RUSH: Mr. Vice President, we’ve been told this for 15 years, we’ll get ’em next time, after every continuing resolution —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, we got ’em this time.
RUSH: — we’ll get ’em next time, we’ll kick the can down the road, we’ll get ’em next time.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: We got ’em this time, $21 billion in defense spending at a time — I gotta tell you, I was out there visiting troops in South Korea. I was standing on the deck of the USS Reagan in the harbor in Japan. Look, the president has made it clear, his number one priority is national defense and national security. And to say in this very first budget bill, instead of getting gridlock, instead of getting a government shutdown, which Washington’s been pretty good at for a while, we actually made process and we’re making a significant investment — (crosstalk)
RUSH: Okay, but why then is the president now suggesting a budget shutdown in September or October? If it’s no good now, why is it good then? You guys were sent there to drain the swamp. There’s a clear Trump agenda that just isn’t seeable. It’s not visible in this budget, and some people are getting concerned that there’s more concern for bipartisanship and crossing the aisle, working with Democrats, than there is in draining the swamp and actually peeling away all of the roughage that is preventing actually moving forward here on so many of these issues that affect people domestically.
The only way to defend the bill is to focus on defense spending, particularly the fact that Republicans didn’t have to match that $21 billion for the Pentagon dollar-for-dollar with funding for non-military domestic programs, as was the case during the Obama era. How difficult was it to wring that concession from Schumer given the state of play in foreign policy, though? We’re on the brink of a war with North Korea that’ll devastate the Korean peninsula and could conceivably turn nuclear, with thousands of American soldiers in harm’s way. We just attacked Syria to punish Assad for crossing the “red line” against chemical weapons, a move cheered by both parties, including just today by Hillary Clinton. Democrats are seething at Putin and Russia for meddling in the campaign and eager for Trump to take a more hostile posture towards Moscow. And of course they’re under pressure to reconnect with Trump’s blue-collar base, many of whom are suspicious of the left for being weak and “politically correct” towards terrorism. Under the circumstances, Democrats had lots of incentives not to resist a boost to defense spending. If they’d gone to the mat to block it and war broke out next week with Pyongyang, Fox News would be running headlines for weeks about liberals having stabbed America’s troops in the back in a moment of crisis. That $21 billion is a win, but it’s not some uniquely Republican win the way that, say, choking off funding for the border wall is a clear win for Democrats. And don’t forget — it’s a much smaller number than Trump had asked for. Even his big “win” is something of a defeat.
Also, explain this logic to me from Mick Mulvaney’s presser today:
White House budget director Mick Mulvaney angrily ripped Democrats for “spiking the football” over the spending bill passed this week that funds the government through September, saying President Trump cut “a tremendous deal for the American people.”
Mulvaney added that the Democrats wanted a shutdown to make the Trump administration look bad…
“They wanted a shutdown. We know that,” he said. “They were desperate to make this administration look like we couldn’t function, like we couldn’t govern.”
If the bill is a victory for Republicans because it averted a shutdown, what’s the argument for ever going to the mat and refusing a Democratic demand? Why not cave on everything? Schumer will spend the next four years trying to make the White House look like it can’t function. (With the GOP paralyzed on health care, he doesn’t need to work hard.) If top priority for Team Trump is making sure not to give him any evidence to support that claim then they’re going to have to cave in September too, when Trump vowed the GOP would make its stand. And now that Schumer’s seen how nervous Trump and Mulvaney are about being blamed if a shutdown occurs, he’s going to push at least as hard next time as he did this time. Semi-serious exit question: Is defense spending all Schumer needs to compromise on in order to win on everything else? If Pence is willing to sell this turd of a bill on the Rush Limbaugh Show as some great victory simply because Democrats didn’t hassle the White House on money for the troops, Schumer might happily repeat that bargain going forward. Trump gets money for the military, Dems get to say they’re tough on national defense, and meanwhile the left wins on everything else.