Trump sides with Pelosi and Schumer against GOP in backing short-term debt-ceiling hike

Trump sides with Pelosi and Schumer against GOP in backing short-term debt-ceiling hike

Why would he want a short-term hike, knowing that that means he’ll face this same headache again in three months, when he could have sided with Steve Mnuchin, Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell in pushing for something much longer? For cripes sake, the only reason Schumer and Pelosi want a short-term extension is because they know this issue gives Republicans fits and is likely to spark another round of infighting in December. Moderates will say “let’s just raise the debt ceiling,” conservatives will say, “hell no, we need spending cuts in return,” Trump will say, “forget spending cuts, I want funding for the wall,” and the party will end up at each other’s throats. And then, inevitably, 24 hours before America defaults, Ryan and McConnell will swallow hard and agree to a clean debt-ceiling hike anyway. Dems will get what they want, Republicans will be demoralized, Trump will be humiliated.

Imagine how much POTUS must distrust his own party to side with Schumer and Pelosi over them on a matter like this. And imagine how oblivious he must be not to see that they’re laying a trap for him. I don’t know why he’d agree to this, unless he’s so desperate to show that he can make “deals” that he’s now willing to make bad ones purely for the sake of getting something done.

President Donald Trump and congressional leaders agreed to enact emergency aid for Hurricane Harvey together with an extension of the U.S. debt limit and funds to keep the government running, both through Dec. 15, Democratic leaders said Wednesday…

Republican leaders and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were pushing for a longer-term debt-limit deal, according to a person with knowledge of the meeting. But the president accepted an offer from Democratic leaders for a three-month deal that included funding the government until mid-December…

Senate Republican leaders had planned to use the measure to suspend the debt ceiling past the November 2018 congressional elections, but Trump’s move upended their strategy.

Politico’s also hearing that Trump sided with Pelosi and Schumer against Ryan et al. A Republican source “close to the leadership” in Congress is horrified:

“Dems bluffed their way into total victory. They win the politics of DACA and leverage on debt in the winter. The fate is sealed – DACA will be reauthorized without strings, Schumer has inserted himself into all negotiations in the winter, including tax, spending and immigration.”

Conservatives who oppose a debt-ceiling increase without spending concessions will celebrate that they get another crack at this in December, but the joke’s on them. The only thing Trump really wants from Democrats is funding for the wall, and he foolishly thinks that a big debt ceiling/shutdown showdown right before Christmas will increase his leverage to get it. In fact, it increases Schumer’s leverage: Democrats will inevitably support a clean debt-ceiling hike if need be, leaving Trump faced with the dilemma of whether to risk a default by standing firm on wall funding, which every one of his advisors will be urging him not to do, or to cave and embarrass himself. If he’s dead set on a fight over the wall, he should have insisted on a long-term debt-ceiling increase in order to take the risk of default off the table and focused on government funding instead. Ryan and McConnell are veterans of debt-ceiling brinksmanship and know from experience how stupid and futile it is. Trump’s going to learn the hard way. Maybe we need to learn the hard way too by actually hitting the ceiling. Let’s get on with it.

If you’re resolved to believing that Trump is playing eight-dimensional rather than one-dimensional chess here, the best I can offer you by way of a theory is that he wants the DREAM Act to pass and realizes that maximizing Schumer’s leverage is the easiest way to make it happen. Now that Dems have a new debt-ceiling fight coming, Schumer could hold out for a DREAM bill as part of it — and Trump, who’s sympathetic to DREAMers, could agree to sign it while pretending that his hand was forced. “That bastard Schumer is going to let the U.S. default on its debts if I don’t agree to this DREAM thing! I have no choice!” That wouldn’t be good for Trump’s alpha-male brand but it’ll solve his DACA problem, at least.

Exit question: This is twice in 24 hours that POTUS has scored an own-goal in negotiations. Has this guy even read “The Art of the Deal”?

Update: We’re not even eight months in.

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David Strom 8:41 PM on March 20, 2023