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Trump was right to agree to temporarily extend the debt ceiling.

There’s been a lot of fuss today, including here, about the news that President Trump has partnered with congressional Democrats to temporarily raise the debt ceiling for another three months.

However, I must part with my valued colleagues on their opinion of Trump’s move. Of course, as a conservative I’m loathe to raise debt, raise spending, raise taxes. Mo’ money, mo’ problems and all that. I was disappointed to wake up to the news of Trump’s shift to the left, but rather than reacting right away I dug into the details.

It turns out President Trump might actually know what he’s doing.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi admitted in a press conference Thursday morning that votes are the “currency” of Capitol Hill and POTUS will be looking for some very key votes in the near future.

A favorite Democrat tactic is to link bills and attach pet projects to vital funding packages. This time they used the debt ceiling to force Trump’s hand by connecting it to Hurricane Harvey relief funding. Trump is already being blamed for aiming Hurricane Harvey at poor people (oh, shades of GWB and Hurricane Katrina), not being concerned enough about the hurricane, being too concerned about the hurricane and allowing his so-called trophy wife to wear high heels while touring hurricane ravaged areas. Houston badly needs federal relief at the moment and Mr. Trump can’t afford to delay that help. Nancy Pelosi and her minions colleagues know this.

But several rank-and-file Republicans said they would be open to a short-term extension to allow Congress to negotiate the debt later this year. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) was among those who said the three-month extension proposed by Democrats would be a reasonable timeline to set up broader talks on budget and spending.

“A short term increase in the debt limit so they can handle this is a sensible thing in my view,” Cole said. “Most people understand getting through his immediate crisis and we know we’re going to be making a larger appropriations deal sometime after the first of October.” – The Washington Post

If Trump wanted to secure that funding he had to agree to raise the debt ceiling, as Republicans were already splitting votes on the issue. It’s not ideal, and Paul Ryan rightfully criticized the Democrats for holding the needs of Houston citizens hostage over politics, calling it a “ridiculous idea”.

“We’ve got all this devastation in Texas, we’ve got a hurricane coming toward Florida, and they want to play politics with the debt ceiling? It could put in jeopardy the kind of hurricane response we need to have.”

Paul Ryan

 

Speaker Ryan is right to be outraged, and it is indeed ridiculously shallow and insensitive of the Democrats, something CNN and MSNBC will surely ignore.

This was, however a move that helped Trump save face. It would be very embarrassing if he couldn’t get relief funding but it also allows for a bit of leverage for the President. That is leverage he will desperately need as he heads into tax reform negotiations, which will surely require a bipartisan effort to secure the passing votes. 

On top of it all Trump has been as frustrated as the rest of us by the pace at which the Republican majority has been working. In the corporate world, time is money. In Washington, votes are money…time is just for wasting. POTUS isn’t a conservative and he isn’t a loyal party member. He has no problem letting Republicans know he can and will work around them if they can’t police themselves to avoid “business as usual.”

Mr. Trump was right to agree to a raise in the debt ceiling. The President is now on record as willing to ride the bipartisan train. How much that is worth will be seen as we move into tax reform.