Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Wednesday, December 12th, 2018.

Trump Is Betting His Administration on the Stupid Wall

Trump Maladministration

The more I think about the smackdown on the oval office yesterday, the more I believe there’s no way Trump can get any kind of win out of this.

He’s not going to get the $5 billion for the wall. Pelosi says he doesn’t even have the votes on the House now, never mind next year, and she would know. On the other hand, Juliegrace Brufke reports for The Hill that House Republicans are considering putting the $5 billion up for a vote. The idea is that if it passes in the House it would somehow “put pressure” on Senate Democrats to vote for it. But I don’t see where the “pressure” would come from. Nobody is up for election anytime soon, and it would be hugely unpopular with the Democratic base.

And I would be surprised if it passed in the House. Last year when Trump was in a better position to make demands, House Republicans danced around an all-out funding of the wall. Many of them were just plain averse to voting for any kind of spending increase for any reason. See also Jonathan Bernstein from December 4:

In fact, what’s much more likely is that most House and Senate Republicans have no interest in taking on this battle at all right now. After all, voters just rejected their party after an election in which the president’s closing argument centered on the border. And Trump’s clout with Congress is at an all-time low. Even if the leadership wanted the confrontation, Trump wouldn’t be able to help assemble a winning coalition.

If they didn’t want to fund the wall then, why would House Republicans fund it now? Especially after most of the dust has cleared from the midterms, it’s pretty certain that Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric had a lot to do with the GOP’s historic loss in the House. See Greg Sargent on that point.  Although some Republicans are still in denial, at least some of them realize that hating on immigrants is not the banner they want to march under in 2020.

However, they might pass a House bill to give Trump some cover, knowing that it needs 60 votes to pass in the Senate and won’t get them. That still leaves us with a December 21 deadline for stopping a government shutdown.

What if Congress passes some kind of bill that keeps government open but doesn’t fund the wall? Trump can either sign it — losing face as he does so — or veto it. Yesterday he took ownership of the subsequent shutdown, and that will be thrown in his face very day the shutdown continues. Back to Bernstein, which again was written a few days ago —

If Republicans do choose to shut down the government on Dec. 21, Democrats will only have to wait 13 days until the new Congress convenes and they move into the House majority.  Even if public opinion turns against the Democrats, which seems highly unlikely given that the wall is unpopular, the party surely could remain unified enough to drag things out that long and reap the increased leverage they would have beginning on Jan. 3. Especially since Democrats would be in the position of supporting any additional temporary measure to keep the government open while negotiations continued.

In other words, if they want to try to use a shutdown to force Democrats to go along with funding Trump’s wall, every day they wait makes their position a little weaker. I have no idea whether Trump realizes that or not, but two other GOP leaders most certainly do: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan.

I don’t see any way that Trump won’t come out of this even more damaged than he is already.

Ezra Klein writes that Trump doesn’t really want the wall, or else he would have offered something for it.

But Trump isn’t offering a deal, and he isn’t constructing the kind of process where anyone might offer him a deal. Instead, he’s looking for a photo op. He’s looking for a clip of himself he can see played, and praised, on Fox & Friends.

Some on the Right actually thought Trump “won” whatever that was in the Oval Office yesterday. The Gateway Pundit crew was pumped about it, I understand. But with people this stupid, all Trump would have to do is sign an appropriations bill and tell them it funds the wall, even if it doesn’t, and they’ll be perfectly fine with that. And that’s what I suspect he will do. But you never know.

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