In the Budget Deal, President Trump got Trumped

Steve Sheldon
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Posted: May 04, 2017 7:08 PM
In the Budget Deal, President Trump got Trumped

"Draining the swamp" makes for a great campaign promise, but it is a much more tedious task in reality.

Every great negotiator gets the majority of what he wants in a deal. In the recent federal budget bill, President Trump got nothing. As Charles Krauthammer best put it, “Trump got rolled, the Republicans got rolled. They ended up with nothing, really. It’s sort of embarrassing.”

No offense to Dr. Krauthammer, but to say it is “sort of embarrassing” is like watching a professional baseball team get trounced by a little league team by a twenty-point margin, and then state that they had a bad day. Let’s face it; conservatives got shellacked or, better yet, bamboozled. It is beyond embarrassing by light years.

Today, we might say that Trump fell for the Nigerian Prince's email. In a day gone by, we might have said he bought the Brooklyn Bridge. He was sold a bill of goods, taken for a ride, left holding the bag, bushwhacked, hornswoggled, and bought it hook line and sinker. Despite the spin put out by the White House which was admirable, he got nothing.

There is no funding for the wall - not even a few miles of fence, where no fence exists.

There are no significant cuts to the behemoth that we call our federal government.

Planned Parenthood will continue slaughtering the unborn supported by your tax dollars.

There are no cuts to “art” programs. The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities both received slight increase,s while the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s budget remained the same - a far cry from President Trump’s call to shut them down completely.

Trump got half of the thirty billion in proposed increases in defense spending. If there are any successes someone could point to, that might be it.

The Environmental Protection Agency will continue at 99% of its current funding, despite Trump’s proposals to cut it by over 30 percent.

Obamacare funding will continue.

The National Institute for Health will receive increased funding, despite Trump’s desire to curtail their funding.

The list goes on...and it’s not pretty.

So, what are Republicans to do? To ask that question is to assume Republicans got something less than what they wanted. Considering they control every law-making branch, one could surmise that they are either part of the problem or woefully incompetent. How can it be anything else? Either they are complicit or just plain hapless.  It has to be one or the other.

The sixty-vote filibuster excuse is a ruse. Is it in the Constitution? Did the Republicans need sixty votes to confirm Gorsuch? Can they change the rule? It's just another excuse for them to ride the gravy train a bit longer. 

"Once we get sixty votes in 2018, then we can do something," they say. And like Charlie Brown and the football, we voters believe them every time, only to end up flat on our backs. What's left after that? Enough control to have a constitutional convention? Hey, there's an idea.

What is President Trump to do? First, he can do what he has done in the foreign policy arena and show that he means business. Fortunately, this does not require sending Tomahawk missiles, but simply vetoing the legislation. No great negotiator ever accomplished anything after capitulating to the other side in the beginning of a negotiation. Preemptive surrender is not normally a good strategy. Taking a "we'll do better next time" approach will not work without showing your resolve from the beginning.

Second, conservatives need to stop presuming that someone who has an “R” by their name is actually conservative. These spineless, principle-lacking swamp creatures need to be identified and hounded at every turn. Conservatives need to be more like the Antifa crowd at the next town hall meetings - minus the violence, looting, arson and skinny jeans.

Third, it could time for “leaders” Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan to be shown the door. The team needs a shakeup to their starting lineup.

President Trump is learning one very valuable lesson: things in Washington work much differently than they do in the business world. In a capitalistic system, rewards are given to those who produce additional capital in the most efficient manner. Natural partnerships form to reach desired outcomes. Construction companies work to build buildings better and more efficiently for the real estate mogul, who works with leasing companies, advertising agencies, insurers, suppliers, etc. to maximize his profits, all while seeking to maximize theirs.

In government, partnerships form to grow the bureaucracy,  also known as bipartisanship. The omnibus bill is the best example. Rewards are given to those voting for the increased size of government. The biggest rewards are given to those who increase it to the largest extent. The more a politician can control the distribution of government largesse, the more power and influence he can wield - which results in the most financial gain for those who are most influential. 

There is zero incentive for politicians to reduce the government they control, other than to keep their job for another cycle. To do that, they only need to fool the voters. One way they fool the voters is by bringing projects back to their own districts, also known as pork. The other way is to demand more time and more influence. "If we can just get the filibuster-proof majority, then we'll really be able to get some things done."

This is exactly why every time Republicans promise to cut something, it never happens. There is no reward for them in doing so, unless they cut one budget area in order to spend more on another. The best example is to consider the funding levels of social programs versus the military. 

In January, Mr. Trump took a seat at the world’s biggest poker game, and despite his best efforts, had the tables run on him by the House and the other players. It’s a rigged game. His future success or failure will be determined by how he plays his next few hands. It may be time to save that ace, call some bluffs and take on a few new cards. Or, maybe he just needs to upend the table.