Witcover: Republicans, Trump run roughshod over debt and DACA
By Jules Witcover
Feb 12, 2018 at 10:25 AM
Congressional Republicans averted another weekend government shutdown by turning their backs on their party's traditional party abhorrence of deficit spending. Enough Democrats joined them by rejecting House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s filibuster plea not to sacrifice nearly a million immigrant “Dreamers” in the process.
That is the bottom line of the latest Capitol Hill circus in which the national government under President Donald Trump has gone off the rails of normal political practice, now in a madcap pursuit of military superiority that America already owns.
In signing the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, the president declared in a tweet: “Our Military will now be stronger than ever before. We love and need our Military and gave them everything — and more. First time this has happened in a long time. Also means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!”
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer defensively claimed the bill marked “a dramatic reversal” in funding for the middle class in education, infrastructure and fighting drug abuse. But notably absent was any help for the undocumented immigrants brought here as children, who face deportation after Mr. Trump dropped former President Barack Obama's DACA policy of a safe haven for them.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said, however, “I know there is a real commitment to solve the DACA challenge in both political parties,” and that he shared it. “We will bring it to the (House) floor,” he promised, in a version “the president will sign.”
Clearly, however, more important to Mr. Trump right now is beefing up the military. The president holds an erroneous perception that the American military is some kind of pitifully neglected vehicle that urgently needs major update in its incredible nuclear and conventional strength. At the same time, he ludicrously lobbies for an extravagant military parade here whose only purpose is to feed his personal ego and fire up American patriotism in the same cause.
His ridiculous accusation that members of Congress who didn't stand and applaud his recent State of the Union address were guilty of treasonous behavior is a frightening measure of how far this undisciplined and impetuous man will go to secure a presidency that soon could be in peril.
The Mueller investigation into Russian meddling in his 2016 election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign appears to be gathering steam as Mr. Trump himself weighs whether to risk testifying voluntarily or under oath, while saying he would “love” to do it.
The budget bill and the recently passed tax reform add to the federal deficit to an extent that defies core conservative Republican beliefs and commitments.
One GOP holdout against the assault on the old party’s fiscal verities, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, attempted a filibuster of his own on the Senate floor but succeeded only in delaying the eventual cave-in of the party’s traditional stand against federal deficits.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-15th, was none-to-pleased with Sen. Rand Paul’s move to block the Senate efforts to strike a bipartisan budget deal.
By Katherine Reinhard
Feb 09, 2018 at 11:30 AM
Yet Mr. Trump’s determined efforts to consolidate his voting base with transparent appeals to its patriotism, combined with his hostility toward the news media, assure more and more dysfunction to come in the executive branch.
Even White House chief of staff John F. Kelly, bought into the Oval Office to bring order and restraint out of the Trump chaos, seems to be slipping his own harness with expressions of his own personal views, and now domestic abuse allegations against a key aide Mr. Kelly continues to praise.
As for Trump's growing animosity toward the press, he only encourages committed professional journalists to vindicate their line of work by continuing to report fairly what they see and hear with their own eyes and ears.
Then it's up to the public to make up their own minds.
Jules Witcover is a syndicated columnist and former long-time writer for The Baltimore Sun. His latest book is "The American Vice Presidency: From Irrelevance to Power" (Smithsonian Books). His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.