In January, 2001, newly inaugurated President George W. Bush invited U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy to the White House for movie night to watch Thirteen Days, which is about President John F. Kennedy’s handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The point of the overture, however, was to appeal to Senator Kennedy to support “No Child Left Behind,” not just to pop popcorn. By pandering to the uber-liberal Kennedy at the outset of his presidency, President Bush gave Democrats too much leverage over education policy too early. The result was predictable: “No Child Left Behind” became a federal behemoth that did little to lift education, and much to grow the educational bureaucracy. Conservatives decried the unholy alliance with Kennedy, and President Bush tacked-right on tax cuts and military policy immediately thereafter.
This week, President Donald J. Trump made a deal with Democrats even more dangerous for his agenda than George W. Bush did in 2001. When the President announced his debt ceiling deal with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, he bought time for Democrats to destroy any near-term chance of achieving any sort of real spending cuts. By kicking the can down the road on the debt ceiling, while further increasing spending with a continuing resolution, the President has given leverage to liberals to drive our nation deeper into debt.
Democrats did what they always do; they took advantage of a crisis to gain the upper hand. While publicly handwringing about the need to alleviate suffering from Hurricane Harvey, Democrats were seeking to leverage the disaster to, ultimately, eliminate the debt ceiling altogether. Such a move will sink conservative efforts to curb federal spending, and, by extension, the size of the federal government for the foreseeable future. While Hurricane Harvey funding is critically needed, the responsible thing to do would be to pass a clean funding bill not related to the debt ceiling or a continuing resolution on spending. By caving to Pelosi and Schumer, Trump has undermined his own agenda this fall.
As a conservative headline read today “Donald Trump Punts September Agenda to December After Meeting with Congress.” That pretty much sums it up, as this move will delay big-ticket items like tax reform and any additional attempts to repeal Obamacare this year. It is worse than delaying the conservative agenda, however, as the New York Times is now reporting that “President Trump and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer have agreed to pursue a deal that would permanently remove the requirement that Congress repeatedly raise the debt ceiling, three people familiar with the decision said.” That’s a lot worse than Bush cuddling-up with Kennedy on education, folks!
What adds insult to injury for those of us who actually care about keeping America from going over the fiscal cliff, is that some of Trump’s apologists are calling people who disagree with this deal “RINOs!” Since when did opposing a blank check in the hands of Pelosi and Schumer make someone a liberal? As the chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee of the U.S. House, Congressman Mark Waller (R-N.C.), said today the deal would “increase borrowing authority of the government while irresponsibly ignoring the urgency of reforms. Worse yet is attaching the debt limit to legislation that continues the status quo or even worsens the trajectory on spending.”
President Trump has made a serious strategic mistake, which may seriously jeopardize not only his agenda in Congress, but any ability for this total Republican government to achieve any real spending reductions. That is the true tragedy of this deal; President Trump, with his excellent Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, could have helped stave-off fiscal disaster. Instead, in a terrible deal, Democrats have achieved what Senator Ben Sasse has called the “art of the steal.” Sasse is right, Democrats are now working with a Republican President to steal from generations yet unborn through even more run-away deficit spending.
Mr. President, fix this.