Sunday, December 30, 2018

On the government shutdown, Pelosi should go maximalist

 - by New Deal democrat

It's pretty clear that the House GOP has decided to simply punt the government shutdown into the new Democratic House majority's laps.

That new House Democratic majority will have two basic options: (1) go accomodationist; or (2) go maximalist.  I am here to write in support of option #(2).

To recap, before the government shutdown, the Senate had passed a stopgap measure by 100-0. When RW extremists got Trump's ear, he (as usual) welched and refused to sign any bill that did not include funding for his border "wall." The House GOP promptly passed a bill doing so, and there matters have stalled for the last 10 days.

The "accomodationist" option is for the new House majority to pass the bill that is identical to the one that already passed the Senate by 100-0. It is very unlikely that this will work.

In the first place, Mitch McConnell has announced that he will not bring to the Senate floor any bill that will be vetoed by Trump. Since Trump has already indicated he will veto the existing Senate bill, McConnell might simply refuse to bring it back up. Even if he does, it is almost certain that Trump will veto it. Even if the Senate GOP feels they cannot renege on their prior votes, a 2/3's majority must still be found in the House.

And that is where the problem is. It is simply unlikely that enough members of the House GOP are going to roll over so that the bill passes over Trump's veto.It is simply very unlikely that the House will be able to add on new demands once an "accomodationist" bill is defeated. In the far more likely event that the House fails to override Trump's veto, this puts him in the driver's seat, in the kind of negotiation he likes -- where the other side must agree to ever more escalating demands to get his assent.

The "maximalist" option is for the new Democratic House majority to lay out some new demands of their own.  Here are three good candidates, *all* of which might be added on to a House bill: (1) permanent legalization of the Dreamers; (2) permanent codification of DACA; and (3) undoing the piecemeal repealers of the ACA by the prior Congress. If they want to really be mean, they can announce that for every day that the GOP delays in approving the budget, they will deduct $1 Billion from agricultural subsidies in any budget resolution they will agree to. 

Will McConnell and Trump go ballistic? Of course! So what.

You will now have one demand on the GOP side (fund the wall) counterbalanced by three demands on the Democratic side (as stated above). This puts the Democrats in the position of being able to do some horse-trading in order to get a budget bill passed.

It is unlikely that Trump will sign a bill without being able to declare victory on funding for the "wall." Suppose the Democrats, behind closed doors, offer to approve $2.5 billion in funding (that might take over 2 years to be committed, wink wink hint hint), in return for dropping the ACA demand and tempering the DACA demand, while getting full legalization for Dreamers (which is *very* popular). This would be a very positive and doable outcome.

But the only way we are going to get a positive outcome, rather than one that involves incredible pressure being put on Democrats to cave and go crawling on their knees to Trump, is if the House Democratic majority under Pelosi starts out by going maximalist.