The Wall Street Journal editorial board wants Republicans in Congress to think of the president as an independent, casting him in opposition to the GOP agenda. This is absurd.
Accusing the president of “divorcing” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., the editorial board attacked President Trump’s recent criticisms for Republican leadership.
Recently, the president has expressed disappointment in Sen. McConnell’s failure to repeal Obamacare. Trump, as of Thursday, is now accusing McConnell and Ryan of giving the Democrats leverage in the upcoming debt-ceiling fight. At his Tuesday rally in Phoenix, Ariz., President Trump proclaimed that he would welcome a government shutdown by vetoing the upcoming appropriations bills if Congress does not fund the border wall. And he continues to urge Senate Republicans to change the filibuster rule to overcome Democratic opposition to the Republican agenda.
In short, the president is using his bully pulpit to influence Congress to accomplish his agenda. The Wall Street Journal objects.
“Bashing Republicans won’t help him pass his fall agenda, but Mr. Trump may think he needs to protect himself politically by making Congress his foil,” the board writes.
“It’s impossible to predict what the President will say or do, but the safe bet is to expect more taunts and blame-shifting,” it continues.
“All of which means that Republicans in Congress need to think of themselves as governing with an independent President—if they don’t already. This doesn’t mean joining Democrats as ‘the Resistance.’ But it does mean acting on their own to fulfill their legislative promises with or without the support of Mr. Trump.”
And what promises have the Republicans in Congress managed to keep? The argument is that President Trump is the one obstructing the GOP agenda. Was it President Trump, by himself, who broke a seven-year promise to fully repeal Obamacare by passing an Obamacare-lite bill in the House of Representatives? Was President Trump one of the Senate Republicans to cast a vote against clean repeal of Obamacare? On the contrary, Trump continues to urge McConnell and Congress to take up health care and keep their promises even as the majority leader tells his conference to drop it.
But Republicans in Congress have different priorities. They want to accomplish a different agenda, an agenda that includes, as the WSJ helpfully notes, “lifting the debt ceiling, funding the government, and passing a budget outline that sets the stage for tax reform.”
Those are the priorities for the WSJ editorial board and the Republican leadership in Congress. Raising the debt limit without extracting policy concessions from the Democrats. Funding the government without funding the border wall. They even repeat Democratic lies in defense of capitulating.
“On the debt ceiling, the smart political play is to pass an increase with GOP votes and move on,” the board writes. “Some conservatives want to tie policy reforms to the increase, but Democrats know Republicans will get the blame if there’s a default on U.S. debt.”
There is no chance, no scenario, no possibility of the U.S. Government defaulting on the debt. Mark Levin has said it. Daniel Horowitz has said it. I will repeat it. The government takes in about $3.4 trillion dollars per year in revenue. The interest on the debt is $270 billion. The government only defaults if it fails to make that interest payment, and we have more than enough money to make that payment.
But the Wall Street Journal obfuscates that truth to argue for Congress to abandon conservative policies.
“On funding the government, Republicans in Congress will get no benefit from a shutdown fight over building a border wall. Two-thirds of the country doesn’t support an expensive and largely symbolic wall, and even most Republicans who do won’t like a shutdown to pass it. The GOP should pass a budget that has as many of its priorities as possible, and more money for border enforcement ought to satisfy the immigration restrictionists. The physical wall is Mr. Trump’s personal preoccupation. He can veto a bill without it, but then he’d be responsible for the shutdown.”
The “immigration restrictionists.” That is how the WSJ derisively refers to conservatives who think Congress should follow the elected president of the United States’ lead, keep his campaign promises, and fulfill the obligations Congress set for itself in the 2006 law mandating the construction of a physical barrier on the southern border.
The Wall Street Journal urges Republicans to “protect themselves from any Trump undertow in 2018” by abandoning the winning issues President Trump campaigned on. The Wall Street Journal editors seem to be under the impression that Donald Trump is some sort of unelected figure. They seem to believe that his agenda is irrelevant. That the people who voted for that agenda don’t matter. They presume to know better than the American electorate.
This is nonsense. Congress should be urged to conform its agenda to Republican campaign promises. Fully repeal Obamacare. Secure the border. Cut spending and begin to lower the debt floor. Campaigning on “tax reform,” which will be maligned as “tax cuts for the rich,” in 2018 without accomplishing those major promises is idiotic.
The Wall Street Journal remains what it always has been: a mouthpiece for the leadership of the Republican Party. And the leadership of the Republican Party does not value conservatism. It has special contempt for the conservative parts of President Trump’s agenda — such as border security and the wall.
President Trump and the Congress would do well to get back to the conservative agenda Republicans campaigned on. They can start by ignoring the WSJ editorial board.
Chris Pandolfo is a staff writer and type-shouter for Conservative Review. He holds a B.A. in politics and economics from Hillsdale College. His interests are conservative political philosophy, the American founding, and progressive rock. Follow him on Twitter for doom-saying and great album recommendations @ChrisCPandolfo.