Surprisingly this is coming from House Republicans, not from the White House. It sounds like something President Deals might believe, that his negotiating partner is playing hardball simply to extract more concessions before finally saying yes. They aren’t.
BREAKING HERE: the Wall for the Gateway Tunnel? Top source tells key group of House Repubs want GOP to make offer to Dems – they agree to wall money and WH/GOP funds Gateway. (Key project for Schumer and Dems in New York.)
Obviously v v fluid now, but this is serious idea.
— Lisa Desjardins (@LisaDNews) December 20, 2018
Imagine Chuck Schumer blowing up Democrats’ leverage and handing Trump a gigantic long-sought victory in exchange for nothing more exalted than some pork for his own backyard. How can House Republicans, of all people, not grasp the position Schumer’s in right now?
He got clobbered by the left a few weeks ago for warning Trump that Democrats wouldn’t agree to more than $1.6 billion in wall funding. We shouldn’t agree to any funding now, they screamed. For understandable reasons: They just won a national election and they won it big, taking 40 seats in the House. (Senate midterms aren’t a national election, remember, as only one-third of the seats are up every two years.) Trump campaigned heavily on immigration down the stretch too, laying border security squarely in front of voters — and the House went solid blue anyway. The Trump-hating lefty base believes that Schumer and Pelosi owe them big time now for coming through. And the first step in paying them back is not immediately giving Trump the thing he wants most in the whole world.
Let’s analogize. Imagine that ObamaCare hadn’t yet become law before the 2010 midterms, when a big red wave swept the GOP back to power in the House. Imagine further that Obama then said during the lame-duck session that he’d shut down the government if Republicans in the Senate didn’t agree to pass ObamaCare immediately, before Boehner’s majority was sworn in. What would the average right-wing activist’s response be? What possible reason would the GOP have to acquiesce to a demand like that? Republican voters had just turned out en masse to punish Obama — and now McConnell was being asked to rubber-stamp Obama’s signature domestic initiative, without the new GOP House having any say over it?
Making that deal would have been the end of the party. Literally nothing Obama could have offered Republicans would have convinced righties to give up the immense political pleasure of blocking him on his most precious goal.
Democrats are in that position now. They’re not asking for anything in return for the wall. They’re certainly not asking for something as sleazy as a giveaway to Chuck Schumer, which would start a lefty riot that might force him out as minority leader. Offer them their own fondest political wish, e.g., Medicare for all, and maybe they’d think about funding the wall. Short of that, though, there are no carrots to be offered. And here’s the thing — there really aren’t any sticks either. Shutdown politics is hard for the GOP under the best circumstances but it’s exceptionally hard when (a) the president’s on tape saying he’d accept responsibility for a shutdown and (b) the policy that the shutdown has been engineered to implement isn’t fantastically popular to begin with. How is Trump going to put enough political pressure on Schumer and Pelosi such that stabbing the left in the back and caving on the wall is more attractive to them than standing pat?
I think he can squeeze a little money out of them if he’s willing to sustain a shutdown longer than a few days and to come off his $5 billion number. His core argument has a good gut appeal: $5 billion is a small number by federal budget standards, particularly to a Democratic Party that’s happy to shovel money into the fire for its own pet projects. The more he can frame their refusal to negotiate as a matter of pure spite, the worse they’ll look amid a prolonged shutdown. They’d look especially bad if he paired his demand on the wall with support for some other bipartisan priority, like infrastructure, as part of a package deal. But even then, on principle, they’re not giving him $5 billion. Having Coulter and Limbaugh hooting at him to fight fight fight is fine, but only in the fantasy world in which most of the country shares right-wing legislative priorities would it actually work. As it is, I think Trump probably believes this:
Dear House GOP one reason you lost is bc grass root conservatives didn't see you fighting for the Trump agenda. Show us your learned.
— Matt Schlapp (@mschlapp) December 20, 2018
Sheer nonsense, notes Nate Silver. The most striking thing about the midterms was how ferocious turnout was on both sides. Conservatives showed up en masse. Republicans lost because indies broke against them and because, when push comes to shove, there are more Democrats out there than Republicans. Trump doesn’t want to believe that. I don’t want to either but it is what it is.
Speaking of Coulter, in lieu of an exit question, your wall-related Twitter drama of the day:
realDonaldTrump appears to no longer follow @AnnCoulter. (This bot cannot tell if this was an unfollow, suspension or block.)
— Trump Alert (@TrumpsAlert) December 20, 2018
Update: The pressure from righties worked and, for the moment, Trump is a no on the clean short-term bill that the Senate passed yesterday. A shutdown looms.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) December 20, 2018
Update: Er, what if the new bill with wall funding can’t pass the Republican House? Lots of lame-duck Republicans have already skipped town and have no reason to haul themselves back to Washington to save Trump. He may be blocked by the House before Schumer even has a chance in the Senate.