Saturday, March 24, 2018

Can Trump win back his base after signing the abominable spending bill? - By Thomas Lifson

I, too, wish President Trump had vetoed that spending bill that put smiles on the faces of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and permitted them to gloat openly.  The only reason for his cave-in that I find credible is what he said: that the huge spending increase for our now depleted military cannot wait.  Our airplanes and helicopters are falling from the skies, and roughly half of some aircraft models are not airworthy, some of them suffering cannibalization of their parts to keep the rest flying.
I suspect that his attention now is focused on the pending talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and he absolutely requires a credible threat to use our military.  Iran and other bad actors are watching closely, and military weakness going into those talks would be my priority if the responsibility were on my shoulders.
But what do we, his base, want to happen?
Is revenge against Trump worth handing Congress to the Democrats?  Would it be so satisfying to see Trump impeached and therefore punished for allowing half a year of terrible spending to take place?  (This was not even a full-year budget bill.)
In my book, this was a tactical retreat, not a strategic surrender.
It is up to conservatives to determine how great the losses from that retreat will be.  If we stay home in November and hand the House to Nancy Pelosi and maybe even the Senate to Chuck Schumer, and Trump is impeached, will the satisfaction of "teaching him a lesson" compensate for the inevitable results?
I think the congressional Democrats have big plans for what they will do if their "blue wave" materializes, and I do not relish the opportunity to see those plans realized.
So what can Trump do?
First, really fight with the congressional Republican leadership, and let them know he won't sign another last minute deal, as promised.
I would like to see him publicly campaign against omnibus spending bills as a concept and demand that the House leadership start crafting the sort of focused spending bills that used to be voted on to fund specific departments and even projects.
He has also made it clear that the filibuster is a concept that has outlived its usefulness.  The argument that Republicans would regret ending it when the Dems come to a majority in the Senate no longer has any validity in the era of #resistance.  I don't believe that the Dems would hold on to the filibuster if it obstructed them from passing bills.  It requires only a bare majority of senators to change the rules and junk the filibuster.
If the GOP leadership refuses Trump's requests for targeted pending bills and abolition of the filibuster, then he can repeat – in public and private – his promise to veto a last-minute abomination.
Remember that such a veto would take place six months from now, in September, before the midterms.
A lot can happen in half a year, and the possibility exists that our military may be actively engaged on a significant scale by that time.
This morning, it feels as though the rug has been pulled out from under the conservative base.  But we have more than seven months to get back on our feet and focus on the prospect of Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer.