Could be a Smart Move on Trump’s Part

Houston  You have to give the devil’s his due. For a change rather than being just crazy, President Trump may have been crazy like a fox.

The pundits seem not to know what to make of Trump’s shuffle step in making a deal with Senate Majority Leader Schumer and House Majority Leader Pelosi to raise the statutory debt and combine that with stopgap hurricane relief. If the reports are too be believed, he pulled this rabbit out of the hat virtually in front of his Republican Congressional leadership surprising them and giving them a bit of red bottom.

The pundits ask themselves and thereby us, “why did he do this?”

Reporters speculated that he might have acted because of his recent personal displeasure and disregard for the Republican leadership. We might applaud, if that were the case!

Other commentators opined that perhaps that was just the zany and impulsive way that President Trump likes to operate, essentially arguing that he had an itch for the ceiling and just scratched it without a second thought to the politics.

All of the observers agree that he is transactional, rather than ideological, and wanting a deal so badly that he didn’t care who he made it with or what the consequences might be.

Certainly he is transactional and impulsive. No argument here.

But, for a minute let’s think about the method that might be behind his madness, although I will warn you that if this is the case, it’s a very shrewd move.

Here are the facts. He has a Republican caucus that is divided. He went through a debacle in trying to gut the Affordable Care Act, where his Republican leadership couldn’t satisfy the few moderates successfully and also keep the hard right so-called Freedom Caucus together in the House or the ambitious libertarians in the Senate. He already knew that the Freedom Caucus had preemptively thrown in the towel on the border wall and the debt ceiling recognizing that they had to respond to the Republican base that was up to their necks in water along the Gulf Coast in the wake of Harvey.

Just imagine for a minute that President Trump wanted to reassert himself in the middle of these deals and had reckoned with the fact that his leadership was simply unable to deliver the troops now. What better way to fire a warning shot over the heads of Ryan and McConnell and to discipline the unruly fringes underneath them and around the margins, than by demonstrating his willingness to make a deal with the hated Democrats including Pelosi and Schumer who has continually maligned?

Trump just created a “threat of exit” for himself within his own Republican party. Where previously they had assumed he had no choice but to either parlay with them on their terms or sit and stew with Twitter back at the White House. By picking a pretty easy play with a 3-month extension and a slam dunk appropriate for FEMA and disaster relief, he may have just created himself some real leverage for future deals, if he becomes disciplined enough to know when to show and when to hold his cards in the future. By showing that to get the job done, he will reach across the aisle to the Democrats doesn’t just give the Democrats leverage for the end of year ceiling fight and some others, but significantly empowers the President where he had been crippled, giving him huge leverage in holding the Republicans together when he wants them to follow his lead.

Whether by happenstance or deliberate, this was the smartest move by Trump since his election, and therefore could be the scariest thing we’ve seen so far.


Silver Lining in the Rain Clouds: Talk Gets Cheap When Action Matters

New Orleans   Yes, friends and neighbors, it really does often depend on whose ox is getting gored. Another case in point and providing abundant proof lies in the water brought by Harvey.

Harvey was an equal opportunity disaster compared to Katrina. Rich and poor neighborhoods in Houston, whether Belaire or half-million dollar suburbs, went under as did the 5th Ward. Republicans and Democratic voters were swimming for their lives.

All of the talk and lip-flapping after Katrina that slowed funds as conservatives and Republicans yammered about corruption and how the recovery money would be spent, can’t be heard. Much of the same accompanied Sandy when it hit the New York /New Jersey area when Texas Senators and other wingers wanted to claim the recovery package was larded with pork, referring to money that was earmarked for repair of infrastructure and prevention for the future.

Republican leaders are already preparing a $6 billion package of immediate relief for Texas-Louisiana disaster areas as a first order of business when they return to session in September. After Katrina, we were marching on Congress in December more than three months after the storm for a $4 billion package, and they were fighting us. The lessons from other countries, Japan for example, facing similar disasters, is that you have to move money immediately. I’m not bitter, but that doesn’t mean I don’t remember.

Does it go without saying that New Orleans and New York City were Democratic strongholds, while southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana are seen as Republican redoubts, regardless of how blue the city of Houston itself votes? Maybe, but let’s just say it anyway.

President Trump is all over this as well, like white on rice. He’s already been to Corpus Christi and Austin, and is heading to the Lake Charles, Louisiana area. VP Pence was hanging around the Beaumont area throwing fallen branches on a pile. He wants to see if he can pretend to be able to manage something in this disaster, since he can’t seem to handle the disaster he has made of his original swampland target in Washington.

With proof positive of the need for a robust government response, we are now saved from any of his cavalier and foolhardy talk about shutting down the government. The proposed whack at the FEMA budget is being rewritten as an increase instead. The only wall that is likely to get funded now is a seawall. There’s even speculation that Trump may have to back off of DACA and the Dreamers because so many live in Texas. He may even have to clinch his teeth on his immigration hateration and drum beating, since recovery efforts depend so vitally on immigrant labor, papered or not, to fill gaps in overwhelming cleanup and construction needs.

Who says there isn’t a small thread of silver lining in this horrid devastation of rain clouds?