Tuesday, April 11, 2017


In response to Matt Yglesias's essay about the GOP's failures in 2017 -- which he ascribes largely to Paul Ryan's unlovable agenda of repealing Obamacare in favor of a much worse replacement, combined with tax cuts for the rich and benefit cuts for everyone else -- BooMan argues that Donald Trump deserves a lot of the blame, because he won't reach out to Democrats:
... I think Yglesias is probably too forgiving of Donald Trump. Anyone who observed the congressional Republicans during the Obama years should have been able to anticipate that it was a bad bet to build a presidential strategy around forcing everything through Congress with nothing but Republican votes.

... He promised the kind [of] infrastructure spending that Republicans refused to authorize for Obama. His positions on trade were more familiar coming from the left. He basically ran against Paul Ryan’s granny-starving plans for entitlements, even ridiculing them....

He really had no basis for thinking that he could get the Republicans in Congress to approve the things he had campaigned on doing without getting some Democratic help....

What’s strange is that he seems to have fallen into this all-Republican no-Democrat strategy immediately....

Trump took the wrong path from the outset, but he also burned all his bridges behind him, which is why he cannot backtrack or get a mulligan. In theory, if all he wants to do is simplify the tax code, he could get a bipartisan tax reform through Congress. If he was willing to do direct spending on infrastructure similar to what Obama did with his stimulus plan, he might be able to pass that with mostly Democratic votes.
I think Trump believes he shouldn't have to deal with Republicans -- he took on all those conventional Republicans in the primaries and beat them, therefore he should be the boss of the Republican Party. Everyone in the party should defer to him. Republicans have majorities in both houses, he's a Republican, therefore whatever bill he endorses ought to sail through Congress with their votes.

It's not as if Trump really wants anything terribly Democratic anyway. Sure, he said if he was elected president we'd get a health care plan with universal coverage and great benefits -- but he also said that Obamacare is the worst thing in the world. The latter was something he's sincerely come to believe because he's a Fox News junkie. The former was no more believable than the promises in a Trump University brochure.

It's the same with taxes and entitlements. He said he wouldn't cut Medicare and Social Security. He also offered tax plans with huge cuts for the rich. The latter came about because he turned the tax plan over to Republicans he'd seen on Fox. The promise not to cut benefits was more Trump U-style dishonesty.

He wants to get credit for building infrastructure, but that's mostly for the self-aggrandizement. His initial plan was to do it the Republican way (with tax credits to big companies) because he staffed up with mostly Republican advisers. And Republicans should go along, even though they don't want to do infrastructure at all, because he won and he's the boss of the party now.

Trump thinks Republicanism should be whatever he believes. He's too lazy to count votes and too much of a Fox junkie to want to reach out to Democrats. So of course he went all-Republican from the beginning.

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