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Politics & Policy

The Art of Dealing Away Spending and Debt for Good Press

The cruise was another reminder that we at National Review have the best readers in the whole wide world, and I thank each and every one of you, whether you were able to join us on the cruise or not, whether you read the print magazine, the web site, or both, whether you love us or just tolerate us or just read us to see what we’re rambling about now. From the first Jim-written Morning Jolt of September:

The Art of Dealing Away Spending and Debt for Good Press

It’s not a good deal in the eyes of conservatives or Republicans, but I don’t get why anyone should be surprised. Trump has a much stronger appetite for good press than he does for limited government.  When President Trump does what Democratic Congressional leaders want, he will get good press. It appears we’re entering a new chapter of the Trump administration, one where he’s eager to work with the Congressional minority to enact his priorities rather than the majority:

Wednesday’s agreement on $15.25 billion in relief for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, combined with a three-month extension of the government’s funding and its borrowing limit, was followed by further outreach to Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.).

The Harvey package, originally proposed by Democrats and approved on an 80-17 vote, now heads to the House, which is expected to vote on it on Friday. The House approved a smaller hurricane aid bill, without anything else attached, earlier in the week. Many conservatives there are reluctant to vote to increase the debt limit without taking any other steps to curb federal spending. But most, if not all, Democrats are likely to support it, as are many Republicans from Texas, Louisiana and Florida, all states affected by or bracing for the storms.

You can see the logic from Trump’s perspective; he relied on Congressional Republicans to send him an Obamacare repeal and replace bill, and they couldn’t do it. So why shouldn’t he turn to the Democrats? (This is the sort of thing you think when enacting a particular Republican agenda isn’t that high a priority.) With these sorts of deals, Trump gets some agenda items done and he doesn’t end up looking foolish. The people who nominated him to enact Republican priorities end up looking foolish.

Of course, a sudden shift like this on the president’s part will make for one of the more spectacularly awkward “strange new respect” moments for the media and some Democrats. “Hey, remember that president who we were pretty sure was a neo-Nazi white-supremacist fascist demagogic aspiring-dictator? It turns out he’s pretty reasonable when it comes to infrastructure spending and eliminating the debt ceiling…”

[Insert “Mussolini made the trains run on time” joke here.]

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