Doin’ the Shutdown Tango

It appears the government will shut down at midnight, eastern time, barring somebody caving in somewhere. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll says that a substantial majority of Americans will blame Trump and the Republicans if that happens. Republicans are expressing some chagrin about this, but as Josh Marshall points out, shutdowns are part of the GOP brand. And, really, this one would be their fault, too.

From an editorial in the Boston Globe:

Anticipating the public backlash, Trump and some other Republicans are trying to divert blame to the minority Democrats. It’s an odd tactic. It’s true that many Democrats want no part of any deal unless it includes a separate proposal to protect the children of undocumented immigrants from deportation. But the Democrats don’t run Congress.

The real problem seems to be that GOP factions — deficit hawks, military hawks, Tea Party zealots, pro- and anti-immigrant legislators, President Trump’s various personalities — can’t agree on a deal among themselves. The president appeared to endorse a plan to include immigration measures in the bill last week but then reversed himself on Thursday.

The editorial goes on to say that in recent years, McConnell has counted on Democratic votes to pass legislation that the far right members opposed. This seems to have left the impression that Democrats can’t say no.

But now some Republicans, including Trump, are talking about Democratic votes as if it’s something they’re owed. Senator Tom Cotton, an immigration hard-liner, was even demanding “concessions” from the Democrats.

He’s got it all backwards. If the Republicans can’t agree among themselves to a deal — and it looks like they can’t — then Trump and the House and Senate leadership will need to budge, by offering a substantial immigration concession to peel off Democratic votes. Midterm elections are a few months away. If the Republicans want to demonstrate competence, now would be a great time to start.

“If the Republicans want to demonstrate competence, now would be a great time to start.” I’m not holding my breath.

Greg Sargent writes that most of the blame has to go to Donald Trump. His inability to hold on to a firm position for more than ten minutes has left Republicans stumbling in the dark.

I’m told that in a series of meetings between Democratic and GOP leaders and Trump administration officials, Democrats repeatedly pressed their counterparts to make a counter-offer, after Trump rejected the bipartisan deal reached recently that would legalize the dreamers in exchange for some concessions. They have gotten nothing serious in response, I’m told.

Frank Sharry, the executive director of America’s Voice, told me that senior Democratic aides have been privately briefing him and other immigration advocates on these meetings.  … “The Democrats keep asking for a counter to the Graham-Durbin bill that would lay out what the White House wants, to see if there’s a middle ground between the proposal on the table and the White House position,” Sharry told me, characterizing the briefings he’s received on these meetings. In response, Sharry said, “there have been no such proposals.”

Instead, Sharry said, White House officials have continued to circulate documents at these meetings reiterating that Trump wants a number of very hard-line proposals, such as huge sums of money for a border wall and big cuts to legal immigration, which Sharry described as “the Stephen Miller-nativist wish list.” But Democrats continue to ask for proposals that would show what Trump might accept as a middle ground, to no avail.

Is Stephen Miller in charge of White House policy now?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) recently sniped that Trump “has not yet indicated what measure he is willing to sign” and that as a result, lawmakers are “spinning our wheels.”

It sounds as if even Republicans have given up trying to work out a compromise deal. After the “shithole” meeting, they know they can’t count on Trump to  not spit in their faces, never mind Democrat’s faces.

Mitch McConnell needs 60 votes, but he doesn’t even have all of his 50 Republicans. It’s not impossible some Democrats will cave, but I doubt enough of them will.