Government

Alligators across the aisle


President Trump released his proposed 2018 budget to cheers and jeers.  It’s such an aggressive cost cutting budget literally axing agencies and programs out of existence that it’s not floating but not sinking either.  It’s more like an incendiary torpedo circling Washington leaving fiery debris on both sides of the aisle.  Too many of the President’s party are also in shock.  Big government establishment Republicans may be Trump’s main obstacle.

The consummate deal maker, Trump knows he will not get everything in his opening bid, but hopefully his stark starting point will still achieve actual year over year spending cuts.  As the U.S. national debt tops $20 TRILLION because the last two administrations both doubled the debt, something has to give.  And The Donald is probably the only one who can make something give.

Then there’s the “Obamacare repeal and replace” show making its rounds to leery audiences.  Congressional Republican leadership has convinced Trump their strategy will work, but it still seems odd and somewhat silly that after eight years of pursuing this opportunity, the Republican plan is still very much a work in progress.  Purporting to fill an insurance hole only to mangle it pulling some in and pushing others out, Obamacare created a much larger messier hole, so it’s certain yanking Obamacare out will expose the bigger jagged hole.

Renowned columnist, Peggy Noonan, chided Trump in a recent Wall Street Journal column:  “Reach Across the Aisle, Mr. President.”  Ms Noonan typically writes from an elevated and ethereal perspective optimistically seeking the altruistic aspects in every one and every situation.  She has a gifted knack for stepping back to capture the big picture and taking the long view, but some of her hopeful assumptions may be overextended.

Noonan accurately forecasted Democrats were making a fatal error passing Obamacare solely along party lines which now haunts them.  Since no Republicans were ever invested, none are compelled or bound to save it.  Now she warns Republicans not to make the same mistake, so she exhorts Trump to reach across the aisle.  Conceptually correct, but more than likely Trump will draw back a bloody nub.

Americans would generally and probably enthusiastically welcome a bipartisan solution, but is there any common ground?  And the imminent challenge is who across the aisle could Trump even reach?  The tiny House Blue Dog Coalition of relatively obscure Democrat back seaters?  Or could West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin shoulder half of a bipartisan effort?

The perennial problem even worse now is the political wells are all poisoned.  Hardly anyone in either party has the capital or incentive to reach out.  Before election night ended, Democrats adopted a scorched earth policy that not only must Trump be stopped, he must be impeached and imprisoned. 

Though they deny it, Democrats realize Trump has momentum; and if he enjoys even a modicum of success, they could be doomed to even more electoral exiles.  So the political warfare is incredibly cut-throat.  But Trump has been reaching out anyway.  The Congressional Black Caucus has a standing invitation, but they cannot allow that photo op.

Just talking to Trump is intolerable to Democrat leadership, so it took Trump weeks to get a meeting with Representative Elijah Cummings.  Finally meeting, they perhaps found an opening to cooperate on a proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices.  This could be the positive development Noonan advocates, but will Democrats risk a sliver of good news for their sworn enemy that could undermine their overwhelming desire and need to neuter the nascent Trump administration?

The political battlefield of the two party system is approaching its logical culmination in overheated hyperbole and rigid polarization; cooperation could mean death for either party by fatally flawed or ideologically impossible compromise.  However, maybe Trump the only “outsider” in Washington can drain the swamp and tame alligators on both sides of the aisle.

“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”  Romans 14:19

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