It’s Far More Nuanced Than “Democrats Cave”
The Senate passed a stopgap budget good through February 8 by a vote of 81-18, with 33 Democrats and Independent Angus King voting for, and 2 Republicans voting against. Does that represent the real show of backbone we’ve been arguing is desperately needed from Democrats? Maybe not. And just to be clear: a 3 day shutdown hasn’t changed our position. At the same time, we firmly believe there was more to be gained by doing this deal than not.
We think the Daily Beast has got it just about right: “Two truths emerged from a deal that the Senate cut on Monday to re-open the federal government after a weekend-long shutdown. The first is that Democrats caved. The second is that they find themselves somewhat better positioned for what is likely to be another, far more bitter, shutdown battle in the coming weeks.” Roll Call has a very comprehensive look at what happened, and what lies ahead.
And yes, we fully understand that if we were Dreamers unsure about our status past March we certainly might not feel that way. Also a lot of what we’re going to talk about may seem coldly transactional, when there are real people, real lives involved. But we’re not going to make excuses for that either, because sometimes that’s just the way it goes in politics.
So here’s our “Top 10 List”:
1) If Mitch McConnell doesn’t stick to his “intention” to bring DACA legislation regardless of what Trump says or does, it’ll make both him and Republicans look really bad. After their rare tax cut victory, it’ll put them right back on the path of “can’t get anything done”.
2) Republicans played one of their strongest hands to make Democrats look bad during the shutdown, and didn’t end up getting much in return. Funding for children’s healthcare, or CHIP, was unnecessarily delayed so Republicans could use it as a weapon against Democrats. The latest stopgap spending bill funds it for 6 years, and Republicans can’t use it as a threat again. BTW, this long-standing program is a model of bipartisanship: originally devised by Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch. Between it and Obamacare, it’s reduced the number of children without medical insurance in this country to record low numbers. Here’s a chart and a story from Vox:
3) The only way the brief shutdown will benefit Republicans in the long term is if their argument that Democrats favored “illegals” over U.S. citizens sticks. And it probably won’t.
4) We saw some real bipartisanship: both sides sitting down in Susan Collins’ office, and really hashing it out. Even before that, Friday night on the Senate floor as a huddle of Democratic Senators formed minutes before time ran out, but also with Republican Lindsey Graham in there.
5) Even if the House and the White House don’t support whatever budget and/or immigration bill eventually comes out of the Senate, if it’s truly bipartisan and passes by a huge margin it’ll be difficult to ignore.
6) Also, Trump wasn’t there. This weekend’s activities give Republicans a new blueprint for operating independently of Trump without directly defying him. Trump late last night Tweeted he wants to get back behind the wheel: using his tried-and-true strategy of dumping on people and then expecting those same people will respond favorably to his overture:
(But of course Trump is heading off to Switzerland in the next day or two, to hobnob with the global financial elite. And according to CNN, the First Lady, all of a sudden, isn’t joining him.)
7) If the bipartisan group holds, and is not just a one-time thing, it reduces the power of radical anti-immigrant Senators like Tom Cotton, and David Purdue, because now a bill can pass without them. (Although they still for now hold sway over Trump. Cotton was among the first people he met with after the Senate vote).
8) But it also gives some Democrats a new “in” with Trump. West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Alabama’s Doug Jones, who both broke with their party and voted against the shutdown originally, were invited up to the White House for a brief sit-down.
9) Trust. That a deal will get done. We’ll see whether it turns out to be well-placed or not. But we need more of it in order to work our way out of the chaos that has become all our daily lives.
10) Even though Trump was carefully kept at a distance from weekend negotiations, he still managed to reveal a lot about exactly what’s important to him (more below the photo).
“President Trump’s Intentions Were Hard To Discern”. What? We Now Know Exactly What He Wants!
That quote above is from the New York Times’ piece on the continuing immigration battle. And we obviously disagree: the shutdown and events leading up to it provide an almost crystal clear vision of exactly what Trump wants:
A monument to himself. (And maybe a few fewer immigrants from “shithole” countries, or maybe that was just a passing thought.)
Beyond that, he doesn’t really care about anything else. (Until he’s “reminded” that he does). Which is why he keeps cutting, and then reneging on deals with Senate Minority Leader Schumer and others, and spitting out the same, repeated, empty words.
Which is making him look ineffectual and a puppet of Adviser Stephen Miller (and whoever controls him) and Chief of Staff John Kelly.
Remember, it was Trump who suggested immigration legislation be tackled in two phases: 1) DACA, 2) Comprehensive. It’s only after his team got a hold of him did Trump start saying: on second thought, I’ll only trade DACA for everything…
Trump Finally Starts Long-Promised Trade War, Hitting South Korean Manufacturers Hard
Solar panels and washing machines are in the line of fire.
With solar, Trump’s killing two birds with one stone, authorizing a 30% tariff on imported solar cells, mostly from Asia, which in turn will likely cause a drop in solar installations due to higher prices. Interestingly, the main U.S. Solar Energy trade group lobbied against the punitive tariffs, saying they will result in a 10-15% drop in installations and the loss of more than 20,000 U.S. jobs, as investments are cancelled. Reuters reports due to competition from imports, solar panel prices have dropped 30-percent in the past year.
The up to 50% tariff on washing machines largely target South Korean manufacturers LG and Samsung. Both those companies are building factories in the U.S. and both say Trump’s action might affect their hiring plans here.
Meanwhile, Whirlpool immediately paid Trump appropriate tribute, announcing it’s adding 400 jobs.
The Tide Continues To Turn On Gerrymanders
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned state election districts, saying the map as drawn “clearly, plainly and palpably” violates the State Constitution. And the court ordered the state’s Democratic Governor to redraw all the districts. Right now Republicans control 13 out of 18 of them. Pennsylvania Republicans say they’ll appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. But that’s considered a long-shot, because the court doesn’t typically get involved with local state elections.
Trump, In His Spare Time, Apparently Mimics India’s Prime Minister. But It’s Out Of Respect.
This story in the Washington Post about the U.S. committing 1,000 more troops to Afghanistan would’ve caught our eye anyway, but what really jumped out at us is this, almost at the end: “Senior administration officials said that the president has been known to affect an Indian accent and imitate Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in an Oval Office meeting last year told him, ‘Never has a country given so much away for so little in return” as the United States in Afghanistan.'”
Of course he does…