Not Only No Deal-Making There’s Not Even a Deal

I noted yesterday what I think should be obvious: that there is no ‘bipartisan path’. Beyond that, it’s quite something to see how rapidly a number of mainstream media voices have moved from Trump as far-right ideologue putting racist revanchism at the center of statecraft to Trump as post-ideological, pragmatic dealmaker. Serious, what are you people thinking?

But there’s a small, more specific problem with all this talk which may be obvious but still merits saying out loud. There haven’t even been any deals! The ‘deal’ people are talking about is a minor procedural accommodation, an agreement not to go through a round of legislative hostage taking tied mainly to the need to increase the debt-limit – something that should be abolished altogether. It is important to note how minuscule this accommodation really is. Beyond that, it is important to note how much the deal itself is only over a kind of legislative misbehavior which as recently as a decade ago would have been all but unthinkable: holding the full faith and credit hostage to the right of the GOP House caucus.

In any case, the real issue is that there is no issue of ideology or policy at stake. None. It accomplished Trump’s goal of beating up congressional Republicans at no real cost – at least no cost to his supporters image of him as a far-right revanchist President. If anything it helps since the GOP congressional party or ‘the establishment’ was always Trump’s enemy and his supporters’ in the first place. Remember, this is why Boehner got tossed.

If you see President Trump cutting a deal with Democrats to pass the Dream Act (make DACA permanent through legislation) in exchange for some non-Wall border security dollars, then you’ll be able to say, wow, he’s cutting deals with the Democrats. Or if he cuts a deal with Democrats for a reduced corporate tax rate in exchange for making individual marginal rates more progressive, then you can say, wow, he’s cutting deals with Democrats.

(For clarity’s sake, I don’t think there should be any corporate rate cut. The whole thing is nonsense. My point here is just things that might be reasonably seen as deals to pass legislation mainly or substantially with Democratic votes.)

If Trump actually starts shifting gears and making deals with Democrats that really would be pretty surprising. It would be yet another major political upheaval. It would raise all sorts of moral and coalitional questions. Like, should Democrats cut deals – even if they create good policy in themselves – with a President who is promoting white supremacy and attacking large segments of the population? But again, we might as well ask whether President Trump should negotiate with the space aliens and on what terms since it really is equally hypothetical. Not only has Trump not changed we haven’t even seen a single ‘deal’.


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