Senate Democrats must adjust to this new reality and understand in this conflict there is only red and blue. There is no purple.
Government shutdowns are hard and damaging — so are extortion and passing policies that hurt Americans and destroy the country’s founding values.
There is a method to the President’s madness in this situation.
Democrats have 16 days to change the landscape of the battlefield — or we will lose.
The President — although silent over the weekend — has crafted the outline of a “deal” which is a lose/lose for Democrats and the nation and he did it before the recent Senate engagement ever began.
The President ended DACA unilaterally to create legislative leverage and now has Democrats negotiating against themselves.
Between now and February 8, Senator McConnell promises a “level playing field.” Even assuming his genuineness, this is what that may mean. The Democrats will try to get DACA renewed and the Republicans will be trying to rewrite the basis of our immigration policy — fulfilling their anti-immigration campaign promise.
The White House will demand the President’s southern wall be funded. Democrats reportedly already offered $20 billion for the wall and the President said it wasn’t enough. The Democrats will claim it is not a wall, but merely “border protection funding.” However, the President’s recent television ad made it clear: He wants his wall — even pictures were included! Democrats will also be pushed to gut family reunification and diversity visa lottery programs. Efforts to end parent and child immigration, background checks, and reduced numbers will all be demanded. Modifying those policies could severely undermine decades of immigration policy. All this to get back DACA, which the President took hostage.
That is plainly the Republican plan.
However, the Democrats are not powerless. They too have significant leverage and should shift their posture and negotiate from strength. The Senate’s need for 60 votes stops the President of the United States — period. Eighty-six percent of the American people support DACA as do most Republicans. Deporting 800,000 Dreamers would entail months of court battles and mass demonstrations. No state, New York foremost, would sit quietly and allow families to be ripped apart. Once pressed, Republican elected officials may very well abandon the President on the issue. The President needs a credible claim that he got his “Wall” as much as the Democrats need DACA. It is his political oxygen and ego. Republicans need military spending as much as Democrats need Medicaid restored and domestic spending. Twelve states were devastated by the SALT provision in the Republican Tax Bill signed last December, including New York and California. The economies in those states were badly damaged. That can hurt the national economy. House Republicans in those states are in real political trouble. Democrats must repeal the SALT provision in any budget deal. Furthermore, there is no doubt that the President believes deeply what he said during the President Obama shutdown: the President is the leader and is responsible for “getting the deal done.” It is Trump’s political and personal essence. The President’s discomfort with the shutdown was palpable. His silence was deafening. A shutdown is primarily the President’s failure of leadership.
Democrats in Washington must realize the “old rules” of government are gone. Bipartisanship, good will, compromise and reasonableness are sadly not in this administration’s or Congress’ lexicon. This is a government of zealots and ideologues and their instinct is to demand total capitulation. Even if Senator McConnell respects the “deliberative nature” of the esteemed Senate, the White House will not. Remember, any bill still has to go through the House. Senate Democrats must adjust to this new reality and understand in this conflict there is only red and blue. There is no purple. They must stand united behind Senator Schumer and use the power of the 60 vote necessity. The stakes are not merely political. The Republican tax reform bill benefiting red states at the cost of blue states was tantamount to launching an economic civil war. This nation’s promise of equal opportunity for all and sense of compassion for the needy are basic American values. Immigration is a founding premise of the country. An outcome that rewrites Emma Lazarus’ poem and the promise of the Statue of Liberty is to compromise the soul of the nation. No administration should have that power.