Perhaps Dems should get out of the way of Trump and the GOP
After Barack Obama’s victory in 2008, the Republicans in Congress adopted the strategy of not giving the new president any policy victories without a fight, even if they might be good for the country. Less than two years into Obama’s term, the GOP leadership made it clear it had a higher priority than repairing the economy, closing deficits or helping those disaffected white voters who delivered them a major victory Tuesday.
“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell, then minority leader, in an October 2010 interview.
And the Republicans, bless their hearts, largely stuck to it. As an added benefit, they have joined Donald Trump in criticizing Obama for not doing more to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure, create jobs or repair Obamacare. Of course, they never mention they refused to give him the votes.
Now it is a Republican president entering office and a strong Democratic minority in the Senate (Republicans have solid control of the House) that has the opportunity to block presidential plans by using procedural tricks and the dreaded filibuster.
But I think the Democrats should consider a different strategy and instead get out of the Republicans’ way.
Want to build that wall? Go for it. The Washington Post took a hard look at constructing the 2,000-mile wall along the Mexican border and estimated it would cost at least $25 billion, more than triple Trump’s estimate. You could build 10 Virginia-class attack submarines for that.
Of course, few things the government tries to build come in on budget. There will be environmental issues, though maybe the Republicans will repeal rules protecting the environment. That will lead to protests and court challenges. The likelihood of it turning into an expensive boondoggle mess? Very high.
Trump has said Mexico will pay for it. They won’t. The United States could withhold the roughly $500 million in aid it sends annually to Mexico. That would allow us to pay off the wall mortgage in 50 years, well 60 with interest.
Republicans vow to finally repeal the Affordable Care Act and come up with a different system that provides access to health insurance coverage for all Americans, keeps young people on their parents’ plans until age 26, and assures citizens cannot be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions. Oh, and costs less and controls health expenses. Knock yourself out.
This should be interesting since neither Trump, nor Republicans generally, have produced a viable alternative plan, aside from just dumping the 20 million who have gained coverage back into the ranks of the uninsured. Take that, struggling Americans who just elected us.
Plan to ask Canada and Mexico to go back to the negotiation’s table and remake the North American Free Trade Agreement — in place for 22 years — to better favor the United States? By all means, send them an invite. You can fill Mexico in on how you are going to build the wall and have them pay for it.
Unfortunately, our neighbors won’t be motivated to cooperate. Trump may just have to abandon NAFTA. That will mean the return of tariffs, which will mean higher prices at Walmart for the working class. Mexico would be destabilized, encouraging more illegal immigration. Better get that wall up fast.
I could go on.
Muhammad Ali had his “rope-a-dope.” This approach would be, “Give the dopes enough rope.” With Trump’s plans, it’s clear what they’d do with it.
Paul Choiniere is the editorial page editor.
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