of The House Freedom Caucus
This Is Why Trump Will Shut Down The Government
Raising The Chances Of A Government Shutdown This Fall To 60%
OMB Director Mick Mulvaney Says CBO Was Right After All
Yes…Trump Will Shut Down The Government This Fall
You’ve Been Warned: Trump’s Trillion Dollar Budget Deficits Are Here To Stay

 

 

Today Marks The Demise Of The House Freedom Caucus

download.jpg

The House Freedom Caucus, the group of about 40 über conservatives that previously was best known for being the slayer of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and its take-no-prisoner approach to politics, has looked so pathetically weak over the past 24 hours that you have to ask whether they should still be taken seriously.

Consider this:

Former HFC Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) and its current Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC) introduced a resolution on Wednesday calling for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s impeachment.

Given that Donald Trump considers Rosenstein to be one of his chief nemeses, that most House Republicans always seem to want to prove and re-prove their loyalty to the president and that the HFC used to be feared, it might have seemed safe to assume that the Jordan/Meadows impeachment plan had lots of support in the GOP caucus.

Except that it absolutely didn’t.

The resolution only had 11 co-sponsors. Not even a majority of the members of the House Freedom Caucus were willing to put their names on this supposedly major Trump-pleasing initiative that was authored by their immediate past and current chairman.

Saying the House Freedom Caucus has been neutered 

is not an understatement.

And this wasn’t even that major of an initiative. Jordan and Meadows abandoned their take-no-prisoners approach by introducing a bill that wasn’t “privileged.” That made a vote on their plan totally dependent on the House Republican leadership agreeing to it.

And less than 24 hours after Jordan and Meadows introduced their non-privileged bill, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) — Boehner’s successor — slammed and double-locked the door on it saying there would be no vote. Ryan was direct and unambiguous with no doubt that about where he stood.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions also publicly supported Rosenstein.

All this comes months after the HFC lost considerable influence on what used to be its top priority — the federal budget.

As I wrote back in February,  the budget deal removed the prime legislative weapon — the debt ceiling — the Freedom Caucus had used multiple times to get what it wanted and completely ignored its demand that federal domestic discretionary spending be cut.

Another very strong HFC preference—tax cuts—won’t happen again this year.

And with the House and Senate leadership deciding not to do a budget resolution this year, there can’t be reconciliation and, therefore, no action on two other HFC hot issues –repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting Medicare and Medicaid.

At this point, the only thing worse for the Freedom Caucus will be if they’re part of a GOP minority and, therefore, have absolutely no impact on the House’s agenda. Based on the most recent polls, that may only be months away.

In the meantime, saying the House Freedom Caucus has been neutered is not an understatement.

 

Don’t Leave Just Yet…There’s so much more here:

This Is Why Trump Will Shut Down The Governmenr
Raising The Chances Of A Government Shutdown This Fall To 60%
OMB Director Mick Mulvaney Says CBO Was Right After All
House, Senate GOP Should Use This Year’s Appropriations To Stop Trump On Russia
Yes…Trump Will Shut Down The Government This Fall
You’ve Been Warned: Trump’s Trillion Dollar Budget Deficits Are Here To Stay

 

$12 Billion Trump Wants For Farmer Welfare Perfectly Defines Today’s GOP

shutterstock_517959364.jpg

The big federal budget-related news yesterday was that President Trump plans to spend $12 billion to aid U.S. farmers who are being hurt by his tariffs.

The is a perfect definition of what it means to be a Republican today. A GOP president is unilaterally spending billions more and increasing the budget deficit and national debt on what essentially is a welfare entitlement program for farmers.

This is almost the precise opposite of what for years the GOP has said it wants and believes and for which it has brually criticized Democrats. Substitute almost any other group for farmers (students, the elderly, unemployed) and you’ll get the full picture.

The $12 billion wasn’t included in the Trump administration’s most recent mid-session budget review and most of the $12 billion will be spent in the next fiscal year. That will increase the projected 2019 deficit to close to $1.1 trillion.

 

This Is Why Trump Will Shutdown The Government

Trump3.jpg

Jonathan Bernstein wrote in Bloomberg Opinion yesterday that I was being too pessimistic in my most recent post when I said there was a 60 percent chance of a government shutdown this fall.

Jonathan, who was kind enough to link to that post in his piece, specifically said, “Extended shutdowns only happen when one side actively wants one, and so far I don’t see evidence of that.”

Jonathan’s thinking is sound but a bit outdated.

At least since the start of the Trump administration, there are three rather than what used to be just two sides to a shutdown fight — congressional Republicans, congressional Democrats and the White House — and Trump and his GOP House and Senate colleagues aren’t always on the same page.

In theory there should be no space at all between them. The GOP leadership should want to avoid a shutdown so the Republican representatives and senators running for reelection can get home to campaign and hold fundraisers instead of being stuck in Washington voting on inane matters. Trump should want the same thing given the continuing predictions that Republicans are in danger of losing their majorities in one or both houses this November.

But, as he has demonstrated repeatedly, Trump is more about Trump than House and Senate Republicans. He wants Congress to appropriate the full amount for the wall he wants to build between the U.S. and Mexico, and he very likely sees the GOP leadership’s strong desire to get its members out-of-town as soon as possible as increased leverage to get that.

Vetoing a continuing resolution — the funding bill that will need to be enacted by October 1 to keep the government open — will be the one thing that will prevent congressional Republicans from getting what they most want and this White House almost certainly will assume that a week-long shutdown will make Congress more rather than less amenable to Trump’s position.

Trump may well view this as his last chance to get his wall.

In addition, as I first noted several weeks ago, Trump may well view this as his last chance to get his wall. If Democrats take over one or both houses in November, the chances of even incremental funding will drop precipitously.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Trump may well view a shutdown over the wall as the best way he’ll be able to enrage, inflame and energize his base over immigration this fall. This political equivalent of serving fresh red meat to a piranha may be especially important if Trump’s Mueller (and other) problems are getting even larger and GOP voters need to be re-motivated.

There’s no guarantee that Trump will do this. He has repeatedly threatened drastic actions before only to pull back at the last minute…and he may well do so again.

But, regardless, the situation Jonathan Bernstein said was absolutely necessary for a government shutdown to occur this fall…that “one side actively wants one”…absolutely exists this year.

As a result, a shutdown showdown, if not an actual shutdown, has to be anticipated.

Don’t Leave Just Yet…There’s so much more here:

Raising The Chances Of A Government Shutdown This Fall To 60%
OMB Director Mick Mulvaney Says CBO Was Right After All
House, Senate GOP Should Use This Year’s Appropriations To Stop Trump On Russia
Yes…Trump Will Shut Down The Government This Fall
You’ve Been Warned: Trump’s Trillion Dollar Budget Deficits Are Here To Stay