The past two weeks have been some of the worst for American conservatism since President Barack Obama turned over his keys to the White House. President Donald Trump’s Republican government in Washington managed to take steps backward on budget cuts, immigration and freedom of speech as the nation was busy worrying about hurricanes and North Korea. Trump’s most ardent supporters aren’t yet ready to admit it– but the left is winning, bigly.
Many Republicans were shocked earlier this month when Trump made a surprise deal with Democrat leaders in Congress to extend the debt ceiling for three months.
A huge problem with the president’s deal, opponents of the maneuver said, is that it removed vital bargaining chips for Republicans looking to demand budget cuts as a part of any new deal. Trump and the Democrats, however, pointed to funding needed to rebuild following recent hurricanes as reason enough to bypass serious negotiations for now.
Unfortunately, that means the budget issue will come up as lawmakers are preparing to vacate Washington ahead of an end of the year recess, as most Americans are busy with holiday festivities. In other words, don’t expect any real budget debates at that time either.
Following the budget surprise, Trump again sought the input of his friends on the left after allowing President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action immigration scheme to stand for another six months even though the current administration’s Justice Department declared the program unconstitutional.
Now, congressional Democrats are cheering that Trump is going to give them everything they want on the matter.
According to Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Trump’s recent meeting Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ended in an “understanding” about the importance of a path to citizenship for people in the country under DACA.
Democrats, Durbin said Sunday, are “going forward with the understanding that we can work with the White House to come up with an agreement that includes [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)], that includes citizenship for those who are protected under the Dream Act, and also has a substantial commitment to increased order protection.”
Durbin’s comment backs Pelosi’s assertion earlier in the week that “there is an understanding that down the road there is an eventual path to citizenship.”
As supporters attempted to explain Trump’s budget and DACA concessions away as an example of Trump exercising superior negotiation skills with the goal of revisiting his conservative wish list later, the president again gave in to leftist demands.
This time, Trump signed a joint resolution from Congress that makes it easier for the government to declare controversial remarks as hate speech.
As Bob Livingston noted:
In yet another assault on free speech, Congress on Wednesday sent a joint resolution to Trump for his signature that calls on Trump to “speak out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and White supremacy” and also “use all resources available to the President and the President’s Cabinet to address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the United States.”
[White House press secretary Sarah] Sanders has acknowledged that Trump “will absolutely” sign the resolution.
He did without hesitation.
Coming up next on Trump’s agenda is tax cuts. The administration is already saying that GOP support for the president’s ambitious tax package is too weak to ensure passage. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s exactly the excuse Trump voters got for why there will be no legitimate Obamacare repeal.
MCT reported last week that the president is already making moves to work with Democrats instead:
Three Democratic senators joined President Donald Trump for a White House dinner Tuesday aimed at winning their support for an as-yet unreleased tax overhaul bill that would be written by Republican leaders.
Trump’s guests — Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana — are the only three Democratic senators who haven’t signed on to a list of conditions for supporting any tax legislation: that it not add to the federal deficit, that it not increase the burden on the middle class and that it go through the regular order process in Congress.
In reaching out to them, Trump is amplifying a White House strategy that seems squarely aimed at Democrats. It calls for the president to rally support for tax legislation by visiting states he won in 2016 where a Democratic senator is up for re-election next year. But with many details of the legislation still unclear, the strategy’s effectiveness remains to be seen.
So is Trump simply smarter than everyone else? Probably not.
His die hard supporters are extremely invested in the idea that Trump is a political outsider bringing a new kind of leadership to Washington. But the reality is that Trump is now firmly in step with the wishes of the Democrat and Republican establishments on a number of important issues ranging from budgetary concerns and immigration to political correctness.
The administration isn’t the same one many Americans expected months ago.
And while Democrats aren’t ready to praise Trump just yet, they’re at least beginning to assess what his leadership means for their party from a more honest perspective than they previously have.
California Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff said Sunday that he believes Trump is all about how his personal brand looks at the end of the day.
“This is a president, look, who has no ideology. He’s not conservative. He’s not liberal,” Schiff told ABC’s “This Week.”
“The only consistent theme seems to be he’s pro-Trump. He’s for his own personal interest,” he said.
And Fox News host Tucker Carlson said during a recent interview that he believes Trump is increasingly basing his optics on what television news producers say about the administration.
“He believes that television producers, especially of highly rated shows, understand what the public is interested in — what it fears, what it wants, what it loves. And so TV programming in some ways is a more accurate reflection of the public mood than polling,” Carlson said. “That’s his view, he said it to me. And that’s one of the reasons he watches a lot of television. Whether that’s true or not is an entirely debatable point, but he believes if you want to know where the country is, watch TV.”
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