Monday, March 27, 2017


The Atlantic's David Graham thinks Donald Trump is well positioned to move to the left now, in the wake of the repeal-and-replace disaster:
... what if ... Trump dodged a serious bullet on Friday, setting him up for a recovery? If that’s the case, Friday might even have perversely been the best day of Trump’s presidency so far—or at least the point where he hit rock-bottom, allowing him to turn things around.
Graham imagines that Trump could salvage his presidency by returning to what he espoused during the campaign:
... Looking forward, post-health-care tension threatens to drive a wedge between Trump and Paul Ryan’s agenda, which is in many ways anathema to the Trump coalition.

Start with the bill in question. Trump had promised during the campaign to repeal and replace Obamacare “immediately” with something that would avoid mandates but maintain popular provisions that prohibit discrimination for preexisting conditions and allow people to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until 26. He also planned to make coverage available to anyone who wanted it, and to not touch Medicare and Medicaid.

... Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan ... were always an odd pair; they disagreed on a range of fundamental issues, especially entitlements (Ryan wants to cut them; Trump promised to preserve them)....

... a split with the speaker might be the best thing that could happen to Trump in political terms, freeing him up to pursue the deficit-bloating spending agenda he laid out during the campaign, rather than the far more austere and fiscally conservative one that Ryan desires.
Graham, to his credit, doesn't believe Trump actually will move left.
If the past is precedent, Trump won’t do that. The AHCA debacle showed that Trump has little handle on the way Capitol Hill works, and minimal interest in learning. As a general rule, he lacks discipline. Moving to take advantage of the moment would also require a unified, concerted effort from a White House that has shown little ability to act in that way....
But just describing this as an opportunity for Trump to return to the agenda he laid out in his campaign (better benefits, lots of infrastructure projects) misses the point.

Trump's agenda was never anything more than sucker's bait. As a businessman or a politician, Trump doesn't promise what he'd really like to deliver -- he promises whatever will reel in the marks. Whatever Trump said during the campaign about Obamacare or Medicare or Medicaid or infrastructure should be taken as seriously as we take Trump University promotional material. As Trump frenemy Mark Cuban said:
“He’s like that guy who walks into the bar, and will say whatever it’ll take to get laid. Only in this case he’s not trying to fuck some girl. He’s trying to fuck the country.”
You can ask why Trump doesn't just bust the budget and actually try to give people what he promised -- after all, it's the government's money, not his. But I think he's so used to shortchanging his buyers (selling them a lousy "university," selling them tasteless steaks) that he can't even imagine delivering on his promises anymore. He's already closed the sale -- he can go hold a "campaign" rally anytime he wants and bask in the adulation of a large crowd of deplorables. But more important, he's in this not for the public, but for himself and for the members of his economic class -- making sure that Trump, his family, and his friends get paid is Job #1. And as for the politics of it all, his gang is the right, or at least some portion of it, while his enemies are mostly the left. He learned that from Fox News -- it got him to the White House. So no, don't hold your breath waiting for him to reach out to ordinary people.

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