In the wake of November’s election, my biggest concern was the prospect of Donald Trump in charge of a unified government: with a Republican House and Senate, I was sure we would see legislation canceling progress on the environment, reversing rights for women, gay citizens and immigrants, and eviscerating public education, among other nightmares.
Jennifer Rubin, a conservative columnist for the Washington Post, recently explained why we have yet to see that legislation. Her column was titled “Here’s why, even with control of everything, the GOP can’t govern.” She began with a quote from the Wall Street Journal:
Many popular postelection wagers took a hit last month after Republicans failed to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which highlighted the difficulties they could face advancing new legislation even while holding the White House and both houses of Congress.
She went on to describe the current situation.
If one had any doubt, this week’s events — a half-baked tax proposal that would not pass one let alone two houses, another failed effort at Trumpcare, White House bluffs and retreats on the budget — should have disabused observers of the notion that Trump’s agenda would sail through Congress…
Trump cannot manage to devise attractive legislation or get down in the weeds of negotiation, while House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) seems willing to accommodate whatever group is currently rocking the boat, regardless of the likelihood of success. Neither Ryan nor Trump can lead a successful legislative effort. As a result, members of Congress figure there is little reason to stick their necks out for either one. “Members of Congress have watched with horror as Trump thrashed about in Washington with little predictability, guided by top aides with little experience in the trenches of government,” Time reports. “Staffers with decades of Hill experience find themselves sidelined by political neophytes who think barking orders can get Congress to act. More than once, White House officials have told Paul Ryan that his role as Speaker may be in jeopardy if he does not do more to help Trump.”
Rubin notes that –given his priorities–Trump’s inability to get things done is a gift; gridlock looks pretty good when balanced against this administration’s goals.
This is not to say we don’t have substantial problems or need competent leadership. However, this president and this Congress have not a clue how to proceed. They would potentially do much more harm than good. They are prisoners of extreme ideology, unrealistic expectations and their own incompetence.
Wonkblog recently came to a similar conclusion. In a column tracing the reasons that financial markets aren’t betting on a big Trump stimulus anymore, Matt O’Brian wrote
But a funny thing happened on the way to Trump’s making great deals. It turns out that everything is more complicated than anyone named Donald Trump knew. It isn’t easy to get Republicans to agree on a health-care plan when some of them think the problem with Obamacare is everything, and others think it’s just the name. Or to get the whole party to agree on which tax loopholes to close to pay for all their tax cuts. The result, according to Trump, is that health-care reform is always a week away, and tax reform, always two weeks.
In the meantime, though, the economy is still chugging along at the same 2 percent pace it has been the whole recovery. So when you add it all up — a government that’s doing nothing today, that looks as if it will be doing nothing tomorrow, and an economy that’s doing nothing different from what it has been the last decade — there’s no reason to expect the dollar to go up anymore. And it hasn’t. It has given back most of its post-election gains to now only be up 1 percent over that time.
I don’t know about you, but I’m gratified that these clowns seem unable to learn.