President Trump continues to have trouble telling his friends from his political enemies, which led to a rare bipartisan solution to the imminent debt crisis that might actually be good for America – but left most Republicans fuming.
Despite Republican anger that the president did not get more out of the deal for conservatives, Trump doubled down on his delight in calls to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi this morning, where he “raved about the positive news coverage it had received,” reports Politico.
Trump, who is known to get a lot of his news from cable TV, is said to have specifically mentioned TV news coverage. “The press has been incredible,” Trump told Pelosi.
He was in such a good mood, that he promised Pelosi that he would send out a tweet promising DREAMERs they have nothing to worry about for the next six months, at least.
“I was telling my colleagues, ‘This is what I asked the president to do,’ and boom boom boom, the tweet appeared,” Pelosi said at a news conference earlier today.
“In the eyes of Trump,” reports Politico, “news coverage often matters more than almost anything else.”
Trump impulsively made the deal for a three-month extension of the debt ceiling despite Republican efforts to get an 18-month deal, which would have pushed the problem past the November 2018 midterm elections.
Republicans had even discussed a six month or three-month deal, but House Speaker Paul Ryan had said it was ridiculous to even consider three months.
When Trump agreed to three months, and the inclusion of billions in aid for hurricane victims, with Democrats, he did it in front of Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who all opposed the compromise.
Now the Republican leadership is in a difficult position convincing their rank and file members to back relief for Harvey and Irma victim when it comes packaged with an increase in the debt ceiling that has no restrictions on future government spending.
It also sets up the Republicans to be in an even worse bargaining position when the debt ceiling issue will confront them again in December.
“Massive deals and cliffs and omnibuses that take place right before the holidays end up being very bad for conservatives, the country, the next generation and especially the forgotten man, the one without a lobbyist,” fumed Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va), to The Hill.
Trump has blamed Republicans for the failure of his major legislative initiatives to date, especially health care, without taking the blame for not doing all he and his administration could be get the votes needed for passage.
That angered many Republicans and embarrassed McConnell, among others.
Now Trump is again doing the opposite of what Republicans have been doing for more than a decade – refusing to work across the aisle unless it gave them an advantage.
Even if Trump sees it as an advantage in terms of press coverage, this could further erode the very people in Congress he will need to carry his tax reform, infrastructure, and other bills forward – as Democrats continue to oppose most of what he wants to do.
After the deal yesterday, Trump and his team were talking about other ways they could work with Democrats to get things done, but there was a lot of skepticism about how that might look. If in fact there are few other items they can agree on, Trump could again change his mind, and this time may find out the Republicans are not going to back him no matter what he does – which could make it even harder for him to govern.
Trump also may need the Republicans to watch his back as the Russia probes continue to heat up. The Democrats are already calling for him impeachment, but that would require the cooperation of the Republican majority, who so far have stuck with Trump.
However, if the president goes off in a direction the Republicans do not like and cooperate with the Democrats again, he may find that his friends are now his enemies.
In the end, that could be good for America. But in the short term, it is likely to cause problems, chaos, and in-fighting, all the things that already mark the Trump administration.