Donald Trump’s claim to fame is that he can make deals. He even wrote a book about it: The Art of the Deal. Okay, so he didn’t actually write it but he made a deal with someone else to do it for him. That has to count for something, right? For the moment we’ll ignore the number of deals that he reneged on or which failed to work out for all concerned—even him.
Let’s accept that Trump lives to make deals—especially deals made in public that make him look like a winner.
The deal he made last week with the Democrats (and some moderate Republicans) in Congress may be a defining moment in his so-far lacklustre presidency. The deal was not huge, just an agreement to raise the debt ceiling for three months and provide relief to Texas, but it was significant. It sent a clear message to America that the Republican Party, at present, is in disarray and not prepared to govern. This should come as no surprise to anyone. The GOP has suffered huge fractures in recent years and has spent much of the last ten years actively trying not to govern. They have become a party of wreckers not builders – but they can’t even agree on what they want to wreck let alone what will replace it.
America seems to like what they’ve seen, with many in Trump’s base happy to see something happen even if it means more debt and billions in Federal spending on disaster relief.
What happens next will determine much of what happens in America for the next 3 to 7 years.
This, of course, could be a one-off never to be seen again or it could drive the Republicans to paper over their deep ideological internal divisions. Or it could become a habit.
Much of that will depend on the Democrats. They could pursue more deals with Trump—say on Health Care or on Immigration or Infrastructure Renewal – all capital letter issues for the President. Obviously to do so they will have to swallow hard and make some concessions. They may not have to give Trump a wall to create a pathway for undocumented immigrants (especially the Dreamers) to gain citizenship but they will almost certainly have to concede greater powers of deportation, border security and so on to finally solve America’s immigration problems.
Health Care is also a real possibility. Trump is deeply angry at the Republicans for failing to repeal Obamacare. The ACA is hardly perfect and Trump might go for a deal that fixes the worst parts and keeps all the good ones, as long as he can claim that he built a better system than Obama. Never mind that it costs more and imposes more limits on insurance companies. A win is a win and a deal, a deal.
I suspect none of this will come about. Trump is far too mercurial to be relied on and too concerned with his own welfare to do deals that may not profit him directly or keep the masses of the very right in his camp. But you never know. The very flaw that makes Trump such a bad president—his greed and narcissism—might let progress be made.
If the deal is right.
And that’s ten minutes