Why the Democrats’ Three-month Budget Deal With Trump is a Huge Win

by David Nir –

On Wednesday afternoon, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, the House and Senate Democratic leaders, announced that they’d reached a wide-ranging deal with Donald Trump to pass aid for Hurricane Harvey victims, raise the limit on the amount of money the U.S. can borrow, and keep the government funded through December 15, averting a shutdown that looms at the end of September. The agreement represents an extraordinary capitulation by Trump and a major humiliation for Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, but why is it such a massive victory for Democrats?

In a word, leverage—or more accurately, maintaining leverage. Right now, because the GOP is a non-functioning political party beholden to conservative radicals, it simply can’t pass critical must-pass legislation, like the spending bills that ensure the federal government keeps running. In order to keep the lights on, therefore, Republican leaders need votes from Democrats, meaning that Pelosi and Schumer hold a fat stack of bargaining chips despite being in the minority.

But had Trump not decided to cave (and who knows why he did, except perhaps to stick to it McConnell and Ryan), he could have forced Democrats to cash in some or even all of those chips in order to secure the billions that Texans need to recover from Harvey. Republicans could have, in other words, forced Democrats to accept a whole host of unpalatable conservative priorities in order to see Harvey aid passed, and even potentially made it look as though Democrats preferred to shut down the government rather than swallow the GOP’s poison pills.

Instead, Harvey victims will get the help they need and Republicans will still have to come begging Democrats for votes in December to once again up the debt limit and keep the government operating. What’s more, Democrats will also be able to use their leverage both to help protect DREAMers and obtain funding to stabilize Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges. Had they insisted on a fight now in the midst of hurricane recovery efforts (especially with another monster storm on the way), the optics would have been ugly.

But in December, with Christmas looming, it’ll just be an ordinary political fight. Given Trump’s volatility and his fealty to his white ethno-nationalist base, it can’t be overstated how difficult it will be to ensure a positive outcome for DREAMers. But Democrats have done everything in their power to maximize their position ahead of this battle, and remarkably, it’s one they might yet win.

 

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos