Trump's deal with Schumer, Pelosi should dismay conservatives

Trump's deal with Schumer, Pelosi should dismay conservatives
© Greg Nash

Nothing polarizes the body politick like a bipartisan deal. Last week, President Trump, Senate Minority Leader Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNo agreement on budget caps in sight ahead of Memorial Day recess Ex-White House photographer roasts Trump: 'This is what a cover up looked like' under Obama Pelosi: Trump 'is engaged in a cover-up' MORE (D-N.Y.), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) struck a deal that struck a nerve throughout the rest of D.C.

Republicans throughout Washington — and Trump voters throughout the country — are shocked and dismayed this week by the announcement. And the reason is not what you think.

It’s not that he made a deal with Democrats; dealing with Democrats is perfectly fine. In fact, to get almost anything done in the Senate requires a deal with Democrats. That Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer were party to this bill has nothing to do with the outrage being expressed.


Consider that the three individuals who struck this deal are powerless to enact it. The deal requires the absolute cooperation of Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions What if 2020 election is disputed? Immigration bills move forward amid political upheaval MORE (R-Ky.) and Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash storm hits Capitol Hill Debate with Donald Trump? Just say no Ex-Trump adviser says GOP needs a better health-care message for 2020 MORE (R-Wis.). It’s Ryan and McConnell who are responsible for moving the package through Congress, and as such, this deal belongs to them as well.


Trump voters don’t care who gets the credit, and they don’t care about the spin. They care about results. That’s why they voted for the president in the first place.

Let’s take a look at the results. The final package will do three things: 1) provide $15 billion in emergency disaster recovery funds; 2) continue government spending as it is until Dec. 8; and 3) suspend the debt ceiling until the same date.

Only one of these three totally unrelated measures can pass the House or the Senate on its own: Harvey relief. The other two pass only if they’re attached to money for victims of Hurricane Harvey. That should you tell all you need to know about the popularity and virtue of the other two provisions.

This type of logrolling is the very essence of “the swamp” that President Trump ran against.

The strict policy outcome of this package is a disaster for President Trump and Republicans alike. By suspending the debt ceiling without attaching any fiscal reforms, the president’s deal exacerbates the looming debt crisis, and sets a fiscally irresponsible precedent for his presidency.

Moreover, the continuing resolution contained in the bill runs counter to the president’s agenda. It does not contain funding for the border wall, and it makes exactly none of the adjustments contained in his budget. By the time the deal expires, nearly a quarter of his first term as president will have gone by, and he will not have enacted any spending changes.

While the news media is reporting favorably on the deal, the long-term political implications are devastating. Poll after poll has told us that voters are way more fiscally conservative than their elected representatives, but the most recent is perhaps the starkest. An Aug. 28 poll by McLaughlin and Associates found that 62 percent of all likely voters and 69 percent of Trump voters are less like to re-elect their member of Congress if he or she “has increased the debt ceiling to spend more money the government doesn’t have, without any new constraints on future spending.”

That’s exactly what this deal does.

Enacting spending reforms would have been hard. It would have been much harder than the handshake in the Oval Office and the logrolling in the Capitol. Democrats would have initially opposed any proposal put forth, and the news media would focus like a laser on the Republicans struggling to pass it.

On the other hand, more than two-thirds of Trump voters wanted to see it happen.

This deal is nothing new; it’s a swamp classic. But it is supremely disappointing for those of us hoping that President Trump finds a new way of getting things done in Washington.

Thomas Binion is the director of Congressional and Executive Branch Relations at The Heritage Foundation.