The administration faces extreme (and to its mind, extremist) opposition in Congress. It is clear that nothing the administration wants is likely to move over the next three years. Historically, the president’s party generally loses seats in midterm elections – particularly second midterms – so the president’s legislative situation is only likely to worsen. Should it do so, the president’s political fortunes and popularity are sure to follow.
In sum, there appears to be no variable that will change the chessboard. If it is to change, the White House will have to move the pieces on its own. The president’s only hope appears to stake everything on a single move.
In this case, it appears the move is to goad Congressional Republicans into a dramatic loss in a high-profile – and ideally prolonged – budget battle. That means a shutdown or worse, default, to discredit his opposition – in his best case scenario, to such an extent that he reverses the trend of normal midterm losses and the rapid decline of second term presidents’ political relevancy.